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Childcare after separation

(32 Posts)
Dave9633 Sat 22-Aug-20 07:42:22

Hi guys, I need some advice...
My girlfriend and I have been together 2 years. We’ve been living together for 6 months. She has two children aged 10 and 12 From a previous relationship that ended 3 years ago.
All is well with everything apart from the involvement with the children’s Dad.
He has the children at his house every weekend. A set up that seems to work well for everyone. Particularly the children and that’s the main thing for us.
Communication is very poor regarding picking
Them up and bringing them
Back. He just turns up most times whenever it suits him without any consideration.
Every week My partner will contact him on Thursday to ask him whether he’s picking up children Friday night or Saturday morning (we don’t mind either we just want to know his plans so we Can plan our time ) sometimes it’s Friday night and sometimes early Saturday morning we never know unless we ask him.
Every week is predictable before we’ve even reached out to him.. he will not answer his phone or he will read and ignore messages or will reply and say he doesn’t know.
Last night we had the opportunity to go out with friends if the children weren’t at home. So Thursday evening my GF messaged him and asked him was he collecting Friday night or Saturday?
He read the message and didn’t reply.
Two hours later she sent a question mark and he replied and said he didn’t know but would let
Her Know tomorrow. She replied and said could he please let her Know early as if the children aren’t at home we have plans to go out.
He Never contacted her all day. We didn’t pursue our plans as we assumed children would be home. 7pm he calls the eldest child directly
And says get mum to ring me about picking you up tonight or tomorrow. Child passed message on straightaway. She didn’t get the chance to call
Him (we were having dinner) and 20 minutes later he just pulled up outside the house.
We have asked him to communicate
Better and earlier in the week but he says he can’t because of his job.
He returns the children on a Sunday anytime between 4-8pm. We’ve asked
Him to message and say what time he plans to return them. We don’t mind what time
They come Home but would like to know a rough time so we Can make sure we are in and sorted.
He doesn’t. He just pulls up outside with them whenever suits him not knowing or caring it seems
if we are In or not.
The children spend the whole time asking their mum the same questions, is dad
Coming for us today? Are we going to dads today or tomorrow? What time will dad be here? All we
Can say is we don’t know but we have called/messaged him and are awaiting a reply.
Tuesday nights the youngest
Child has football training that his dad takes
Him to and is involved in. Every week nobody knows what time he will arrive sometimes
It’s too early and sometimes it’s just bang on time. The boy will Get ready regardless
But the only time anyone Knows for sure is when his car Pulls up outside.

Two weeks ago he called my GF half an hour before the training and said he couldn’t make it so she would have to Drop everything and take him but she couldn’t as I had the car. Therefore we had a disappointed and upset child who couldn’t go.

I’ve had enough of this. It feels like we are tied to his work schedule.
Am I being unreasonable feeling like this?
He’s the kind of bloke that if our jobs impacted
Him in any way he would kick off about it.

Sundays is our only relaxing day together without work or household chores and we often suggest
Places to go or things to do but can’t as we never know when the children will be dropped off.
We have in the past actually Been out and about
An hour away from Home when one of the children has called from the doorstep and asked where we are and why are we not answering the door.

Has anyone else experienced
Issues like this.
I’d really welcome tips or advice On how to deal with it.

OP’s posts: |
Joistlooking Sat 22-Aug-20 08:30:30

I don't know if it would help but does your GF and her ex have a formal agreement? If not it may be worth trying to get one . I suspect it won't help because he is enjoying trying to mess with your relationship. Not replying to texts or messages makes him feel that he is controlling your lives. Don't let him.

I would just accept that it is what it is, and plan your lives accordingly. How old are the children? Is it possible to explain that Daddy is very busy - or some other exvuse -and he will come for them when he can - to set their expectations. Don't criticise their father to them.

If you get the opportunity to go out - arrange to meet your friends when and if you can. If he is flaky about the DCs hobby - try and make sure you have a backup.

Then don't text him. Let him come when he comes. If he has) to wait outside whilst you get the children ready so be it.

I speak as step mum of over 30 years. My DHs ex was flaky about arrangements. Our view was that it wasn't forever and we would support the children and live our lives as best we could around the edge. I am not saying that it was easy but it got easier and we often had to bite our tongues but it paid off because we have a better relationship with the - now adult Dc - than his ex. They soon learn where their parents priorities lie.

If you are in it for the long haul a few years on inconvenience will pay off long term

Dave9633 Sat 22-Aug-20 08:34:42

Thank you joistlooking.
We have tried many times to talk directly to him but he says very little. Normally response is just a blank vacant stare or a shrug.
A separation agreement (they weren’t married) has been going for months and almost concluded and we’ve tried to add a formal childcare arrangement into that and an agreement for better and fairer communication but both parties solicitors have said it is a private civil matter that they need to agree together. Again, we’ve tried to get some commitment from him but to no avail.

OP’s posts: |
Shizzlestix Sat 22-Aug-20 08:47:32

At 10 and 12, the children ought to have their own keys and can be alone in the house, surely? So that at least resolves the dropping off issue.

The picking up needs sorting, but I think that’s tricky. I’d say carry on, go out with the children, if he turns up unexpectedly, tough, he needs to be more organised.

millymollymoomoo Sat 22-Aug-20 09:08:23

Why does she ask ? And why is it not a set time and day rather than either / or ?
He’s doing this precisely because it impacts on you all and I expect he likes that element of control

aSofaNearYou Sat 22-Aug-20 09:09:52

From how you've described it here I think your partner could have been a bit more clear and direct about asking if he was having them on Friday, the phrasing here makes it sound like just a generic query about when he was having them in which she eventually dropped in that she had plans but didn't stress the matter. It's much easier to fob off a generic question (especially one you receive every week) than a direct question. I also think you should have felt free to organise your own childcare if he couldn't confirm being free that night, you don't have to accommodate him having them on that day if he can't even confirm beforehand if he is coming.

I would try calling rather than texting, since he makes a habit of not replying. But besides that, have you thought about cutting out the middle man and just giving the kids a key so they can get in the house if you happen to be out when he drops them off? Me and my sister would let ourselves in and entertain ourselves for a couple of hours every day after school at that age.

Techway Sat 22-Aug-20 09:10:42

You could get a court ordered agreement but I suspect it will not be of any value as he will just ignore it. It's expensive to enforce and the sanctions for him are low.

It is unusual that he has the children every weekend. Why is that? Every other weekend is more usual.

My ex is very similar to this and it's about control (however because of his faulty thinking he will think I am trying to control him by asking for a time).

All you can do is operate knowing he will not co-operate. You could tell him that you need 24 hours notice for pick up or else the children will not be available however I think he will ignore that and just arrive, phoning the children so cutting you out.
You could agree a schedule such as 10am Sat and never a Friday night so that removes the ambiguity. You could give the children a key or install a keysafe so they can access it. At 10/12 its fine for them to be home alone a few hours. If he lets the children down for football that is on him. Don't shield the children from the realities of their father. They have to learn who he is.

I would like to say it gets easier but actually it doesn't, the only thing that helps is reduced contact, with the dc, so that the opportunity to mess me about is less.

At least you know why your partner separated from him as I guess his thinking is that his life is more important than hers.

You can make some who is very selfish behave considerably.

wishywashywoowoo70 Sat 22-Aug-20 09:12:12

I've had this issue for years.
My DD has been sitting in the window for hours waiting.
Unreliable and inconsiderate.
He would turn up hours late and drop her off whenever he felt like.

I started leaving the house 30 minutes after he was due.
It was a power trip to make sure I couldn't make plans but I never let on he was affecting my day. If I did happen to have plans I'd take her to my mums instead.

I also started not being home until just before scheduled drop off time.

He is still completely unreliable he'll text DD and say he's just having a coffee then he'll be over. 3 hours later he'd turn up.

CheesecakeAddict Sat 22-Aug-20 09:29:29

This current arrangement isn't doing anyone any favours. As the kids get a bit older, I imagine they'll also want some more consistency so they can plan in sleepovers and early evening plans. Especially as they hit early teens. I would put money on it being a Friday pick up if he doesn't get any better offers too, or punishing your gf.

I would go about setting a formal arrangement where he has contact X day till X day and the time of picking up. I would probably say Saturday till Sunday and the times he has to pick up and drop off, because his Fridays are unreliable and you will just end up with him flaking last minute on the weeks he wants to do other things.

Issantagettingbusy Sat 22-Aug-20 09:35:07

You are being played.
In his eyes (the eyes of a worm ex) you want to know the arrangements for the dc so you and their dm can Have A Life. Of course he won't 'facilitate' that - which is how his mind works.. Find a babysitter. Tell him drop off is anytime as the babysitter will be there waiting for the dc. TELL him collection time. If he no shows just go out. He doesn't get to call the shots.
You need a formal arrangement or this is your life. Proper plan via mediation is easy to organise... Times the dc will be available and if he doesn't stick to it he doesn't see them.

Dave9633 Sat 22-Aug-20 09:49:51

Thanks shizzlestix.

Agree re the keys. I had a key at that age to my parents house. Unfortunately they are both very forgetful and constantly lose and misplace stuff so inevitably the keys would Get lost somewhere. They are also very carefree and forgetful. So they would do things like walk in off the street and not close the door properly. We have a dog so would have concerns about him being accidentally let out onto the street etc

It is tricky to sort but as adults and parents you would think it’s a relatively easy one really but seems not.

OP’s posts: |
WantToBeMum Sat 22-Aug-20 10:06:16

It's difficult to know if he's deliberately playing you or is just horribly non-committal.
Either way, in the absence of a formal arrangement I think the two of you can take a bit of control to redress the balance.
Explain to him the non-confirmed pick up times are stressful for the kids and difficult to plan around. Tell him you will assume he is picking up kids on a Saturday morning from now on, that he is still welcome to have them on a Friday night instead but if he want to do that could he contact on Friday morning to confirm. If he doesn't contact on a Friday morning, make plans, take the kids out for dinner, cinema, etc.
When he picks them up, speak in person to arrange the drop off time, if he won't commit then say please don't drop off before 5pm because we won't be home. If he is then leaving them on the doorstep that's a real problem!
The Tuesday football thing is difficult because sometimes things do go wrong especially with work, but if it's every week you could arrange to take him instead and say to the ex he can come along to watch/take child for dinner afterwards, so the responsibility of pick up is removed and the child isn't worrying about not going.

Dave9633 Sat 22-Aug-20 18:52:06

Thank you all so much for your replies.
Some really helpful advice. Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
willowmelangell Sat 22-Aug-20 19:53:49

What would happen if your GF did not text Thursday?

Her ex sounds petty. This is the last bit of control he has over her. And you too now. I bet it is the highlight of his week.
My ex was similar. I never once commented on how late he brought dd back. Never. Wiped the smug smirk off his face many times. He tried to keep doing it but eventually gave up. It was his free weekend time he was using up and at the same time giving me extra hours free time.
Either way your gf ex will get tired of it, or dc will.

Lucyccfc68 Sat 22-Aug-20 21:35:39

I would be telling him from now on its 10am pick up on a Saturday morning and if he wants to pick them up on a Friday, he texts no later than 8pm on a Thursday night to arrange. If he rocks up on a Friday without prior agreement, ensure you have plans and tell him to do one.

Stop chasing and take back a bit of control. He us clearly enjoying the power he is being allowed to have.

LannieDuck Sat 22-Aug-20 22:45:00

An hour away from Home when one of the children has called from the doorstep and asked where we are and why are we not answering the door.

How old were they when this happened? If they were a few years younger, I would have spoken to a solicitor about stopping contact the very first time this happened. At 10-12, I still might.

In your current situation, I would go to court to get set dates/times. Then you stick to the letter of the agreement and you don't budge for anything. They're available when he's supposed to pick them up and otherwise you go about your day... which might mean you're not at home when he arrives - his loss. You'll need to speak to your solicitor about how to enforce him dropping them off at the right time given his prior history.

bmachine Sat 22-Aug-20 23:49:54

Could you have an emergency key hidden away outside somewhere or in a lock box outside just incase? I had a few friends with this arrangment when i was younger

GhostOfMe Sat 22-Aug-20 23:53:25

Does their mum want no weekend time with them or something agreed because it's what Ex's wants? I wouldn't be offering a choice, pick up 10am Saturday for example not ring if you want Friday night. And tell him you'll be out all day Sunday so to drop them back after 4/5pm (whatever time suits) . Make sure you're out Friday nights and Sundays till he gives up. If he drops the kids and goes your GF needs to respond via s solicitors letter stating that his time is from x-x and if he tries to leave the kids unattended during that time she'll have to stop contact. If he doesn't pick up by half an hour past the agreed time on Saturday go out with the kids. Right now there's no consequence to him of him messing you all around and I expect having that control makes him feel great. He needs to not get a benefit from messing you all around, better yet if he gets a negative consequence or he'll keep doing it.

Dave9633 Sun 23-Aug-20 07:44:12

Thank you everyone for all your messages. Really appreciate your comments and advice and time taken to comment.

OP’s posts: |
Dave9633 Sun 23-Aug-20 08:34:57

So much helpful advice I’m so grateful.
My post was just a snapshot of the situation that we have to put up with every week for the past year and a half.
He wants the children every weekend, we don’t mind that. We encourage them and him to be together as lust as they want to be.
Likewise if he wasn’t to have them or just had them once a fortnight or even once a month that’s fine, it doesn’t bother us.
We just like to be able to plan our lives and know what we’re doing.
Fridays night were an introduction that he made a few months back but the unreliability of it is what annoys us. The last minute confirmation and having to wait around for him to tell us what he is or isn’t doing.
Unfortunately it doesn’t help the situation that my GF gets as annoyed as me but says very little to him. I’m the one speaking up so he thinks I’ve got a problem with it and she hasn’t. She says she won’t speak up because she wants to keep everyone happy but unfortunately this situation isn’t keeping everyone happy, just him.

Thanks again guys for all your replies. It’s given me a lot of comfort and help.

OP’s posts: |
Techway Sun 23-Aug-20 08:41:44

At this stage it shouldn't be you getting involved, she is the parent and you are still a relatively new relationship. Your involvement is likely to inflame the situation.

Perhaps it genuinely doesn't annoy her or she realises she can't change him.

Just plan your life and make arrangements for the children.

WantToBeMum Sun 23-Aug-20 11:08:41

"She says she won’t speak up because she wants to keep everyone happy"

Classic conflict avoidance comment, and as you say, actually no one is happy.
She needs to speak up for her kids, they are the ones who will suffer most from this situation. Harsh but true.

Kimbo180 Sun 23-Aug-20 17:28:51

I hope she listens to advice from posters. Lets no how u get on next week

Dave9633 Sun 23-Aug-20 18:12:21

I hope she does too. I’ve read every reply out to her and she says we will use the advice and help from all posts towards speaking to him next week.

OP’s posts: |
Sakurami Sun 23-Aug-20 18:21:06

She needs to tell him that this can't continue, the kids and you not knowing whether he's going to turn up or not so either set it in stone or have a monthly calendar or he just doesn't see them. In another few years they're going to be busy with their friends so won't want to spend much time with him anyway.

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