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I don't know what to do with his children, help me please.(18 Posts)
Hi everyone, this could probably be long but please stick with me as I really need advice. My first post ever so please excuse me for any mistakes.
I am 24 my partner is 29, we have a son together who is 4 months old and my partner has a son (6) and daughter (4) from a previous relationship. We used to work together until I went on mat leave (just so you know he split with his ex and we began a relationship 6 months after).
I became pregnant with in 3 months of starting our relationship, we moved in together and his children started staying 2 nights a week. Them staying was sometimes not easy as my partner ex took a dislike to me and would badmouth me to the kids, which they would then repeat to me, they would not listen to me when I spoke to them and were rude to me. After a great deal of effort we have moved past this and now have a reasonable relationship, the birth of their half brother helped a lot too as they adore him.
For the last 6 weeks or so my partner had been concerned about some of the thing the children (esp the oldest) had been saying about their mums behaviour, them having to wake her from the sofa some mornings (transpired they have been late for school on a number of occasions), empty cans and bottles around house, being disturbed by music and peoples voices at night.
When raised with ex she was defensive and refused to allow my partner to have kids the following weekend (not court order for contact so not really anything that could be done). Two weeks ago ex allowed contact to go ahead, children seemed to be a bit down and the youngest tearful, thought this may be because of no contact the week before and uncertain if it would be stopped again? At pick up the ex was verbally aggressive toward my partner, and even though the kids were in the car they obviously heard.
This weekend the children seemed not their usual self again and as pick up time started to come around the eldest was stating he didn't want to go home and the youngest was very quiet. Ex came to pick children up obviously drunk (in the car I might add) and my partner refused to hand kids over, this lead to a lot of shouting and banging on door and windows from ex which upset all the children. The police were called, she was removed from the area (I presume to home??), the children have remained with us since (sunday). Social services are doing an assessment and partner has a solicitor app in two weeks time to get advice.
Ex has admitted a drinking problem, and that she cannot cope with the kids she doesn't want contact with them at the moment. The children are obviously upset, partner has taken 2 weeks holiday and will then take some unpaid leave for a few weeks but we can't afford for him to take more than that.
I know that it is best that they stay with us but I feel out of my depth, I am just getting used to motherhood myself and now I have two other children here whom are upset and want their mum. I don't have much experience with children, no nieces/nephews friends with children older than 1 year. I don't know what to do with them or how I am going to cope with this situation. Please guide me in the right direction.
I think you should use the time that your dh has off work to set up routines for the children, and yourselves. Presumably your dp knows how to look after them, for want of a better phrase, and can help you become more comfortable. I would be trying to keep things as stable as you can and try to do things the way they are used to.
Eg my dc have a bath, watch tv whilst drinking milk, have a story then go to sleep. If they went to live somewhere else and they didn't get any milk any more for example it would make them feel unsettled.
I would just be as loving as possible to the dc. They must be so sad and miss their mum and their home. I would talk about a lot. 'we'll keep that picture to show mummy' etc. it must be really daunting for you. I would have found it hard to look after two children when I only had a baby.
It will be hard work for you, yes, and it is a shame this has happened when you have a very young baby of your own too. But you have the opportunity to do something really loving and kind for these children who, through no fault of their own, have been taken away from the setup they're used to. Agree with SavoyCabbage about keeping to routines. Plus cut them some slack with watching CBeebies or favourite programmes, both to make them feel secure and to give you some baby time. It's great that they're so fond of their little brother - can you get them doing stuff to amuse him, draw him pictures even, as a bonding thing?
Who else do you have around who can help with housework and so on? Take it both the stepDC are in school?
Both children are in school. My partner was thinking of changing the school to our local one (the school now is across town) but is waiting for this solicitors appointment first just to make sure he has a good chance of gaining residency (which I think so). I do worry that this will be too much of a change all at once?
My partner has no family near, nearest is about 2 hours away, my family are here and I am sure I can get my mum to help with some housework once a week or so if I ask nicely!!
A routine is a good idea and we will all know where we stand, When kids stayed before it was on weekends and my partner was relaxed about bed time/ waking up time (somewhere between 8 and 9). They had Monday off school due to the situation plus no uniforms but from monday they have been in bed for 7:45 - 8, We both think this is suitable?
Really need to work on a morning routine as I worry I won't manage to get to school on time, with everyone dressed! I am still sometimes in PJs at 10am!
We haven't really spoken about what will happen when he has to go back to work, I am presuming I will be doing mornings and school pick up until he gets home at 5:30. I don't mind this, I really want to stay home after mat leave finished so partner will be the earner. Does anyone else look after stepchildren like this and if so how did you manage at first?
I really dis like my step mum to the point where I don't see my dad (neither does my sister) and I only speak to him every 6 months or so (the last 2 times have been via text), the only purpose of this really is to let him know me and sis still alive! I don't want to f**k up and for them to end up like this with their dad.
Hi OP, you sound really kind and the children are lucky to have a step-mum who's thinking about their welfare! I would echo what others say about routine - it's really comforting for children, because at least they know when things will happen even when there is other uncertainty in their lives. I wouldn't change their schools yet - it would probably be too much change for them, but it's obviously something that could be done in the future.
Something else I would suggest is to keep talking to them about their mum and make sure what you say is positive - it would be quite damaging for the if they felt like they couldn't express that they miss her for fear of your reaction. Tbh, if you deal with this one sensitively (and sounds like you're prepared to) you could be doing them a massive favour in terms of reducing the potential negative impact of this on their lives.
I know it will be hard work, but just keep being kind and always give them notice before anything happens (kids don't like surprises, makes the feel out of control) and you'll do fine. Good luck! Xx
They'll need to go to bed earlier than that I think, as they'll have to be up early too. They've beenthrough a lot, so will be mentally exhaustrd.
It's neary half term, so you'll have a breather soon.
It's a shock to your system, but your DP MUST shoulder as much of the responsibility as possible, they are his DC, and they'll need his comfort, and you'll need his support in everything.
Fwiw, you're both doing the right thimg by those DC. It won't be easy, but they can't be left in that appalling environment.
With a 4 month old you are doing well to be OUT of pjs, at all, by 10am, I think. But yes, mornings will be challenging. Can you do the Flylady thing and get as much as possible ready the night before, plus have everything on the 'launch pad' (she calls it, just the place where you have schoolbags etc all ready to go). Buy in some stuff like cereal bars that will do for a breakfast that can be eaten walking to school if really in a hurry. I recommend Batiste as a way of making your hair look halfway reasonable in 30 secs if you haven't had time to shower and wash hair in the mornings If your DP can help as much as possible with getting the older ones ready too that gives you more chance to see to the baby. But also at 4 months you can take them out in sleepsuits etc in the day and it doesn't really matter (well, in my view it doesn't, anyway.)
And as Hissy said, you are doing something really good for these kids.
I'd also second a slightly earlier bedtime, maybe 7-7.30, certainly for the 4 yo. Also, that way if they won't settle and are up and down a bit, their eventual bedtime won't be too bad.
You sound really caring OP, and I'm glad you have asked for help rather than just muddling through and getting more and more out of your depth and upset with it.
My advice would be allow most things to be put on the back burner and just concentrate on your family. Look after your baby and the little ones, get a routine in place but don't be too rigid. Just remember, even if you have to do the school run, you can still slob out when you get home. Just have bags, uniform and lunches ready the night before, quick swipe with a flannel and teeth cleaning is all you need after breakfast.
I really wouldn't move them from their school. They need friends and teachers - familiar, stable things - around them. I know it's a pain having to trek across town but my feeling is it will be best for them.
It is a huge amount for you suddenly to have to deal with, but school will give the day a good routine, and once you've got them home, a snack and homework plus some TV should see you through to their dad coming home. I wonder if your DP is able to vary his hours a bit so you're at least not having to tackle the morning school run on your own for a while? Can you speak to the mums of the children's particular friends? You may find some only too anxious to help make this transition easier for you.
Plastic, you sound wonderful. However hard it is, you are doing the right thing.
Hi Plastic my 6 yr old DSD came to live with us in similar circumstances (weekend access visit, never went home) when my DD was six months old. It was a shock to the system, that's for sure, and I struggled at first though I didn't have DH taking leave either!
DSD's Mum lived over an hour away, so we had to change her school, and in some ways I think that was easier for her. I've found she doesn't like her two lives to be linked - she & her Mum don't speak while she's with us, for instance. That used to really worry me but it seems to be what they both prefer so I try to roll with it!
Two years on, DSD & I have a good relationship, she's a right little minx at times but then compared to the other girls in her class she's an angel, so I suspect she's about normal really! The hardest thing for me is that DH is now refusing to have any more children, because 'we've already got two', and that as a SAHM I do all the drudge work but unlike with my bio DD I don't get any of the emotional payback, if that makes sense. She loves me but she idolises her Mum.
I just keep on being the best Mum I can be and hope that in time my effort will be appreciated - am quietly worried about the teen years though!
Ask me any questions you like, if I keep blethering this'll turn into an epic!
Good luck & remember that the kids will be floundering more than you are - be a steady,loving presence in their lives & all the rest will sort itself out.
Are there any local kids workshops you can utilise at half term ? Sometimes just an hour by yourself in a coffee shop can make ALL the difference to your sanity when feeling overwhelmed.
Personally I'd keep them at their current school for the continuity until at least Xmas. Staring reception is a big enough deal for the four year old without her Mum going on a bender. getting some fixed household routines in place will also help them feel much more secure.
I'd also ask social services to organsie a weekly councelling session for both children that you & your hubby are not present at. This is so they get a totally independent adult to offload to in an emotionally safe environment, and to take some of the strain for their emotional well being off your shoulders. Also their teachers know them so can provide that little bit of familiar comforting tlc if they need it.
I'd set the 4 year olds bedtime at 6.30 -7 with lights out at 7.30 latest and perhaps half an hour later for the older child if he likes reading in bed. Never underestimate the power of a bedtime story and a good snuggle for a child's emotional well being either It's something the baby will also enjoy too. perhaps the elder child can read a short piece to the younger ones every night as part of the routine? Both for practice and for bonding.
This will give you an extra half hour in the evenings to get uniforms laid out, lunches made, PE kits checked etc so avoiding the mad morning rush. Your partner could do the baby to bed routine.
We make Saturday night games night when we play board games, watch a DVD and have pizza and popcorn. Kids love it & it's great for family bonding- perhaps you and your partner could do the same? simple games like snap and snakes and ladders are best.
I'm assuming your partner has parental responsibility so there is no reason for this situation not to become permanent, with weekend visits to Mum once she's straightened herself out. Therefore the more structure & routine you install now - the easier it'll be for you in the long run to manage your home and family life.
Do ensure social services gives you access to the children's red books so you know when any vaccinations/check ups etc are due. In your shoes I'd change the children's GP to my own for simplicities sake. It would be helpful for you to have the reassurance of knowing you can take them to a surgery familiar to you in the event of emergency (every practice has different complex appt booking rules etc it seems nowadays). I'd do the same with the dentist. Dealing with an intractable receptionist at the same time as caring for someone else's kids would finish me off I think.
Don't be scared to ask SS for the name of a reliable trustworthy child minder that you can rely on in the event of random hospital appts etc once your DP goes back to work. Taking 3 kids to these things can be a PITA. They know this so really won't mind your asking. Likewise the school won't be offended if you need to ask about their curriculum or homework etc as they'll know you weren't expecting to negotiate reading schemes etc for a few years yet lol!
Those kids are lucky to have someone as kind as you in their lives.
Thank you all so much for your advice and very kind words.
When I told my mum I had started this relationship she said I must be prepared for the possibility that at some point through choice or circumstance that the children may come to live with us and that I must accept this.
Have brought bedtime forward to 7:15pm tonight and will continue with this. I like the idea of getting the older ones to read to the baby, this could be something my partner could do every night with all of them while I find something else to do (or not!) for 10-15 mins.
School is aware of what has happened so they can keep an extra eye out for them at this time. I shared some of the views you guys have expressed about school and partner has decided to keep it where it is for now and to think about moving nearer xmas for the new term.
We have made a to do list (thanks for your suggestions!):
Partner has arranged a meeting with work to see about reducing hours a little so he can start a little later and take kids to breakfast club at school on the way to work and maybe have an early finish 2 days a week so fingers crossed he is able to for the short term at least.
Social worker coming out on Thursday will ask;
Ask for some sort of weekly support for kids,
List of, or where to find list of childminders/holiday clubs and the like for holiday time and possible for if partner cannot reduce work for a short time.
Change GP/Dentist. Will do this and make appointments so Drs can advise on any missing injections as i don't think there is much chance of getting red book from ex if I am honest, so partner can sort injections if needed ASAP.
Partner to make appointment with school teachers to discuss current stages of children and support to be given at home.
Phone child benefit and notify them of change.
Phone tax credits helpline to see if we are now eligible, which I do believe so as I am sure I saw somewhere that if your have 3 children 42,000 is the max income limit.
Phone CSA to inform them- Partner and ex used them when they first split to make calculation but partner pays direct to her not through them but will inform them anyway as unsure if it's anything to do with them and better to contact than not.
Partners mum and sister are going to come for a couple of days in half term so that will be nice for the kids and some extra help- you never know we could get that child free coffee someone suggested!
Thanks so much again, your kind words will stay in my mind as I find my way and I know where to come if I need advice in the week/months (years?!) to come.
Have just read through this thread. You sound so calm, sensible and loving. I'm sure you'll find a way through this. Loads of luck to you.
For school mornings get everthing ready that you can the night before - get them to help with this, clothes out in a pile, packed lunches made, baby's outfit out ready, breakfast cereals out on the table etc etc. We also found it quickest to get them up and dressed straight away and then downstairs, if you have a downstairs loo keep a toothbrush in their each.
Don't be afraid to get your sdc little "chores" to do, be up front with the "I need help with x y z" like clearing the table, chatting to the baby etc etc. When you pick them up from school it's a good idea to take a snack and a drink - they are tired and hungry nowt big, cream cracker or rice cake or piece of fruit.
You could investigate spaces at schools nearer to you with a view to moving them after half term/a few weeks?
Just to add here, I didnt catch whether you are working or not, but I wouldnt, especially in the circumstances, be intending to use anything like full time childcare for the children during school holidays. For non working families, holidays are a time to do stuff together with your family, and chill in your home.
I know it probably feels a bit overwhelming to you at present,but when you get the hang of things I dont think you will need full time care in the hols, and neither do I think it will benefit the children or their relationship with you
I don't live with my dp so I might not be the best at giving advice, but here goes anyway . He has a had a similar situation with regards to his ex (mh and alcohol issues), although it ended up temporary and she had them back a couple of weeks later. SS weren't involved, but I wish they had been! If it was my ex who was pissed in charge of the kids then I would have called SS faster than I normally call Domino's Pizza! What follows will be a complete brain dump, with no ordering system, so please don't look for one!
I'd look into if there's a Homestart centre near you as volunteers may be willing to be an independent ear and source of advice for you.
I think you are doing the right thing in not changing schools, if they can't see their mum then they are going to need the comfort of their friends, plus their teachers will know them and pick up on any changes in behaviour. If I were you I would ask one or two of their best friends over for a playdate at halfterm - kids are almost always easier to entertain with their friends there and you'll have a bit of space to do stuff with the baby, or if your house looks like mine did when I had a 4 month old, suggest a soft play. I would steer clear of explaining to the other parents what the situation is though, just say how delighted you are to have them for a while.
I wouldn't bother trying to get the baby dressed for the school run, a cardigan/blanket over a babygrow is a good cloak!
As for the kids, be there for them, listen to them, play with them (try getting the electronic version of Uno if you want an entertaining way to pass an hour), allow them to talk about mummy, maybe spend some time with them making her cards etc. Maybe your partner could get in touch with his ex's parents so they can take the children out for a few hours at half-term? If not, and budget allows, I'd consider getting a Wii so the kids can entertain themselves on something like bowling when you're trying to do things, which might feel better than them sitting in front of TV AND it will help wear them out!
It sounds like both you and dp are doing all the right things. I'm glad he has the confidence to take control and remove the kids from a potentially harmful situation. After years in an abusive relationship, my dp's confidence is so low he doesn't think he would be able to work full time and raise his kids properly. I don't know why as he sees me do it week in week out!
I'm rambling, sorry! Best of luck with everything - just keep putting ALL the kids first and you won't go far wrong! x
I admire you greatly for how good you are being about this, many wouldnt even try to cope
On a practical level, getting them to school is easier if you dont worry about stuff you dont need to do. All you need is them in uniforms, with their packed lunches, you and the baby covered up and warm. The baby doesnt need to be fully dressed, you dont need to be "done" with hair/makeup etc, coats cover a multitude of sins! You can feed the baby whilst they are having their breakfast (put cereal in the bowls the night before).
If you dont have a slow cooker, get one! Far easier to prepare dinner in the morning during the babys nap than trying to cook in the evening. You have to eat a fair amount of casseroles, but its a small price to pay!
I make sandwiches once a month and freeze them. It saves enough time in the morning to make it worthwhile. H and I set up a production line, I butter, he fills, I bag, he tags! Then the night before I get out the required sandwiches for the next day and make up the lunchbags, leaving them in the fridge ready to go. I also use bread rolls rather than sliced bread, as my lot leave "crusts" otherwise (basically half a sandwich with a bite taken out!).
And go easy on yourself. I have six kids, and you would think that would be organised and sorted. Nope! Some days I run them to school in the car (we live literally around the corner!) dash them in via the office, chucking money at the secretary on the way for dinners! You just have to realise what is important and what isnt. Washing is, ironing isnt. Food is, cordon bleu isnt. Clean is, tidy isnt (within limits, if you can see 75% of the floor, you're ok!).
As for school, I think that Xmas will be too soon tbh. I wouldnt be thinking about moving them until the next school year, so they start a new school in September. At this age, a couple of months wont be enough, give them a year to get used to the new normal before changing anything that you dont have to change.
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