For me, there are few things more awkward or more anxiety inducing than listening to the kids talk to their mother on the phone.
I mean, maybe that’s just me. (&& maybe I’m being a tad bit dramatic, but it does suck.)
I would be washing dishes in the kitchen and hear the tell-tell sound of the face-time ring and my stomach would drop. Ugh. Here we go again.
What is she going to find wrong this time? What is she going to get the kids worked up about? Are they going to show her my piles of laundry that need to be folded? Are they going to tell her some intimate detail of our lives here that she doesn’t necessarily need to know?
And of course they come running into the kitchen, phone in hand, to tell me about some great thing they just learned. I’m happy to know they want to share their excitement with me, but did they really just catch me on video right now. No makeup, washing dishes, not exactly my best moment, and definitely not how I want the ex wife to see me. (I mean, I’m not trying to be petty, but obviously I would rather be putting my best face forward here.)
The phone calls always make me anxious.
On the other hand, I wanted to consider how we wish the phone calls would go whenever we get to video-chat the kids.
I prefer when they aren’t running around with the phone. When they aren’t preoccupied with something else. When someone else isn’t screening/controlling the conversation. When we can have some one-on-one communication to reconnect with our littles.
So in order to keep everyone in the house sane, we have come up with some flexible ground rules for when the kids video-chat their mom.
When thinking up these guidelines we wanted to make sure that we were being respectful of all parties involved.
Calm Them Down
We wanted to be respectful of their mom by allowing her to enjoy a good conversation with her kids. We calm them down before the call so that they aren’t bouncing around. We set the phone up so that they aren’t holding it and messing with buttons the entire time. I know that kids their age are easily distracted. And it is so disheartening to be looking forward to a phone call with your littles to only have them not engage and fidget the whole time. So we try our best to prevent that.
Give Them Privacy
We wanted to be respectful of the kids when they talk to their mom. We give them the privacy of having the conversation in their room so that they don’t have to censor what they are saying for us. We want them to be able to talk to their mom about whatever is on their little hearts without worrying. They may be little, but everyone deserves a little privacy. I mean, I hate it when we call them and it looks like they want to say something only to have them clam up because someone is in the room. So we try not to worry about what they are saying, because we know however it may get construed, we don’t have anything to hide.
Give Yourself Space
We wanted to be respectful of ourselves. By giving them the privacy of having the conversation in their room we are eliminating the anxiety inducing stomach drop that comes with the phone calls. This way I don’t accidently make a face to Dan whenever she wants to call, because trust me they can see it… I actually kind of look forward to her calling now because I get a few moments of peace!
Try to Schedule
If possible we try to schedule the call in advance with her. This cuts down on the chaos and gives us a chance to prepare. I don’t mean prepare as in prep the kids on what to say and what not to say. I mean prepare as in set their little table up in their room, set the prop up for the phone, and make sure they are calmed down and ready to talk. This has proven to be much better for everyone involved. Their mom gets a quality conversation out of them, the kids feel more comfortable to engage, and we get a peace of mind from not having to listen to the whole phone call.
So stepmama, I hope our little long distance blended family guideline to phone calls between the kids and their mom can be helpful to you. And you may be thinking to yourself, well that’s a lot of work and we don’t get to benefit from her doing any of that. But that my friend is the wrong attitude. You’ve got to be proactive and not reactive in this whole blended family thing. Don’t think of, “well she doesn’t do this for us, so we aren’t doing it for her.” Think of it like, “maybe if we start doing this for her, she will do it in return.” And even if she doesn’t, it benefits you too! I mean maybe you like hearing her gush over them and ask them details about your time with them, but I couldn’t handle it. I mean it’s all great! I’m glad they want to talk to her, but I just don’t have to hear every word of the conversation.
Love your family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.