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The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Summertime

JRI's picture

I'm the veteran BM & SM who remembers steplife with 5 kids as I read the blogs & forums.  We came out on the other side. but I remember those hellacious summers.

I would start to get more depressed every spring as it got closer to school closing.  The SK would be here almost all summer long.  They would go back on Tuesday evening (karate class) & come back Thursday night (after karate class). Our house is not big & at that point we hadn't added the space we did once tbey moved in full-time.

It wasn't just the sheer number of 5 kids close in age, they all had friends.  To say I was overwhelmed is a gross understatement.  Few of their friends seemed to have parents in the picture somehow.  I realized I was lucky & blessed to be a SAHM but it was quite intense.  I'm an introvert who needs down time & it just didn't exist.  To top it off, DH worked in a construction-related industry so was gone longer on the summer.

I'd like to be able to share some coping strategies but there weren't any.  It was just getting thru each day.  "Will you take me to x?" "Can Friend come over?" "Can we pick up Friend?" "I'm bored" "What are we going to do tomorrow?' " We're out of soda/ chips/ bread/ lunchmeat" and, my favorite, "Friend, want something to eat?"

One year, i decided that a weekly planned outing might help.  One week, the zoo, one week a daytime riverboat cruise, etc.  That all blew up coming home from activity #5 when YSS remarked how stupid he thought that activity was.  I was hot, tired, stressed & at the outer edge of my patience.  That was it for the outings.

The kids look back on those days fondly.  Their friends still talk about it.  DH & I are sometimes in a store & a 50-ish man will come up & say, " Aren't you Mrs. JRI? Im Friend".  Weird.

Step-parents, hang in there.  It's tough.


JRI's picture

When you said you'd rather be with the offenders than your SK, i GET IT!  When i finally went back to work, i was so relieved.  I should have been paying them instead of them paying me!

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I've been trying the "planned outing" thing, too. Mostly for my SO's 10-year-old, as i haven't really had any problems with the older one and he is always around so we do more things together. I figure if i facilitate some time spent with his dad, he will be less likely to always want to be in my SO's bed. Plus, hopefully i will develop a more positive relationship with him, and, tbh, i won't feel so guilty for kicking him out of dad's bed. Not that i should feel guilty because he's too old to still be there, but still. Too early to say how it's working so far...

JRI's picture

I was thinking about possible interests for your SS.  Is there any kind of pet that interests him?  Over the years, and not at the same time, we had: horse, dogs, cats, birds, mice, hamsters, turtles, fish, guinea pigs, ducks, snakes, homing pigeons- i am probably forgetting some, but these pets helped occupy the kids, or whichever child was into that animal.  The homing pigeons were great.  OSS & BS really got into this.  DH built them a cage in the yard and they spent a lot of time with that.  

JRI's picture

I guess i went cuckoo that summer with the outings.  The fact of the matter is that they all went to activities all the time: swimming, roller skating, fishing, shopping, mini-bike riding, etc., not always together, depending on their preferences.  That was the exhausting thing, different ones going here and there, others at the house with Friends. The outings were just my own little idea, consensus: so so.  That summer, i also tried to involve a few of them in learning to cook something different each week.  It was a circus.

CLove's picture

Im like that too.

I enjoy planning (pre-covid) activities with my little family, but then I have only one kiddo to worry about.

She is GENERALLY appreciative, and we like building those memories. Her mother really doesnt do much with her - never has.

So now that she is 14, shes not into parks unless there are big roler coasters...they get more expensive to entertain as they age!

But I did spend one particular summer, mostly SAHSM. It drove me a little crazy. Shes so lazy!

MumOfCats's picture

Is the mantra of my SD. I've never known a child with so little interests, no opinions on anything or so little to say. She briefly indicated an interest in photography a couple of years ago, I seriously discussed the possibility of buying her a decent camera with her and DH so she could develop her skills and pursue it as a hobby. I'm glad I didn't spend several hundred pounds because her interest waned, now photography is booorrrring. No dear, you are dull as ditchwater. Another reason why I disengaged.

JRI's picture

I know exactly what you are talking about.  The worst is when you drive yourself nuts with some activity all day, in the hot weather, and finally get home and hear, "NOW what are we going to do?  I'm booorrred".  I have an idea, go in your room and be quiet.

SacrificialLamb's picture

There's no way I could have dealt with my SDs when they were children. You are a saint.