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Parental responsibilities - creeping developments

(33 Posts)
SteppingOnToes Sun 19-Mar-17 12:50:03

I've posted before about issues with my SC clothes and how the children regularly get sent from their DM on a Friday in their school uniforms. They are sent with no other clothes and go back in clothes that DP has bought over the weekend - which are never seen again. I have unkindly been told by some that children are expensive for some parents and to suck it up, and have been advised by others to send them back in what they came in - they were going back in a new outfit every week, with their washed and ironed uniforms in a bag. We have had two cycles now of the children going home in their uniforms.

Their DM has not been pleased with the change in dynamic but the kids are pleased to have a wardrobe of clothes to choose from. Previously it has been a mad dash at the weekend to buy something to wear - and we all know how much young children hate clothes shopping!

A bit of financial back story so I'm not drip feeding - DP has the children every Wednesday and every other weekend from Friday through to Sunday evening (sometimes Monday morning). He pays 50 over the required maintenance payments and the children and their DM still live in the family home. He does not take payment/rent for the house from his ex - although they were never married he acknowledges that she is financially disadvantaged by being not able to work whilst they were younger, though I'm not sure if this is relevant she was already a SAHM with her previous two children when they met.

He is a great hands-on dad who is happy for me to be involved in his family but equally doesn't expect me to take on any sort of parenting role. He cooks for his DC I cook but his DC are incredibly fussy eaters and I refuse to cook two meals therefore when his DC are here he cooks for us all. He does bathtimes, teeth, bedtimes, stories, dealing with illness though recently when they were all ill I looked after them all, he also gets up in the night with them if they wake.

There have however been a few creeping developments lately...

His children are used to having a SAHM who admits herself does everything for them - as a result they expect everything done for them here. I have had to gently explain on a couple of occasions when I have been met with "I want a drink" that I am not their parent and if they don't ask politely and tell me what they actually want I will not get it for them. We have had a few occasions where I have not cut cucumbers in the right way or have given them cold juice when they wanted it warm. It's been a delicate process to avoid being the nagging SM but they are now developing beautiful manners and their GP have actually commented on how much it has made them more pleasant to look after.

Anyway, I digress. The point of the above is because they have been used to having everything done for them they are extremely untidy - think dropping lolly sticks/wrappers on the floor when they are done despite the bin being right next to the fucking freezer!, knocking drinks/food over and neither attempting to clean it up, not tell someone that it has been spilled, and leaving toys absolutely everywhere (DSD is 10 so well capable of putting toys back in her bedroom after she has used them).

After moving in with him I did my 'fair share' of tidying but it soon became apparent that I'd gone from cleaning up after 1 to 4 and it was 4 times the work (but a lot less for him of course). So I explained that although I was happy to help the kids tidy their rooms and tidy up after themselves I was not willing to do it for them. All has been good - we split jobs between us equally but he does any cleaning and tidying related to childcare.

Today we have had another creeping development - washing. Now the clothes are staying here rather than going to their DM, dirty ones are building up. I have already said to DP that I am happy to do his washing with my own if it is in the wash basket I wont sort and sniff through stuff left lying around. I have been doing this and he has been doing the same though sometimes he does just his own which pisses me off. Well today I did three loads of washing and after I had finished was asked why I hadn't washed the kids' clothes too. I pointed out that I had done my own washing and his too and that they were his kids and therefore his responsibility to sort out their washing. Told him he was being unreasonable expecting me to do four peoples washing instead of just one.

I half think that I was BU but at the same time I do not have the lifestyle to accommodate parenting two children that aren't mine. I work full time (63 hours last week), am also doing my masters degree, and have 3 horses. If I had my own children all of the above would have to give, but these are not my children and I don't feel I should have to make sacrifices on my own time when he is the parent.

I do adore the children and spend a lot of time with them, despite all of the above - I will do school pickups if I finish work early, I bake/craft with them, his daughter comes to see my horses with me sometimes, I sit one of them while DP runs the other to clubs so they don't all have to traipse out (or I will run one whilst he stays with the other), I take them food shopping with me and let them choose food that they enjoy so that they feel part of it, I help with homework when they ask and encourage when they don't want to do it, I get DSS5 to brush his teeth when he is tantrumming with his dad and insisting he doesn't want to do it. I do participate in family life - I'm not drawing a line between parental stuff and partner stuff.

So AIBU to not want it expected that I do the 'parenting' stuff or am I right to insist that he parents his own children and I help where I feel able? Is saying no, right from quite early in the dynamic going to create bad feeling, or is it going to stop building resentment over time?

And before anyone says "You don't really like his children do you?" actually I do. I have fallen totally in love with my partner and then fallen totally in love with his children too - they make my heart swell when they turn to me about happy or sad times in their lives and I miss them when they are not here.

RandomMess Sun 19-Mar-17 12:56:51

You work long hours, are doing a masters and have 3 horses.

Why on earth does he think you have more time than him to do his DC washing confused

I suppose I would have all the dirty washing in the same baskets. I would expect whoever to do a washload as and when the basket was full. I would expect each person (5 year old probably need guiding/nagging) to put their own dirty clothes in the correct basket - darks, lights, brights, or towels/bedding...

MycatsaPirate Sun 19-Mar-17 13:09:02

All dirty washing should go in the wash basket and then a load put in by whoever has time to do it. And that means both of you. It's meant to be a partnership. Certainly in this house everything gets washed by dp and myself by whoever remembers to put a load on. It is never separated out into different people's washing.

The problem is firstly the expectations from your dp and sdc. Your dp expects you to incorporate an extra workload into your week but doesn't seem to want to help with part of that. It should be a family thing. The same with the food. You won't cook for his dc but do for everyone else. I know you seem to have a great relationship with them at the moment but this complete step back from doing everything for them will show over time.

And your sdc need to start picking up after themselves.

Can I suggest a sit down with you all. Firstly you and dp sit down and work out who does what. Then sit down with all the dc and say this is what happens in this house.

ie. If you have rubbish, put it in the bin. Not on the floor.
If you have toys out, put them away before getting something else out.
The food things need to stop. Find a few meals you all enjoy and make sure that's what you have when they are over. Get everyone to write down their favourite foods and go from there.

I have two dc and two sdc. All differing tastes in food. All different expectations of what we were prepared to do. ie picking up dirty washing from bedrooms or picking up their mess. My youngest sdc was waited on hand and food at home and couldn't really grasp that I wasn't going to jump up to get her a drink when she was capable of making one herself.

Have a bottle of squash made up in the kitchen. Let them help themselves. Have rules on where food and drink can be had to stop spillages etc.

It's hard and it can be utterly draining but no-one is really at fault, it's just lots of people with different lifestyles and expectations having to merge into one unit.

Joinourclub Sun 19-Mar-17 13:10:20

Sorry but I think it's a bit mean to do 3 loads of washing and not do any of the kids, that you supposedly care very much for.

You say that you are trying to teach them to be nicer and more considerate. It would be a nice thing for you to wash a load of their clothes along with yours.

I don't think it should always be your responsibility, but I can see why DP would be a bit perplexed to come home to find a mountain of clean clothes, but none for the kids. It isn't like you were too busy to do any washing. You put three loads on!

SteppingOnToes Sun 19-Mar-17 13:20:21

Sorry but I think it's a bit mean to do 3 loads of washing and not do any of the kids

I have lived alone for 13 years looking after just myself. I had one load of washing to do myself but I put on 2 extras for my DP. Why should I be expected to increase that to 2 more loads to was for the kids too? I tripled the amount of washing I did - why should I be expected to increase it by five fold? Even putting the kids stuff in with the adult stuff and splitting it down the middle still means that I would be doing a huge amount more than I am used to.

If I didn't have all the extra responsibilities that I have I could participate more in cleaning up after them but they aren't my children and I do still have these responsibillities that take up many hours

RandomMess Sun 19-Mar-17 13:24:55

You could suggest that you and your DP go halves on the work of your 3 horses plus his 2DC...

I think you would have an awful lot more free time then!!! Presumably DP has nearly 2 weeks to do his DC washing before they come again for the weekend?

What does your DP do that helps you out that you had to do for yourself before? Has their been a fair division of other household tasks? I don't see that it's wrong that DP does the cooking when it's for all of them especially if op does cooking the rest of the time?

SteppingOnToes Sun 19-Mar-17 13:27:47

Oh whilst I was doing the washing I was also cleaning the kitchen and catching up with all of the morning pots from supper last night and breakfast this morning, and cleaning the bathroom. This is all whilst I am doing a 3000 word uni assignment and presentation that is due at midnight. I haven't procrastinated over it - I have been working on my uni work every spare minute I have which seems to be increasingly less.

My DP isn't a shirker in any way I'm sorry if I gave that impression whilst all of this is going on he's majorly clearing the lounge and the kids rooms and has cooked breakfast and lunch.

RandomMess Sun 19-Mar-17 13:36:26

I think your DP has a faulty benchmark, his ex used to do everything so by default he doesn't see the extra work 2 DC and himself make in your home.

Get him to read "Wifework" then get him to calculate how much leisure time each of you has. I would say horseriding is leisure but the donkey work of looking after them certainly isn't!

SteppingOnToes Sun 19-Mar-17 13:37:56

You could suggest that you and your DP go halves on the work of your 3 horses plus his 2DC...

That would be a good solution lol. I don't think he would appreciate putting the horses on the same level of responsibility as his kids. The thing is though if I had kids myself I wouldn't have horses - I'm making the most of my dwindling youth to do what I enjoy.

Presumably DP has nearly 2 weeks to do his DC washing before they come again for the weekend?

That's a good point - he has put a load of washing in for himself this week why TF didn't he put the kids in too? Presumably because it was all over the floors of their rooms and not in the wash basket...

What does your DP do that helps you out that you had to do for yourself before?

He does a fair division of the tasks around the house but we both have very different styles of living lol. I tend to tidy as I go - if I make a sandwich I will put away the butter/mayo/rest of the cucumber as I go, whereas he tends to leave things out and has a 'clean' once a day. Historically my surfaces would be clutter free and I would just wipe as I went, whereas now I have to put stuff away before I can start cleaning. He's happy to have clutter lying around and I try and compromise - I don't go round clearing up after him I'm not that much of a mug so I will put up with the clutter, but then if I am doing something that makes a mess I will clear up everything at the same time.

He has helped hugely with the horses on occasion (electric fencing mainly) and I tend to pay this in kind by doing more with/for the kids.

Gizlotsmum Sun 19-Mar-17 13:41:23

See the tidying I get but the washing.. is it really that much work? Assuming it's a machine wash you could just add the kids clothes in ( as could dp) is it your house, his house or joint?

RandomMess Sun 19-Mar-17 13:55:11

On the washing issue I would just say "If it was in the basket chances are I'd have done some"

Sounds like as part of your DPs routine he and the DC need to clear their bedrooms of dirty washing and put it in the basket for washing and then by default it will get done over the following 10 days or so!

I am in awe that you have 3 horses and are doing your masters, I can imagine you get very little downtime at all. I'm not a rider or anything but I completely and utterly get that you have continued with having horses and why should you give them up to enable him to parent his DC.

I do think there is a fine line though that you have to be careful that it doesn't come across to the DC that you won't do things for them. Certainly at 5 & 10 they can get their own drinks, put rubbish in the bin - I'm sure they will come to respect the house rules over time as the level of babying the seem to get with their DM can be damaging in its own way.

LBOCS2 Sun 19-Mar-17 14:48:38

I don't think you're being unreasonable but I do think that the way you've chosen to demonstrate it is, IYSWIM.

If I'm doing laundry, I will empty each wash basket until I have enough to put a load on - no differentiation between mine/his/our dc/his dc; just whatever comes to hand. But I wouldn't expect to have to do the extra loads of laundry by myself, I would expect to be able to ask him to put a load of whites (for example) on and for that to encompass my clothes, his clothes, DC's clothes. I'm not sure I'd make the point of just doing my own. Of course, if he wasn't receptive to that then I'd only do my own.

I do take a hardline approach to tidying I'm afraid - but it's easier to do so if you're taking the same line to your own DC as you'll get accused of unfairness less (which you don't have the advantage of). Anything which is left on the floor when I've asked people to tidy up goes in the bin. Two warnings, then it goes. I have explained to everyone that I'm not their skivvy and if I'm tidying up after them it's quicker for me not to have to differentiate between rubbish and toys, it'll all go in the black bin bag the same.

It's incredibly effective 😀

SteppingOnToes Sun 19-Mar-17 17:43:18

The problem with the laundry is that if it were in the wash basket it wouldn't be too much of a hardship (to do 5 loads instead of my own 1) but it never is in the wash basket. Without sorting through the kids bedrooms which I try not to go in I have no idea of knowing what washing needs doing.

As for the tidying - I will pull them up on rubbish and stuff left about. I try and say "Put that in the bin please", rather than saying "Will you put that in the bin?" as invariably the 10yo will say no and create a row and then I get accused of nitpicking.

We have had a bit of progress today - DSS and DP have had a massive clear out SDS has been on her laptop the whole time and the place looks amazing. DSD has thrown sweet wrappers on the floor and DSS has pulled her up for it as 'doing all that hard work has made me really tired so don't spoil it'. Positive peer pressure smile

I have suggested to DP that as DSD has been such a huge help today and DSD has been such a lazy madam he should get a treat to the value of a fiver or an hour lone-time activity with his dad. He has chosen some replacement nerf bullets. DSD has asked if she helps next time can she have a treat too - RESULT!

And the best part - I have not done a thing to encourage this other than suggest being helpful gains treats. DGPs suggested pocket money for chores previously but as the kids get everything they ask for they have no concept of money. DP has said today that he might stop all the activities on demand and let them pay for their activities with pocket money. I suggested having a set amount that can be boosted by 'being helpful' - I know when I was a kid I did the bare minimum I could get away with for my pocket money.

RandomMess Sun 19-Mar-17 18:04:23

Progress indeed.

Back to the washing - it's a house rule for EVERYONE, it only gets washed if it's in the basket.

DSD is likely to learn more quickly if she has nothing to wear one Saturday bar her school uniform as she hasn't put any dirty clothes in the wash. Get your DP on board - that would be her merely finding out the consequences of her own actions!!!

I'll be honest we have a bit of yelling at our lazy one on Friday evenings/Saturday morning to ensure school uniform is in the wash as they are all secondary school so they have one blazer each etc. Beyond that they're on their own AND they are forced to "sock sort" aka sorting out the clean dry washing into piles per person TOGETHER and have been since easily the age of 3/4...

Gizlotsmum Sun 19-Mar-17 18:50:11

Oh yeah. Has to be in the wash basket to get washed. I may shout before I put a wash on as a last chance but I won't hunt for it

MycatsaPirate Sun 19-Mar-17 20:44:12

Why is your dp tidying the kids rooms? At 10 years old they should be capable of keeping it tidy, especially when they are only in it once a fortnight. Wtf are they doing that it needs a major overhaul by your dp while you do three loads of washing, clean the kitchen and do four loads of washing up??

The kids need to be given basic tasks. Keep your room tidy. Dirty washing in the basket. Cups, plates in the kitchen. Get them to put dry dishes away. Tell them that it's one toy at a time, then put it away properly before getting the next thing out.

It sounds like an awful lot of work is needed having two children there for two days a fortnight!!

Wdigin2this Sun 19-Mar-17 22:06:15

D'you know, I think doing all their washing is the least of your problems! Firstly, just sort the washing as you usually do ready for laundering, make a point of going around each person (as you would if they were yours) saying the laundrey is being sorted,if it's not in the basket NOW it's not getting washed...end of, and they're both old enough to cope with that! Oh, I wouldn't do their ironing though, leave that to their DF
But, as regards throwing rubbish on the floor, leaving toys all around the room, and other general untidiness...well, you need to get them trained on that ASAP! If they lived in a regular 2.4 family they would have to!

SteppingOnToes Mon 20-Mar-17 08:34:20

I'm glad most people seem to feel that them tidying up after themselves isn't too much - They really are used to having a parent around 24/7 to micromanage their every move.

MycatsaPirate the lounge needed a major overhaul as the kids have a habit of dragging every toy out of their bedrooms (where they are kept) and leaving them in the lounge. DP is lax at making them put them away after using them so they tend to get 'arranged' by him in the lounge, rather than all being run back upstairs and frankly I'm not doing it.

Wdigin2this - make a point of going around each person (as you would if they were yours) saying the laundrey is being sorted,if it's not in the basket NOW it's not getting washed...end of

But this is not my responsibility - they are not my children so I am not making it my responsibility to organise everyone I do not have enough time in the day. Parenting them and teaching them to to do this is his responsibility and I don't want to interfere. His kids - his rules.

If I was a SAHM or worked part time (or even didn't have horses or a degree to complete) I might have time to do this, but I don't. The AIBU was a question about me not expecting it to be assumed that I would parent his children when he is perfectly capable of doing it himself and had been doing alone for 4 years

swingofthings Mon 20-Mar-17 09:12:23

I really don't get what the issue is. It sounds like you are both managing perfectly fine as it is. Is your expectation that there should never be some grey areas that are brought up? If so, I think it is totally unrealistic as regardless of the arrangement, children or not, however set chores are, there will always be the occasional 'it is unfair that I should do this'.

There are things that my OH does that annoys me, some relating to my children, some not. One being that he will balance things in the bedroom bin until it all collapse on the floor rather than occasionally taking it upon himself to take the bag out, put it in the big bin and replace it with a clean bag!

The one thing that annoys me that relates to the kids is that although he never does their washing, if he does one wash of his clothes/mine and there is no room on the airing line because of the kids' clothes still there, he will just pick it up and just put it on the sofa without folding them, grrrr.....

However, if he was here, I have no doubt that he would have a long list of things that I do/don't do that annoys him! Thankfully, we are accepting our imperfections and not letting them affect the way we feel about each other. There's much more to life than making a big deal of this. Who knows what the future holds, he might have to wipe my bum or me his, which I'm sure will be much worse than what we are doing for each other right now!

Isadora2007 Mon 20-Mar-17 09:30:43

On one hand it sounds like great progress has been made and you should be pleased about that.

On the other hand you have the children there for 4/5 days in total out of 14... I can't see how on earth their washing could possibly add such a huge burden onto your laundry? It's concerning how much "yours" and "mine" stuff comes up for you- and that sounds like it could well become an issue in your relationship if it isn't already.
Installing Washbins in or at the kids rooms would perhaps help. But you saying "I try not to enter them" about the rooms is a bit hmm as it's your house and your home and yet you seem determined to compartmentalise it off.
You've mentioned not having your own kids a few times too- and clinging to your freedom. Is that resentment of the loss of freedom spilling over into your relationship? Sounds like it may be...

I'm not sure what the way forward is. I know it's a busy life but it really isn't down to the children that it seems more busy as you need to keep that 5/14 spilt in your mind and realise the shortcomings are of you and your partners making during the other 9/14 days.

Bluebell9 Mon 20-Mar-17 09:36:31

I'm in a similar position to you. My DP moved in with me and the DCS stay 2-3 nights a week. I will include anything in the washing basket when I do the washing, DP does 50% of the washing too. DP/DSC seem to struggle with getting their clothes all the way from the kids room to our bedroom where the washing basket lives, so I've bought a new washing basket for the kids. I will still include anything in that washing basket when I put a wash on, but I refuse to pick up random items from the bedroom floor to decide if they are clean or dirty.
My DCs are fussy eaters but I won't cook 2 meals, so I've found meals that they will now eat such as spaghetti bolognase that I cook for us all when they are staying. I ask them what food they would like to eat and we try and expand their food tastes. They love to help me cook and are more likely to try new food they have helped prepare.

My DC used to have trouble clearing up after themselves, but they are getting better as DP and I both make them clear away toys when they have finished with them. They are DPs kids, so the rules are set by him, but as we all live under the same roof, DP checks I'm happy with them and I stick to the same rules as him.

How long have you been in the kids lives?

mouldycheesefan Mon 20-Mar-17 09:38:47

Enough already with the crossing out! Say what you want to say without all the strike through!

SteppingOnToes Mon 20-Mar-17 14:56:50

Bluebell - I've only lived here for 5 months and I moved into his home so still feel very much the visitor. I'm trying to expand the kids food tastes but they refuse to use cutlery so anything other than chicken nuggets and chips with raw veg is shunned - finger food. They point blank refuse to eat anything and DP and their mother claim they can't due to food phobias. They asked for cereal once and were horrified that I put milk on it. They like milk so ate it but the 5yo had no idea about using a spoon. They were both baby led weaning children so I don't know if this has any bearing on it - they were never fed off spoons as tots.

Enough already with the crossing out! Say what you want to say without all the strike through!

I thought that was general mumsnet code for things you think but would never actually say out loud?

cappy123 Mon 20-Mar-17 21:01:16

Wait for the teenage years. My 17 yo DSDs washing is a bone of contention in our house. She easily puts in the wash 2-3 times what we do jointly in a week. I haven't got a problem whether the agreement is she does her whole laundry or not, or we all do everyone's (like i had to growing up). I have a problem my OH saying one thing to her e.g 'you're doing it' then doing it for her, not letting her face the consequences. Esp when all my clothes that he can't distinguish from hers get given to her by mistake and she doesn't do the courtesy of returning them, they sometimes just appear on her bedroom floor, or worse among her charity bag clear out. If she had to solely look after her laundry, she'd probably wait till she'd run out of everything and have to finally get on with it. If not and hubby did it all, he'd probably get peeved soon. Can you guess what our latest argument was about? 😊 She has no other responsibilities, no Saturday job, no chores, so I'm happy with not doing her laundry. This thing about you saying you're not their parent jarred with me though. They can't help not being your kids, would your principles be different otherwise? I think there's a fine line between refusing to do more than your fair share and opting out because they're not your kids. It's great that you have your private life, we all need that, but all relationships, esp step family ones, require some sacrifice especially to deal with the grey / still developing areas.

RandomMess Mon 20-Mar-17 21:24:43

Nowt to with baby led weaning, probably again just a lack of effort in encouraging the DC to develop/some need to babify them for some reason sad

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