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When did your family unit mesh with “ours” baby

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I will keep it brief, I have a new baby and a SK that we see fairly often. It feels like the 3 of us, my husband me and my child have our routine set and going until the nights and weekends my SK is here. I can feel my D.H. being torn on who to tend to in some cases ( ex: baby is crying and I’m needing to do something and D.H. is holding baby, yet SK is pulling at his sleeve wanting him to play a game). It looks like sheer panic because he doesn’t want to let anyone down.

Its got to be tough as a parent, but it’s hard for me to accept less help when SK is around. My D.H. is a really hands on dad with both kids, so it’s not like I’m constantly doing ALL the work, but when SK is with us— more of the baby duty definitely falls on me and I work FT as well as being a FT SAHM to an infant. D.H. is really conscious of it, so I know he tries, but I can see my SK wanting and craving more and more solo attention (understandably), but D.H. not being able to do that at this point.

Ive lightly mentioned it to him that when SK is here the focus tends to shift and it becomes more about them, their needs, their wants, their entertainment... but now that there is another child in the mix, SK can’t be the sole focus. He acknowledged it, but there wasn’t a plan to address it.


Thoughts on how to manage the 2 relationships so DH can be available to us and it not come across as me “attacking” or putting us first? 



Harry's picture

SK can see they are losing all there father attention to new baby.   DH has to make his kids understand that his time must be divided now. If DH had another kid with BM. His time would  have to be divided.  He has to make his kids under stand they are older and they get to do older things.  He has to do some one on one thing with the older kids. For a few hours a month 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Yeah good point. I think DH does an ok job here, as far as carving out some time just for her. But it’s definitely been diminished and I can see DH trying to make up for that at times... to the detriment mostly of me + the baby because he’s tied up with the older kid and has a hard time saying no to any of us. 

Winterglow's picture

How about getting SK involved with the baby? There are always age-appropriate things they could do to help out. Make them feel important Smile

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

She seems somewhat intrigued by the baby, but attempts to get her to hold the baby ( like for a picture) or to read to or play with are not embraced. I think the age gap (almost 8 years) might be too much for the big sibling role to be fun? I’m not sure. Me and my siblings were all close in age so a little different dynamic. 

shellpell's picture

It never has. Skid is 8 yrs older than our oldest and it still feels like two separate families when he is here.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

This is what I’m afraid of. Do your kids feel the difference or just you? If it’s just me, I can deal with it. I just don’t want my kids to be pushed aside when their older sibling is over, even if it’s unintentional and of course it’s bound to happen in some cases, but hopefully not the norm. 

shellpell's picture

My oldest is 3 and youngest is 6months, so they don’t notice a lot but the older one sometimes will whine for daddy.  They will notice more as they get older and I’m not sure how to address it yet. Occasionally dh will take one of them out w skid but not often. Skid is clearly jealous and I’m  very careful about his spending time w our two. Dh does the best he can to help me but it’s at the “expense” of spending time with skid. So dh is either with skid OR with one or both of ours. Looking back I probably would have never married someone w a minor child (and my dh is truly amazing and caring) but what’s done is done. My main responsibilities are to my two children. I can’t worry about skid and his feelings. That’s dhs responsibility.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

We’re on a similar path wanting another LO relatively soon so I can see the age gaps lining up with yours pretty closely. I used to put a ton of mental energy into thinking about how x,y or z would impact my SK. Since becoming a mom and MY child being my primary focus, I’ve cared less and put that toll on DH. I know it sounds bad but my SK has two parents involved mom plus two involved step parents. My kid only has me and my DH, so I’m more concerned about how the blended family impacts her more than anything. 

shellpell's picture

It doesn’t sound bad it’s realistic. Stay on this site awhile and you’ll read stories of stepmoms Who’ve taken the standard advice society gives you: keep loving them like you’re own and you’ll have a great relationship and loyalty from them. These stepmoms get crap in return even after years and years of spending time money, putting themselves last etc. 

SM12's picture

My former SD is 8 years older than my BS.   She came to live with us FT when she was 10.   She didn’t show much interest in BS.  She wasn’t mean to him ever and did love him but the age difference was too big for them to play together.   I said all the time it felt like I was raising two “only children” 

To this day they aren’t super close.  They commicate at birthdays and holidays but not on a regular basis.   

sunshinex's picture

SD is 7 and BS is 16 months. Things didn't mesh that well at the beginning because SD was super jealous and used to being an only child. She's lived with us full-time since she was 9 months (with DH, 2 yrs with me) and she always got all the attention. When BS started getting more mobile and noticing her, things really turned around. She LOVES him and their relationship is beautiful. 

It also helped that I had a conversation with her before he turned 6 months telling her enough is enough, jealousy isn't going to be tolerated anymore. Babies take a lot of time, effort, attention, etc. and she needs to accept that. We both made sure to spend a couple hours one-on-one time per week with her but at the end of the day, she needed to adjust and understand that this is temporary for ALL of us. It's not easy on anyone - mom, dad and older siblings.

It's a trying time. You're sleep deprived, you don't get much alone time, it's hard on everyone but babies are an adjustment for the family. She was much better after I explained this and told her we wouldn't tolerate jealous outbursts/tantrums anymore. I think it helped her feel less alienated to be part of the "outside of baby" group that had to get through the difficult seasons of babyhood, ya know? 

Anyways... IMO, baby crying gets attention first. DH and I have always been on board with this. We were open about this with SD too. In an age-appropriate way, we explained that babies cry for a reason and ignoring them isn't good for their brain development. They can not rationalize or understand why you aren't meeting their needs whereas 7 year old girls can. 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

This was helpful, thank you! Yeah we’ve explain it, and I think she gets it as far as baby crying. In fact, she’s the first to run to me and tell me the baby is crying haha. But it’s almost like once she sees DH tending to the baby, things get territorial. As soon as he sits down, my SK is in his lap, constantly. If he’s not holding one kid it’s the other pretty much. Which is fine unless there’s things that need to be done (like constant diaper changes and burping sessions, we’re in cluster feeding hell on and off), or someone’s got to man the stove, etc. 

SK is constantly under foot for DH and I’m either holding a baby or doing something baby related that ties me up like pumping. 


shellpell's picture

OK, this is annoying. She needs to be told that she cannot be underfoot constantly.

sunshinex's picture

DH should say something. A simple "SD, go play on your own for a while, I have things I need to do and can't have you hanging off me at every turn" should be fine. 

ETA: We are constantly telling SD to go play because we're busy. If we're cleaning, she's off playing in her room. If we're making dinner, she's not allowed in the kitchen. It's not a huge deal. She's a kid, we're adults busy doing adult things. Sometimes it's as simple as saying "unless you want to do take care of household responsibilities, you need to go play." 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I wonder if it is also an age thing? My parents were very loving but unattached physically-- we didn't hug or cuddle a lot. So when I was that age I had siblings and we were all instructed to go outside and play or entertain each other. Obviously she's not going to get much out of entertaining a baby, so I don't expect that. But definitely needs to be more pushing towards independence and hearing the word "no" used more. I like your approach of just "we're doing adult things, please go play"

sunshinex's picture

Now that my son is getting older, we joke with them and say "go play together, why do you think we have two of you?" lol we're very loving and we give hugs, cuddles, etc. but when we need to get stuff done, there's absolutely nothing wrong with letting them know they need to play/get out of our hair while we handle responsibilities. It's boundaries. I'm sure your stepdaughter has boundaries with the other adults in her life. I highly doubt her teachers would be ok with her constantly bugging them when they have things/other kids to tend to, right? 

Jcksjj's picture

This is also a really good point - my SD has actually had a very difficult time in school with not being the center of attention at all times and being one kid out of 20 in the classroom. She wants the teachers to give only her attention and no other kids just like she expected from mommy and daddy. Same thing with at grandma and grandpas...cousins cant share the attention. I think it would have made her life much easier to have learned at a younger age to share attention.

Jcksjj's picture

We have an ours baby that is about to turn 1 and another on the way. I dont think we have really meshed completely and honestly I dont think it's even really possible when one family member has half of their immediate family as people that the rest of us have nothing to do with. As far as the kids, SD I'm pretty sure doesnt view the baby as her brother since it's not her moms child and she refuses to acknowledge that DH is his dad. My ODS loves his brother but since theres such a large age gap he still mostly does his own thing. Even for me the dynamic feels different depending on which kids are around. I dont think step situations ever end up feeling exactly the same as a nuclear family even in a positive situation. 

If it's anything like my situation DH is not going to be able to make everyone happy. SD wants nothing less than being an only child with all of the attention of her and that's not possible without neglecting the other kids. Hes going to have to learn to deal with that.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I’m not sure yet what true “adoption” will be regarding if they ultimately are close as siblings. I hope they’re close but that’d depend on so many other factors. I do think DH is one to try and please *everyone* and as you mentioned it’s just not possible. 

Jcksjj's picture

Well I definitely think half siblings can be close but it's still a different dynamic then whole siblings since alot of their major life experiences arent going to be shared as much. 

I find that my DH gives more validity to SDs feelings because he feels guilty and therefore if she is crying or pouting thinks there must be a good reason for it because shes a poor COD whereas with other kids he is more easily able to brush it off when it's just kids being kids. I think that makes it much worse with him feeling the need to please. And then theres the fact that she can say her mommy's house is better etc.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Yeah we’ve heard that line too, “moms house is better”. It sucks but I just tell myself and DH that it’s not a competition. But it’s tough for him to hear, I know :/ 

Jcksjj's picture

I'm sure it does hurt for him to hear, but to put it into perspective I have 100 percent custody and still hear why grandmas house is better or well grandma lets me do this all the time. It's another thing that's normal but when it's in a divorce context is harder to hear/deal with.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Right??! Nothing beats Grandma's house, ever Smile

We try not to really even discuss the differences between houses. It's hard because the rules are different, but a simple "well when you go back to your moms you can do ___, but here we do ___" seems to work (for now)

DH is definitely a people please in every aspect, not just parenting-- so this is just something he is going to have to work on

Thumper's picture

How would life be different if stepdaughter (8yrs) would be your own bio daughter? My guess is her getting under foot would not be as much as a problem. I also believe some how IF you thought she needed special time with you for example, you will find a way and not feel a negative emotion about it. I bet running to the grocery store for more diapers and wipes may be about all that would happen. MAYBE a zoom thru McDonalds??

Blended families are not blended at all. They are a toss salade tm Dr. Laura

Often times the ex (bm in your case) may tell dh--YOU dont do anything with daughter. If BM has not already...get ready because it's a comin.

Since your dh's daughter only comes 2 days a month ??..well she does deserve his attention but what  few people realize is that visitation is really about real life doing real life things. 

IF dad mows the grass every Saturday at 10am he doesnt stop doing that when his child arrives for that weekend. IF step mom gathers with the girls for a yoga class every Saturday at 9am...she continues to do that. A child of divorce does best in two seperate homes with two seperate family dynamics. That may be watching cartoons with poptarts wearing jammies on Saturday mornings. They learn how to be a family----what does that mean? Doing stuff, and yes it is usually boring family stuff. Especially when both mom and dad work.

Stop over thinking it. "Just, Be"

Having seperate homes also means that sometimes not everyone can be physically present for xyz. YOU have to realize that.  Before you end up missing the best parts of being a parent...

Find your families new norm.






Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Thanks, I agree! *I* try to keep as on schedule as possible, it is a little harder for DH to do. We do have her more than 2x per month-- sorry if I did a poor job of explaining that in my OP. We actually have her near 50/50, so the "disruption" isn't just a couple nights a month, it's definitely something we need to address as a family and figure out what our new norm is. Having a baby threw a wrench in our life, in a good way! But definitely makes it harder for one parent to bow out of/ shirk parental responsibilities half of the month because they feel bad for the other child. It's a delicate balancing act we're trying to figure out, for sure!

We've done a few special trips to reinforce we're still here, we still care, want to the listen, etc... but it's more in the day-to-day where it's become a challenge. Like my example of trying to cook or eat dinner and SK is in DH's lap, or bedtime routine and SK is dragging out or stalling, or coming into the room and being loud when the baby is sleeping and having to constantly usher her out and then figure out it is she wants-- most of the time"she forgot". 

And I'm very sensitive to the fact that she's just a kid and we are the adults, she's acting like how a normal 7-8 year old would be going from one sibling to 2. It's more of a reflection on DH unable to always manage and maintain a good balance of looking after 2 kids when one is needy because she's always been the only child and had undivided attention and the other being needy because she just pooped her diaper and needs a change haha.

sunshinex's picture

You're not giving her enough credit. 8 is plenty old enough to understand that baby is sleeping or getting ready for bed so it's quiet time. My SD was 5 when her brother was born, and it took a couple weeks, but she got used to playing quietly without an issue. My son is a contact napper who sleeps in our arms when he naps, so she also got used to waiting if she needed something from us. She knew she would have to wait until he's awake. Fortunately, she was already able to do pretty much everything she would need  on her own - grab her coloring stuff, turn cartoons on quitely, grab a snack/glass or water, etc. 

Your husband needs to talk with his daughter about being a bit more responsible now that she's the "big kid" in the house. He can do this and make her feel special in her role as "big sister" and it'll make her feel good. But she does need to start being more responsible for her age. An 8-year-old can understand that dad is busy making dinner, changing a diaper, cleaning the kitchen, etc. and needs space. 

I promise you, if you and your husband continue letting her do these things, it's going to be hell as she gets older. She's going to be quite self-centered and an attention hog. When you have two kids to get ready for bed, the older one can be expected to get their pajamas on, go pee, brush teeth, etc. on their own without stalling. Let her know she'll have more "tuck-in" time if she does these things and does them respectfully (meaning quietly) while you're putting the baby to bed. Then spend 10 minutes in her room reading her a book. 

Time for SD to grow up a bit... 

Edited to add: for what it's worth, my 7 year old stepdaughter gets up, makes her own breakfast (toast and fruit usually), turns on the cartoons and waits quietly for us to come down with the baby. He's an awful sleeper, even at 16-months, so she lets us get as much sleep as he will - usually an hour or so after she gets up. Kids are capable of more than we give credit for. 

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

Amen to all that you said! Prior to the baby coming, DH and I had a sit down with each other on things we needed to work on with my SK. You touched on some of them: brushing teeth, peeing, showering, putting on PJ's all with minimal supervision and not needing and adult to literally be sitting in the bathroom as all this is happening. It tooks MONTHS to get that habit instilled, and it's still a work in progress-- but it is getting better. One thing we're up against is my in laws and the bio-mom. Both of which baby my SK pretty much in every aspect. BM still puts her clothes and shoes on her feet before she leaves the house, showers her off or at least heavily supervises, doesn't enforce any type of mealtime structure-- she's allowed to graze or not eat/ get up and down from the table while watching TV. Doesn't know or "forgets" how to get herself a cup of water, BM just waits on her hand and foot and it is obvious.

 So the days we get her, it takes a day or two of us pushing her to be more independent for it to sink in. It's gotten better but, still a lot of improvement that needs to be done.

But you're right, we aren't giving SK enough credit. I think I've said that exact line to DH before, too... sometimes I feel like I am the only adult that really sees the potential with my SK. Everyone else is so concerned with treating her like she's fragile and unable to do for herself (talking about BM mostly), that it holds her back. I see dramatic improvements when we've had her for an extended period of time- leaps and bounds. I think she feels more confident because she sees she can actually do more!

As for the underfoot thing, sigh. That just needs to come from DH and he and I need to nip it. She doesn't do it to me, so it's not even something I'm really able to address with her. When the baby first came home she followed us around a little, but as the newness has worn off its reverted back to a DH thing. I'm breastfeeding so a lot of my time is spent attached to a pump or having the baby attached, so she'll come take a peek at that then go back to what she's doing or run off to find DH. Poor guy can't even get to the bathroom without her following him in there, I've stopped her multiple times saying "where are you going?"... "to find daddy"..." Daddy is using the bathroom, give him a few minutes"-- and she is practically waiting outside the door for him

ESMOD's picture

Tbh, your husband naturally will have less time for baby when sd is there. Because he then has 2 kids.  You still have just the one. I understand there may be moments where you need him to help with baby while sd is there...but since he has relatively less time with his older daughter... it would be nice if you could be mindful that he does and not expect the same single focus when sd is there too.

Pregnantwithquestions's picture

I can see this POV and I think its kind of how we operate at the moment. My "issue" with it is that, you're correct-- he does have 2 kids, but we're just in a spot where one child naturally needs more attention. Even if they were both our biokids, one would be at a needier stage of life. It's impossible to split it 50/50, so getting a sort of parental break (even though I realize there's no such thing haha) multiple times a week leaves me in the lurch and really leaves our child in limbo because they go from having 2 involved parents to one every other day-- which IMO, isn't fair, either.  So.. I have no solution (as you can tell), that's just how its kind of panning out and I don't think either me or DH is truly happy with it and like a previous poster mentioned, we haven't really found our new norm yet. Whatever norm we have at the moment is we're both all hands on deck until my SK is here, and then me and baby and left to manage a lot of our time alone while DH corrals his BD.

As far as the baby goes, she is relatively easy and fuss free. But, she's not a good sleeper and by the end of the day-- I definitely need a small break to try and keep on top of the never ending laundry, bottles, quick dinners, etc. Doing all of that is much easier if DH can take her for a while or if he can do that stuff. SK, like I mentioned earlier, is so underfoot and DH is always trying to juggle both kids that inevitably it doesn't get done and we fall behind on schedules, laundry, supper on the table, etc multiple times a week.

To my OP, it doesn't feel like we've fully meshed as a family of 4. It feels like the 3 of us have a working routine and the minute my SK is here, everything gets shuffled around.

Rags's picture

A Skid should get no more focus or dedicated parental 1:1 time than a resident BK.  Your DH needs to find clarity with the logic that the only time he has with his prior relationship child must fit in with his time with his family and the new child(ren) he has with you.  When Skids are not present they are not present. When they are present, they are just another family member and must fit within the regular dynamic of the resident family.

Catering to them when they are visiting should not happen.  They walk in the door and are immediately held to the routine and standards of behavior that any other kids present are held to. Of course kids have some 1:1 time with a parent in non blended families and that should not change in blended families. But... that 1:1 time should fit within the regular routine and dynamic of the family.

Whether the Skid is present or not... DH has parental responsibilty for the new baby and you should insure that responsibility is maintained whether your Skid is present or not.

Far too many blended families suffer insane amounts of drama because Skids are catered to and their toxic crap is tolerated rather than being held to the same standards that the rest of the family is held to.

Just my thoughts of course.

Rags's picture

I understand all of that.  My comment was just my opinion that visiting Skids should integrate with the prevailing flow of the rest of the household and family and not disrupt the norm.  Then can have 1:1 time in some fashion that resembles the 1:1 time that resident kids get in a way that does not disrupt the norm.  Visitation time should  not all be 1:1 time though some of it certainly should be.  Visiting kids need to integrate into the routine of everyone else rather than everyone else changing their routine for the visiting kid.

Just my thoughts of course.