What seems like a fair arrangement here?(22 Posts)
DSS currently lives about 60:40 between his mum and with his dad & me. His mum has a great new job opportunity and wants to move further away. DSS wants to live with her. He would move in time for a new school year. Contact can't continue as it is given the distance.
What do people do in this situation?
I'd have thought go for half the holidays and EOW but with some flexibility on EOW as he gets older and wants to hang out with friends or if he has school sports fixtures. ExW is suggesting he simply spends ALL his school holidays with us. I can see how that works out nearer to an even split days-wise but it also puts the whole burden of childcare onto us (ie me) as DH's annual leave obv wouldn't cover it and I work school hours. I have my own DC so am around in the holidays but I worked hard to be in a position to get these working hours so that I could have freedom to take DC to see his grandparents, go away together etc in my time off. I totally get that ex would have the slog of school run, homework etc so perhaps she thinks we'd be getting the fun bit, but I find school holidays plenty long enough with my own dc! It is fun but it is also hard work in a different way to the school time stuff (which I also do now of course!).
What would be a reasonable offer for both sides do you think?
That doesn't seem .ike a great plan to me, and has she really thought it through? All the school holidays, all the time? Does she not plan on ever taking him on holiday herself? Does she realise that means she won't spend any Christmasses or New Years with him? When is his birthday? What if that falls in holiday time?
I don't think it would work at all....and that isn't even taking into account the points that you've already made!
All the holidays is not a good solution. What if he wants to see his school friends sometimes during the holidays? What if she wants to go away? Also it would be hard for him to adjust from spending most of the time day in day out at his mums to then stay with you for such extended periods with no contact in between.
It's not about being "fair", it's about what is best for him. How old is he? Sounds like she is maybe aiming to keep the 60/40 going which is good as it means she values the relationship your dp has with his son. What does your dp think about it?
How old is DSS?
Surely his mum must want to spend some holiday time with him? I'd suggest she has at least 4 weeks, or whatever her annual leave entitlement is.
Beyond that, how would it work if DSS came to yours for the rest of the holidays, and DH paid for him to be in some sort of holiday club for the weeks when you're not actually taking him away anywhere? There are lots of great holiday clubs themed around sports, hobbies, etc - so you might be able to find one he would really enjoy, rather than seeing it as childcare. Not sure what the financial arrangement with DSS currently is, but if DH and his ex are amicable, hopefully the costs of a holiday club could be somethign they factor in when considering whether things need to change at all once she moves.
I think EOW but with some flexibility around DSS's needs and wishes as he gets older sounds perfect though.
Good points. I assume she would keep him for going on holiday and that we would alternate Christmas yearly.
DH would want his DS to be happy and stable but hopefully knows he can't just agree to an arrangement that sets me up to be the de facto childminder for 8 weeks of the year without my consent. Please don't infer from this that I wouldn't look after DS or include him, I already do the lions share of childcare, feeding, uniform washing etc at our house but I do feel a bit that I'm looking like the solution to his parents' childcare problems.
It's an unreasonable imposition on you, regardless of any other issue, so they need to think again. Your suggestion of half holidays and EOW sounds sensible, especially as you are obviously prepared to be flexible.
You're a solution to his Dad's childcare issue if he agrees to her suggestion. But you're not the only option. There are lots of holiday clubs and activities he could go to. Sounds like you need to have a chat with your dp about how it'll work.
They need to make the arrangement without putting you in to the equation. They need to act as if there is nobody conveniently there.
But would it be fair to put DSS into a holiday club if I'm at home with my own DC? I would like flexibility to take my own DC away or do stuff that interests them, or just have time with them but that feels very excluding to DSS. Perhaps we would have to keep it as an option for when I simply cannot be at home (eg visiting grandparents) but if I'm at home he wouldn't need to go to a club. But that puts the onus back onto me as the childminder / entertainer so that his mum doesn't have to find childcare herself. I like the idea of him being with her when she has annual leave at the very least. I don't see why she should have time off without her son if my holiday is spent looking after him! Again please don't think I don't like DSS, we get along well but we don't love one another or have a close bond.
It's your dp's contact with his son though, it's not her childcare. She is maybe wanting to ensure there is still a lot of contact hence offering more.
Any scope for your dp to change his hours during the holidays?
How old is he? How old are yours?
How old is your DSS?
I ask because my ex removing DD from access to her school friends during school holidays became a real issue as she got older - particularly the summer that she left primary school - she's never really forgiven him.
This arrangement might be a short term solution to assuaging your DSS mums guilt but long term, you DSS is undoubtedly going to gravitate towards one or other home as his primary residence.
Has the possibility of him living with you and visiting Mum at weekends/holidays been discussed?
How old is DSS?
I really would check out what kinds of holiday club are available locally. They don't have to be seen as childcare. They can be great fun, so it would be paying for DSS to do something he enjoys, whilst you're at home looking after (younger?) DS.
If your DS is actually the same kind of age as DSS this is clearly trickier - which is why I've asked how old he is
Hopefully DH knows he can’t agree to an arrangement that sets me up to be the de facto child-minder for 8 weeks of the year without my consent.
I hope you’re correct here!
But would it be fair to put DSS into a holiday club if I’m at home with my own DC
Yes, it would be fair (why should you end up in a situation where you never have 1-2-1 time with your own children? ) but I suspect you may face resistance from your DH or the ex, something down the lines of “well you’re at home anyway” or “he’s no trouble” or “he doesn’t need any looking after”. But as we all know, having an extra person in the household changes the dynamics. So you need to be prepared with robust arguments on this one.
How would the alternate weekends work logistically? How much travelling will there be and who do you see doing it?
DSS is 10, 2+ yrs older than my DC so quite close though he considers himself to be much older! The children do get on well and have some interests in common but are very different personalities. The comment above about the different dynamic is spot on - my DC quieter, love museum trips, more compliant, DSS wants to be either stuck to the sofa on the PS (which my DC love too to be fair) or out at the skate park throwing himself off terrifyingly high ramps. On family days he wants to go out, do an activity, buy stuff in the shop and come home. Trips out are punctuated with requests to go home (to be on the computer) and a reluctance to focus on the activity unless it was what DSS chose to do explicitly. My DC are happier with a longer day out, not necessarily all activities of their choosing and don't expect to be bought stuff every time!
DSS also pushes back on helping, so we have a bit of conflict on that, and I'm talking just about laying the table properly here, not full on housework. He tends to view weekends and holidays as his own personal downtime so I am wary of our house turning into "holiday house" ie all fun and no pulling your weight (yes DH has been a bit Disney in the past but we are very united now on asking all DC to help equally). On the good side, DSS is funny, charming, lovely with my DC, sweet-natured and when he's jolly he raises the energy levels of the household skyhigh.
He could live here, in some ways that would be easier for me to create a family dynamic, but he wants to be with his mum and I get that - I understand that for many children no matter how much they love their Dad (and they get on brilliantly, DH is a wonderful father) living with their Mum is where they want to be.
As for EOW, there could be some issues with the travelling here no doubt. Given DSS's age and secondary transition I'd hope he could be put on a train and make a direct journey that way to us on a Friday afternoon, with someone to meet him at the station this end, probably me but that's fine. He'd be driven home by DH on the Sunday I expect. If he has school matches on a Saturday then that's for DH and exW to sort out with DSS's input - she has weekend activities of her own that I don't think she would be keen to give up on. My own DC have weekend activities near home too of course!
oh and to answer the point about DH's hours in the holidays, he can't really change his hours beyond trying to leave at 5.30pm instead of 7.30pm. Every day of his annual leave is spent with his DSS though and I would never push against that. Which is why I would not be happy about exW NOT using her annual leave to spend holiday days with her own child, and expecting me (or a holiday club near us) to pick up the slack. As a former single parent myself I know full well how important it is to have time with DC that isn't work / school days or getting stuff done at the weekend time. Unfortunately I guess this is where the dynamic of being a SM comes into play, as her parenting decisions are not my business, nor to a large extent are they DH's, despite the impact they might have on us (and DSS of course).
I guess out of 13 weeks' school holiday, if DH has 5 and exW has 5, that leaves 3 to cover. DSS could go to his grandparents one of those weeks, they are fab and hands on and they all love spending time together. That would leave me with 2 weeks exclusively with all the DC. I try to get my own DC into a holiday activity for at least 1 week
to give me a break so they can learn some new skills and burn off energy, so we might be able to make that the same week and hopefully the same activity. That feels more do-able
Petal has it spot on. Just be prepared for them both come up with reasons why you should look after DSS through every holiday, the biggest one being "You're at home anyway". Well so what if you're at home? You want quality time with your children, and your working hours are the way they are to accommodate your children, not DSS. Having him there will change the dynamics. Having him there everyday of every holiday will just end up becoming a chore to you rather than a pleasure to have him there, because the resentment of not being able to spend time alone with your children and having to incorporate him in all of your plans will set in.
So I highly recommend they change the arrangements or he goes in to holiday club for some of the holidays, as well as you've suggested go and stay with grandparents if they are willing to have him.
You're under no moral obligation to agree to be childcare provider 13 weeks a year or whatever it is. His parents will probably see it differently though, so make sure they don't treat you like a doormat. And make sure that he doesn't make arrangements that affect you without your consent!
I guess this is where the dynamic of being a SM comes into play - as her parenting decisions are not my business, not to a large extent are they DH's despite the impact they might have on us
OP - any decision which impacts on you and your household, is DEFINITELY your business !!!
EOW sounds very workable then, and yes sharing the holidays like that sounds sensible too. There are some really good residential camps as well if finances were to allow that.
Has she given a reason for suggesting what she has? What's the contact pattern at the moment? Are things between them such that they are able to talk things like this through?
I think the thing to consider too is what would your dss like to happen. He may not want to be away from where all his friends are for every holiday, especially when he gets to senior school. Equally he may be happy to have the holidays at his Dad's so that during term time he can maybe do hobbies at weekends.
I would guess that if things are reasonably amicable between your DH and his ex that she may be offering all the holidays without really thinking it through because she's feeling bad about taking her DS away from his dad and want to compensate as best she can. Or possibly that she realises her decision to take this new job will mean she has to be responsible for all the weekday care of DSS, and is anxious about how she'll manage this with the demands of the new job, so thinks that by giving herself all the school holidays child-free that'll help a bit if she's ever asked to work late, etc.
But doesn't sound very well thought through. Your plan of her having him for 5 weeks or so and you/DH having him the rest sounds a bit closer to something that would work. If you live near to where his current friends are he might be very keen on coming back and having a chance to catch up with them. A week with grandparents, and maybe a week on some PGL type course (lots of daredevil outdoorsy stuff that sounds like he's into, and your DS maybe isn't) ought to patch up most of the rest of the holidays.
I'd agree with Petal - OP - any decision which impacts on you and your household, is DEFINITELY your business !!!
And this is probably what you are struggling with, like I have where I did just become the step kids 'childminder' and yet they didn't want me as their 'childminder' and felt just pushed around with little thought, as I was too.
So it is really good that you are thinking through the implications of this - for you, your DP, your other kids, your household and for DSS himself. MUCH better to avoid problems later! Holiday clubs can be really good though, perhaps a part solution is that he does some holiday clubs at his mums if she needs childcare, some with you so he can do stuff that interests him and gets him out of the house - there are some great ones around. Maybe a couple of days here or there with you if you think that you, your kids and DSS would like that, and some time with his Dad and you on holiday.
Your DSS is not that long off teenagehood too - so think ahead to that also. He won't want to hang around with younger kids, will want his 'den' and his friends too. He may well kick in to resenting your parenting style or just push against you as a step parent.
My DS - young teenager - goes to his Dads most of the holidays, at his Dads insistence but DS misses out on a lot with his friends, we don't get holidays together, and he often says he doesn't have time to 'just chill out' at home in his own room at our house.
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