I'm giving up and I feel like such a failure.
Oh, Tessa I so feel your frustration and I'm sure this is not what you really want. I know and see that you love and adore your kiddos and also know they can drive you insane at times. I've been there especially with our oldest she's been absolutely difficult and I've often said that if I knew what the teen years were like, she would have been the only child. You are a wonderful mom, you care for 6 children all by yourself without the help of anyone so, you should give yourself a pat in the back just for that alone. Many have only 1 to care for and fail miserably so, cut yourself some slack here.
I do agree that dad #1 has to step up the plate and keep the kids the full 5 weeks that he's supposed to. By
Tessa, I am so sorry you are having such a tough time. I have never been a single mom so I won't pretend to understand what you are going through but I think family counseling is a great start. Not to defend your children but you said they are gone every other weekend? That may be part of the problem. I know that during the week my kids accomplish nothing because between school, activities, and sports there is no time. They do have daily chores. Maybe assign a chore for each of them that HAS to get done each day such as doing or taking out the dishes, etc. If it doesn't get done and they go to bed, get them up. It sounds mean and it will take a lot of discipline on your part but after a while, they will catch on that you mean business. Expect a lot of whining and yelling on their part but don't give in, just keep repeating that you need to get ____ done in a calm voice and say it matter of factly. The weekend they are with you explain that you have a house to get clean and then give them each something they can do to accomplish that goal. Explain if you all work together you should be able to clean it up within an hour or two. I would even give Noah something age appropriate to help so he can learn now plus, he will probably love helping at his age. I think the key is not arguing nor negotiating with them. Just so you know, my kids can be the same way and they live with both their mom and dad. My oldest DD is in college now and doesn't live with us because she didn't like that we expected her to help out. I learned with her that I just got to the point where I said that I wasn't arguing with her and she better get ___ and ___ done. Honestly though some kids are just much harder than others and they can have a negative effect on their siblings. If one of your kids is the "ringleader", maybe have that child stay with dad while you work with the others and then try having that child back. I know that once my oldest DD went away to college, our house was so much calmer and things went so much easier. Of course my kids didn't have the choice of where to live.(((HUGS))) and I really hope things get better.
Sounds like a good plan Tessa.. I know you already know that breaks will make a world of difference.
((hugs)) Tessa, I feel your pain and though I didn't have 4 at home at once, I understand from exp how kids can take advantage of you. It sounds like they are still adding their own conditions in saying they only want to go for the summer and changing their minds back and forth... what if you were to say, "this is the way it's going to be, you accept my conditions or you go, for good, to live with dad. No negotiations, no 'just for the summer' and small print and changing of minds.. either my way or move to dads" Then stick to your decision.
I'm sorry for your pain, honestly I am,.. how's it going with them today?