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New Here - Background and vent

TooManyKidsAus's picture

Hey Everyone,

I have been reading here for a few weeks, and found the site to be so insightful. Background on my situation:

I have 3 daughters, 19, 15 and 12

I am SM to 5 kids, SD16, SS14, SS12, SS10 & SS7

I have been with SO for 3.5 years and we have been living together for 2 years. Life is stressful to say the least. We have all of the kids most of the time DD19 and SD16 100%. My DD15 and DD12 go to BF 5 nights/fortnight and all to the SS's go to BM EOW


We are very lucky, that all of the kids get along well and have blended beautifully from the moment they all met, and that has continued since we moved in together.

Some days I just wonder what I have gotten myself in to!

SO is military so at times away for work, and I am solo with all 8 kids. Thankfully I have one adult daughter who helps where she can with driving her younger siblings to various commitments, however she is very busy with university and multiple part-time jobs.

While my SO if a wonderful man, he has a lot on his plate with work, so a lot of the parenting is left to me. I work part-time from home, which can be a blessing and a curse!


I mostly struggle with SD16 and SS7. SO tells me that SD16 suffers from social anxiety, she never leaves the house other than school, or work one afternoon a week. For a few months a year she plays netball. School holidays, she does not leave the house. She only has one or two friends, but never sees them outside of school. She is just ALWAYS here. SO and I tend to go out on the weekends we don't have most of the kids, just to have 'alone' time. It's frustrating, it's unnecessary $$ spent every other weekend, when we would be quite happy to just stay home, but SD tends to want to hang out with us sometimes (never when the other kids are home), and I just don’t want her around. I don’t mind for a short while, but SO will never tell her, ok off you go now, this is our time. I don't feel that SO pushes her out of her comfort zone, at all, ever.


It causes conflict between myself and SO, because he says he doesn’t need a break from the kids. I have put my foot down, and said one weekend a month SD needs to go to BM’s with her brothers, and just recently, I have told him if he’s away for work, and the boys are going to BM, SD has to go to. If I am going to parent all of his kids alone, while he is away, I need the break EOW. Am I being unreasonable?


I also have issues with some of his parenting (or lack of). Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good dad, and generally his kids are well behaved and they love and respect myself and my daughters. There are just a few manners lacking, that I would have thought they should have been taught when they were young, such as table manners, not interrupting others, greeting people when they see them, asking adults how they are etc. 


I have raised these issues, and he says, I am the one that has a problem with it so I need to address it myself. Which I actually do, however, I think he needs to be aware, and to teach them some social skills and basic manners (particularly SD16 and SS7)


I also expect that SO be the one to follow up and check they have done their chores, showered, brushed teeth, check they are in bed etc, when he is home. SO is ADHD, and struggles to remember to check these things, and I just feel like I’m constantly checking, nagging, bossing everyone around, so much so that the mental load has gotten too much for me. I run the kids around everywhere (between them all there is one sport or another 7 days a week), I cook for everyone, and up until recently I was washing for SO, myself and his 5 kids (my DD’s wash their own clothes/sheets/towels voluntarily)


I decided to take a step back (even before reading that disengaging was a thing) and told SO I’m no longer washing clothes etc for anyone other than myself. I have handed him back the responsibility of booking/taking his kids to any appointments, and if he needs my help he has to ASK me, not just expect me to do it. I take his kids to their sport training, but expect him to let me know if he is held up at work and can’t get there on time to pick them up, and ASK me if I am available to get them for him.


So I’m very new to this disengaging, and I feel a lot of guilt about it. I hate that SO hasn’t washed their clothes or even remembered to tell them to pack for BM’s and they are taking their dirty sport uniforms out of the laundry to take with them. I am so used to looking after these little people who had no mother in their life when I came on the scene. Thankfully BM seems to have gotten her life in order and is now capable of having her children EOW.


I just wonder if I have it in me to do this for another 10 years. I certainly have worries that SD16 will never launch and will be living with us for a LONG time. SO and I have had conversations regarding that, and have agreed that once they have completed university they are out on their own. Hopefully that happens!


Thanks for taking the time to read Smile


justmakingthebest's picture

My husband is military too, so I get it. As much as the pretend that there us support for the home and family, it's kind of a joke.

I dont think there is anything  wrong  with SD going to BM's during whatever parenting time is scheduled. In fact, I believe it should be mandatory. If BM is local and capable, there should not even be a question and shame on your DH for not supporting that parent child relationship. 

As for weekends and wasted $, I get it. When my kids go to their dads, DH and I spend most of the weekend out. A big part of that is me needing the break from SS22 (he has Autism and won't live on his own. BM has never reallyhad parental rights. She is an addict,  so I get all the parenting of a special needs teen turned adult fun!). So, I get it but it's part of my sanity, so it is what it is.

TooManyKidsAus's picture

But she has been clean for nearly 3 years and more than capable at the moment. SO is extremely protective of SD, and to be fair, her relationship with BM is improving. 

Oh wow, your situation is tough. No light at the end of the tunnel? It's so important to get the break for your sanity huh!?

justmakingthebest's picture

Yeah, you need that break! Being clean for 3 years is a big deal and SD does need to go see her mom, at least for one night over the weekend and ALL day either Saturday or Sunday so that you have some decompression time. It is so hard to be "on" all the time for kids that you didn't give birth to!

stepmomnorth's picture

You are definitely not being unreasonable! You are working from home while having to coordinate the lives of a large number of children! I have 3 kids myself, sometimes more with steps, but it was very challenging. You need a break sometimes too. Perhaps your partner doesn't recognize this because he's away from the house so often. Could you imagine if he filled your shoes for a month? Hed be seeing things very differently.

For sure, work with your partner to tell him how you feel and the reasons that are behind your needing a break away from the kids sometimes. Everyone needs this break. It doesn't have to cost anything, it could be a walk at the park or go for a bicyle ride.. Etc.

You've made some good steps regarding having your partner handle certain things,  chores and house responsibilities, and that should go a long way. You've been doing too much, taking on too much and it does seem like just too much to handle on your own. As the bio father he should be doing these things or ensuring that the kids get their work and chores done. It should all be coming from him. 

JRI's picture

I thought I had it bad with 5 kids but you have 8!  I'm glad you found this site and wish I'd had it back in the day.

I agree, SD should go to BM's for regular visitation and SO should enforce that.  I particularly responded to your need for downtime.  My DH took all 5 kids out of the house at least one weekend day each week for years.  I dont think I'd have made it without that time to regroup.

You are doing the right thing to step back.  I'm not now, and never was, a ball of fire so my housekeeping was on the back burner and I didnt follow up on showers and all that.  Everybody lived through it all.  It seemed more important for the family that I was able to keep calm and maintain my composure and poise.

I'm glad you're here.  Keep reading, it will help you a lot.  Welcome!

Winterglow's picture

You are absolutely not being unreasonable at all! Yes, if he's not there they should all be at their mother's. If he has trouble remembering things, draw up a list. Maybe even draw up a single list for the household (everyone needs to brush their teeth, shower, etc. don't they?) so that the kids know what they have to do and your DH knows what he has to check. 

Next time your bios are at their father's place, and your DH is home, why not plan a weekend away (got any friends you haven't seen for a while? Want to visit your parents? Maybe a sibling?) ALONE to catch your breath, enjoy life away a little bit and leave him to look after his kids by himself? 

Please feel no guilt. If your DH had done a better job of raising them you wouldn't have needed to do nearly as much as you have for his kids. Now it's his turn to assume his responsibilities. It won't kill any of them, I promise. Smile

Noway2b1's picture

Therapy for all, plus get sd16 one in particular. If she has debilitating anxiety/issues there are social services for that. Even to the point of helping teach her how to self care and how to become independent, there is even job training and if she is not capable of that they will provide "living support" staff that will come relieve you of the burden and get her out of the house occasionally.  It is best to get that ball rolling NOW while she is still a minor and you can direct it, including possibly medications. It's much more difficult to get the "help" you or they need once they are 18 and "adults" your DH will probably insist she's not thaaaaat bad or that she needs that, I would counter that only a trained professional can determine that. Maybe he will implement the changes to "show" you. Win/win eh?

TooManyKidsAus's picture

Thanks everyone for your feedback and support, I really appreciate it!

I am very lucky, all 8 kids are really good kids for the most part. After reading here the difficulties some have with such toxic, game-playing, disrespectful stepkids, I really do reflect and think how lucky I am.

I don't believe SD's social anxiety is that bad at all. IMO she just needs a little push here and there, and the longer SO allows her to stay holed up in the house and her bedroom, the harder things will get for her. SO seems 'scared' to upset her, so he either pushes the responsibility to me, as the female role model, and as the one that has the 'problem' with it, OR just ignores it. I'm trying to get him to understand that there are some skills she needs to learn, for her own good and success as an adult in the future. I have definitely instilled routine and hygiene standards in the house that were really lacking. But maybe I just back off completely and stop 'caring'?

SO and I made the rules and routines together, he just 'forgets' to enforce them most of the time. He has a million reminders set in his phone, and he is absolutley trying to make some changes. I really should be more appreciative of how well this house actually works with so many people here! 

I think I have just got to the point of feeling so overwhelmed, and unappreciated having to be on the ball for so many others, all the time. The small steps I have taken to disengage have already helped. I just need to learn to let things go and keep my mouth shut a bit more lol.

As far as therapy, SD has been in therapy for years, SO and I go both as a couple, and indivudually to our own counsellors. 

I like what I have been reading, about focussing on my relationship with SO, and leaving the parenting of his kids to him more.

Thanks again all Smile

TheAccidentalSM's picture

Maybe JustMakingTheBest can help me on this.  I don't have any really understanding of military families.  My closest the widower of one of my BFF.  He has remarried and his new wife takes on most of the relationship work but they do have a live in aupair too which I'm sure helps.  I have a limited exposure to the military in general beyond some work that the company I work for delivers for them.  So go easy on me if I'm getting this wrong.

How is your DH able to do well in the military with his ADHD?  He must have coping mechanisms because the military strikes me as the kind of operation that wants things done in a certain way and up to a certain standard.  Why can't he apply the same coping tools to managing family life?  Would his senior officers/noncoms be ok with him "forgetting"?


TooManyKidsAus's picture

He loves his job. He is very good at his job. I guess when it's something he is interested in, he doesn't have the same issues. I think at times he has trouble prioritising at work, but he is much more interested in getting things done at work than boring stuff like checking kids have done their jobs at home