I'm a SAHM to an almost 4 year old son (he'll be 4 at the end of April). There are many aspects of motherhood that I'm proud of - I nursed DS until he was 3.5 years old, we still enjoy co-sleeping and no-cry methods of helping him fall to sleep, we practice gentle discipline and are raising a very kind and loving person, and we respect his slow to warm temperment and help support him as he cautiously tries new things. But there are many other areas where I feel like I'm failing. I let him watch way too much tv, mostly because I'm tired of playing and want to check my email, or surf the net for a bit, or crochet, or read, or eat, or whatever. I'd say he watches 3 hours a day on average <cringe>. Ugh, that's just awful writing it :( And he does a lot of snacking in front of the tv - he's a very picky eater, so I'm mostly just happy he's eating, and he's definitely not chubby at all, but I feel like I'm creating a couch potato. And speaking of eating, I'm so tired of trying to get him to try new things or eat what we're eating, so I barely even try any more - I make him something I know he'll eat, ask him once or twice if he wants to try some of my dinner, and then let him eat the same thing over and over again. There are days when we don't go outside at all - I'll suggest going for a bike ride or to the park, and he says no, and after abit of cojoling, I'll give up and we stay inside (and at some point the tv will go on). I'll admit that I'm a homebody anyways, so I'm happy to stay at home anyways, but I'm he would benefit from more outside time, even if just because it would mean less tv. I feel like I don't spend nearly enough doing more educational/hands-on activities with him - I like to read to him, and occasionally we'll do puzzles or play-dough or crafts or an activity book, but those aren't regular things and I feel they should be.
Honestly, I know that if he were in preschool a few mornings a week, things would probably be better - I'd have some mornings to myself to do the things I enjoy doing, and he'd be getting out and interacting with other kids and learning. But he is so slow-to-warm, and still really resists doing activities with other people, so we've held back on preschool as we know it'll be a difficult transition. We try to do library time once a week, and also a gym/play class once a week, and playdates occasionally, but he sticks very close to me and has never willingly gone off on his own (as he will need to do at preschool). So while it would be a good solution, I don't think it's something that would happen until September at the earliest, and even then I'm not sure.
And then, to top things off, I suck at housework. Like I just have no desire to do it. I'm so lucky that I have a very understanding and helpful DH - he takes care of the dishes, and does a lot around the house. I regularly do laundry, grocery shopping and cooking, and take care of the finances - that's about it. Our house isn't like gross, but it's just messy and we don't do more thorough cleaning until it's necessary.
Anyways, I just feel like I'm failing my son. I know they he knows I love him and will help him and support him and all that stuff, but I feel like I'm not helping him develop healthy habits. And I just can't seem to get the motivation to change my own habits. Motivation is not the right word, as obviously I want to change in order to be the best mother and role model that I can be, but every time I try, it's just so much work. I don't know how other SAHM's do it. I feel like a total failure in so many ways.
I'm not sure what advice I'm looking for. How does one help build their internal motivation, and find the energy and desire to make really big and long-lasting changes to their habits? Part of the problem is I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and a very all-or-nothing thinker, so when I want to make changes, I have these huge hopes and goals, and then I give up when it's too hard to obtain. Or I get overwhelmed with the thought of it all, and don't even try. It's not an excuse, I know, but just what I have to overcome with respect to my personality.
Anyways, thanks for reading this novel. I just needed to get these feelings out - feeling very frustrated with myself, and worried about how this is affecting DH and his growth.
Hello! I've felt like different parts of your post at different times.
My first thought is that Flylady.net might be very helpful to you. It's a house cleaning system, but its more than that. It taught me to let go of being a perfectionist, and it taught me out to establish routines. It's odd, but she starts with having you clean your kitchen sink and some how following her advice helped me become a better mother.
By building routines, you can add in things that are about your son. A set time in the day when you guys go outside, or a point on the week when you do puzzles together. Rather than asking him, just tell him. "We are going outside now." If it's part of a routine and just part of what you do, it will be easier for him.
I totally relate on the "tired of trying to get them to eat healthy food thing." Sadly, I have a 12 year old who is the same way inspite of my best efforts. If she were an only child I'd have no motivation to cook at all. Are there healthy foods like he likes? My DD could pretty much live on fruit and yogurt, so I keep lots of those around and try not to get too worked up over it.
I agree that preschool sounds like it might be good for both of you next fall. Have you looked into your options? They vary widely and he might be happiest at a very mellow, play based program.
<<<I regularly do laundry, grocery shopping and cooking, and take care of the finances - that's about it. >>>>
I think that sounds like a lot. I think that if you gave the flylady thing a try to add in some general tidying and a little structure to your days with your son, you'd feel more productive. I don't think you sound lazy at all.
No help, only commiseration. I could have written your exact post. The only difference is I did put my DS (4 in two weeks) in preschool. It didn't help me at all and if anything I am more lazier. Also, DS wants out of preschool, so it was a bust. He will now be home next year and I need a way to get motivated. Flylady stuff didnt work for me. Anyhoo, when I write my own sad post, I will link up so you wont feel bad about keeping your DS out of preschool :)
I just wanted to add that I am exactly like that. I could have written your post. So no advice just commiseration. I am constantly struggling with this, like now- my kids are watching tv while I'm on the computer.
Thank you so much for the responses - it definitely helps to know I am not alone, as then I realize that maybe I'm being too hard on myself.
Linda on the move - thanks very much for your suggestions and comments! I have looked into flylady, and also motivated moms, but got kind of overwhelmed with the list of things to do. However, I think it's time to look into it again!
Since there are a few of us who struggle with this, I wonder if some sort of accountability thread would help. Something where we could set very reasonable goals for ourselves, and then check in regularly to see how we're doing. I think part of my problem is that I set too high of a goal, and I'm bound to fail, and then I give up. For example, when I want to spend more time doing workbooks with DS, I start to think "okay, every morning at 9am we can do workbook activities, and then do a related craft to reinforce what we've covered", and of course that doesn't happen every day, and eventually I stop trying. Instead, if I said "okay, we'll try to do 10 minutes of workbook activity each day", it's much more attainable. Maybe it's not as much or as often as I'd like, but at least it's better than not doing it at all.
We could set our own goals for ourselves, but others in the accountability thread could make sure they are reasonable and not too lofty. Anyways, not sure if anyone else would be interested in this, but just thought I'd mention it as an idea.
There is section on "beginner baby steps" on the Flylady site. Here is a link to the first one.
This page has links to 31 days of steps, and I suggest not looking at the rest of the sight for a month.
I like your idea of scaling down your goal to something measurable and attainable. One thing I've worked on over the years (some of it in therapy) is celebrating what I do DO everyday. For me, there used to be a little voice in the back of my head telling me that no matter what I did, I didn't do enough or I didn't do it well enough. The voice sounded oddly like my mother. Anyway, taking a few moments to pat myself on the back for what I'm already doing has helped my outlook so much. Getting more done each day (while it needed to happen for other reasons) didn't quiet the voice. Changing my self-talk was the only cure.
As far as things that I think I ought to be doing EVERY DAY, it feels lighter to me to think in terms of choosing to do them most days. For example, I keep a gratitude journal and write 5 things in it before I go to bed that I am grateful for. But some days I forget. Some weeks I forget!!! But rather than get hung up on what happened yesterday, I just choose what to do today, in this moment, without judging yesterday.
I'm right there with you, I feel like all DS does is watch tv while I go online and try to bounce the baby to sleep. I feel like an awful mother and I'm having a really hard time getting out of this rut I got us into while pregnant. Part of me feels like I need a schedule but I've tried that and my inner angsty teenager gets resentful and starts ignoring it after a day or two. So you're not alone and I'd love an accountability thread of some sort.
what helped me was treating the house cleaning like a job. I figured if I could work half as hard at home as I did at work there would be no reason for my house to be a mess ever. And no, I do not by any means enjoy any housework. But I hate my job and I can do that and get it done every day. and there is no love there. while I do not love housework I do love a clean home and at least get to enjot the fruits of my labor. So there is some motivation. So here is what I do.... I literally punch in and punch out. I set the timer for 60 minutes and do not stop moving until it goes off. At work I have no choice but to work (I work in a physical job where the boss is always there. absolutely no stopping or resting except for our pre scheduled break times) absolutely no computer time while I am "at work" I try to clean for about 6 to 8 hours on my days off ? (I work full time outside the home. obviously this is not necessary to clean this long each day). And I tend to get caught in perfectionism too but if the clock is my goal rather than the cleaning I can just keep cleaning until the timer goes off and feel like I accomplished something. I usually do it in 30 minute segments. 30 in the kitchen, 30 in the dining room and 30 in the living room then a 30 minute break (usually putzing on the computer and/or eating. set the time for this as well). The repeat the kitchen, 30 in the bathroom/hall way, 30 in a bedroom. I just add a different room each time one gets finished. the set the timer for an hour and start supper. I was amazed at how much I could get done in just a few hours. When the timer goes off I stop what I am doing (within reason. if I have three dishes left I finish them...) and move on to the next room. Its not perfect cleaning but my inner perfectionist feels satisfied.
This is a little more complicated with a little guy at home but you can enlist him to help. Also cleaning is time spent with him as well. it might take you twice as long but if you are investing a good 4 hours a day cleaning with the kid your house should still be tidy and he will be learning good habits. two birds. one stone.
The most important things it to turn off the computer and if you sit and watch tv turn that off too ( I often watch TV while cleaning and cooking but I use my lap top so it is easy to position it so I can work and follow the show at the same time. but absolutely no computer unless it is scheduled. biggest time suck ever)
And you can start easy. Set the time for five minutes for three rooms just twice a day. if you are racing a clock you will likely get more done. also you can do anything for 5 minutes. and since the goal is small you will easily reach your goal. once you feel successful you it will be easy to increase it a little each week or two.
You sound like a loving, attentive, supportive mom. Your son is a lucky boy who feels loved -- I think you're probably a wonderful mom who happens to not like housework and needs some time to herself each day.
well, you could get him involved in helping you with housework. my kids love the vacuum, and even though they are not good at using it yet, they like to try. and someday... i will put them to work for real!
i could have written this we sound SO much alike, down to the perfectionist/all or nothing ...etc. then i also flip flop over to the good enough side. LOL. honestly i think you are being a bit rough on yourself. i think my issue is a tiny bit of depression at times, and just burn out in general. i'd love to PM if you ever want to talk
I've been a stay at home mom for many years now. You have to treat it like a job. Make a routine and tweak it until it works for you.
Go out daily for a walk or an errand.
Plan one or two outings per week for your child. (story times or museum or zoo or park)
Plan one outing for the grocery shopping that includes a small treat for you and your child. (frozen yogurt or hot chocolate)
Stay on top of the housework.
Limit your TV and computer time. Instead, listen to NPR or read short stories or sit on the floor and play with your child.
Make a nutritious dinner daily and set the table or light the candles and bask in your own family around your own table.
Speaking of listening to NPR (GREAT idea by the way!!) you could also get an account at http://www.audible.com/ and get audio books. Make a deal to yourself to keep moving while you are listening to them. and right now you can get this MP3 player for free to keep your audible books on. Sometimes it is just easier to do the mind numbing dull work if you balance it out with something that enriches you intellectual.
Also if you feel bad about about the kid watching so much TV you should get him some books on CD. Our good children's library has an extensive collection. My kids loved these as much as videos when they were in the 3-6 year old range.
I totally understand where you are at. And I've been working on this, with varying success, for several years. At this point, with my oldest almost 9, I'm kind of bummed to see that she is developing habits like mine [big surprise, huh?!]. It makes me sad because I don't want to her to be as disorganized and scattered as I am. I find it stressful, it makes us late, etc. And the tendency towards laziness causes us to miss some good experiences, and that makes me sad.
For better and for worse, expectations of others get me moving. I wish this wasn't the case, but as it is, I try to use it to my advantage. So I have some things scheduled that we wouldn't otherwise do. And I solicit DH's help on this specifically. "I want to take the kids and dog to the woods more, but I just don't. Could we plan it for a certain day of the week and you help me stick to it?" Or, "I've been putting off tackling this closet. What day can we do it together?" Or I invite people over so I have to clean.
I think a morning routine - even a really limited one. Could help you with a 3 year old. At that age he might get into helping you draw up a little schedule. Put in the TV time, but make it like half an hour.
Good luck with it, mama. Speaking of this topic, off to do something energetic with my toddler, lol!
Knowing your faults are half the battle! When you are ready to change, you will. Be good to yourself. Be patient. You sound like a WONDERFUL mother! Your son is lucky to have you!
I didn't change until well after my third child. Started with weight loss. In 18 months, I lost 83 pounds. Now I have an amazing amount of energy! When my husband gets home from work, and sees the house clean, the kids happy from playing at two different parks in the same day, dinner made from scratch, and I am ready to run on the tread mill for an hour, he thinks that I drank three 5 hour energies. I didn't. Regular exercise gives you a natural high.
My motivation to adjust my way of life was as follows:
1) I didn't want to die at age 52 like my Mom did.
2) I want to climb Everest at age 40.
You will find your own way at your own pace!
Peace and happiness to you "tryingfor2" !!!
I didn't read all the replies....I actually came here to post my own thread but your post really resonated with me and I wanted to reply.
First, don't put yourself down. I admire your honest assessment of yourself and I think that is a great place to start. I have ADD and consistency is something I really struggle with. There must be something that motivates or excites you. For example, I hat washing dishes, but I love the internet. In fact I have to really watch myself because I can gett addicted very easily. So I try to build a pattern into my day that is basically me rewarding myself for following the routine I've laid out.
You could start small by saying to yourself that every morning as soon as breakfast is over you are going to do one structured activity with your ds. When that activity is done, you are going to do xyz household chore while he watches a show on TV. Then after a week or so you could tack on "after 2 episodes of Dora" or whatever show "we will do something outside togethe and then ds will have a snack that he picks while I check email." A?nd just keep adding to it/tweaking it until you get the groove that works for you.
Also for the housekeeping part I love flylady. You can do as little or asmuch of the program s you want but it is free and I've always found it to be very positive and encouraging
tonight, I was feeling extraordinary crap. i was beating up on myself as i tend to do when i fail at the things i claim to love the most. however, i'm into solutions and healing. i googled, "I'm a lazy m_" and up came a listing, "i'm a lazy mother" discovering this testimony, which I can certainly relate to. any who, i'm going to attempt a routine, which begins with me heading to bed early. i'm usually sleeping at this time, but the anxiety i'm feeling because of my parenting has me up. Good night and thank you. we have plenty to explore and kudos to us for wanting to be better.
Send your son to a full time preschool. Get a part time job. You will have not time to be lazy. It will kind of cure itself. You will also have money to hire a house cleaner.
preschool + part time job, even if it is low paying + paid housekeeper