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How to do routine when X is self-employed?

(22 Posts)
circlehead Mon 20-Jun-11 18:21:05

DS dad is a musician/composer/producer/--idiot--. When he has work on, he is constantly busy with meetings/recordings/rehearsals/just working to deadlines. I never know from one day to the next when he will be seeing DS. I will just be informed that he has the following day free, or like father's day he was due to have DS, but in the morning when I tried to find out if I was taking or he was collecting, he hadn't got his work finished so couldn't have him after all. DS is only 10M so no big deal atm, but I don't want things to continue like this once DS is more aware.

Despite what XP may think, I bend over backwards to try to accomodate his chaotic lack of schedule, often at the expense of my own plans. XP is incapable of making any sort of concrete arrangement i.e ''What time will you come and get him?'' ''I'm not sure yet, just waiting to hear back about such-and-such'' ''Are you having him overnight?'' ''I don't know yet, I might have to go to the studio''. It's just utterly impossible. And although I am just on benefits at the mo so not doesn't make a great deal of difference to my life, in time I will be going back to work and will need to arrange childcare etc.

Of course I want DS to see his dad lots, but how can we continue like this? Unless DS dad gets a 9-5 (which he would rather slit his throat than do), I don't see how we will ever have a regular arrangement.

circlehead Mon 20-Jun-11 18:21:57

Oh P.S - XP also says in time he would like to do 50/50 hmm

sunshineandbooks Mon 20-Jun-11 19:01:18

This is rubbish. How does he think self-employed single parents manage? It's a question of priorities, and yes there will be occasions where something comes up and has to be dealt with (like there is for any parent with a job), but you can work around these if he's otherwise consistent and reliable.

If you can be flexible because it's not messing up your own plans, then do so as it's the bigger thing to do. But do not cancel your own plans on his account. He is being very unreasonable to do that to you, especially to not even pay you the courtesy of letting you know he cannot come.

He's a parent. Having to rearrange your life to fit around the needs of your child comes with the territory. If he loves his son and values him growing up with a sense of security, he will agree to keep certain times on certain days free for his son unless something exceptionally important happens or there is an emergency - i.e. on very RARE occasions.

Unless you can get him to commit to a regular schedule, I would strongly suggest you do not rely on him for childcare if you go back to work. You will be setting yourself up for a life of anxiety where he is constantly letting you down.

allegrageller Mon 20-Jun-11 19:14:41

I think OP that you bending over backwards to accommodate him is probably not helping you. Co-parents have to work according to a schedule or it doesn't work. Your comments about how ds will feel when he is older, and your plans to work, demonstrate this and I think you know it.

Give x a schedule to stick to and if he doesn't stick to it, tough. Ffs we're all busy and have deadlines, but if we have to look after kids, they have to be managed around them.

circlehead Mon 20-Jun-11 19:36:52

Thank you, Sunshine! XP is typically EA and makes me feel like I am being extortionately unreasonable if I make any noise about him not seeing DS as is convenient for him - (''You took my son away from me'' bollocks. He essentially wants the convenience of living with DS so he is always there for him to see when he's not ''busy'').

I have suggested before that we arrange a schedule and try to stick to it as closely as possible, unless as you say, something uber-important and un-arrangable(?) comes up. But of course, this doesn't work for him. I agree with you that he should be prioritising DS and simply saying ''sorry, I can't do a meeting on tues, I have my son, but weds is fine'' or whatever ?

I suspect it is all about control. He is a master manipulator/blackmailer. He is still outraged that I left him despite the fact he had it coming and frequently harasses me about getting back together, guilt trips me about not seeing DS enough (even though he sees him at every opportunity, I have never said no), DS coming from a broken home, etc. He tries to use his time with DS to spend time with me. With regard to father's day, he had text previously to see DS, fine. Next time I saw him, he cried when I said no I wouldn't be there too, I've made plans (''I just thought you might want to make my 1st father's day special'' blah blah blah). On the day I txt saying, I want to be out by 1, when are you coming? He replied ''So no family time then?''. I replied ''No I told you, I've made plans. This day is about you and DS. Sorry if you're upset. What time are you coming?'' He then called to say I've got loads of deadlines, so will leave it for today, but I have monday free angry . So he was available while he thought he would be spending the day pestering me, but suddenly he was busy when it was just DS. (This is a reoccurring theme - ''Just come for lunch with us, it's boring sitting with him on my own'' dick . (I made the mistake when we broke up of saying I would like us to be able to still do things with DS together occasionally, but is something I am cracking down on now).

Sorry gone off on tangent, but maybe relevent?

sunshineandbooks Mon 20-Jun-11 20:00:43

Oh dear, somehow I just knew you were going to come back on and say something along these lines. You are absolutely right to listen to your instincts. He is using contact to control you. The giveaway is him trying to use his contact time to see you rather than concentrating on your DS.

I made this mistake too. I thought it would be in my DCs interests to do things together 'as a family' and I thought it would be a sign of how mature we were to be able to do this. Unfortunately, it never works with a manipulative abusive type, as you're learning. sad And besides which, while it sounds nice, it isn't actually necessary. A child with two loving parents doesn't need those parents to do everything together. In fact the benefit of having one-to-one time with a parent cannot be overestimated!

Stick to your guns. Insist on drawing up a schedule and make it clear that if he misses it he will have to wait until the next day on the schedule. If he misses out on contact that is because he has prioritised something else over seeing his son and it is not your problem. Don't get into a discussion with him about it as he will come up with all sorts of manipulative rubbish that will leave your head spinning and finds you agreeing with something you're not happy with. If it helps, put it all in a letter and have it signed, witnessed and sent via recorded delivery.

Be warned, he will probably go around telling all and sundry that you are stopping him from seeing his son and that he's 'heartbroken' etc (though clearly not enough to choose his DS over work hmm). Don't let it get to you. It may take time but others will see through him eventually and who cares what they think anyway as long as you know you're doing the right thing for you and your DS.

Good luck. I know it's easier to talk about all this on here than it is to actually do it in real life. smile

circlehead Mon 20-Jun-11 22:04:32

Thanks Sunshine.

Yes it all seems so straightforward when you discuss it with someone who isn't EA, but as you say, you can very quickly get caught out with their manipulations, and it's not until you've had time to think you realise they've got their way again sad I feel so exhausted knowing all this sort of rubbish will be going on for years, when it could just be simple. He always has to cause conflict. Time and time again I've thought of going through courts but just don't want it to have to get to that. Been using myself as a buffer to keep things ''amicable'' hmm

I've no doubt he would make me out to be a superbitch. I'm sure all his (some mutual) friends would have heard is ''she just left and took my son away'' etc. In true EA style, he can portray himself as a loving, caring dad who just wants the best for his son. Speaking to one mutual friend a few months back, I told him about the harassment and MF was like ''no, i'm sure it's not like that, he just wants you guys to be able to spend time together as friends for DS's sake. He's realised it's over and has said he won't try to persue you anymore.'' God knows what other BS he tells people...

In some ways, I don't want to go in all guns blazing saying this is the routine, like it or lump it. Because I know that would incense XP into going for 50/50, and as it stands at the mo, I have DS the majority of the time, which I think is best as he is only 10m, we are still BF, I am not working, I have always been main carer etc. So I feel like I am putting up with XP seeing DS as and when so as not to rock the boat, iyswim? Or is that where he holds his power?

If it were to come to XP demanding 50/50, which I guess he may well be entitled to, can I just take it to court to try and stop him, for the sake of DS best interests? Surely you cannot do 50/50 with a 10mo?

sunshineandbooks Mon 20-Jun-11 22:17:36

Can't see a court awarding 50/50 with a 10-month-old still BF-ing.

You have DS full time at the moment, which will go in your favour too.

Are you keeping a note of all the times he's promised contact and failed to turn up? If not, start doing so. Try and get as much proof as you can. It will help the courts see (if it comes to that) that he's not really serious about it and is using it as a means of controlling you.

I just posted something similar on another thread, but the 'I'll go for residency or 50/50' threat is something that abusive types seem to have learned from script. They all do it because they know you fear it. It is simply another form of control. Some men do follow it through, but the vast majority do not. They don't actually want the responsibility that comes with being the primary carer (which as you know is pretty intense with a very young child). If your XP can't manage to keep time free for your son for a contact visit, how on earth does he think he'll manage if he got 50/50? He wouldn't and he knows it.

It's always worth trying to keep things amicable but not at the expense of your well-being. You are the primary carer. What your DS needs more than anything is a mother who is coping and being treated right, not a mother who is being walked over because she is trying hard to be amicable. If your XP won't play fair, he has forfeited that right. I actually found that once I laid down the law with my XP he became a lot more respectful and easier to manage.

I am not a lawyer so you may want to go to see someone professional about the issue of residency, but I'm pretty sure your XP wouldn't go for it if you showed you weren't intimidated.

WishIWasRimaHorton Mon 20-Jun-11 22:27:28

unlikely there would be 50/50 with a 10 mo. however, shared residence (which is not the same as 50/50) is increasingly popular and the courts don't actually have to be able to prove there is a positive benefit to the child in doing it. there needs obviously to be an absence of abuse / neglect, but they will consider that it is in the child's best interests to be have a home with both mother and father and to have equal rights to a relationship with both parents as long as there are no reasons why this should not be the case (and the reasons need to be very clear - physical / emotional abuse, neglect etc). this doesn't necessarily mean a split of 50/50 but it does mean that the child can have a home in both places.

but at the moment, you have residence and the child is very young. although my child was only 19 months old when shared residence was decreed to be appropriate for her...

circlehead Mon 20-Jun-11 23:18:20

Thanks, both.

Yes XP had DS the other day. I'd only been home a couple of hours when I received ''It's hard looking after him by yourself isn't it?'' (For the record, DS is a very easy baby, if such a thing exists!) I read your post on the other thread, uncannily similar, their brains must all be wired in the same factory. XP also lives in London, and I have moved back to Essex where I come from to be around friends and family, so obviously this is another obstacle. (He comes from Essex too but hates it and is determined not to move back, so again, not sure how that will work?)

WishIWas - I remember reading your thread before and it made for really uncomfortable reading sad How are you getting on now? My XP will have DS overnight at least once a week, although he had him Fri and has him again tonight (just because those were the nights he didn't have anything on hmm ). So I obviously am not trying to be obstructive to him having DS, but like you, I believe a very young child should have the security of having a main home/carer.

XP just cannot appreciate how accommodating I am trying to be - it's never enough. It will never be enough until he harassed me into getting back together with him, then DS is always around and XP doesn't have to take any responsibility for childcare. He was never this concerned about DS's wellbeing until I dumped him!

allegrageller Tue 21-Jun-11 09:56:20

The courts will generally award 50:50 where there is already a pattern of almost equally shared living. A shared residence order is something very much separate from equally shared living arrangements.

WishIWas, did the court actually order entirely shared living arrangements? I n my case I was trapped into it when ds2 was around 20 months. I initially had a breakdown and left the family home, I thought temporarily...during that time xH and I were doing 50:50 at his insistence. I hated it but was too ill to fight. By the time I was ready to change things it was too late. He threatened me with various injunctions etc if I tried to change the children's living arrangements. Also, I was aware enough of the law by then to realise that the status quo is what the court tends to support, especially for younger children. All the evidence points to the importance of a main carer for children under FOUR.

It just does not sound as if your xp is organised enough to achieve this- my xH is a barrister entirely used to fighting stuff out in court, and is deeply possessive and controlling- he ensured he had sufficient nanny care and family support to ensure he never needed to ask me to have the kids for the 3.5 (!! exactly- men are so obsessed with 50:50 arent' they...) days a week he initially had them. (It's now gone up to 4 sad due to my chaotic work arrangements, which I hate....) I can't see your xp managing this by the sound of him.

allegrageller Tue 21-Jun-11 09:58:39

btw if I had been well enough to fight when ds2 was under 4 I might (just) have got primary residence despite the 'status quo'- but as I'd already appeared to 'leave', maybe not- also xp was prepared to argue that I was too much of a 'bad mother' due to mental illness to have primary residence (although he was happy for me to have 50:50 despite his apparent opinion that I was a 'child abuser'...strange that...). This is a very different situation from the one you're in where you already have primary care.

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 14:04:43

oh allegrageller - my heart goes out to you. that is so hard.

yes - court did rule shared residence. i have the kids 8 nights a fortnight; he has them 6...

allegrageller Tue 21-Jun-11 14:32:27

similar pattern to you then Wish. xH was obsessed with 3.5 days each hmm and weekday handover, split weekend which totally controls my life, means dcs and I cannot travel at weekends etc.

Horrible isn't it. I have been depressed lately and find it hard to even motivate myself to leave the house when we are not with me.

I feel somehow that the fact that he 'got' 50:50 undermines me deeply as a mother even though I rationally know that's not the case. I bite my lip a lot when colleagues and friends tell me they are 'dreading' spending 1 or 2 nights away from their dcs at a conference.

All the same my situation is not the end of the world, and ds1 seems fine although I do worry for ds2 who was basically deprived of his primary carer for half the time at age 20 months (and I was also severely depressed and grieving about the split and the partial 'loss' off the dcs at the time so when he was with me I doubt my parenting was ideal...sad)

Do you think dd has adapted OK to this pattern or is it too early to tell? I worry that ds1 has a bit of speech delay (nothing requiring treatment, just borderline) and seems socially anxious etc at school. Who knows he might have been like that anyway, but I tend to worry more knowing that what happened to him wasnt' the right way for him to be brought up.

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 16:32:08

i have pm'd you, allegrageller, but only after i saw your response here. i feel EXACTLY the same as you. i keep saying to myself 'what mother would have allowed this to happen?' i feel like i am NOT a mother, because a mother would never have allowed this to happen to her children. i know no-one else who has any regime vaguely like mine and everyone is horrified when they realise what the split is, which makes it worse as then i feel like a failure.

i expect there will now be loads of people who pop on here saying 'but this is EXACTLY right for the kids. they need both parents'. and i agree. they do. but not in this way... that is my view, and i know it is not shared by many people on here. but it is shared by everyone that i know in real life...

anyway, as for DD - yes i do worry very much indeed about her. she was 'deprived' of me 50% of the time when she was only 19 months. and like your X, her dad uses a nanny to do the care so that he can work long hours.

however, i have now reduced my hours at work so i am only working 3 days a week. and i will not be jointly paying for a nanny now, so she has resigned. this means that when i have the kids, i will not need childcare, other than 1 day a fortnight. whereas X will need 2 days per week, every week childcare for them. and there will be no nanny, so he will have to manage nursery / wrap-around etc.

anyway, OP - apologies for hijacking. please PM me, allegra - it would be so good to talk to you about this.

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 16:33:01

sorry - i PM'd you BEFORE i saw your response here.

allegrageller Tue 21-Jun-11 18:41:02

hi dear have also pm'd. We shall talk more later. Oh god, another nanny-deploying dad insisting he is the 'equal carer'...i think we represent the thin end of a nasty big wedge WiW.

My feeling is that 50:50 should not be an automatic solution. I was given NO avenue to argue against it by xH- despite having been the primary carer since ds1 was born. At one point xH admitted that- but still insisted that 50:50 was the only 'fair' solution. It was all about him and what was 'fair' to him, and not the kids. I have spent many a day moping at school pickup time knowing they were with his (foul-tempered and unkind) nanny when I wanted to be with them. It just sucks and I really worry if this is the future- the courts cannot equate delegated care with parental care, yet they do.

I have also considered giving up work or going p/t but I have the kind of job where in term time p/t is about 50 hours- plus my job is a 2 hour commute away. What joy!! as it is I try to work at home on Mondays and do school dropoff but work don't like it at all.

So anyway OP- you can see that 50:50 appears only to take place when the man can pay for someone else to cover most of his 50%.

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 19:54:03

yes, in fact one of the reasons that court was happy that shared care was appropriate for my 2 and 4 yr olds was precisely because we had a nanny, who did work for both of us at the time (although she has since resigned as i reduced my hours so do not need her). they actually said that she provided continuity of care and the fact that X was working long hours was not a reason for the children not to be in his house being looked after by a nanny, even though they could actually have been in my house being looked after by their mother...

i understand the lure of giving up work. at one point i considered packing the car up with the kids and my stuff and driving back to where i come from and where my parents live. giving up my job and everything just to make sure that i didn't have to live out this hell. but i didn't do it. i'm not sure that would necessarily have been the right answer for the kids, as they would then only have been able to see their father at weekends (as it is a 2hr drive away), but i was so desperate not to put them through this constant to-ing and fro-ing.

my 2yr old doesn't know what 'home' means. i have had this poo-pooed elsewhere on mumsnet, but she is a bright girl who can talk the hind leg off a donkey. and yet she uses 'home' to mean 'with me' - as in 'can i take this toy 'home' to the shops, when she means 'can i take it with me to the shops'. that makes me sad.

so OP - get yourself some good legal advice and don't give in to him. whatever you do, stay strong. my X also did next to nothing for the kids while we were together but now claims he is joint primary carer. now that he doesn't have a nanny to make sure that the right things are in the right place at the right time, we will see how well he fares, however.

and i too had from him at the weekend what a handful DD is at the moment and how he couldn't wait to put her to bed. his mum wasn't around last weekend (she is usually staying when he has the kids) so he had to manage solo. i think perhaps he is beginning to realise just what he has taken on. not that he will EVER concede that he can't cope. and he will NEVER take one step away from the shared residence / shared care. never in a million years. but i do think he is realising what a lot of work it is. just waiting for him to move a girlfriend in to share the load, but hope he has the decency to buy me out of the marital home before he does that...

circlehead Tue 21-Jun-11 20:15:28

I feel so sad and desparate reading these posts, really feel for you both, it sounds horrendous sad I hope with every fibre of my being that this isn't what's ahead for me and my DS. I will fight to the death to try and ensure it isn't. As I say I have no problem DS seeing lots of his dad. But 50/50 does not seem at all appropriate for LOs.

XP is currently living in a houseshare and could not afford a nanny so don't think I have too much to worry about... Also, as you say, it is all about what he is 'entitled' to, rather than DS's sense of security etc. I too feel that the actual reality of having DS half the time would not actually appeal to XP if he dropped his threat long enough to actually consider it.

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 20:33:25

yes, circlehead. my X always talked about it not being fair if he saw less of the kids than me. never mind that when we were together, if we were lucky, he got home in time to chase DS up the stairs to bed and read him a story (which he never wanted X to read him anyway). but most nights he wasn't home before bedtime. and he would be gone within 10 mins of the kids getting up in the morning.

and yet suddenly, when we separate, i mustn't spend a second more with the kids than him. so they are at his house when he isn't, just to stop me from seeing them. i have actually asked him about this and he said that i am trying to manipulate the situation to get additional access, which to me is insane. surely, at the age of 2 and 4, it is better for a parent to care for them than a paid employee. but apparently not, according to the courts...

i do hope that the reality of the situation makes your X reconsider his position. you have the terrible 2s ahead of you - most of the fun behaviour is yet to come!

circlehead Wed 22-Jun-11 22:03:49

''so they are at his house when he isn't, just to stop me from seeing them''
- that is truly sad sad My heart goes out to you. What is it meant to be, punishment for leaving him??

All this stuff makes me feel sick. I just wish I would turn the clock back and have never got involved with XP. I knew I should have broken it off before I (accidently) got pregnant, that's the worst thing sad I listen to my instincts much more now.

Going back to my original question re routine, XP is so controlling I have no idea how to impose it. Take yesterday for instance. I text him in the afternoon ''Can you bring DS back around 7 for dinner/bath please?'' What followed was an exchange of messages regarding the tone I'd asked him in, how HE was giving DS dinner and that time was no good for traffic, how ''he does know what he's doing'' and also ''Please don't tell me what time to bring back DS, he is OUR child remember.'' So what started out as a polite request to bring back DS before his bed time, turned into a battle. (I only text him because the last time XP brought DS home, it was 9.45pm and DS was taken out of the car asleep and put in bed in his clothes and the nappy he'd been in for God knows how long).

How do you suggest I impose a routine on this man?!?

circlehead Wed 22-Jun-11 22:11:55

Think the above is like being 'entitled' to 50/50 - trying to squeeze every last second out of DS's day, never mind that it will bugger up his bedtime.

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