I have been separated from my daughter's dad since the fall and we started overnights at his insistence about 7 weeks ago, 1x per week. I knew my daughter would go through an adjustment period with this (as she did when we moved) but I would have thought by now she would have accepted the overnights as routine. However each overnight is harder and harder. She will get teary when I just mention an overnight, doesn't want to see her dad even when it is just to visit and play, and she will ask repeatedly for me and cry during her overnights with dad. She is about 2.5 and I dread that this is doing her some type of psychological harm not to mention it breaks my heart. A lot of her play also revolves around her stuffed animals having lost mommies or mommies who left. I am an APer and she still nurses (for sleep) and cosleeps with me. At her dad's she does cosleep with him and he is able to get her to sleep without nursing. I have tried to explain that we need to share our time with Daddy and that I still love her very much even when I am not there, but I don't think she really understands. I would like to stop the overnights temporarily or at least back off the frequency but just bringing up the subject with her Dad bring an immediate no from him as he is worried that he will lose the bond with her. He is a wonderful and devoted dad and sees her at least 5 if not 6 days a week. And I know how lucky I am! Any thoughts on what to do?
I know it is hard but I totally understand. I nmy case DD is 2.5 yrs old and we split when she was 18 months old. She has always done ON's and usually EOW Thus-Mon at Dad's house. It works well fo rus.
I know it is hard but if you back off the ON's it will be harder to start them up again.
Does she cry AT daddy's house or just when she is with you about it?
I admit we are at the point now where DD doesnt' cry during transitions and she goes with the parent to climb into the carseat without a tear. IT GETS BETTER, I promise *hug*.
Make it a big exciting event. "you get to go to DADDY'S house tonight!! Your going to have SO much fun!!! He's going to make (insert fave food here) for dinner, and then you get to sleep in your pretty princess bed!!!! Wow, you're going to have a GREAT time!"
Work on it with him too, tell him her fave food, ask him to make it. Have him get her some sheets for her bed that she loves (bonus points if he takes her to pick them out with him). And, let them work it out. Be excited about her going (I know you miss her, but she needs to be reassured that it's ok and she will be ok -it's like when they fall down, if you smile and act cheery they mostly don't cry, but if you get super freaked out by every stubbed toe so will they).
When she gets home be excited to see her, "Hi dd!! Did you have fun?! What special things did you do with daddy?! Ok, give daddy a big hug and kiss and say bye bye!"
It seems sooooo fake - but it helps soo much. My ds was 10mo when we started overnights, and I was always super super fake happy about them - and he never cried at exchange time. He misses me sometimes when he's gone, and that's OK. He also misses his dad when he's with me sometimes, and that's OK too.
After a while I had the opposite problem where my son would cry for his dad. He had to pass by to wish him goodnight and say bye! Bye! He was about 18 months when this happened. Then his dad would pass by every other then and so on....
Can you maybe call her to wish her good night or even pass by his place to wish him goodnight and tell her you will see her next day?
My youngest was almost 4 when my ex and I split. Overnights didn't start until she was almost 5 (it took him that long to complete an anger management course) and she had a very hard time with overnights (every other week-end). So much so that we backed off on them and he only had her one overnight EOW. She still had a hard time with them, but not as bad as when it was both overnights. We did this for a few months and then she went back to Fri-Sund EOW. She had a hard time, but it was no where near as bad as before. It took years for her to be happy to go with her father and not cry for me the whole time. She's 10 now and has no problem with overnights anymore. It was a gradual process.
Backing off would probably be a good idea at this time and maybe just doing one overnight EOW and adding an extra visit during the week (not an overnight).
Backing off on overnights actually helped my youngest adjust better and handle it when we started the two overnights again. Sometimes, that IS what a child needs. Especially a young one.
Maybe for some kids, it will be harder to start them up, it wasn't in the case of my kid. And only the original poster will have an idea if that's the case for her kid.
Well we are actually backing off overnights and ramping up Daddy time. He is going to spend more alone time with her, like entire days on the weekend, and less time as a "family" like we have been doing. The hope is that she will learn to trust and build a stronger bond with her dad before we try the overnights again. I just felt like I was pushing her WAY too much. This has been a very hard road for her and to try and force another adjustment to work just doesn't sit right with me. Now I will probably kick myself later for not pushing through but this feels right for the moment. This week her behavior has actually improved and she has been excited about going with him. And I feel better too, I have actually been able to focus on work, school, and house stuff when I am not with her rather than being sick with worry. Thanks for the ideas, I am sure I will be posting again. This is just the start of my single mom life.
That sounds like a good compromise. Make sure that he spends time with her at his house on those weekend days - the more comfortable she is in his house (this wasn't an issue with my ex because he kept the apartment we shared when we split up, so it was a familiar space for him) the more comfortable she will be on overnights.