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Australian Centre for stepfamily Research, Resources & Education
When They Leave
10 February 2019

When They Leave

Guest Blogger: Sydney Ferguson

Generally we have the care of my step sons every second weekend, give or take special days, school holidays or when alternative arrangements are made by my Husband and the boy’s mum. If I am brutally honest I find I take longer than I would like to adjust to the boys being in our home and even longer to re-adjust when they leave. Over the last three years or so I’m not sure I have really quickened up that adjustment process. However I feel that most times I handle the hellos and goodbyes better than I did when I first experienced them about four years ago.

When my Husband began getting the boys ready to return home this weekend, which included putting their ‘home’ clothes on and gathering any items they had brought to our house for the weekend, I felt dread creeping through me. We had had a very relaxed, enjoyable weekend at home and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I was also feeling incredibly tired as my son hadn’t been sleeping well over the past few nights. Having the insight to know I wasn’t handling things well I put a plan in place. My priority is and has always been the boys, so I busied myself getting a snack ready for them. I asked them about ‘safe’ topics, topics which were not emotionally stressful for me, like what the week at school had in store for them. In no time they were in the car with my Husband with my son and I waving them goodbye from the gate. I am proud to say I kissed them all goodbye and stated truthfully what a wonderful weekend I had with them. I hope they didn’t see an ounce of my sadness as it is not their fault the emotions I am feeling.

I had planned prior that I would feed my son as usual, put on my favourite TV show then once my son was asleep I would sit down for dinner and completely leave all the house chores until the next day. I also diffused some of my favourite, calming essential oils of lavender and cedarwood. Sometimes when the boys leave I distract myself by doing house chores however because I felt particularly exhausted today I decided some couch time was better for my nerves and unsettled mind. It did help as before I knew it my Husband had returned home and we chatted about the weekend and things the boys said/did. This has always been a very special time for my Husband and I to wind down after a full weekend with the boys. It has become an increasingly important time for us to communicate especially on topics surrounding our children. In our busy lives carving out a set, regular time to talk is precious to both of us.

I’ve learnt to be honest with my Husband, even when I express negative thoughts, feelings or opinions. So I let him know that I was really missing the boys already and to my surprise he was missing the boys more than usual too. We were able to support each other more because of this mutual understanding and I received a very sweet text message from him the following day. Usually on the weekends that I find it hard to say goodbye, the feeling lasts for a few days following, my Husband now knows that about me hence the text message.

What I hope is that some part of this post might help a step mum or dad when you have to say goodbye. I’ve had to try a few things to work out what eases the sad feelings for me. Acknowledging it’s hard and challenging to adjust to children coming and going is vital. Most of us are doing the best we can, that is also worth acknowledging too.

About the Author: Sydney Ferguson* might be a pseudonym however the experiences she shares are true. A mum to a four month old boy, step mum to three boys aged 6, 10, 12, wife, daughter, sister and aunty who resides in Australia. Her house always has country music playing in the background and you can find Sydney most days working with the horses, gardening or practicing yoga. Blessed with one dog, two horses and multiple chickens and birds, she is not only a human mum but also a fur mumma too and loves both of these roles. The aim of her sharing her experiences is to connect step mums and provide a safe place for discussion on the unique, confronting and sometimes humerous challenges faced in this role. You can find her sharing her experiences at fb.me/mystepmumjourney or guest writing for numerous mum blogs nationally and internationally. Connect with Sydney through @mystepmumjourney and through  mystepmumjourney@outlook.com