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Or is DSC's mum?

(137 Posts)
RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 16:36:53

Name changed as the details make me identifiable in real life. Sorry it's so long but I feel the context is important as it explains why a lot of the usual solutions couldn't apply to us.

DH has four DCs who we used to have every week from 6pm Thursday through till 2pm Sunday. Last year the access changed slightly so that once a month the DCs are only with us from 6pm Thursday till 8pm Friday so that they get to spend some quality weekend time with their mum (they are still with us for all the other weekends) - this change was tentatively put forward by DH then reluctantly accepted by DC's mum a few months later. The kids on the other hand were very pleased with the new set-up.

DH and I are finding it a strain on our relationship only having two weekend days per month together. Although the kids ages range between 10-16, the two eldest are on the autistic spectrum (they attend special schools) therefore not only are they not in the usual position of being able to pull their weight with household chores such as sorting their own washing or lunches etc, they're not out and about like most other kids their age. They have a specialist babysitter who they're only comfortable with as they've know her for years, their mum often utilises her during the week but as the babysitter quite rightly has weekends off we can't use her during our time for anything but very special occasions. Come Sunday afternoon DH and I are too peopled out and knackered to do anything much together. I appreciate we get to spend Mon-Wed evenings together but we're both tired after work, have all the kids washing and food shopping to catch up on, and let's face it if weekday evenings were sufficient downtime in themselves then weekends wouldn't need to exist for anybody.

The DCs don't enjoy having the transition between houses falling in the middle of the Sunday either as they don't get to enjoy either a lazy day in their PJs nor enough time to have a proper day out with us - breakfast and lunch are crammed in close together and the DCs are rushing about getting their stuff ready to go back to mum's.

Bearing all this in mind DH has proposed to DC's mum that we still have the kids every week from Thu-Fri, but that she increases her Saturdays & Sundays with the DCs from one weekend per month to every other weekend. In return, on the weekends that the DC are with us we will now keep them from Thursday night through till the Monday morning so the number of nights we have them is actually unchanged. The DCs benefit by getting to enjoy proper leisure time with their mum as well as their dad, and Sundays will no longer be dominated by the handover.

When DH asked DC's mum if they could have a meeting as he wanted to discuss changing the access arrangements the first thing she said was "I can't do that" even before knowing what the proposal was. She then said that if he wanted to have the kids less then she would stop contact altogether, then put the phone down on him. She then texted to say we were selfish and had no right to dictate to her. She hasn't once explained why she thinks it would be bad for the kids.

DC's mum works full time and is in receipt of all of the child benefits plus full maintenance from DH with no reductions for the time he has them, because for the first year post-separation they had a "nesting" access arrangement - DH did not reduce this when he moved out. In addition to this DH pays for half the cost for uniforms, school trips etc although she could comfortably afford them without his additional contribution. I have only brought up the finances as relevant in order to be clear that we are not proposing any changes in order to reduce maintenance as ExP is already at full whack so to speak and knows she would remain so.

I can already hear the cries of "but what would you do if something happened to his ExP and you had the DCs full time?" Well for a start we would receive all of the child-related benefits (and due to DLA they are substantial in this case). We would be significantly better off and could afford to move to a bigger house so that we wouldn't all feel so on top of each other, especially as none of the kids even pop to the sweetshop let alone socialise. We would also get to use the babysitter and get our breathing space that way. DC's mum has a huge 6 bedroom house, the kids are at school for the majority of the days she has them, plus she uses the babysitter every week, so she gets a lot more personal space than we do. I am not resentful of that fact in itself, but I am resentful that it upsets DH when she still complains that she is hard done by and that he doesn't pull his weight, and ignores the fact that even with the proposed changes he is still having the DC more than most non-resident parents (incidentally DH would be happy to have 50/50 care with the benefits split equally but DC's mum doesn't want that).

AIBU to think its not normal for a mother to be fighting so hard in order not to spend more weekend time with her children? Or is she right in that DH and I are being unspeakably selfish?

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 16:37:43

OMG that post really was an epic, sorry!!

WooWooOwl Wed 12-Feb-14 16:46:51

AIBU to think its not normal for a mother to be fighting so hard in order not to spend more weekend time with her children?

YABVU with that comment. Why should the mother want more time when the father clearly doesn't?

I don't think it's right that the ex says that your DH doesn't pull his weight, it sounds like he very much does, but at the same time I don't think you have any right to complain that you only get two weekend days a month child free. Your DH is lucky to get any regular days a month child free considering he has four children.

YANBU to ask for arrangements to be altered if it's what will suit the children best, but asking is all you can do. I don't think you can push it and remain in the right about this.

Only1scoop Wed 12-Feb-14 16:52:05

Op have you and Dh have any dc together?

BobPatSamandIgglePiggle Wed 12-Feb-14 16:53:46

Yanbu - you and dh need some time alone too.

Do you live close to their mum? Could you do a wholw week each with the children or do a rota of 4 on 4 off so that the weekends and weekdays rotate more fairly?

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 16:53:50

Thanks WooWoo, but I already said we'd increase our time on the weekends that we did have the kids, or do 50/50. Why should the mother get to dictate the access time?

LaGuardia Wed 12-Feb-14 16:54:54

DH and I are finding it a strain on our relationship only having two weekend days per month together

Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting. What a strange comment for a 'committed' stepmother to make!

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 16:56:49

No, me and DH have no DC together.

The whole jist of my post (that may have got lost within all my waffle!) is that the weekends and weekdays do not rotate fairly at the moment.

BobPatSamandIgglePiggle Wed 12-Feb-14 16:59:12

I don't think its a strange comment.

My brother is separated from his dc mother. She has them midweek, when they're at school. Receives benefits and maintenance and has every weeke free. My brother hasn't been able to meet anyone else as he's always at work / has the kids all weekend . Sh gows mental if he asks for a weekend off. He has no social life. Unfair imho

Only1scoop Wed 12-Feb-14 16:59:33

It sounds like you have very little time together. It seems an unfair split....
And defensive when asked for meeting, I bet she doesn't want this set up to alter one bit....

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 16:59:34

LaGuardia so why is it ok for their mum to have 6-8 weekend days per month child free? Where is she in this wonderful world of parenting?

All this ignores the fact the the kids themselves would love the extra quality time with their mum.

WooWooOwl Wed 12-Feb-14 17:00:12

It doesn't sound like the mother is dictating the access time. It sounds like she wants to stick with the arrangement she made with her co parent before he, or more likely you, decided you wanted a change.

She's not doing anything wrong.

You are accusing her of dictating the arrangement when you are trying to do exactly the same thing!

WooWooOwl Wed 12-Feb-14 17:01:18

How are the school holidays split?

jenniferlawrence Wed 12-Feb-14 17:01:20

I don't think YABU from my own experience. DH and I share custody with his ex of their 2 boys. Both me and DH and ex and her boyf have other children. We have the boys from Weds to Fri every week and from Weds to Sun every other week. This means that the weekends are split equally, 2 per month with us, 2 per month with their Mum. This arrangement is fair as we both get 2 weekends a month to do family things with them and 2 weekends per month 'off'. They are quite hard work so we all appreciate our weekends off.

I think the weekends should be split equally.

holidaysarenice Wed 12-Feb-14 17:06:19

Personally whilst it is not a popular opinion, I'd be going down the all or nothing route. She works with you to find the best access arrangement for all, kids you guys and her.

Otherwise its her stamping her feet and you can stamp back, financially. With that extra finance you can afford more space, more help, eg a cleaner/ironing service so you have more time together.

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 17:06:52

WooWoo I used the word dictating because that's what she said to us. Why does she get the final say? The access arrangement was set up four years ago, agreed to by DH whilst he was still coming to terms with her leaving him. Is it fair that we have to abide to that for a further 8 years till the youngest hits 18?

WooWooOwl Wed 12-Feb-14 17:07:04

If weekends should be split equally then so should the weekdays. But then that ends up with complete 50/50, and I don't think that's in the best interests of children.

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 17:07:45

BTW school holidays are split equally.

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 17:10:11

Taking into account school etc, we worked out that in terms of waking hours that the kids actually get to spend with their parents, we actually have them more. So how can 50/50 be a bad thing?

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Wed 12-Feb-14 17:10:33

Having very little alone time is just a fact of life when you have children.
I used to see my parent once every 6-8 weeks for a few hours and even that was too much for them. I have NC at all with them now. Knowing you aren't fully wanted is pretty shit for anyone.

The ex is being unreasonable to say she will stop access if her ex doesn't stick to what is in place now but I would be tempted to call her bluff if you can't make it more fair with the free time. Both parties are lucky in that they aren't full time child carers so get a break but it really should be more equal.

At the moment she gets all the CB, maintenance, the support of a baby sitter and free time.

Your DH gets none of the above other than 2-3 nights a week without his children. The fact you are tired on those evenings after work is just life I'm afraid.

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 17:15:32

I still don't understand why having little alone time when you have children applies only to us, not her, whilst she reaps the financial benefits as though the reverse were the case.

Thanks everyone for the comments so far, it helpful to get differing perspectives.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 12-Feb-14 17:16:39

Your proposal for contact doesn't sound unreasonable to me - I don't really understand why either parent wouldn't want some weekend time with their dc.

Don't know how you'll get it across to the ex-wife though tbh, if she won't even discuss it. Is she angry with him for any other reason?

Can he write it in a e-mail to her?

pixiepotter Wed 12-Feb-14 17:19:19

Does she have an involved partner to share the workload?
Did your DP leave her for you?

Nojustalurker Wed 12-Feb-14 17:27:22

No helping with the direct issue but could you contact ss for advice about the kids getting respite care or an outreach worker.

RougeRoyale Wed 12-Feb-14 17:29:49

DSC's mum had an emotional affair with her now-DP which became physical shortly after she finished with DH. I didn't meet DH till nearly a year after their split.

Her DP struggles with the children therefore she spends Thu-Sun at her DPs house. Her DP refuses to travel to her apart from when it's unavoidable. I didn't like to speculate but I think this plays a large part in why the Ex is so adamant she doesn't want her kids during weekend.

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