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Helping everyone adjust when SK returns from summer

Posted by on Jul. 24, 2014 at 9:46 AM
  • 14 Replies
So I'm looking for tips on how to help everyone in the family adjust when SS12 returns from spending summer with BM. DH has primary custody of SS so he is with us full-time the entire year except for a month and half during summer and a week over christmas break (due to BM living 2 states away). In our house there is also DD8 who I have 50/50 custody with my Ex (everyother weekend and everyother afternoon during the week). If you're in a similar custody arrangement that we have with SS I'm sure you know how much of an adjustment it is for everyone in the house when you go from having a child all the time, to then they're gone for an extended period and then back. SS12 is usually excited to be back to our house and we are excited to have him back, but our issues usually surround him having a hard time sharing attention (at BMs house he is the only child and is treated as the golden child, vs at our house he has to share DH attention with DD and myself). I'm very lucky in that he adjusts to following the different rules between two houses easily enough, but it's the emotional and level of attention adjustment that is extremely hard for him. Usually we do a big welcome home dinner for him, but this year we actually have our family vacation to walt disney world planned for the week of his return. He likes the dinner (and I'm sure he'll love the trip to WDW), but he often complains that it's not enough, that he wants us to make it all about him and have a true celebration of his return that lasts days or even weeks. He also expects DH to be "just his" for the first few days/weeks he returns. I'm not sure how reasonable that is, and it's definitely not practical as I still need DH to be around to do his share of the work around the house. For DD and I (who are both by nature quiet people) our biggest adjustment is the noise that SS brings with him. This kid loves to talk! I mean there is truly not a thought that pops into his head that he doesnt feel isnt worth sharing, and for someone more introverted like me, it can be extremely overwhelming. So what are the things you do to help the adjustment to the kids being back home? How much do you make it celebration of thier return, vs life as normal (especially considering there is another child who does not receive such a celebration because they get shuffled back and forth every weekend)?
by on Jul. 24, 2014 at 9:46 AM
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KikiB85
by Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM
My 2 kids are spending a month in Florida with their dad. They have never been out of state with out me and they are meeting a bunch of family they have never met. They are having a blast and I'm excited for them. However they come home in 2 weeks. He took them later than planned so of course I only get a week for them to adjust till school starts. I've been trying to think of little things to do with them when they get back. We didn't get to do beach together or anything this summer since their dad just up and called and took them lol. I know it will be a struggle tho. Mine will be sad to leave daddy. He's the fun one bc he never has to deal with school and they will come home and it wil be ' well daddy let me do ....' ....I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

as for Disney that sounds fabulous. Maybe when you guys go just kind of pair up. Walk around together but you entertain dd more and let him have his time with dad. Sit on rides together. It's hard bc you want to spend a vacation like that together but he wants his dad.
whatIknownow
by Emerald Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I think it's reasonable for your DH to spend more time with his son when he first returns. You and your DD had him to yourselves for 6 weeks, so why not let his son have him to himself for a couple of days?

Wednesday800
by Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM
I'm more than willing to let DH spend more (if not most) time with SS when he returns, but SS literally wants DH 100% of the time when he returns and I still need DH to help around the house in order to keep things running smooth. For example, right now DH is responsible for cooking dinner on Wed nights as that is one of the nights I work late in the office. SS doesnt want DH to have to cook dinner because then he will be down in the kitchen were he'll be interacting with SS AND DD. SS wants DH to be in his room, having DH all to himself. If DH even says hello or acknowledges myself or DD then, SS runs to his room crying and saying that DH is ignoring him (this is not an exageration, but how emotionally sensitive SS is when he returns home).

Quoting whatIknownow:

I think it's reasonable for your DH to spend more time with his son when he first returns. You and your DD had him to yourselves for 6 weeks, so why not let his son have him to himself for a couple of days?

Wednesday800
by Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM
We definitely have plans to do some pairing up at Disney. It's not the ideal way to spend a family vacation, but we figured 1-2 hours each day of having me just follow DD around and DH follow SS around will help lesson the contant struggle of who's the leader the rest of the day (we hope at least, lol).

Quoting KikiB85: My 2 kids are spending a month in Florida with their dad. They have never been out of state with out me and they are meeting a bunch of family they have never met. They are having a blast and I'm excited for them. However they come home in 2 weeks. He took them later than planned so of course I only get a week for them to adjust till school starts. I've been trying to think of little things to do with them when they get back. We didn't get to do beach together or anything this summer since their dad just up and called and took them lol. I know it will be a struggle tho. Mine will be sad to leave daddy. He's the fun one bc he never has to deal with school and they will come home and it wil be ' well daddy let me do ....' ....I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

as for Disney that sounds fabulous. Maybe when you guys go just kind of pair up. Walk around together but you entertain dd more and let him have his time with dad. Sit on rides together. It's hard bc you want to spend a vacation like that together but he wants his dad.
KikiB85
by Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 11:09 AM
Yikes. That's rough. Should make for an interesting vacation. Is there a reason why he is so sensitive or has he always been this way?

My dd is 7 and does get annoyed when i spend time with my SO and I'm not in the living room with her. "You always spend time with W...." and she says it so whiny lol and I maybe spend a few minutes with him. Lol

Quoting Wednesday800: I'm more than willing to let DH spend more (if not most) time with SS when he returns, but SS literally wants DH 100% of the time when he returns and I still need DH to help around the house in order to keep things running smooth. For example, right now DH is responsible for cooking dinner on Wed nights as that is one of the nights I work late in the office. SS doesnt want DH to have to cook dinner because then he will be down in the kitchen were he'll be interacting with SS AND DD. SS wants DH to be in his room, having DH all to himself. If DH even says hello or acknowledges myself or DD then, SS runs to his room crying and saying that DH is ignoring him (this is not an exageration, but how emotionally sensitive SS is when he returns home).

Quoting whatIknownow:

I think it's reasonable for your DH to spend more time with his son when he first returns. You and your DD had him to yourselves for 6 weeks, so why not let his son have him to himself for a couple of days?

cdrainey3
by Cher on Jul. 24, 2014 at 11:11 AM
1 mom liked this
He just needs to be told to knock it off! "Suck it up buttercup" and "this is life" I think the first day he's back you should find other arrangements for your dd so that your dh can spend the whole day with him, doing whatever he wants. After that the kid needs to be told that while he was VERY missed life still goes on and dad will try to continue spending time, but the fits are not okay. How old is he?

Quoting Wednesday800: I'm more than willing to let DH spend more (if not most) time with SS when he returns, but SS literally wants DH 100% of the time when he returns and I still need DH to help around the house in order to keep things running smooth. For example, right now DH is responsible for cooking dinner on Wed nights as that is one of the nights I work late in the office. SS doesnt want DH to have to cook dinner because then he will be down in the kitchen were he'll be interacting with SS AND DD. SS wants DH to be in his room, having DH all to himself. If DH even says hello or acknowledges myself or DD then, SS runs to his room crying and saying that DH is ignoring him (this is not an exageration, but how emotionally sensitive SS is when he returns home).

Quoting whatIknownow:

I think it's reasonable for your DH to spend more time with his son when he first returns. You and your DD had him to yourselves for 6 weeks, so why not let his son have him to himself for a couple of days?

Wednesday800
by Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 11:21 AM
SS is 12 and has always been this highly emotional. I think it has a lot to do with abandonment issues when BM moved away after DH and she got divorced (over 4 years ago). SS has been in counseling for over 2 years to deal with that and other coping issues that he has, but he's still just a very sensitive kid (his emotional maturity is not well developed).

Quoting cdrainey3: He just needs to be told to knock it off! "Suck it up buttercup" and "this is life" I think the first day he's back you should find other arrangements for your dd so that your dh can spend the whole day with him, doing whatever he wants. After that the kid needs to be told that while he was VERY missed life still goes on and dad will try to continue spending time, but the fits are not okay. How old is he?

Quoting Wednesday800: I'm more than willing to let DH spend more (if not most) time with SS when he returns, but SS literally wants DH 100% of the time when he returns and I still need DH to help around the house in order to keep things running smooth. For example, right now DH is responsible for cooking dinner on Wed nights as that is one of the nights I work late in the office. SS doesnt want DH to have to cook dinner because then he will be down in the kitchen were he'll be interacting with SS AND DD. SS wants DH to be in his room, having DH all to himself. If DH even says hello or acknowledges myself or DD then, SS runs to his room crying and saying that DH is ignoring him (this is not an exageration, but how emotionally sensitive SS is when he returns home).

Quoting whatIknownow:

I think it's reasonable for your DH to spend more time with his son when he first returns. You and your DD had him to yourselves for 6 weeks, so why not let his son have him to himself for a couple of days?

whatIknownow
by Emerald Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM

so how about ordering a pizza?

This happens once a year, that SS comes home and wants his father's attention. Once a year, you can let things slide for a couple days. The kid needs his dad whom he hasn't seen in 6 weeks. I think you can be flexible on this.

Quoting Wednesday800: I'm more than willing to let DH spend more (if not most) time with SS when he returns, but SS literally wants DH 100% of the time when he returns and I still need DH to help around the house in order to keep things running smooth. For example, right now DH is responsible for cooking dinner on Wed nights as that is one of the nights I work late in the office. SS doesnt want DH to have to cook dinner because then he will be down in the kitchen were he'll be interacting with SS AND DD. SS wants DH to be in his room, having DH all to himself. If DH even says hello or acknowledges myself or DD then, SS runs to his room crying and saying that DH is ignoring him (this is not an exageration, but how emotionally sensitive SS is when he returns home).
Quoting whatIknownow:

I think it's reasonable for your DH to spend more time with his son when he first returns. You and your DD had him to yourselves for 6 weeks, so why not let his son have him to himself for a couple of days?


Jean9574
by Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Agree 100%

Have a half day/day for DH and SS to bond and then after that he needs to suck it up.  

Quoting cdrainey3: He just needs to be told to knock it off! "Suck it up buttercup" and "this is life" I think the first day he's back you should find other arrangements for your dd so that your dh can spend the whole day with him, doing whatever he wants. After that the kid needs to be told that while he was VERY missed life still goes on and dad will try to continue spending time, but the fits are not okay. How old is he?
jules2boys
by Gold Member on Jul. 24, 2014 at 1:11 PM

I'm a BM, not a SM, my kids have a SM, so take my thoughts on this for what you will, knowing I don't share your situation.  :) 

Instead of the big family dinner/celebration when SS12 returns to your home, what about letting BF and SS have a day, or half day (or something reasonable) for SS to be BFs sole focus.  For 6 weeks you and DD have not had to compete with anyone for DH's attention.  In those 6 weeks you and DH have had 50% alone time for some good adult time, conversation, whatever.  In those 6 weeks your DD has had her DD 50% of the time and your DH 50% of the time to herself.  So, allowing SS12 100% of his time for 24 hours or less seems reasonable.  In that time, DH can do something with his DS that DS enjoys, and during that time DH can remind his DS about the rules and expectations in THIS house.  This would give DH and SS some alone time, which SS has said he wants/needs, as well as DH some alone time to reconnect with his child, and then both can join the family after that time. 

I wouldn't say SS was a 'golden child' at BMs.  It's just a very different atmosphere in a home with an only child who doesn't spend much time in that home versus your situation with your XH, where you each have your DD 50% of the time.  Stop and think a moment... if YOU only got to see your DD for 6 weeks in the summer and one week at Christmas, would you keep your schedule 'as normal' or would you make a big fuss over your child in those 7 weeks a year?  I know I would.  I wouldn't have the same dynamic I have with my boys, or the same expectations I do for them, since 45 out of 52 weeks a year, someone ELSE had a greater influence over them than I did. 

Think about it from SSs POV as well.  Must be really confusing to have such different homes/parents.  He's just 12 so he doesn't have all the skills you or I (adults) would have to prepare himself for the differences AND getting back into the same old routines too.  I imagine it's akin to returning from vacation.  On vacation you and DH don't have the same routines (I'm assuming you aren't cooking ever meal, juggling work schedules, kids schedules, etc.) and when you return home, all the 'normal' things must happen again, but inside you really WISH you had a bit more time on vacation, to relax, live a different pace, enjoy new sights and experiences, etc.  For a kid, they don't yet have the ability to say "ok, I'm home now, back to 'reality'!"  Kids prefer fantasy and have the luxury (often) of living in that fantasy just a bit longer than the adults do. 

As for the 'celebration', that seems silly to me to 'celebrate his return' as if he was the prodigal son.  Maybe it was because he was younger, and what little kid doesn't like/want a party, heck, just because the day ends in Y (LOL), but, he's 12 now, old enough to get what he needs (one on one time with dad, and a refresher of the expectations in dads home) moreso than what he wants (to be the center of attention). 

With the one on one time with dad, it seems like a win for everyone.  SS gets dad all to himself after not seeing him for 6 weeks.  Dad gets some one on one time with his SS after being surrounded by females for 6 weeks. ;)  You and DD get a reprieve from SSs constant chatter while SS shares 'all' with BF, but you and DD don't care for it (overwhelms  you both). 

And, I like someone else's idea... have pizza for the first 'meal' home so no one (you nor DH) are stuck in the kitchen for 'hours' preparing a meal.  Or, throw something in the crock pot and let it cook there.  Make a larger meal on the weekend and have it ready (leftovers?) for his return?  Something to simplify life as everyone (adult and child) makes the adjustment back to 'reality'.  :)  

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