single parents with multiples--support? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 05-02-2010, 09:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I went and checked out the Single Parenting forum but it wasn't really looking like what I need in terms of support. I know there are some other single mamas with twins here, and also a bunch of mamas who are effectively single due to deployed husbands or such. It's so stressful doing this on my own. My twin boys just turned 2, and my older son is 3.75. What do y'all do to cope? I thought it might be nice just to get some support going here. Being a single parent is difficult in any circumstance, but with the added stress of multiples it's really just kind of ridiculous. Sigh.

I know I'm blessed--I have 3 healthy, adorable kids (who are a complete handful most of the time), I have supportive family (even if they can't actually give me much practical help, they do help financially and in other ways), etc. I have resources available that I know many people don't have, so I usually feel like I can't complain. But gosh this is tough!
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#2 of 12 Old 05-03-2010, 02:53 PM
 
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I was a single mom from pregnancy til my boys were about six months, when I met and married my now-husband. It was very difficult, but I had a lot of support from friends and family (in that order).

We have a few "situational" single parents right now (deployments and work) so hopefully they will chime in.

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#3 of 12 Old 05-03-2010, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It really would be nice to chat with other people in my position. I never have an extra set of hands. Going out places without help is difficult. And even though I think I can manage with all 3 by myself, just the day-to-day practicalities of managing a household as well can really pile up (simple things like changing light bulbs, doing all the dishes, keeping the yard and deck clean, etc.). I know it's true for all single mothers, but having all my kids so little, and the twins still wanting to be held and babied a lot of the time, is tough.
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#4 of 12 Old 05-04-2010, 01:10 AM
 
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I'm single parenting my six right now. My husband is away working for the next two months. It's been terribly hard and not in the ways I would expect! My main two complaints are NO BREAKS because babysitting is hard to come by for six children and running errands with all of them really stinks. It's not that I CANT run errands with them all because I'm pretty efficient at it but rather the short, in and out stuff that just drives me nuts! Pull up, unload stroller, unbuckle, put ben on my back, load girls into stroller, haul into the store/post office/whatever and then five minutes later reverse. Add two or three stops and I'd rather just do without whatever it is (razor blades, shampoo, stamps).
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#5 of 12 Old 05-04-2010, 10:09 AM
 
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I am a situationally single parent-- I know I'm really blessed because I do have the emotional support from my husband, but he's gone A LOT. I am a SAHM so I don't have to juggle the demands of working too, thankfully.

My twins are 9 mo old and I have a 4 year old and 3 year old too so they keep me really busy. I feel the same way you do about not being able to keep up on everything, especially at the end of the day when all I want to do is sit and be still for a few seconds.

I realized something had to change when it hit me that the only meals I eat sitting down were went I went through the drive through and ate in the car on my way to the next "thing" we were doing. That didn't work for me. So here's what is working for me now:

-I joined a gym that offers childcare. Included in my monthly fee is childcare for all of my kids, up to 2 hours a day. If I drop them off at 9:17, you can bet I will be picking them up at 11:17. I use every minute of that 2 hours, even if 45 minutes of it is spent taking a long hot shower and actually doing my hair and makeup 2 hours a day, 4 to 5 times a week is a lot of time to take, but it makes me a better mom by giving me a break and I feel healthy, live healthier and I have so much more energy to deal with the every day demands now.

- I set goals. I have a loose "to do" list every day of random things that need to get done in addition to the everyday stuff. Those are my goals. Sometimes it's something like clean out the fridge other days it's something like make spaghetti sauce to freeze. That's in addition to the non negotiable things are laundry and having a clean kitchen.

- I have a system for cleaning. I try to do one room a day so nothing gets out of control. This can be surprisingly hard with 4 kids interrupting all the time but is so much easier than doing the entire house at once.

- I have the older 2 "help". They are in charge of picking up their toys. Often, I have to make a game of it but they have to do it. "Games" we play include: Racing against a timer, playing the "color game" where I yell out a color and they have to find everything that color and put it away. I'll do the same with types of toys (Find all of the cars! Find all of the play food! Find all of the crayons!). Sometimes we'll do an "easter egg hunt" and I'll hide eggs w/ stickers or coins in them through the mess and they have to pick up the mess to get to the eggs. When they are done cleaning they get to open their eggs and put the coins in their bank and make a picture with the stickers. Also, for some reason if I give them both a wet paper towel and tell them to "clean" the toys, they'll sit there and do that and put them away. I tell them there's germs all over and they have to get rid of them.

They also love to dust and move the lighter furniture and big toys out of the way while I vacuum. They are great at putting away the silverware and plastic cups/plates and clearing the table for dinner. I also taught them how to fold simple laundry-- and even if they don't do it right, at least they are quiet and not fighting while I'm getting it done.

- We have a routine. I think this is the most important aspect of all. Our routine is flexible (I don't have set times for craft time vs. playdough time) but I keep things as consistent as possible. Errands are all done on the same day if possible, cleaning is done at the same time if possible, park time is done at the same time, etc... but bed time is non negotiable, they HAVE to be in bed by 8, or I lose my mind and they end up tired and cranky the next day.

- Diet is key!! You have to eat and eat well to have the energy and stamina to do all you need to do. Try to cut out junk and sugars if you eat those. Drink more fluids, eat more veggies, allow yourself a small treat at the end of the day. Keep your kids well fed and hydrated. I've found that if my older kids have food dyes or HFCS they are a nightmare. So we don't have anything with them in our home. They don't get sugary stuff either. I feed them something every couple of hours to keep their blood sugar consistent to avoid meltdowns.

- Cook in advance, if possible. I invested in a chest freezer. Best decision I've made in a long time. I always have homemade spaghetti sauce, chili, grilled chicken breasts cut into strips to use w/ pasta and salad, chicken broth, shredded chicken, veggies to steam... there are SO many nights I don't have time to cook or feel like cooking so I can just grab something out of the freezer instead of going out to eat. Saves lots of time, and money.

- When we go places, expectations are set in the car. The older 2 are old enough to understand that if they don't listen or if they act up, we're done. I also won't go anywhere if I know they are tired or hungry to avoid melt downs. Grocery shopping can be a nightmare and to help avoid those meltdowns, the older 2 get a list of foods they need to find and then each one gets a job. For instance, one kid will hold the produce bag while I put the produce in or if it's hearty produce, the older kid will put the produce in the bag while the younger one holds it. I constantly point foods out to them and we talk about what is healthy and what isn't, what would be a good choice to make and what wouldn't... as long as I keep them engaged and involved, we can remain tantrum free. When they were younger they got a "snack bag" with a small treat in it-- like a race car or something. I'd put a snack they had to eat slowly (like cheerios and raisins or small crackers and dried fruit) into a bag and they would stay occupied in the stroller or cart and then play with their treat. Some call this bribery, I don't care It worked and they were quiet lol!

I don't know if any of this helps. If I think of anything later, I'll add to it. Big hugs and be sure to take some time to do something for you today!

ETA: I also start the day with a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher. I clean the kitchen before I go to bed and run the dishwasher while we sleep and unload it first thing in the morning. I put the dishes from the day in the dishwasher as we use them so there isn't a huge pile of dishes to do at the end of the day. A clean kitchen makes me very happy and feel peaceful-- probably because I spend 80% of my day there
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#6 of 12 Old 05-04-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intertwined View Post
Add two or three stops and I'd rather just do without whatever it is (razor blades, shampoo, stamps).
I feel the same way! Since buying in bulk isn't always an option for me so I have it on hand, I order A LOT from Amazon's subscribe and save. It's not the most environmentally friendly way to do things, but it makes it so I never run out of some of the essentials. Some ATMs sell stamps now too, so I get them there. Worth the extra bit of processing fee because I always forget to get them at the grocery store.

I used to live in an area that had stores that did grocery delivery-- THAT was the best. I miss that so much! So check and see if that's an option.
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#7 of 12 Old 05-04-2010, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is all a lot of great advice! Thanks

Cleaning is so tough for me. My kids don't seem to respond well to any of the cleaning up games I try to play with them. And as soon as we do get all of the play food cleaned up, they dump it all back out again! I find that trying to clean with the kids underfoot is usually more stressful than it's worth, so I try to do it when they are sleeping or the few mornings a week when they are all 3 in preschool. I do have 2 mornings a week without any kids, which is a huge help.

Starting this fall I'll be a full-time student, so that should be interesting.

Shopping is crazy for us right now, because the 3 boys fight, and throw things on the floor. They break at least one thing every trip. But I'm loathe to do it in my time to myself, because there is so much else I need to get done, and I theoretically CAN shop with them, you know?

I think my 3 are at tough ages, especially in relation to each other. I am already starting to see some improvement, and I do think in the next 6 months things will start to be a little more manageable. I can't turn my back on them right now or one of them will hurt one of his brothers. My older boy is seeing a great psychiatrist and I think that is helping as well.

I'm going to have a babysitter come Saturday night so I can go to my high school reunion, so that should be nice. If I can stay awake while I'm there, that is :-P

I'd really love to be able to find the time to spend some time alone with each of my twins individually, because I think they need more time away from each other. I imagine I'd fight a lot with somebody I had to spend every hour of every day with. But I just don't see how that is possible right now.

I'm also struggling personally, which just makes everything harder. I have a psychiatrist but not the time or money to really go see her. I'm really hoping I can pull myself together more over the summer, so that by the time school starts things will be a little bit easier for all of us.
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#8 of 12 Old 05-04-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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Thanks for the tips. Eating for 3!

I'm not single anymore, but I'm pregnant with #5 and am totally freaking out about how I'll get it all done.

treehugger.gif Erika
mom of twins.gif (8)  blahblah.gif(5) thumbsuck.gif (3) and baby.gif born at home on Christmas day! 
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#9 of 12 Old 05-14-2010, 01:00 AM
 
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I'm newly single. . . just a week separated. No advice, but wanted to chime in. We're with my parents right now, but in a few months I'll (hopefully) be out on my own.

 Single mama to two wild and sweet toddlers 2/08
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#10 of 12 Old 05-14-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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My husband is deployed and I've basically been single parenting for 16 months now. I'm not the best to offer advice though. I have no help. I moved from GA to VA to be near family but it was terrible. So I moved back to GA. I'm living with no furniture, no husband, and I'm pretty much over it. LOL But I am surviving! We just try to get out of the house as much as possible. I take all six with me to the store several times a week. We go everywhere together.

Heather, Army wife & Mama to M (10), J (9), L & S (my HBAC babies are 7!), N & R (5), and A (born 11/30/12 UBA2C)
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#11 of 12 Old 05-15-2010, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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esaesa, so sorry you are now on your own. I lived with my parents for a while, and I was very glad to have somewhere to live, but it was so difficult. We've been living on our own since March, and overall it's been a great move for us.

Heather, you amaze me. I keep an eye on your blog. I just always think how exhausted you must be. I have to say, I read your blog and think, if she can do it, of COURSE I can do it. We get out a lot as well. Things just go crazy when we're home. But the only way I can survive the store these days is with lollipops or something similar, because the boys start fighting or throwing things on the floor (we've broken containers of tofu, even a jar of Liquid Smoke that one of my 2-year-olds pulled off the shelf--the whole store smelled like the stuff).

Like I said, I'll be in school full time starting mid-August, and I'm really looking forward to that, and at the same time dreading being away from the kids so much. I have to have a career so I can support the kids, though, and it's what I've always wanted to do.

What is Amazon's subscribe and save?
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#12 of 12 Old 05-19-2010, 01:53 AM
 
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s: Not a single mama but just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you because it has too be so hard to do this alone mama!
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