I want to be part of the family, not a live-in babysitter

DEAR DEIDRE: I WAS flattered when my partner wooed me into moving in but now I realise I’m his live-in babysitter.

We met in the queue getting our Covid vaccinations. He’s a care home manager, divorced, and can charm the birds from the trees.

He was friendly and lovely and asked me whether I’d meet him for a coffee.

I hadn’t had a date in a long time and although he’s 43 and I’m 30, the age gap didn’t worry me.

We quickly went from dating to being lovers.

I was still living with my father but he’s always been telling me to “get out and spread your wings”, so when my lover told me he’d like me to move in, I jumped at the chance.

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I’d always wanted a dog, so he bought me a cockapoo puppy and said that we could be “a real family”.

His children are nine and 13 and the oldest one, a boy, has ADHD and autism. The children come to stay every weekend and the older one is a real handful.

At first, they’d stay and my partner was always there but because of the pandemic, my partner had to go into work more and more, and it was just assumed I’d look after the kids.

But I can’t cope with them. For instance, my partner will assume that if I have a Friday off I’ll pick the younger one up from school ­— but why should I?

Just to get a moment’s peace, I’ve started going home to visit Dad if the kids are around when my partner’s at home.

His eldest is cheeky and rude. I know he’s got issues, but it’s just too much for me.

I wish I had known what I was signing up for.

DEIDRE SAYS: It’s all moved along at a pace but if you’re happy in your relationship, it would be a shame to end things now.

Your partner seems oblivious to what he’s dumped onto your lap. Find a quiet moment and explain to him that you’d like him around when his children visit.

If you’re going to grow to love them, you’ll need his support so that he can help you learn to handle his eldest child. You can find expert guidance through the National Autistic Society (autism.org.uk).

Any day off you take is designed for you to recharge your batteries but if the children are visiting, you could suggest a day out which you can all enjoy – then you’ll then have a better opportunity to build a bond with them.

My support pack on Step Family Problems explains more.

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