I work F/T and DS is almost 15 months. The same week I started a new job when DS was 8 mos, we also closed on AND moved ourselves into a house, and my MIL came to live with us (who takes care of DS). I've had one week off for vacation since starting work (over the holidays) and we were sick for a few days of it.
Boxes are still thrown up in storage and furniture is in temporary spots. I should add we are also trying to fix up our house ourselves and I think that adds to my general feeling of anxiety- things are in so much transition everywhere I look. It is 1500 sq. feet and right now we are using maybe half of it b/c we are doing DIY renovations. We're stripping lead paint off of my son's windows, so nearly his whole room is in our room (it's OK b/c he cosleeps with us anyway, but we have no space whatsoever in there). Our basement is demolished and so we can't use that space right now. MIL lives in the room in our basement and keeps a lot of DS's things there so she doesn't have to go up and down a lot, but then it's like his things are scattered all over the house. DS is generally a good baby but of course demands my constant attention & supervision and he doesn't really play independently.
My MIL helps a lot but of course she is not our servant. At the same time, she also tends to clutter up our house, and she and DH have no knack for organization. Despite having help from MIL with the cooking, laundry, etc., I am really, really overwhelmed in general. Work has picked up so much to the point where I am behind and have to bring work home. Most nights, DS doesn't go to sleep until 8 or 8:30, sometimes 9, and by then I'm too tired to do any work. DS nurses constantly when I'm home. DH also wants attention at night, of course, and many times I'm just way too tired for intimacy. My energy level has gotten better since I've stopped pumping at work, but I still have this insatiable appetite. Because cooking anything other than dinner rarely happens, it seems I can't ever pack enough food and I'm constantly starving. DH also thinks we spend too much on food, but I swear we buy food and then it's gone and I have to go back to the store.
I have photos finally burned onto CDs from DS's first year, but have yet to make any sort of album or even finish my pregnancy book with him. I feel so guilty about that. His milestones are jotted down here and there on my phone. I've found a lot of great used furniture on CL but most need to be revamped a bit and I have no idea when I will ever be able to do it.
And of course, on top of all this, I have working-mom guilt and want to spend every minute with my son when I can. But then I also have to get all of the above done, plus more.
Are my expectations too high? Am I trying to do too much? I feel so inadequate because I just have one child and I have my MIL for help (and free childcare), and yet I feel like life is so chaotic. I'm sure things could be much worse. But I can't imagine having two, and we want 3 children! Any advice on how to feel more in control of my life and my home? I'm not the most patient person but lately I've found that I'm so overwhelmed and tired that I just do nothing.
1. Make a small place in your home "yours" and ask DH and MIL to not clutter anything on it. Maybe a desk or a small corner of a room, it doesn't sound like an entire room is feasible right now with all the renovations, and keep it clean and organized how you want and go there at least once a day for a few minutes so you can relax a bit. Start with that and then when you have more energy, start slowly bringing the rest of the house into order. Don't beat yourself up about getting it done fast, just make progress as you can. Maybe set aside 20 minutes to an hour each weekend to do something organizational. For DS toys, maybe a toy box/bin/etc. in each area he is in a lot would help? I do that and it is nice to have a place to put everything when I want to tidy up a bit each evening even if it will be a mess again the next day it helps me mentally a lot.
2. Do you have a plan in place for the renovations? I find that if I have a plan a temporary mess is a lot easier to live with since I know it will end. If you do already have a plan, make sure things are getting done.
3. For the exhaustion, what I found worked best was just going to bed as soon as my DD did 2-3 nights a week (sometimes more if she was having a really bad sleep week) and then the other nights I would have more energy and could get housework done and enjoy some time with DH. And getting household stuff done at least somewhat and being able to recharge a bit with DH made me feel better in general. Take naps on the weekends too if you need them.
4. Make sure DH & MIL are pulling their weight and don't be afraid to ask for help. I totally understand it is harder with your MIL, I would enlist DH to ask her to help on certain things there that make sense, but don't think twice about asking DH to step up. Explain to him how exhausted you are and list things you need him to do, get as specific as necessary.
5. Feed yourself enough, if you are hungry all the time that is probably adding to your exhaustion. Figure out some simple things that will keep to pack for lunch and pack plenty of extra and if you don't eat it all Monday, you can finish on Tuesday. If DH complains, explain that low energy level means you are more exhausted and you want to have more couple time, but you can't keep up with everything.
6. For the working mom guilt, I try to do as much as I can with DD. Do you have a sling or carrier he will go in? If so, that can make it so much easier, but even without, you can still get some things done. Dishes I would put one or two in the dishwasher, then walk over to the living room/high chair and play with my DD for a bit, back and forth for awhile. Or bring her with while switch laundry around and have her play with a towel or two while I folded the rest up. When she took her bath, after I clean her, I will let her play for a few minutes while I wipe down the surfaces in the bathroom. I am now the queen of splitting a task into tens or hundreds of 30s chunks Chores take 10x longer, but at least you can get a little bit done while still being with your DS. And they love helping or "helping", especially as they get older and I think it is good for kids to be exposed to all the things that make a household tick, they need to learn those things for themselves anyway.
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
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