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. 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. Also Library books, it would suck if they couldnt finish the summer reading program at our library because of this change. If they are there for an entire week can we request that she provide them each with a twin size air mattress, or at least a full size to share. DSD is 10 DSS is 8. They have their own rooms at home and this will be the longest that they have been away from DH EVER! 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. I feel like she should provide soap, toothbrushes etc but this isnt always the case. 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.
I'm in a bit of a hurry, so please don't take it personally if it seems a bit rushed or gruff.
At the end of the day? Mom can do as she likes on her time. Dad can ask that she provide them mattresses, have them do the summer reading program, do workbooks, etc... BUT... She is under no obligation to do anything that is not in the court order.
I've been in Dad's shoes, and took a while to learn to let it all go. I did send clothes and personal items they wanted/needed. I did not send bedding. I learned to let go of the expectation that any summer work would be done, whether it was workbooks, reading programs, assigned summer work. The kids and I handled it when they came home.
Camp? Unless Mom has agreed to it, it comes off of Dad's time. She is under no obligation to allow summer camp, whether the kids want to go or not. Again - BTDT. I spent many summers with no time because I arranged my timewith them around the activities they wanted to do - Scout camp, etc. If it interferes with other plans that Dad has? Then he has to choose. But Mom should not have to give up her tine.
You have to focus on what's best for the kids (For example, Mom should have to foot the bill for toiletries during her parenting time, but if the kids might not have toothpaster if you don't send any, then send it.) and what's reasonable...not what would seem reasonable to you, if you were Mom, but what is reasonable to expect of her based on past experience.
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.
I would wait out this summer. If Mom doesn't provide for the kids - and that failure seems more significant than the benefit the kids got, from spending extra time with her - then you would have a good chance of getting a judge not to give her half the summer next year. But you and your DH will have to be as fair-minded as possible. Do not decide, right now, that this will probably be a failed experiment. Mom is not going to do everything the same way you guys do and she may not do things nearly as well. Not every difference rises to the level that the kids should see less of her. And the fact that they've seen less of her the last many years (and that them seeing more of her feels threatening to you) does not mean there's no value in her getting more involved.
I'm a custodial step-mom, too and I know none of this is easy!
thank you for your replies.
Vocal- you gave me lots to think about. You're right i cant change who she is, i can only make sure that we do the best we can when we can. She is just so unpredictable its hard to figure out what is BEST for he kids at all. She has only had the kids over night for eo Saturday for the past 3 months, at this point she was supposed to get Friday night too. She has not wanted to take that time for the past month. So she has voluntarily given up time with the kids already. She is not returning my husbands emails (3 over the past 3 weeks) about solidifying the summer schedule. Now she is not only missing her visitation tonight she says she isn't going to take them this weekend at all, and she has the opportunity to have them through Monday since its a holiday. I just don't get why she took us to court in November for extra time and now that she has "earned" it she wont take advantage of it. If she doesn't communicate the summer schedule with us within this week we are going to send her a schedule that she can respond to. Honestly I don't mind if they are with her for a good part of summer DH is graduating school and trying to find a job and it would lessen some of our day care expenses since mom doesn't pay her child support. Regardless I'm a planner i like to know what's going on.
I really like the suggestion about buying cheap books so they can participate in the reading program. we haven't missed a summer in 5 years, and its something we look forward to each summer. As far as clothing goes yes, i think sending 2 pairs is a good plan, if she doesn't want to buy clothes she can wash them, and if the kids make a stink about it she will have to own up to her choices.