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Separated. Different towns, XP and diminishing time with dd.

(52 Posts)
VoyageOfDad Thu 09-Feb-17 21:59:08

Oh wise women of mumsnet. Help me avoid a clash with my XP.

There's a storm brewing and I'd like to navigate it without sinking any ships.

I have a dd , 8 , her mum and I never lived together, dd was not planned, the relationship short lived, but we both love her very much. We also live in different towns. About an hour and a half travel each way. I do all the travel. It's exhausting.

Where she lives is too expensive for me by a long shot, and I hate where she lives. And she'd not consider moving nearer me.

We have the every other w/e agreement and I travel up once in the week too to pick dd up from school and take her to an activity.

We generally get on, in a kind of sibling way. I have the keys to her flat, we've over lapped holidays in the past to save dd having to travel too much.

I'm a pretty easy going bloke, and if XP says dd has something important on my w/e I'll usually forego dd coming to mine and travel up to see her at her mums / take her out. But it means much less time with each other.

But this is happening increasingly. XP is a good mum, and gives dd a lot of things to do, music, dance etc, all of which dd thrives at. But she very much thinks dd should stay at hers.

The problem is I'm seeing less and less of dd since before Xmas . EOW is bad enough, but since before Xmas it's ramped up a lot and my time with dd is really getting to a pathetic stage. So I have to do something.

If I forego a w/e XP will never offer any time to make it up. She'll say I can see dd anytime in the week as if that's an equal alternative, but then tell me, as example, that that particular evenings activities are X, followed by Y, and needs to be home at Z time in order to settle. And it'd probably make sense if she did it. There's a contradiction there.

I'm fine with sharing the running around but it's not a substitute for the quality time I'm loosing with dd which I've told XP.

XP has never been happy about dd traveling to mine. Tbh I don't like all the travel either, I seem to spend half my life on trains and I feel terribly guilty that dd has to travel too. But there's not really another option unless I win the lottery.

Something needs to change and I need , I think, to communicate this to XP. It could potentially cause a rapid deterioration of our relationship, but I can't go on seeing less of my darling daughter.

I can only think of two options: one is to be much more belligerent about my w/e with dd but it'll damage the relationship, and any flexibility in our dealings. And dd will absorb her mums dissatisfaction.

Or suggest XP vacates her home for my w/e , and I stay at hers, possibly her staying at mine. Which I doubt she'd go for.

I'm in a bit of a state about it all 😔

BumDNC Thu 09-Feb-17 23:20:51

I think you need to be more vocal about your feelings on this and the time with DD is being cut. This isn't about what ex wants it's about what DD wants and needs. You can approach this in a calm manner and hopefully she will reciprocate, even if she doesn't like it you are entitled to have your say. Saying nothing is like implied consent, so don't be afraid to speak up. DD is 8 and can express her own views too. Maybe you need to suggest meeting up with ex alone to discuss but also asking DD what she would like to do. If there are any underlying issues then you need to listen to these, i.e. Your living situation - is this suitable?

I wouldn't threaten court or the like to her at this stage but you may well do well to seek some legal advice, as DD is your child too and this entitles her to spend time with you. I would get some advice on where you stand and your options should the chat not go well. Ex can't just make this kind of decision by stealth, but she is because everyone is too polite to rock the boat. Speak out

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 07:50:13

I have raised my concerns. In a calm way. But it's clear we don't agree from the off, so I don't push it as it'll lead to an argument which I'm trying to avoid. I get that it's not an ideal situation, that it's disruptive for dd, but the solution can't be dd loosing touch with her dad. XP doesn't seem very supportive in this respect.

XP doesn't really take it on board. She thinks dd should be doing her clubs / activities / playdates without interuption, and if that means less time with dad ( me ) then so be it.

I've tried to be flexible, but there's no reciprication, and despite me actually wanting dd not to miss out on anything, the net result is that I see far less of dd. I've seen her for a total of 4 hours the last two weeks, which isn't acceptable.

There are zero issues with my home or me. I live in a nice home, in a beautiful part of the world, dd has her own room and everything she could wish for. There's no evil step mother, dd and I get on very well. Dd loves it here, but like me hates the travel.

I think I'm just going to have to be much more bullish about my time with dd.

Thanks for listening. Helps to have somewhere to vent rather than fire off an email to XP.

AllTheLight Fri 10-Feb-17 07:56:12

I've noticed with my own DC that the clubs and activities do start to ramp up around age 8. But of course it shouldn't take precedence over her seeing her dad.

If this carries on you may need to consider going to court to get a formal arrangement in place. First could you try seeing a mediator to reach a compromise? Make sure your ex knows you are serious about this!

unicornpoopoop Fri 10-Feb-17 08:01:40

Well you could take her to some of her clubs... He mother isn't getting quality time by ferrying her around either.

Iggi999 Fri 10-Feb-17 08:12:49

You have a nice home in a cheap location - if you moved for the next ten years to a not-as-nice flat in the other location you could see her twice as much, with little travelling. Or do you still need to travel there for work? If so the house thing is a bit of a red herring.

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 08:49:59

Well you could take her to some of her clubs... He mother isn't getting quality time by ferrying her around either

I do take her to some of her clubs, both in her mums town and mine.

Her mum may not get quality time whilst ferrying her around, but she sure gets all the quality time outside of that. No ?

If all I end up with is non-quality time ith dd then there's a problem. That is the problem !

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 08:58:55

You have a nice home in a cheap location - if you moved for the next ten years to a not-as-nice flat in the other location you could see her twice as much, with little travelling. Or do you still need to travel there for work? If so the house thing is a bit of a red herring

I don't live in a cheap location. XP lives in an expensive one. The equivalent home near her is almost 3 times the cost where I live.

It's not a question of 'not as nice' it'd be a huge change. I could probably find a depressing bedsit or tiny studio flat above a chippy near her yes. I'd be depressing as hell and dd wouldn't have her own bedroom and probably wouldn't want to visit.

TheSnowFairy Fri 10-Feb-17 09:01:35

Could you have her during holidays more so you offset the shorter weekends? You'd see her less often but for longer periods, her clubs are less likely to be on over the holidays.

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 09:15:04

snow yes that's an option I'm thinking about. There are issues around work but its on my list of suggestions for when i talk to XP.

She does tent to organize activities during holidays too but it's a possibility.

BumDNC Fri 10-Feb-17 09:21:44

I think the key point when you approach this topic is to avoid focusing on how it's making YOU feel etc. This will instantly rile someone into being less cooperative when they are trying to focus on the child in terms of activities. I think moving is probably going to be very difficult - I live in the south east and appreciate how bloody expensive it can be, you have to be practical about that.

There is a compromise somewhere here, you just have to stay calm and try to find it. DD should be spending time with you, on a regular basis and the holidays may be an ideal time. If you can assure mum that you will still fulfil the obligations of the activities, however annoying the travel is then that will help. Tell her you want to take some responsibility as well, and happy to be an equal parent.
From a mum POV, it's also hard as we work all day when they are at school and the other hours don't feel very quality when you are washing cooking and cleaning. Add to that the extra clubs and it might be less than you think they spend together actually. Selling it to her that you will take on some of that might get her on your side

Emboo19 Fri 10-Feb-17 09:41:49

I've no experience of this as a parent my dd is only 4 months.
I remember being your daughters age though and my friends and hobbies were very important to me.
My parents weren't seperated, but they did have a habit of us just going off for weekends etc, and I hated missing out on my classes. I'd go the week after and have to catch up on what everyone else knew. I remember it being a busy time for parties too, or a parent offering to take us bowling/cinema/sleepovers etc. It's not fun when you go back to school and everyone's talking about something you missed!

I think you need to think about what your daughter really wants, does she want to do all the activities? Does she take them seriously, or is it more a time filler?
Of course you could take it to court and insist you get your every other weekend, with no flexibility at all. I'd worry your daughter may resent that though.

Can you negotiate what things are most important, that you'd be ok missing time for. So a close friends birthday party or sleepover of all her best friends, shows competitions, if they apply. But regular classes, not very close friends, you wouldn't.
As someone else said, can you have her more in the holidays?
You mention, staying at your ex's house without her there (don't get that, sorry!!) but if you get on would she let you sleep on the sofa? Could you book a b&b?
Is all your travel by train? Do you drive? If she has something on the Saturday say, could her mum bring her to you after and you take her back Sunday or even take her to school Monday morning?
One of my fiends parents divorced when we were 10/11, her dad used to let her take a friend for the weekend so she had company, might be a idea as she gets a bit older.
Hopefully you can sort something out!

unicornpoopoop Fri 10-Feb-17 09:41:50

Yes but you also get out of making her get ready for school, making her a packed lunch, making sure she's got clean uniform, making sure she gets to school on time. Then making sure she gets to work on time. Then rushes to pick her up, get her home, make her dinner, make her do her homework, get her to her clubs, then home, washed and ready for bed.

Doesn't sound like much quality time really. And you won't understand how hard all of that is on your own when the other parent just wants to pick up on the fun times

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 10:02:30

bumdmc I do I think avoid framing it as my feelings. I've always been careful to do so since we split. It's about dd having a meaningful and supportive relationship with her dad.

This is something that's come into focus recently, that XP isn't on the same page. I've compomised my time with dd for her benifit, but XP isn't making an effort to redress the balance in anyway.

And it falls to me to make sure dd has a dad in her life. Not some bloke who turns up once in a blue moon. Hence my trying to address it.

I am i'd say very supportive towards XP. She knows she can call me up in a fix and 9 times out of 10 I'll drop everything and head up there.

This was all prompted by a recent convo. XP has dd all half term at her request. I miss out, but am trying to be amenable. But when I mentioned the next holiday would in all fairness mostly be mine, especially considering my lost weekends, she said she'd already booked stuff. Not all through the hols, but It just bought home that she's not considering dd's relationship with me as that important.

And if she's not, then for dd's sake I have to address it. Which means being less amenable / flexible.

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 10:18:27


Thing is, at present I am letting dd go to key activities / parties if they fall on my w/e . But the net result is that dd and I see far less of each other as a result. And it's been happening a lot since last year.

It is in no shape or form an ideal situation. There is no perfect solution unfortunatly. There has to be compromise somewhere., and XP doesn't seem willing to make any.

Going to court really isn't on my radar.

Iggi999 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:38:15

I don't live in a cheap location. XP lives in an expensive one
I suspect that in this reply you are revealing yourself to be a bigger part of the problem than I had thought.
Everything (including the UK property market!) is viewed from your perspective rather than that of your ex (which is understandable) or your dd (which isn't)

Sunnie1984 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:38:23

I think the reality of having an 8 year old is that activities do take over for a while. Both parents end up being a taxi service at the weekend.

I don't think moaning about the activities or parties etc is the answer. Speak to DD, if she wants to do those activities then I'm afraid it's your job to facilitate them. That's what parents do.

We have started trying to shift activities to weekdays, if possible, so that weekends are less hectic. Is that a possibility, with you doing a fair share of the taxi services during the week.

That may free up a bit more of the weekends for both parents.

In terms of the holidays, I think you need to talk to her mum and come to an agreement as to who has which holidays etc. Acknowledge that neither of you get much quality time with DD now she is so busy, so you want to ensure holidays give you both the opportunity to reconnect with her.

Then split the holidays 50/50 in advance, so she isn't booking things on the weeks DD is with you.

You sound like you have a working relationship with her mother and you need to maintain that and have an honest discussion with her about how to make the most of available time with your daughter, which works for both of you.

Good luck

Iggi999 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:40:51


VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 10:46:09

I suspect that in this reply you are revealing yourself to be a bigger part of the problem than I had thought

Well you're entitled to think what you like. Its a simple financial reality, Whatever perspective I take has zero effect on the cost of housing.its either within ones means or its not.

Given I'm not currently working, moving to one of the most expensive areas in Europe isn't realistic whatever you might think.

Emboo19 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:48:02

Hmm, its tricky and like I said no experience of it myself.
Does your ex, just say she's going to xxx and basically tough? Could you ask her to let Dd, tell you when she has a party etc on your weekend and you speak to her about what she'd rather do? Also when she asks you could say ok....but only if I can make that time up, then offer a few suggestions of when you can have the time.
Do you FaceTime through the week so you can talk to your Dd? Could you get her a cheap phone so she can text you throughout the week? A good relationship is about more than how often you see someone, her knowing you're there if she wants/needs you is most important.
If money allows perhaps book a week or two holiday or a few weekends away, so you know you will have some undisturbed contact time throughout the year.

Emboo19 Fri 10-Feb-17 10:51:36

Although if you're not working, I've got a bit less sympathy for the travel time! Is it more a cost of the travel that's a problem for you?

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 10:53:39

sunny i'm not moaning about activities or parties, wherever possible I do my best to make sure she can attend them.

I'm concerned that my relationship with dd is starting to suffer on a grand scale.

Scarydinosaurs Fri 10-Feb-17 10:54:11

If you're not working, why is work a consideration when organising holiday time with your daughter?

VoyageOfDad Fri 10-Feb-17 11:00:59

Because I'm not planning on being work free for the rest of my life.

clarrylove Fri 10-Feb-17 11:09:52

If you are not currently working, could you look at moving somewhere even half way in between? If necessary, you could rent your home out to see if that works?

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