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I need space and DS doesn't

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Maybe this isn't exactly a discipline issue but it brings out the same feelings in me as when DS just acts out or refuses to listen to me...

DS (3.5 years) sticks to me like glue -- especially when we are at home. I'm guessing because at home there are fewer distractions from his intense anxiety.

I need space. And quiet. I need time without being physically touched, screamed at, etc. I need the mental space to focus on something -- anything -- for more than 10 seconds. DH is home in the evenings now to give me a break but I still really struggle through the last hour or two of the day.

He hasn't napped in 2 years. He doesn't play alone -- virtually ever. Well, we have worked up to about 3 minutes on very rare occasion, when I'm 2 feet away and he's in a perfect mood and the stars are perfectly aligned lol. When I ask him why he doesn't play on his own, he says he doesn't like to, he wants someone to play with him, he is scared playing by himself because he thinks something scary will come and get him.

(And before someone suggests a sibling... I only wish!! We have fertility issues and can't adopt right now.)

How do I get him to respect my physical and mental space a bit more? I wouldn't mind so much if he was just playing quietly (or even not so quietly) by my feet or something. But he needs constant, 24/7 interaction. It brings out a feeling of rage in me when he is constantly whining, screaming, climbing on me, etc. I just need 5 minutes of peace!!! He is like this with everyone, not just me. No amount of time I spend with him is enough, he *needs* it to be constant. I try to get him to play with his imaginary friends (he has MANY) or his toy animals but he wants a real person.

I know that to some extent this is just part of being a mom but other kids I know play by themselves, or nap, or at least watch TV on their own for a bit or something. I don't know any other kids who require 24/7 interaction and it completely exhausting, infuriating even... makes me feel like I am doing something wrong, or maybe there is something wrong with DS (and he is a little... hmmm, well, anxious, and sometimes seems kind of Aspergers-y??). And how do I stay calm when I don't have the time & space to calm and center myself or even pee by myself???
post #2 of 6
I suggest the phrase "I am going to go do _____ until the timer rings, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad but I will not be done until the timer rings
When my dd was this age she was able to understand and choose to be happy usually while I did things she didn't let me do alone before. I started small by peeing alone with the door locked and showering by myself every day then went to reading a little in the same room as dd. I talked to her about this before we actually started doing it and let her know I love her but sometimes need to do things in another room or things for my health. I also let her sometimes feel sad and briefly empathized but let her work through it. Mostly she was fine though.

Since you are feeling rage when your son gets really clingy I think it is important to allow him to be happy or sad but separate. The rage is probably coming out in ways that are makes it harder for him to separate so getting the space you need to not feel that is very important so the rest of your time together can be positive. I have found that ignoring my needs when I get to the point of anger on a long term basis makes anger slowly take over all of my interactions with my dd even if it just starts with a small portion of the day. Sometimes my dd has to come second so that overall she can come first.
post #3 of 6

I don't think there's anything wrong with either of you, but I would definitely be on the brink if I were you. I don't personally think there's anything wrong with you pushing him beyond his comfort zone a little bit....even if it's just going to 5 minutes from 3-1/2 to start, even if you need a timer.  Gentle but firm nudges are the way we've tackled most things with our kids when they were younger...and while they weren't always happy about it, they've always adjusted.  I'd start small:  5 minutes, in the same room with you but in different places.  Set everything up, something that's easy to do alone, and then go for it.    

 

I cannot imagine being requested to entertain a kid during all waking hours, or being in near constant contact for 3-1/2 years.  I love my children with all my heart and soul but I cannot engage them constantly.  I have one anxious kid, too, who has gone through various stages of not wanting to be alone in rooms, etc. and he has a wild imagination thinking about various tragic scenarios that might arise, so I get where you're coming from. 

 

Nonetheless, burnout is NO JOKE and you do need to take care of yourself too.  Attachment parenting does not equal mommy gives all....especially past infancy.

 

Good luck!! 

post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I suggest the phrase "I am going to go do _____ until the timer rings, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad but I will not be done until the timer rings
When my dd was this age she was able to understand and choose to be happy usually while I did things she didn't let me do alone before. I started small by peeing alone with the door locked and showering by myself every day then went to reading a little in the same room as dd. I talked to her about this before we actually started doing it and let her know I love her but sometimes need to do things in another room or things for my health. I also let her sometimes feel sad and briefly empathized but let her work through it. Mostly she was fine though.
Since you are feeling rage when your son gets really clingy I think it is important to allow him to be happy or sad but separate. The rage is probably coming out in ways that are makes it harder for him to separate so getting the space you need to not feel that is very important so the rest of your time together can be positive. I have found that ignoring my needs when I get to the point of anger on a long term basis makes anger slowly take over all of my interactions with my dd even if it just starts with a small portion of the day. Sometimes my dd has to come second so that overall she can come first.

 

This sounds like a good plan. A 3-4 year old is old enough to understand that sometimes people need/want to do things that don't involve them and that's ok. Definitely talk about it for a day or two then say "I'm going to _________ and I'll be back soon". I'm not sure I would use a timer since sitting there stressing over the timer might make it worse, Maybe a sand timer, it would be calming to look at. In your shoes I would lock the door behind me, I'm surprised you haven't. One quick "I'll be out soon, you go do _____" then stop talking and go back to what you were doing. 

post #5 of 6

I've often thought when I read your posts that my daughter sounds like a less extreme version of your son.  She, too, prefers to be with me - and talking, and getting a response - almost constantly, although she doesn't have anxiety issues about being apart.  Anyway, I just wanted to say that I know exactly that feeling of anger that comes from needing mental space but not getting it.  Is there any type of situation where he doesn't cling to you?  Is he the same way in the presence of other kids?  I mention this because we watch my 1-year-old niece one day a week, and, although my daughter does tend to act out a bit more on these days, she redirects a lot of her attention toward her cousin.  Somehow watching two kids is easier than watching just my daughter.  Aside from becoming a part-time babysitter, is there any type of toddler class (swimming, gymnastics, dance, music, art....) that might engage him enough that it will take some of the pressure off of you?
 

post #6 of 6

I don't have much advice, just commiseration.  My 2.5 year old does not do independent play at all.  We rarely do screen time, but even the novelty and excitement of that is not compelling enough for her to be separate from me.  She's rather follow me and watch me fold laundry.  I do have a second child and I think that having a sibling may help someday when her baby sister is old enough to truly play with her, but for now, I feel like it makes her frustrated that she is not able to have 100% of my attention very often.  I'm trying to work on building our connection- e.g. making sure she and I are having plenty of mama-daughter time, and trying to talk to her about her feelings and my feelings, and trying to explain that sometimes mama needs a break to do X and she will come right back, but so far I'm not having much luck.  

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