I hate Saturdays(19 Posts)
I have namechanged for this as I know I will get a flaming (possibly rightly so) but I am hoping for a bit of advice or support.
We have a 9 month old DS. (My first, but I wouldn't say I was PFB). DP has a nearly 12yo boy from a previous relationship who lives a 45-minute journey away. Before DS was born, he would stay every other Friday night (or thereabouts) - DP would pick him up after work, bring him to ours and we would take him back the next afternoon before tea.
Since DS arrived though, he has not stayed over. We've decorated a bedroom for him (and guest use) but DP says he doesn't want to stay because he would rather stay at home and play on the Xbox with his mates (online).
Instead, DP will drive to DSS's house, bring him back, and he will be at ours from 10.30am until 6.30pm after tea, when DP drives him all the way home again.
In that time he'll have lunch and tea and will play with his dad - usually a board game (occasionally I will play too if DS allows) or on the PS4, and sometimes we will visit DP's family.
He's a nice enough lad, and he is very enthusiastic about his little brother (sometimes too much so) but he is immature for his age and is quite high maintenance. It generally means that I spend the day babysitting DS (who is now crawling, nearly walking), battling to get him to sleep as he's being distracted by DSS, trying to keep the house on an even keel in snatches of free time when DS can be left for a moment or two...
It was tough going when DS was small, but now I'm back at work full-time, it's even more exhausting. And it is every single Saturday - unless something else pops up ie a birthday party, although these are far fewer now he's at secondary school.
Essentially - I now hate Saturdays. I dread them. I can't talk to DP about this because he'll think I'm being a bitch. I have no problem with him seeing his son - I even got him put on my car insurance when we first met in order to enable him to do so - but it would be so much easier if he stayed the night on a Friday. Or if occasionally they went to his house (like he used to). Or if it would be possible to leave him to his own devices for half an hour. Or if DSS's family did some of the driving. Or.... I don't know.
I guess I'm just venting steam. I feel like I'm failing DS because he spends 5 days a week in full-time nursery, Saturdays are chaotic and Sundays are crap - we end up taking him to B&Q and shopping etc.
I just miss having the time to just be me. I can't get any headspace on a Saturday when DSS is here because DP struggles with the two of them (he did it once but it didn't go well) and on Sunday there is an expectation/need/desire to spend some time with DP so no chance then either.
I think you're struggling because Saturday's are now spent in an intense, DSS-focussed way, rather than a normal 'family' Saturday, where it's quite acceptable to do food shopping, go to B&Q etc etc. In a 'together' family you wouldn't have a father spending 8 hours of 'play time' with an 12 year old, it's just unnatural.
I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling the way you do, you work full time and need time to relax as well. I know what it's like with an overtired, overexcited baby who doesn't want to sleep when there's people to see! Have you told your DH you're feeling this way?
IMO if the agreement before was for your DSS to stay over, if it is still beneficial for you and DP and his ex, then your DSS should suck it up and stay over on the Friday night. He wants to play online video games? Tough!
I guess that's the nail on the head Petal - in a 'natural' family it would be okay to go to the shops together - it becomes part of 'family' time and is certainly the way I remember it, growing up!
But with DSS there seems to be an unspoken agreement not to inflict everyday things onto him. We have occasionally been to the city centre if DP wants a haircut, for example, but trips are cut short and are strictly functional ie if we need a birthday card, a comb and a loaf of bread, that's what we come back with.
I will try and talk to DP about it. In fairness to him, he has completely upped his game in the last few weeks and at one point spontaneously offered to sort out some bottles for DS (who was having a bad day and being quite a handful) and did some other things to directly help me out, which wouldn't normally happen, so there might be hope of a sensible discussion!
Thanks for not throwing me to the wolves. I do feel terrible.
Yes, the overnight should stand.
Sounds like a very false situation. So it's one of those "if you want to see your son, you do the driving" - nice. And everyone standing on ceremony to attend to the "guest".
Some practical suggestions of the top of my head are - to do shopping online so as to not have to take time out of your precious Sunday to do such a tedious task. Also, can he have a console bought for him for your house so he can play games whilst there - frees up your DH, and means he can't use the "gaming" excuse as to why he can't stay.
I think you and dh need to start actually planning what is happening on saturdays (in advance) so that say between 10.30 and lunch DH takes the boys out somewhere, (walk/feed ducks/ playground etc) or DH looks after them at home and you go out and meet friends or whatever. then all together for lunch and do something in the afternoon all together like board games (pre planned and announced so dss is under no illusions that you will be excluded) or a movie with popcorn or something.
Dh just has to learn to cope with them both together. He is a parent of two children. It is not acceptable to just say he tried it once and it didnt go well. He should be spending time with them together every time dss is there. This is very important for sibling bonding and getting rid of the division between them.
There seems to be an unspoken agreement not to inflict everyday things onto DSS
Yep - that's the joys of access weekends! In our household, DH used to do his best to arrange a Butlins-style entertainments programme for DSS; reality had to be brushed under the carpet for the duration of his visit. Very unhealthy. We used to have to arrange things like decorating, shopping, familiy visits etc so that they didn't clash with access weekends.
I am not a step parent, so I may be way off. But it seems to me that you need to make dss a normal part of the family, not a special visitor. Could you take that line with dh? That you want to make dss a better part of the family, part of normal life, not a special visitor.
I hate all screen games, but in this case I think I would get an x-box at your house, that means he can come on friday and also means that you can let him play for a bit while you do something else.
If you need to go to Tescos, then go, either all of you, or leave both kids with dh. If he can't cope, he really has to buck his ideas up and learn to cope. If the little one needs a nappy change, then the older one will have to wait.
dss can also learn house rules, nap time, you have to be quiet, etc.
Can you also talk to dss? using same line, what would you like to make you feel more included and more part of the family.
Would dh consider renegotiating access? Would alternate whole weekends work better than one day for example?
Steppemum you're right - the OP's DSS, along with many other non resident step children, is treated like a special guest, rather than a family member. A lot of non resident fathers favour this style of parenting, they may feel guilt about the break-up, they may be over-compensating, they may be desperate to be the most popular parent, and (and this one is very common) they are hellbent on ensuring that access visits are fun-packed, so that the child wants to keep visiting.
Its a very hard situation to address.
I think your issue is with your DP, rather than your DSS. I think it is pretty shocking that an adult can't cope with his two children on their own for a couple of hours. If he could do that, you could get out and do the shopping, or have a bit of time to yourself on the Saturday. If him doing a few bottles without needing to be told is upping his game, then he must have been spectacularly useless before!
Another though, could saturday mornings be something dh does with both boys, eg swimming? Then you would have a break and the rest of the day they could do father and son stuff, or you could just chill, mow the lawn or whatever needs doing. (even get dss to mow the lawn )
"at one point spontaneously offered to sort out some bottles for DS (who was having a bad day and being quite a handful) and did some other things to directly help me out, which wouldn't normally happen"
I think this might be a big part of the problem...
Lol - I know that the bottles comment looks pretty bad. I simply think that he literally had no idea what needed doing and what I was getting done until a few weeks ago when I told him I was fed up of never getting down time in the evenings.
Since then he has been much more proactive, and consequently I'm a bit less stressed and 'less miserable'.
We do try and give DSS a flavour of what we would consider normal family life - and certainly a lot more so now as he's got older. But his mum and dad (DP) have very different approaches to family life which I think is part of the problem.
For example, he's allowed to play Minecraft on his Xbox on his own for hours and hours in his bedroom - that's something that would be totally unacceptable to me. An hour or so, maybe, but then it's time to get out. We do have an Xbox and PS4 etc but they're wired through the one family TV downstairs (wireless isn't good enough upstairs).
I'll have a chat with DP and see if we can come up with a better scenario because this is knackering.
I knew what I was letting myself in for by taking on a man with a son, so I know this is my responsibility and I don't want to shirk that - but there has to be a fairer way so I get a little bit of headspace and DSS still spends quality time with his dad and brother.
He can play minecraft at the family tv an i agree eith you that a time limit should apply. My two are allowed half an hour each day on playstation. You should just be carrying on life as normal and he should fit in with that, just like your DS will. Your DSS will soon get used to there being different rules at mum's house and dad's house.
I think it will get easier with time - though can see it's hard right now. I was a single parent with two from when youngest was a small baby, and found it got a lot easier from about 18 months up - once I could do things with them both together. 9 months old are really hard work anyway, and there aren't many things you can do with them and an older child at the same time. Once your DS is a confident toddler your DP may find it easier to take them both somewhere, or all 4 of you together.
I would see if you could allow DSS a bit of screen time at yours - I think that is part of making it family life rather than him as a visitor. An hour or two on a Friday night, and maybe the same again on a Saturday would buy you all a bit of quiet time - or are there some other things he can do to entertain himself - reading books? lego? TV? Does he have toys at yours? You say the room is also the spare room - does it have things that are his in it to enable him to feel at home and able to entertain himself?
Does DSS have a good friend that he'd like to bring over for the day? Or do you know any neighbours' children of around his age? Some company might help him need a bit less entertaining.
I think it is really unfair when dads are expected to do all the driving. But as the stepmum it's a hard one to change. Once it's become established as the routine it's hard to change. Your DSS is nearly 12 though - is there a public transport option he could learn to use?
There's some really good suggestions here, thanks.
I think if we can get him doing something independently for even half an hour, it will lessen the strain somewhat.
He used to bring his wrestlers, Halo and teddies when he stayed over but doesn't bring anything any more. Although that could partly be because he has totally started hitting puberty and is turning into a tired and grumpy pre-teen (he used to be up every Saturday at 7am, now he's being dragged out at 9.30!).
I have been trying to make the spare room friendly - even encouraging DP to let DSS help pick colour and paint but DP blocked this.
We're hoping he'll be able to use public transport soon but it's a two-bus job over some 35 miles each way and he has zero common sense - he is a very immature nearly 12yo, and shows no desire for more independence or to be treated as a grown up. Although he has occasionally nipped to the corner shop.
Will definitely get a lot easier when DS is a little older and can walk, at the moment it is a proper challenge to find something they can both appreciate! More work required, but will keep trying.
I feel a little more optimistic now, like I have a challenge to tackle rather than be a victim of the circumstance. Really appreciate everyone's thoughts, thanks.
Definitely do not assume a victim role/ mentality. Take control. This is your life, you are the one who decides what is acceptable in your life and home. Dont be passive- tell DH he will step up and parent properly and that DSS will not be treated as special guest visitor. He is a part of the family just like you, DH and DS. You all muck in and get involved in normal family life.
I will add that when my ds first started staying over at their dad's, when they came back after the weekend i made a huge fuss over them and would let them stay up late (on sunday nights after late nights at their dad's!) as i had missed them so much and i would plan treats for us to make up for it. Well more fool me! I remember a friend asking what one particular treat was for and i said "oh because they were at X's at the weekend" and she looked at me and said "^AND^?" That's when i caught myself on and realised how silly it was. Now they come back and know that it's dinner, bath then bed, no getting off chores and no treats just for existing.
Why can't he look after his own son instead of treating you like a babysitter? My partner does the same and I also work full time and have a DD. It annoys me so much!!
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