[Solved] Childcare arrangements - separated parents
I have been separated from my kids mother for 2 years now. We have 2 beautiful daughters 2 & 4.
Our arrangement is I have them every weekend from school pickup on Friday afternoon and take them home 6:00 Sunday evening. I also go up Wednesday evenings to help with dinner and bed.
My problem is I am not getting any downtime. I run my own business and am very busy with a physically demanding job.
I love seeing my kids and in general our arrangement works well. I like seeing them every week and would miss them if i didn't.
If ever I bring up the mother having them for a weekend, it always turns into an argument as she cannot cope with the girls longer than her allotted 5 nights.
She has problems with mental health and is on a high dose of anti depressants. She struggles with sleep deprivation because our kids keep her up through the night.
She says the last weekends she has had the girls (approx 3 in the last 2 years) she has felt suicidal and her issues have gotten worse.
Understandably she does the majority of the child care on the school holidays as I have to work.
I pay over the odds for child maintenance and do everything I can to be flexible to accomodate her needs.
I go to her house in the week and will babysit if she wants me to. I do 100% of the driving for our arrangements as she tells me it is my fault this has all happened and she refuses to help.
I also have to go into her house to pack the girls things as she refuses to to have their things ready for me when i arrive to pick them up.
I feel I will be flexible on arrangements but I don't feel it's a 2 way thing. All i'm asking for is the occasional weekend for myself to recharge.
What are your views on this and is anyone else in a simillar situation?
Everyone parent needs some down time and I can appreciate this is difficult for you...generally a court would order alternate weekends and a day in the week, but I understand you are limited because of your ex's issues.
Although I do feel, if she manages during the school holidays, she could manage a few extra weekends! Do the children keep you up through the night at the weekends? If not, again I would question whether this is true or not. They're old enough to be sleeping through.
Perhaps you could suggest a small adjustment to the weekend contact, for example that she picks them up from school on Friday and you collect them on Saturday afternoon. Tell her it's that or you will insist that you fall back to what a court would order, which is alternate weekends. She cannot force you to take the children every weekend...but I do understand you're in a sensitive situation.
If you are unhappy having to go into the house to sort their things, perhaps you should keep some things at your house for them to use.
You could consider mediation to try and sort this out, but it might be that she needs extra support because of her mental health issues, perhaps a chat with her GP/childrens Health Visitor would be appropriate. Also it might be worth involving Children's Services if at any time you feel she isn't coping.
I would also like to suggest some counselling, it sounds like she hasn't been able to move on from your split and is really expecting too much of you. Relate might be able to help or the GP could suggest support services, or ask for more involvement from her family if possible.
Best of luck
Thanks for your very understanding reply!
The kids sleep has always been a huge issue for her and something that has driven her slightly crazy.
The kids usually get up a few times in the night at mine, but I take them straight back to bed and off they go again. It's not like they're up for hours on end.
It seems different when they stay with her and she says they are up all through the night. She does dramatise it but I think they play up to her more because she reacts to them.
I will try suggesting a slight adjustment like you say but am not expecting much. At the moment she is saying that if I want a weekend off, I need to arrange it with either of our parents to look after them for the weekend. I think this is putting too much on the grandparents and shouldn't be their responsibility.
To add to this, our eldest is very emotional and clingy to her Mum and I think the breakup has effected her. She often cries and is upset saying she doesn't see mummy enough.
I do have most stuff at mine now, it's just essentials such as cuddly toys which I still have to go and find in her house on the Friday.
I've considered just not turning up one weekend but obviously that's not the best way to go about it.
I've been going to counseling for a few years now. I think she would benefit a lot from doing so but hasn't done, despite talking about it a lot
Yes children can play up more for one parent...they're clever little tikes and soon work out the weakest link!
I think you just have to take a strong stance, don't ask her for her permission, tell her that for you to continue to give such a level of support, you need some you time, just as she does.
Perhaps you should have a discussion about this with your parents, you might find that they would be happy to give extra support...as long as you give them plenty of notice. I'm a hands on grandparent, both of my children are single parents and couldn't manage without our extra support, which we are more than happy to give....talk to them.
I would also approach her parents and talk to them about her unfair reliance on you and the impact it has. Do they know the extent of their daughters mental health problems? Surely they would want to provide more support too in the circumstances. Perhaps they might be able to get her to accept counselling.
I can understand your frustration, but from your ex's point of view, I can see that she also needs downtime. Do either of you have parents that can help out on the odd occasion, if so, I assume that they'd like time with their grandchildren, so that would help all of you out.
With regards to the children keeping your ex up at night, once thing that helped me when my oldest was born was to put a temporary bed in his room so that if he woke up, I was there and could settle him down befre he was fully awake, and after a few days, he stopped waking at all and I was able to stop sleeping in his room at all - I was more tired for a few days (I was sleeping lightly so that I was awake at the slightest hint of him waking) but it was worth those few days for the long term benefit.