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#1 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Not sure what to call this-our dd has started playing a new game based on her big sister (my dsd)-she pretends to go to school and then announces that she is coming home because it is "mommy's day" to have her

I really worry about the effect that the blended family dynamic has on dd and soon to be ds (due in less than 1 month). I think it is so obviosly hard on the child traveling between houses (and I am certainly not trying to minimize that) that we forget about the effect on the kids who permanently live in each house. Dd's sleep schedule is always thrown off when dsd comes over, her days are radically different, and life in general is completely different when dsd comes over than when not (i.e. getting up and rushign to school, rushed nighttimes with homework, etc., daddy is home more, more constant running aroudn and playing, less downtime, etc.) -obviously some of these things are not bad, but they do lead to her being tired and more cranky because her routine is thrown off. We have just changed the schedule to have less back and forth, so hopefully this will help, and we try to stick to somewhat of a routine, but I really can't replicate what goes on when dsd is here versus when she is not, you know?

Just venting I guess-it can be so frustrating and I really have to work to not feel/show resentment towards dsd for this (which of course is not her fault). Any one else have a hard time with this?

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#2 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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I don't have a blended family, but I DO have young children whose "pretend play" makes me, as an adult, cringe at times. But really, the fact that your dd is processing the blended issues through play is a good thing. It's an outlet for her fears and stress, and by observing her, you can get a hint of anything that might crop up beyond the obvious "why does my sister live here only sometimes" issue.

If you've already shuffled the schedule to reduce the chaos, then you've done what you can do right now, and the rest of the improvements will come with time. A 3 y.o. who is run ragged by the schedule changes will turn into a 5 y.o. who handles them much more easily (provided the adults involved are not a constant drama circus, and the big sister doesn't run roughshod over the littles when she's in your home).

The best thing you can do for your dc is to have the calmest, most positive relationship possible with your dsd AND her mother. If you are internally wringing your hands over the godawful "blended family dynamics," your kids will pick up on that. If you are happy with your family life and focused on the positive aspects of being a "bonus mom," well, your kids will pick up on THAT.

But no pressure.
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#3 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 05:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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lol-thanks! No pressure indeed

Thanks for the encouragement though, sometimes you just need to hear it out loud-yes, in general we all have a very positive relationship and dd adores her big sister and loves when she is here-it is just me who can see the changes and I tend to get frustrated about it, although this is all happening in my head, definitely not to dsd or dd-although dp has to hear about it sometimes, lol. That is a great point about her processing through play-I will try to keep that in mind.

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#4 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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I totally agree that the effects of divorce and joint custody on the "full-time kids" often gets overlooked. When we moved and changed custody schedules, we put a LOT of thought and work into helping my step-daughter make the transition, and it wasn't until my son (2 1/2 at the time) started showing signs of pretty serious stress, that we realized we needed to put just as much time and energy into HIS transition.

I agree that if your daughter is playing "mommy's day," it is a GOOD sign that she is processing, and the fact that it is "talkable" to her means that if she is confused about something she can hopefully ask you about it.

My son also had HUGE differences between days my step-daughter was with us and days she wasn't, especially back when he didn't have any other siblings besides his big sister. My husband (who stays home with the kids) made sure that the first day my step-daughter was with mom was a day with lots of unscheduled down-time, because he seemed to do best when he could play independently with his toys for extended periods of time. We also tried to make things as predictable as possible for all the kids bekeeping the schedule as regular as possible and reminding the kids about what was coming up-- at dinner or bedtime we talked about what was going on the next day, and at breakfast, we'd talk about the plan for the upcoming day.

NOw that the kids are older, we do a LOT of talking about our feelings around the transitions. Just like we tell my step-daughter its normal to feel happy and sad when she is leaving one family and going to the other, we tell the other kids its okay to be excited and nervous about their sister coming.

We also try to stay alert around transition times to anything they are trying to let us know-- for example, a child who is extra snuggly might need some one-on-one time, some space from the other kids, a less busy schedule, or more reassurances/reminders about the upcoming schedule. A child who is off the wall might be feeling anxious, need one-on-one time, need an energetic outlet for some anxiety, etc. All our kids are pretty good about letting people know when they need space or time alone, and their siblings are pretty good about respecting that.

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#5 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 06:57 PM
 
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Honestly the play thing isn't a big deal. She sees that her big sister has mommy days and daddy days and she's pretending that she is like her big sister and has mommy days and daddy days too. I don't see that as a negative at all. She probably doesn't see it that way either. She is just reflecting her reality in her play.

As far as the schedule shuffling and chaos, I don't even see it so much as a blended family issue. I think all mothers wish at times that all their children could have the privledge of being the first born. My son (my second child) gets dragged around to dd's lessons and his naps are interrupted by taking her to preschool. Everytime he is happily playing on the carpet by himself, his big sister comes over and tackles him to the ground. The truth is that his life experience as the second born is very different than hers was as the first born. It isn't good or bad, it just is. Another way for you to think about it is that even though your dd is the second born in your family, she is lucky enough to have the privledge of being the first born for a good portion of her days.

Jennifer, mama to darling dancing Juliette, and sweet baby Jameson
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#6 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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I've noticed that DS1 is more cognizant of the transitions as he gets older. In fact, one of the reasons we had DS2 was a fear that DS1 would be unbearably lonely during the off weeks (we are week on/week off). It is just one of the realities of blended family life. Not sure that much can be done about it.

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#7 of 13 Old 02-20-2010, 11:13 PM
 
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Honestly the play thing isn't a big deal. She sees that her big sister has mommy days and daddy days and she's pretending that she is like her big sister and has mommy days and daddy days too. I don't see that as a negative at all. She probably doesn't see it that way either. She is just reflecting her reality in her play.
Yes to this! Also, to be fair, I assume you knew all about your dsd before you partnered with her father, so this stuff is just part of the territory. I am not saying it doesn't effect your life or your kiddo's lives, but there is not so much that can be changed about it now. Instead perhaps try to focus on the positives...does she ever help you out with entertaining the kids? Can she be seen as a role model of sorts for them?

I realize you were not saying you wish she weren't around or that this was not your reality...I guess I am just sensitive because I am mom to a girl who spends a few nights per week at her dad's house, and him and his fiance are getting married this summer and planning to get pregnant quickly. I would hate for her to look at the situation w/ my daughter as being potentially negative for her "real" children.

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#8 of 13 Old 02-21-2010, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by aricha View Post
I totally agree that the effects of divorce and joint custody on the "full-time kids" often gets overlooked. When we moved and changed custody schedules, we put a LOT of thought and work into helping my step-daughter make the transition, and it wasn't until my son (2 1/2 at the time) started showing signs of pretty serious stress, that we realized we needed to put just as much time and energy into HIS transition.

I agree that if your daughter is playing "mommy's day," it is a GOOD sign that she is processing, and the fact that it is "talkable" to her means that if she is confused about something she can hopefully ask you about it.

My son also had HUGE differences between days my step-daughter was with us and days she wasn't, especially back when he didn't have any other siblings besides his big sister. My husband (who stays home with the kids) made sure that the first day my step-daughter was with mom was a day with lots of unscheduled down-time, because he seemed to do best when he could play independently with his toys for extended periods of time. We also tried to make things as predictable as possible for all the kids bekeeping the schedule as regular as possible and reminding the kids about what was coming up-- at dinner or bedtime we talked about what was going on the next day, and at breakfast, we'd talk about the plan for the upcoming day.

NOw that the kids are older, we do a LOT of talking about our feelings around the transitions. Just like we tell my step-daughter its normal to feel happy and sad when she is leaving one family and going to the other, we tell the other kids its okay to be excited and nervous about their sister coming.

We also try to stay alert around transition times to anything they are trying to let us know-- for example, a child who is extra snuggly might need some one-on-one time, some space from the other kids, a less busy schedule, or more reassurances/reminders about the upcoming schedule. A child who is off the wall might be feeling anxious, need one-on-one time, need an energetic outlet for some anxiety, etc. All our kids are pretty good about letting people know when they need space or time alone, and their siblings are pretty good about respecting that.
Thanks-this was very helpful!!! I have been trying to make sure that things like bedtime/mealtime etc. are more on a regular schedule so at least that can be the same (although we have a new baby comign shortly so I am sure that will go out the window!) But yes, we are all very open about the situation and try to talk about how we all feel and explain how it is normal for all the kid to have a hard time transitioning, not just dsd. Thanks again for your input/experience, this is what I was looking for in terms of knowing it is not just me

Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
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#9 of 13 Old 02-21-2010, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes to this! Also, to be fair, I assume you knew all about your dsd before you partnered with her father, so this stuff is just part of the territory. I am not saying it doesn't effect your life or your kiddo's lives, but there is not so much that can be changed about it now. Instead perhaps try to focus on the positives...does she ever help you out with entertaining the kids? Can she be seen as a role model of sorts for them?

I realize you were not saying you wish she weren't around or that this was not your reality...I guess I am just sensitive because I am mom to a girl who spends a few nights per week at her dad's house, and him and his fiance are getting married this summer and planning to get pregnant quickly. I would hate for her to look at the situation w/ my daughter as being potentially negative for her "real" children.

Of course I knew about dsd-and of course there was no way I could predict how I would feel five years and nearly two kids later! I don't mean this personally, but it really bothers me when our experience as stepparents is minimized by saying that we should have known what we were getting into and now we just have to deal with it. That is like telling a mom of two who is having a hard time transitioning to a second child that she knew what she was getting into and now should just suck it up and stop complaining-which I've certainly never heard anyone do!

There are a great many positives to having dsd in our (mine, dp, dd, and soon ds) lives, which I think I did state in my OP. As I said, this was just a bit of a vent because I feel like it is not something that is often talked about, the effect on the "full-time" kids. But yes, I do try to focus on the positives and as I said, I never show dsd that this stuff upsets me, even if it is hard to hide sometimes. And yes, it is hard on my dd to have her life change dramatically on a more than weekly basis-just like it is hard for dsd to have her life change dramatically on a weekly basis. It is just much more focused on when dsd is having a harder time and I am realizing that we really have to focus on dd's needs with this too. It affects the whole family, not just dsd.

In terms of your daughter's stepmom, I'm sure she will have moments mourning hte fact that her child is not her husband's first, that she can't do things the way she may have planned, and that her life revolves around somebody's else's schedule. But-that doesn't mean she won't love your dd or that she will actively resent her or act out against her. I certainly don't, but I do have those feelings of sadness at times, even though I "thought" i knew what I was getting into!

This came off as very defensive and I apologize, lol! I guess I feel strongly about it too

Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
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#10 of 13 Old 02-22-2010, 12:07 AM
 
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In terms of your daughter's stepmom, I'm sure she will have moments mourning hte fact that her child is not her husband's first, that she can't do things the way she may have planned, and that her life revolves around somebody's else's schedule. But-that doesn't mean she won't love your dd or that she will actively resent her or act out against her. I certainly don't, but I do have those feelings of sadness at times, even though I "thought" i knew what I was getting into!

This came off as very defensive and I apologize, lol! I guess I feel strongly about it too
I get what you are saying, I guess it just makes me sad to think about it in these terms. I know that watching my ex be a fabulous dad to my dd is part of what made the soontobestepmom fall in love with him, and my daughter is a very amazing kid. I think anyone who gets to spend significant time with her is pretty blessed. (Of course I am biased!)

I know that eventually if I have a baby with my dh that the baby's life would be effected when my daughter comes and goes, however it would just be a fact of life, and I would do alot of preparation on everyone's part to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Mama to A born 8/7/99
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#11 of 13 Old 02-24-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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I know that eventually if I have a baby with my dh that the baby's life would be effected when my daughter comes and goes, however it would just be a fact of life, and I would do alot of preparation on everyone's part to make the transition as smooth as possible.

I think the op is clearly aware it's a fact of life, but honestly... how many times are we able to think about every possible feeling we or our children will experience in the future?

I think to simply state it's just a fact of life is fearful for someone who is a step-mother, and a mother because it feels like your choices have somehow harmed your biological childs' lives. It's a mother's heart to worry and feel guilt for problems you (directly or indirectly) have "caused" to your children. (such as getting involved with someone who has children from a previous marriage)

I think the stress of children in the home full time are phenomonal. For parents who get the step child every other weekend, there are balancing acts. What do you do when it comes to fun family activities? Do you only do the fun stuff when the step child is there and send off the message to your bio-children that they are somehow "less" of a person then their step sibling because the only time fun activities happen is when they are there? Or do you do fun things when the step child isn't there, and cause that step child to potentially feel hurt for missing out on a family event. It's a fine line...and the effects effect everyone involved. There will be positive moments, but there are also negative moments.

I think the same could be said for children who have a sibling in the home with disabilities. Should we just tell them, oh, well it's just a fact of life?

Obviously, we can not allow some children to suffer at the expense of other children, and we ourselves can not allow ourselves or our families to suffer over previous life experiences. I think to simply play it off as a "fact of life" is a detriment to both parties. The best way is to balance between the children in the home full time, and the step child there some times (which sounds like you are doing op!) Remember to not feel guilty for the decisions you make afterwards as the circumstances legitimately limit your other available options.

Kourtney, happily married to my soldier and raising ds 7/08 .... dd 7/10..... and ds 11/11

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#12 of 13 Old 02-25-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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A fact of life= it is reality....for the OP and likely for my family in the future as well. If you read my sentence after the one you bolded I said that much preparation for all children was needed in order to make the transitions easier. I was not at all saying, "oh well...the fulltime kids have to just deal." Nor would I advocate that for a child with disabilities, and I have to say I am kind of confused about the comparison. I think you are completely misconstruing what I wrote.

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#13 of 13 Old 03-04-2010, 02:48 AM
 
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greenemami, wow, I never thought of this! I have a DSD and this summer will be giving her her first sibling. Ever since we even thought about doing this DSD has been at the top of our thoughts. How will she feel? How can we help her cope? How do we reassure her? etc. Never never once have I thought about how (once older) this younger sibling would feel about his/her sister just living here on weekends! I will keep this in the back of my mind, thank you!

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What do you do when it comes to fun family activities? Do you only do the fun stuff when the step child is there and send off the message to your bio-children that they are somehow "less" of a person then their step sibling because the only time fun activities happen is when they are there? Or do you do fun things when the step child isn't there, and cause that step child to potentially feel hurt for missing out on a family event.
Oh, good questions! We really need to consider this carefully. DSD has vacations with mom minimum of once a year and we have not really had vacations at all. We are finally having one. We leave on a Sunday after she gets picked up and return on the next Saturday - when she is leaving for vacation with her mom. Our vacation does not take any time away from her, yet she's really unhappy about it. We think because she'd rather be on ours then with mom However, we can barely afford a vacation, def not if we have to pay for an additional person. Anyway, this little scenario makes me realize the questions above will be very important.

Thanks for this! I like to be prepared

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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