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Three skids growing up - need advice

NeverEnough321's picture

SO has 3 kids, SS14, OSD13, YSD10. All three are relatively well behaved. We have been getting accustomed to a new summer schedule that SO got in the midst of a custody modification that allows him summer MWF 3-8pm that started end of July, along with 2nd, 4th, and 5th weekends he normally has throughout the rest of the year. 

We are already aware that we are the weekend parents, but it's been difficult trying to find things for them to do.  They have a few chores when they are here, but it's not much and we don't want to just put them to work while they are here. They don't bring homework or anything to work on during the regular schedule and we couldn't even put them in camp this summer.  I feel like if they were to stay for a few days at a time, there wouldn't be as much pressure to have activities planned. But since it's just 5 hours at a time right now, they just sit around and rot on their screens, especially SS. So far, he's given up screen time to run around at a playground with his cousin and at the pool.

We can't expect all three to want to do the same things, but we've tried movies, board games, video games, going to the park, visiting grandma/cousins... even divide and conquer where I take two while he does one on one with the third. I'm wondering if this is just kids becoming older/teenagers, or a consequence of being the NCP. We don't have the routine of them going to school and just coming home, so I think we feel pressure of making sure they aren't bored when they're here so they won't lose interest in us. 

School starts in a few days and our schedule will go back to 2nd, 4th and 5th weekends with Wednesday evenings. The skids might have a few school events for parents to attend throughout the year, but with BM and her hostile demeanor, we probably won't have much interaction with the kids if we do attend. Does anyone have any advice or experience with this? We don't want to be Disneyland parents, but we want to stay connected with the skids. Any examples of a balanced relationship with the skids? 

JRI's picture

I can see how this timing would throw everyone off.  How about pets?  Our 5 kids had, over time, dogs, cats, pigeons, turtles, snakes, lizards, mice, ducks, horse - I cant remember it all.  Anyway, the pigeons led to DH building a pigeon coop and the boys catching and releasing them.  Later this morphed into trading them and going to pigeon shows (who knew).  The cats led to the girls and I going to cat shows plus grooming a Persian, a time-consuming activity.  The horse led to boarding it and trips there.  You get the picture.

NeverEnough321's picture

Actually, OSD just got a dog with permission from both BM and SO because BM wanted to make sure OSD could bring the dog here, but the dog will go wherever OSD goes. YSD also helps with the new dog but don't want any true responsibility so she'll never get in trouble ("it's not my dog"). We live a more suburban life so any other animals besides standard pets probably wouldn't work. As for the lizards and turtles, they aren't interested and I'm not confident they would even remember to care for them. The girls do love giving treats to the neighbors cats, but SS and SO are allergic. 

We may consider offering them a chance at having a pet if they are interested, now that SO has a little more time with them. Thanks for the suggestion!

Yesterdays's picture

I think that your ideas are actually great ones. Board games, activities.. Visiting family. You're right that things are going to feel a bit different because you're NCP but I think that you're doing all the right things. It can be a balance... Get them to the park or hike one day and the next time they can relax or watch a movie.. Visit cousins the next... That sounds balanced to me.

I have 3 bio teens that are with me 50 50. My twin daughters are excellent at finding things to do on their own.. They go rollerblading, play basketball, go shopping at a thrift store, go for walks. As a family we plan things every so often. Usually on the weekend we'll plan one thing/event, like go on a hike, go to a butterfly conservatory, etc. 

One thing that we do as a family is we found a good park closeby that has a basketball net and big open field. We'll fill the car with sports stuff. My girls bring their rollerblades and do that. They also bring a basketball and maybe football to throw around. Sometimes we'll bring a skateboard. Etc and we each do sports then go home.

I don't think you have to keep them busy the whole time.. Keep on planning things for some of the times, have them relax other times. I think the key is balance   and you're already doing that. 

NeverEnough321's picture

We definitely do at least one activity together over the weekend since they are getting older and they tend want to be in their own world. An issue we have is getting them to be more independent. At BMs, no one is allowed to leave, but they are allowed tv and phone time while being closely watched. They bring this behavior over to our home and when we restrict screen time, it is difficult for them to think of something to do. I like the idea of a sports day, but sometimes I can't even bribe SS to go outside and do something.

Thank you for the examples! I'm just over-worrying about the future.  

Yesterdays's picture

As far as the school events I would definitely keep going. I would say hi to them when you are there even if... Gasp... It makes bio mom uncomfortable. Its wrong what she is doing. This is something I wouldn't back off from... You have every right to attend school functions and say hi to the kids. 

dragonfly878's picture

IMO kids have lost the art of entertaining themselves. Buy them a ball/bike and call it a day.

Yesterdays's picture

Agree totally and the reason why is the internet and cell phones and social media, imo. In the 80s and 90s we would go outside and bike all day with friends... Not sit around all day. Covid made all this stuff worse. I find my kids are a lot more active in the last year. Kids went through a big slump of sitting around and doing nothing, in my opinion. I've also seen firsthand a lot of these kids snap out of that and wanting to get out and be more active lately. 

NeverEnough321's picture

I hope with school starting, the kids will be more inclined to get out of the house. I would have thought summer was a good enough reason for that, but BM couldn't be bothered to sign them up for anything. She just gets the kids to walk the dogs or hang out at grandmas. The pool was a great way to get them to leave their screens for a few hours. But we'll need some new activities soon. 

NeverEnough321's picture

I wish it were that easy. We have basketballs, footballs, bikes, scooters, tennis racquets, and so on. They would keep the kids entertained for a weekend or two, but they always end up back on the screens. We even offer to have them to invite a friend over or take them to a friends house, but BM has isolated them from their friends by not allowing them to go to summer camp, or meet up with friends.. so much so that their friends have stopped inviting them out. YSD still gets a few birthday invites, so SO tries to take her if it's on our weekends.

We're pretty sure BM has them brainwashed to believe that they are not allowed to be anywhere but with SO or I on our weekends. She has their phone tracked so she gives them an earful when they go back to her if she sees that they're doing separate things. We let OSD, 12 at the time, go watch a movie and hang out at the mall with friends on a Saturday night, with another mom chaperone. She was dropped back off around 11 and she was so happy. A few weeks later, it came up somehow and BM had told her it was irresponsible for her to be out so late because BM gave her a curfew. BM uses their social lives as a bargaining tool which keeps SS in line. OSD is pretty much not allowed out because she is a girl and BM assumes she's going to slut it up. YSD is 10 but is too afraid to do anything that she even thinks would get BM upset, so she won't even try anymore. 

Winterglow's picture

This is all going to come back on BM sooner or later The day they finally grasp their freedom, they'll never look back.

Harry's picture

You can start some type of project ?  DH can but an old car, Jeep..  and fix it up. You have Four years   Something for DH can do with the kids.  The kids can do research during the week to figure out how to do things.  You have buying of tools, finding parts.  Actually doing something that will result in someone having a car in the end

NeverEnough321's picture

Unfortunately, SO knows zilch about cars. But a project would be great! OSD has mentioned a tree house of some sort. We will try and think of some ideas. I'm just worried they would lose interest only being here some weekends. Wednesday nights are usually just enough time for dinner. Thank you for the suggestion!

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I think you guys are trying too hard to keep them all entertained at all times. One planned activity per weekend day plus meals together on the weekdays is enough. You can take them with you while you do your normal things, too. Like grocery shopping amd other errands. It will give their dad a chance to make sure they know how to act in public. Let them help with the shopping and such. 

NeverEnough321's picture

I do feel that I am catering to them a bit too much. I find myself attempting to get ahead of the BM problem and hoping the skids want to keep visiting. I think I just needed some reassurance that it's ok to not have every hour of the weekend filled with activities. Thanks!

ESMOD's picture

At a certain point, we have to accept that kids these days won't have the growing up experience we had necessarily.. a LOT of time may and will be spent on screens... 

Having a tradition of something like a walk or bike ride after dinner.. is great.. the other things you are trying are good too.  It also might be good for the kids to go over Homework with you all.. so you can help and give advice there.. and know what they are learning? 

NeverEnough321's picture

Yeah, we started out wanting them to just be kids and give them a little freedom because BM pretty much just parked them in front of a TV. This weekend we tried walking at the beach on Saturday and heading to the pool after. They weren't big on walking around but found a little playground at the beach that SS14, YSD10, and their cousin 10 ran around at. OSD13 was having some attitude because she needed to watch her new dog. I offered to watch her, but OSD just sat around and said she didn't want to run in the playground. Can't please them all I guess.

With regards to homework... this is another battleground with BM. She scoured the CO for reasons to keep the kids from SO, and there is wording that says the CP is responsible for helping the children with their homework. BM used this as a reason that SO needed to pick them up later AND that since it is HER job to help them, SO is not to ask them about anything homework related. This was most likely drilled into the kids' heads, so they dont mention it unless they have a project or assignment to do on our weekend. OSD had some missing assignments she needed to complete once, shes a B- student, and I helped her with that one time... But it's just another thing BM has tainted for us. I would LOVE to help the kids with homework, but I don't force it. 

Yesterdays's picture

It's so sad to read that. It always boggles my mind to read something like this. She's a real piece of work. It's unbelievable that she can't put her kids benefit first. She'd rather hurt the kids by interfering in things that would actually benefit them and that is incredibly sad. They are lucky to have you and your partner. Sometimes the kids don't even realize this because they're being tainted by the other parent so much. I would push back on some of this. Still offer to help with their homework. She can pound sand. Too bad if she doesn't like it... Her argument would be incredibly weak and not in the best interest of the kids.

Same with her trying to interject herself by tracking her kids whereabouts when they are over. Another hard pass. There are some things that you CAN have control over and that is what happens in your own home and during your time. Bio mom thinks she has more control then she actually has. She's trying to make your life miserable and it's likely because she's jealous and has some personal issues herself. That is usually the case. The thing you and your husband can do is erect some personal boundaries such as what goes on at your own household. She can't control what happens at your houswhold same as you cannot control what happens at her house on her time. 

NeverEnough321's picture

I appreciate you kind words and suggestions. We're not perfect, but we know not to be like BM. We make sure to let the kids know that we are always here to help and to listen if they need someone to talk to. YSD actually confessed to SO this past weekend that she feels BM treats her unfairly.  OSD opened up to me a little about school and how a lot of her friends dropped cheer, but she hasn't dropped out because BM wants her to do it. Apparently BM regrets not joining cheer at OSDs age, so she assumes OSD feels the same way. It's nice to know that they feel safe talking to us about some of these things regarding BM. We can't do anything about it.. calling BM out will only make it worse for everyone. All we can do is let them feel loved and supported here. 

BM definitely has her own personal issues and misery loves company. I try not to relish knowing this... but sometimes it's all I have to counter her foolishness. She is intentionally underemployed for CS, food stamps, and state insurance. I can't see why she would enjoy living this way with 5 kids. She has two other kids with her current husband who I feel like she doesn't even want to be with since, as recently as last year, BM was asking my SO why he couldn't have been happy and go back to her. OSD also let slip that she found a box in BMs closet that still has pictures and mementos of SO pre-divorce. 

I just need a thicker skin when it comes to BM and I'm workin on it!