Originally Posted by pomplemoose
So, this is the first year in 5 years that DSC's mother may have them for half the summer. I really have made lots of progress letting go of the anger and sadness over this. She does not have her own place and the kids sleeping arrangements is sketchy to say the least. If the kids are to spend more than on night EOW with her what is expected from her as far as bedroom arrangements, clothing and general upkeep.
What is expected of her and what she may actually do are completely different issues.
Here, if kids your DSC's ages do not have a bed separate from the main living area, their parent's bedroom and same-sex siblings, it can justify a change in custody or visitation. But before appealing to the court that the sleeping arrangements are inappropriate, you have to consider the larger effects. Is the NCP financially able to provide more? Does the extra time with the NCP outweigh the inappropriateness of the space provided for the kids? What else has been going on in court - i.e., will your DH appear to be looking out for the kids' best interests if he asks to reduce parenting time based on inappropriate provisions for them, or will he look like he's just on a campaign to keep the kids away from Mom using any excuse he can find?
For example, in our case DSS's Mom's choice to move away from her 3-bedroom house here (where square footage is relatively affordable) and into a series of studios and 1-b.r. apts. in a desirable area of a big city, that caught her fancy but has one of the country's highest costs of living, was cited among the reasons for giving DH custody. DSS was 8 and, after Mom's move, he either slept on a sofa or in her bed. Of course Mom did not get a bigger place when DSS moved out. That would hardly make sense. And for him to sleep on a sofa for a week, while he's visiting her for spring break, doesn't seem like a big deal. But doing that for 2 months every summer is just as inappropriate as it was when she had custody. DH might be able to get a judge to order that if Mom doesn't provide more appropriate arrangements, the summer visits will be shortened and Mom will have to come here to visit DSS. But she would be so furious that DSS's visits with her would be miserable. And she has stopped visiting DSS here, so he might not see her much at all, if the summer visits were shortened. And we feel like those things would be worse than the sleeping arrangements are.
Are we to send DSC with a weeks worth of clothing? are we to provide them with sleeping bags and pillows. what about swim suits and summer toys. They have very little at her house.
The more you provide, the less incentive Mom has to provide things. If she's going to have them more than EOW, she needs to provide changes of clothes...and everything else you mentioned. I'd send 2 changes of clothes and 2 sets of PJs per kid. That will give Mom a little time to supplement their wardrobes. If she doesn't, she'll just have to do laundry frequently, but the kids will have things to change into.
If water-play is a big deal over there, I'd send bathing suits. Not bathing suits you'll miss, because you may never see them again. If it's more that they might go to the pool a few times all summer, let Mom pick up some suits when she's ready to take them.
Let the kids pick a few toys to take, but caution them to choose things they won't be too upset about leaving there, because sometimes things are forgotten between parents' houses. (Don't make this a criticism of their mom. It's just a reality of divorce.)
If you're doing one week on and one week off, don't send bedding the first week. If the kids come back and tell you they were sleeping on the floor, covered in towels, then when they go back to Mom's send two separate air mattresses, sleeping bags and pillows. You shouldn't have to, but if Mom doesn't provide these things, then you do have to. If they're going for a big chunk of time - and you can't communicate effectively with Mom about what they'll need - then be prepared to drive over to her place and bring bedding, if (after several days) you hear from the kids that they still don't have any.
Also Library books, it would suck if they couldnt finish the summer reading program at our library because of this change.
That they will miss out on things they would do with you is just one of the sucky things you will have to come to grips with.
How reliable is Mom about returning things you send to her house? Make wise decisions based on past experience. Do not expect her to be different than she is. I have a great relationship with my ex, but I learned the hard way not to send library books to his house. Fines for lost books can be expensive and if you don't pay them, you can't rent books anymore! (And even if you're George Washington, the public library will only forgive your fines 250 years after your death!!!!)
Consider going to Half-Price Books and getting the kids cheap, paperback copies of things they want to read for the library program. Then, if those books don't come back from Mom's, the library copies are still at your house.
They have at least one summer camp for the last week in July, do we have to take that out of our parenting time or since shes being pretty agreeable is it reasonable to say since the kids want to do this, and since we're footing the entire bill, that it should not count as either of our weeks and we should just ignore the camp as far as scheduling goes.
If it's an overnight camp, subtracting that one week from the total summer time (to be divided in half) sounds fair, if Mom will agree to it.
If she doesn't agree - or if it's a day-camp and the kids will be coming back to your house at the end of the day - then it's pretty standard that if you sign up the kids for something, that counts as your parenting time. The fact that you paid for it also means the decision to take up a week of the kids' summer with that activity was yours and DH's - not Mom's. As an extreme counter-example: If she unilaterally enrolled them in a month-long sleep-away camp, obviously it wouldn't be fair for her to say, "The kids only have 4 weeks off school, when they're not in camp, so I want 2 of those weeks." You would think, "Wait a minute! Without consulting us, you chose to send them away for your 4 weeks! You're not taking 2 of ours!"
Also we have always done summer workbooks with the kids to stay on top of school. Is it OK for us to ask their mom to please keep up on their books while they are with her since it is for the kids benefit and important especially to DSD's learning, with whom we are exploring a possible ADD diagnoses.
It is absolutely reasonable for you to ask. If past experience with Mom makes you think she won't do it, then it would be unreasonable for you to expect that it will actually happen.
She has gotten a different visitation arrangement. She has not become a different person. Reminding yourself of that will not make you less frustrated, when it seems like she's letting the kids down. But having reasonable expectations of her will keep you from feeling bamboozled.