As I've said many times, every other Monday is tough on our baby girl.
It's the day when her brothers and sister go back to their Moms for the week, and her world is rocked. Some weeks are easier than others, but it seems like just when I think that she finally understands, she makes it very clear that she doesn't.
It always starts at daycare pick up. The first person she asks for is my youngest stepson. When I tell her that he's gone back to his visit his mom, her eyes fill with tears and you can see the heartbreak on her face.
Then when we get home, she walks in the house and yells "HELLO... I'm home" hoping that her siblings to tell her to come downstairs and hangout. But they don't, because they're not there.
Again, it's heart wrenching to watch.
I've said this before, but in blended families, we're always focused on making sure that stepchildren don't feel left out, but in many situations it's the "ours babies" who get the short end of the stick.
In our situation, her "people" get to leave all together. It's "them" and then "her".
Even though by leaving, they're world is rocked in a different way - at least they're all together.
Fellow stepmoms always asking me how I support Reese when the kids go back to their Moms.
As I'm sure you've figured out, it's tough - but we've come up with some strategies that, at the very least, acknowledge and validate her pain, and sometimes even ease the blow.
1. WE EXPLAIN THE SITUATION
We don't sugarcoat anything in our house. We are straight up and explain everything to her in an age appropriate way.
We tell her that the kids have gone to visit their Mom, and that they will be back in 6 sleeps.
At this point she knows and understands that they have a different Mom, and that they need to visit her too.
Everyone once in while she gets to go and visit their Mom's house too, and she thinks that's pretty much the coolest thing ever!
I'm not going to lie, it took me a while to be okay with that - but at the of the day this is about the kids and their emotional wellbeing. Any reluctance was more about me than it was about them.
2. WE ALLOW HER TO BE SAD
We acknowledge her feelings and that it just isn't fair. We allow her to be sad, mad or whatever it is that she's feeling in the moment. The key is helping her figure out how to deal with those emotions. That's what parenting is all about right?
We want her to know it's okay to be upset! We don't want her to feel like she can't be sad or that she has to hide her feelings. We also want her to know that we think it kinda sucks too!
3. WE REASSURE HER
At her age she has no concept of time. So it's about constant reassurance that they will be back in however many sleeps!
At the beginning, it was more difficult - every time they would leave for school in the morning, she would have a complete meltdown. Presumably because she was unsure when/if they would return.
Like I said, now she somewhat gets it - so we continue to remind her they will be back after they've visited with their Mom!
4. WE DISTRACT HER WITH SOMETHING SPECIAL
On Monday, we try and have a special night. We make a dinner she loves (with dessert of course) and have extra cuddles in bed while watching a movie. It's not her first choice, but it works!
5. SHE SLEEPS IN HER BROTHER'S SHIRT
As I've said she has an extra special bond with my youngest stepson. These two I tell ya... it's like their souls are just connected!
One of her favourite things to do when her brother is with his Mom, is sleep in his t-shirt. She thinks it's hilarious because the t-shirt comes to her feet!
6. WE CALL "THE KIDS"
She's always excited to call the kids when my husband checks in at night! It definitely makes her feel better to talk to them!
Mondays are always hard, but by Tuesday night/Wednesday morning she's adjusted and we're back to regular programming.
There isn't really any other way to describe it other than to say that it's not fair and that it sucks for her.
But our main focus it to teach her healthy ways to deal - because life happens to be full of things that "suck" and aren't fair. It's how you learn to deal with the unfairness that truly matters!
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