6 months in. Does it get easier?(18 Posts)
I moved in with my partner 6 months ago. My DD is with us full time as she has no contact with her father. We have my partners DSs every other week Fri to Fri. Kids have largely been ok. They all get on well and my DD misses them on the weeks they're not here.
My issue is with the ex & it's really been getting me down.
The week on week off seems to have worked well for everyone, as my partner work away for 3 days every other week. But all of a sudden ex claims the boys are missing her too much & she now wants to see them during our week.
My DP talked to the boys & yes, they said they missed her, but they also said they missed him. But that they thought it was easier now.
We agreed to ex taking kids out for dinner one evening, she kept them out late and then they went straight to bed, so we effectively lost an evening with them.
She then announced she was doing the same last week, but just with the youngest. So on Monday DP was told the eldest wanted DP to take him out to dinner. DP then went away for work early Tuesday morning, so my DD won't have seen him all week (she's very close to him).
We're also getting frequent requests to drop off later as there's an activity she wants to do on a Friday. Or swap the odd day at the weekend, as she's seen something she wants to take the kids to.
Part of the problem seems to be that she's single again....But I would not be exaggerating if I said she either calls, emails or texts DP at least once a day. (Doesn't help they still own 2 flats together, but hopefully that won't be for too much longer).
Finally, I'm quite organised, I try and keep kids stuff organised so it goes back on Fridays. Return clothes clean that are from her place. I bought SSs new clothes and uniform to keep at ours. But gradually everything seems to migrate to hers. They arrive at ours with most stuff missing- homework, coats, music books, school shoes - so then I'm running around trying to sort stuff out. And kids are stressing as they don't have what they need.
Sorry for long and rambling post. I just need some advice about how to handle the situation. I don't want to rock the boat, as it would break my DPs heart to be a weekend only Dad. And I think he's worried she might back out of the current shared parenting.
Should I try and dig some empathy out of my cold heart (I would be bereft having to spend a week apart from my DD) & just get on with it.
Why have you bought the uniform etc? Your partner is their dad? I know you want them to be happy and cared for, but it sounds like you have become the default carer because you are a woman.
I feel your pain, we went from every thurs, Friday and Saturday to fri, sat every fortnight. And we don't always get that. In my opinion all you can do is offer consistency and love. I'm hoping it will get easier ..... but 9 years later, it hasn't. I think some ex's will just be difficult end of story (and yes the clothes drive me mad ..., I've just stopped sending things back clean. They get sent how i find them - I'm not spiteful, but i don't go out my way to do laundry, rather be spending time with SS)
CocoaX I bought some of the boys clothes myself, which I was happy to do, as I was getting things for DD & didn't want to leave SSs out. More recently partner has paid to buy more clothes & uniform, but I tend to organise it.
How old are they? Are they at an age where we can start to learn to take responsibility for what they bring over? It might take some weeks with some errors, but it will be easier to train them than to deal with the ex.
Also, depending on their age, some flexibility might not be a bad thing. I am lucky that my ex has always been very good at being flexible and that really help putting the kid's needs first. They were able to do the activities they wanted, go to parties, special events etc... It works both ways of course. They are now teenagers and if it wasn't for the flexibility, they wouldn't go so often as they have so many things going on that they want to be involved with. Yes, it means their dad see them less, but so do I. That's teenager years though so might still be a long way away in your case.
I feel your pain. I'm very organised and it drives me nuts when DSD arrives from her Mums missing countless things she'll need during her time with us and I then have to go and pick them up. My DSD is a teen though and I do think she should be taking more responsibility for it all as least as much as her Mum. Only a few years until she's driving and can go and get it herself....
As far as flexibility with contact goes, I agree with Swing. Unless they're very young (I do understand that routine can be extremely important for very young children who are moving between two homes), I think there really needs to be some degree of flexibility to allow for activities, parties, matches and family functions etc.
Switching weekends so she can take the kids to things herself is a bit off if it's happening regularly imo though.
swingofthings - DSSs are 7&8, so maybe they could help, but after only 6 months I still feel that the adults need to make the logistics work, so the kids don't get stressed by being in 2 places and not having the stuff they need.
Going to parties, activities, family events etc, sure - but wanting to take the kids so she can go to the cinema, or play etc when it's on a weekend when we have them? I just think it's a bit cheeky. The latest news is that she reserved seats for Panto for all of us to go together!
No that's off OP. That's stuff she she should be reserving for her weekends. Dunno what to say about the panto! Did she ask you first?!
She has reserved seats for the Panto for all of you on a weekend when DSS's would have been with you?
Maybe she thinks as you are buying her DC clothes after less than six months of moving in with her dad, there are no need for any boundaries?
I think that dad needs to sort the clothes himself and put up some boundaries around his time with his DC. Six months in is too soon to be buying DSS clothes, and I suspect she is either thinking all in it together (nicely) or asserting that actually she is their mum. I think it is a boundary issue. Making the logistics work at this stage is your DPs issue, not yours.
Crusoe - no she asked DP. He asked me and I didn't want to be difficult by saying no. Although I did tell him that I thought this was starting to take the p*ss.
Cocoa - the problem was they had no clothes here. Deciding who got what during the separation was a bit one sided and so they hardly had anything to wear at ours. And a lot of what they did have was too small. We did a big shop early on so they had stuff here, but as I said, it goes off to her place & doesn't come back.
I think you're both right in that there doesn't seem to be many boundaries. DP hates confrontation, so goes for easy option of letting his ex have her own way.
Perhaps I've overstepped the mark too. I didn't want DSSs to feel this wasn't their home too. So having their bedroom set up nicely, having their own clothes here etc.
I don't understand how they had no fitting clothes at your DPs before you moved in. Are you talking about a situation where their dad had already set up his own home and DC were having residential contact with too small clothes? Surely that should have been sorted by him. Or are you talking about a situation where the separation and setting up home happened simultaneously (or close together)?
In your position I would be concerned he will
a) always appease his DC mother as he feels guilty presuming DC mother was left by him
b) expect you to fit in and do the 'mother' role in her absence.
Difficult one to navigate. I would be minded to step back and not get involved too much till you have a better idea how the land lies. Room and clothes are sorted, good - but he needs to work out what the NRP role looks like for him from now on and you need to work out if that is okay with you. If you don't want to play happy extended and blended families at the panto, have some boundaries around the other aspects of your role for your own sake. Six months in is early days.
Somehow when they split all of the "nice" clothes ended up at ex's place and he was left with...So I think there was enough to get by.
It's early days and I've probably been trying too hard to make everything right. I'm conscious the split has been hard for the DC & I really want to make sure shared care works for all of us.
It does get easier, believe me. Before I turned up on the scene, my two would regularly turn up in the dead of winter at my OH's house for the weekend with no winter coat, trousers too short for them and flip flops (I'm genuinely not embellishing any of this!) this meant two consecutive winters of him paying more than adequate maintenance, decking the kids out in winter gear and her building an extension whilst telling the kids her dad didn't pay her enough money.
However, 3 years on and we have a solid grip on everything. Sometimes all a good dad needs is a good sounding board, a thought process and a good step mum to back him up and help out with the thinking space around the problem. Now he has good quality time with his kids and I take the role of counting items in and back out of the house. We still have a never ending socks and pants shortage but it's not breaking the bank.
And according to the kids we're still the bad guys as our life is "so lavish". It's not, and we help where we can, the kids are now settled, and we don't lose coats and jumpers every weekend only to never see them again and buy them the next weekend.
As soon as we can resolve the "mum was being really mean about you last week in the car and it really upset us because you're lovely" we'll be sorted. But I think in time that will reflect badly and not on us.
But it does get easier. It's not easy depending on what you're working with as a reasonable ex and the relationship you can all have, but it's not impossible
I don't think it's empathy that you need! Ex is basically throwing her proverbial weight around as you are on the scene. She'll know full well how annoying it will be. I had this too and in an extreme way, I never knew when the kids would be coming and then suddenly there would be something she 'wanted to show off the kids for'. She had also basically 'given DP' most of the parenting, which was fine when he didn't have a live in partner, but as soon as I moved in she was phoning up every weekend when we had all the kids to 'remind' DP to take them to ballet etc.
It's an intrusion and wanting to be number one, which means that she calls the shots. It does need challenging, but hey, a minefield!
Your DP will most likely be unlikely now or ever to see it this way.
If I were you I'd definitely be trying to keep control of the situation, this is your and DPs household, you both need to run it, and part of that is knowing when you have the kids, having stability and routine.
I'd have in your head what YOUR bottom line is in trying to keep a peaceful, predictable household. You don't need to tell anyone. You just need to have your own line. Is it being flexible with a once a week 'going back to mums', or once very two weeks? Think about what is most annoying and unsettling for you. Is it the phone calls?
I actually ended up going to couple counselling and still haven't quite got to the bottom of the issue... but it did help for DP to ever so slightly open his eyes. When I described the constant changing of routine and subsequent calls his ExW still does, the therapist said 'Oh, so there are 3 people in this relationship then!'- DPs face was a mixture of confusion and surprise!
No problem at all OP - we've seen it all over the past few years, encroaching on our time with activities, texts with parental advice when we have them, tales from the children of "Mum says that's a bribe when you buy us nice things", a request for a CSA review because she thought she could tap into my income. We've learnt a lot of lessons along the way, the biggest one was not to let DSD have any more than restricted access to our walls on facebook, because all of a sudden DSD seemed very opinionated about what me and her dad did in our spare time and how all of a sudden we were spending too much money on ourselves and not enough on her (we suspect this message came from the mum, not her and guess what, mum has full access to her phone every night)
In a way though, I rise to the psychological challenge of being the bigger person in all of this, I've never bad-mouthed the mum in front of her children, I've always maintained that our home is their home and we've parented in the same way that we would have done.
It did take a bit of reasoning with my OH to start to get him to push back, but that was mostly because our DSD was getting to that entitled, grabby stage that I think all teenagers do. getting him out of the Disney dad phase took some coaching but he went with it and now we're all very happy bar the occasional teenage drama llama moments.
It's a shame that it has to be like this with some, as Bananas says, there's an element of the exw throwing their weight around and it's unneccesary in my book. the DSC's have on occasion been used as cannon fodder and it's extremely transparent. We have a bottom line as well on what we will accept without rising to the bait, some battles are not worth it as we can see that the children are always put in the firing line on this. Over time they'll see that as they grow older, they're smart kids.
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