It's not just on staying-at-home but mostly it is about it, so I decided to write here. My kids are currently 3,2 and 3 months. Wow. Well the three year old is almost four and the two year old just turned two. I have always been a sahm. Only one of my children was planned, I had never planned on having them all close together in age, this way. But it happened. My days at home during the day while daddy is at work are seeming so long, that some days I don't think I will surivive.
I feel so stressed and on edge by the end of the day and am begging for time to go by faster so daddy will hurry and get home. I used to like to go out to make the days go by, we go to the library or playground or whatever, but it's been really hard to accomplish that. My middle child, the two year old, is very mischievous and accident prone. While we're out he's usually trying to run away from my, find large sticks to poke people, steal another boy's hat, take our playdate friend's snacks, need a diaper change and scream and kick during it and throw himself down crying in front of everyone. All the meanwhile I'm trying to hold the three month old in my other arm, who's usually screaming.
My three month old is very sweet and cute, but very high needs and is usually crying and needs to be walked, stood up, nursed, etc. I find it hard to nurse in public. It's just physically uncomfortable for me, like I can situate myself properly, plus I usually need to chase two year old. There's usually just so much chaos, and I think I get overwhelmed quickly, you know?
Like today, we met a playdate friend at the park and she just has the one child, my daughter's age 3, almost 4...and my daughter I feel like, misses out because of all the chaos and because of her younger brother's and she is really a big help. Both my kids were begging playdate mom for her snacks. My three mo old is crying so I walk him around and around. I put him in our homemade moby and walk around. My daughter had to use the bathroom, we went in the building, then came out and then she said she had to go back in the poop. Playdate mom takes her and son and her own and go back in, I go to van to nurse. Then we're walking, and I use stroller for three month old to walk him around and also this whole summer, keeping him out of the sun is going to be a challenge. I babywear sometimes but I do not like it all the time especially in heat. He cried again so I picked him up and then he had a poop explosion which went all over my clothes. I went to the van and changed him, had a huge pile of wipes, blankets and soiled clothes. I knew at this point we weren't going to last much longer. I put our kids in the van and then realized two year old pooped. I had to take his diaper off and realized we did not have another one with us. I cleaned him, put his pants back on and three month old is screaming and screaming the whole time. Playdate mom is standing near my van, probably trying to talk to me, say a proper goodbye or think of how she can help me...but it was so much chaos, me trying to run, do this, do that, strap everyone in....all of whom are screaming, crying, putting up a fight or asking for something. So it's like, I feel bad. This is how all of our playdates typically play out. I like other moms, I appreciate that they're trying to help, but I don't really like the help, because I feel guilty, stressed and it just shows me how I am in over my head.
Because of this, I actually prefer being at a place like the park, by ourselves. That way too I feel I can leave if things get haywire, which they do. Staying home (inside) usually is sucky because two year old trashes everything, rips out every toy and he does things, like you'll just find him standing in the middle of the kitchen table and does really dangerous things like that. I am not a clean freak but I still dislike all the messes. I feel like at home too, it is boring for them. Daughter doesn't really play by herself so I constantly have to play pretend or read books and hold or nurse the baby. I have a big yard to play in but for some reason we haven't been playing in it a lot. I live on dirt roads, I am trying to get in shape so I walk a lot and like to strap two the older kids in the double stroller and strap baby in a carrier and walk. Just walk. My husband said to try to make our walk take as long as possible during the day. I try...but it doesn't always work out.
Can anyone else relate to the having three children close together, not knowing how to handle your days? I don't know what to do, I really need a new plan here. Something to make things easier...the days go by faster, a little simpler....does anyone have any ideas? Should I maybe stop trying to conquer the parks and playgrounds every day? Not to mention, getting ready to go the parks is just daunting. The bags I have to pack. I have a huge insulated bag and it's stuffed with the stainless steel bottles, snack containers, sandwich containers and ice packs and it takes about a half hour to slice fruits and vegs and pack everything up and another half hour to rinse out containers and unpack stuff...and there's sunblocks, bug sprays, sun hats, changes of clothes....and if there's someplace we'll be swimming forget it...towels, bathing suits...I usually don't go anywhere like that without hubby and it's still so overwhelming...
gotta go, dd is saying either two yr old or dog pooped....
Wow, that is intense! I am not in the same position as you, I only have one child, but I really feel for you. I picked up on a few things in your post that might be clues to helping your days go more smoothly. Just some ideas:
1. Figure out why you don't spend more time in your yard, and do what you can to make it a more appealing option. If I were in your shoes I think I would try to make the yard our default hangout all summer long.
2. Find a pre-teen kid (or a pair of best friends!) who want to get childcare experience, and hire them to be your Mother's Helpers for the summer. Even kids as young as 8 can play with your kids and be an extra set of hands for you. And if it helps their parents handle THEIR childcare needs for the summer, you might be able to arrange it as a trade.
3. Cut down on excursions to public places. It sounds like you really care about giving your children enriching experiences and don't want them to be bored at home, and that is really admirable. But with all 3 with you at once, it sounds super stressful. If your DH gets home early enough that there's still light to go to the playground by, maybe he could take just the older kids to the park when he gets home.
4. Last and most importantly, give yourself a break! Try to let go of the images of perfect mothering that you can't live up to, and don't feel guilty about needing a hand. Remember that over the course of history, this situation of a lone woman caring for kids at home all day with no help and no adults to talk to... it's not very common. Most societies have had extended families and networks of adults looking after the kids together. What we SAHMs are trying to do is really really hard. Don't feel like you SHOULD be handling it perfectly. You can't, and neither can anyone else. I think the next few years are going to be pretty chaotic in your life, and you've got to come to some kind of peace with that so you're not constantly wishing it were otherwise. Wishing it were otherwise makes the day very long and very miserable. Simplify, get some help, but most of all, try to be kind to yourself and embrace imperfection.
5. One more minor note-- my kid is constantly mooching snacks off of other moms and kids, and it's very hard to make her stop, but when it's a friend of mine and we're on a playdate, the other mom usually shares freely with her. I think it's a nice way to model sharing too. So if that's not something your mom friend is prepared to do when you hang out, maybe you can talk about it beforehand, saying you'll each bring enough of something to share. One less thing to be stressed about.
I don't know if any of this is helpful but I hope that you can use some of it somehow! Good luck mama!
I have three kids pretty close too (DS-8 and twins are 7) and what I learned when they were younger was let the playdates come to you. It's way more easier to deal with the chaos on your own turf.
Can you get some play equiptment for your backyard? And a spot for you to sit and nurse, or chat with a friend while the kids run crazy?
Best luck, that's all I can write now....soccer pick up time : )
I second the idea of a mother's helper. Maybe she could even come to the parks with you, and wrangle the older kids while you tend to the baby.
I have two kids eighteen months apart, so I can just imagine what adding a baby who's high needs would be like.
Another idea is to have a "quitting time" for you. After kids' bedtime I do no more work, unless a child needs me. That way, I know that I have at least that time to relax each day.
Joining a mom's club might be good too. Although I know that getting out is stressful for you, at least you know that there will be parents there who understand what you're going through.
OP - I totally get what you are saying. My oldest is 4.5, then 2.75, 19 months, and I'm expecting #4 any day now. I know *exactly* what you are saying about the chaos and it being easier to handle on your own, etc.
It gets better. Two is an age full of different stages - just when you get a handle on what's going on now, he'll change it up. It's very hard to look after an infant while chasing a young toddler and preschooler. When the baby is older, this, too, will get easier. I've had several months since dd was born where I felt like I was just EXISTING - like you said, counting the minutes until dh got home from work. It does get better.
The only advice I have is to DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. For me, I HAVE to get out of the house once a day to the park or on a walk or whatever. I can't be cooped up at our place all the time. Keep it simple. My kids eat more noodles now because they are easy. Bananas and yogurt and other simple foods are staples. Packaged cookies to bring on playdates to keep them from begging - I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to do homemade stuff but then realized it was taking too much energy and making me cranky and we would end up at the park with apples or bananas when our friends had yummy Starbucks cookies or whatever.
Hang in there. It's really rough with the ages you have. When the baby and toddler get a tad older, things will simplify.
"So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton
My oldest and youngest are about the same age as yours - my daughter will be 4 in August, and the baby is 4 months old. I CANNOT IMAGINE if I had a 2-year-old in the middle! I was feeling this morning like you are - stressed, overwhelmed, chaotic, when will Daddy get home, and it's not even 9 in the morning! With us, my older daughter is just a real handful lately - very uncooperative, constantly ignores everything I say, and just pushes, pushes, pushes until I'm at my wit's end. Sometimes I get a glimpse of what I believe her true character to be - sweet, loving, helpful, but lately it's just been tough. I wish I had some advice for you....basically I'm just letting you know that you're not alone. I will say that getting outside does seem to be the best solution for us. Fresh air, freedom to run, nothing to mess...(because omg our house is just a nightmare).
Hang in there Mama! As tough as it is, someday we'll probably miss this chaos! Try to find pleasure in the simple things if you can. Sending you hugs!
I'm sorry your having such a hard time mama . Your kids are really close in age and all at really intense ages. It will get better! I say do what works for you. If YOU require lots of outings for your sanity then by all means head out every single morning. If not then I would pick one day a week(or whatever your comfy with) and make that your park day. Try hosting playdates at your house. Get a swing set in the back yard if you don't have one(if money is an issue check craigs list every single day, we eventually found one very cheap and in good shape. :) ) or a big giant sand box. Wait until the evening or weekend for the library then only take the oldest or oldest two. If they all act up there then head there yourself and just have some mommy time. :). I found a routine can really help the chaos. Make a routine then vow to follow it every day for 2 weeks straight. I bet anything you will end up feeling less over whelmed and the kids will learn what to expect from the day. At one point I had my own toddler and infant and watched a friends toddler too. I found a routine to be a life saver! Keep it simple like...
indoor play time (mom nurses, cleans, etc)
outdoor play time (use that yard mama!!! It will be a life saver!)
nap/ rest time
DADDY HOME!! lol
Keep it simple in all ways! Use your crock pot for meals, prepapre lunches the night before even if it makes your life easier. Get a bunch of books on tape for your oldest child for the times who just can't quite get through a story. Pick a time the baby is resting and do a SIMPLE activity or craft with your older kids (this always makes me feel like a better mom. lol) Do easy things , like collages (using glue sticks not real glue,) water color paints(less mess than tempra paints), crayons, stickers, play ball, make a ring toss game out of socks and a laundry basket, lift up rocks and look for bugs. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don't try to drive your self nuts doing anything complicated. Get a sand table for the back yard and throw different sensory things in it. It will keep your older kids busy for hours. Set up 3 to four toys/activities for your kids to do when it's indoor play time. I find little kids have a hard time finding something to play with if given to many choices( you mentioned the two yr old just rips everything apart). Try setting up three things kinda spread out in the middle of the floor. Like puzzles, blocks with cars, and and a set or two of little people. If you don't have a good stash of toys, get a good stash of toys, then put like 3/4 of them some where they kids can't get to and rotate through them. Yards sales, goodwill, friends with older kids are all good places to get toys. Get them all napping/resting together so you can have a breather! And last but not least
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO MOMS THAT HAVE ONE FOUR YEAR OLD!!!! Got that? lol Really don't go there you'll drive yourself nuts. Life will settle down mama and your kids will always have each other.
Thank you so much, I appreciate all these replies! Sometimes it's hard for people to understand. I appreciate all these suggestions. For the past two days, no playground, at home only, went for long walk in the stroller. Had playdate here. Which isn't ideal as my house isn't the nicest and makes it even messier, but the kids all had fun which is all that matters. But oh man, these days and weeks are just so long. I've explained it to husband and he's agreed to come on the playdates sometimes if I schedule them after he gets out of work (4pm) which is nice, my main playdate mom friend is also friends with husband, we are all friends who do things as families together so it's all good. My other main people I do things with is 3 other moms. We had/have storytime together during the school year, we are a small town so it's just us four pretty much and now that storytime has ended for awhile we have agreed to do things together once a week. Today was my week so only one mom could come and it was easier for the most part but like I said, big mess after (mostly from my own kids) but yes, I was definitely on edge going to others' houses. It's scary at times, haha.
Our yard, a couple of things, we have no shade. It's all open, we have a couple big fields. We have a lot of deer ticks and Lyme disease in the area and pick them up everywhere even just in our yard...I have had Lyme three times so my place makes me so nervous. Our swingset is a cheapo and not very fun. I would love a big wooden one, but we have a chinsy metal one with two swings, a baby swing a slide and a see saw. Not very fun. I need more fun yard stuff. The kids do have a few motorized things to drive around, Jeep and John Deere stuff. We also have a sandbox.
As for the long walks, the kids do like him so that's a relief and I would love to have the kids walk so they could burn off some energy, but because of where I live, the dirt roads, there are only small and specific stretches my two year old can walk because the roads are lined with poison ivy. He will be off and running in the woods. He also falls a lot. I do have a baby leash (I never believed in those before I had him, haha) I could let four year old walk, but two year old will get very upset. Usually all three fall asleep on a walk. Baby loves to face out babywearing which just doesn't work most of the time. I usually do not do back wearing before six months. I have a beco, a homemade mobylike stretchy wrap, a homemade brocade sling.
I can't think now, maybe more later....
My kids are 8,7,4,1 and I babysit an 18 month old. I get very overwhelmed when I'm disorganized. I keep a day planner to track things that need to get done eeach day - appointments, playdates, etc. I also prep as much as possible the night before. I restock the diaper bag, pack the stuff we need, prep snacks and put them in their appropriate travel container in the fridge. I keep an 'emergency' diaper bag in the car. I keep a change of clothes for each kid (simple clothing that suits the season), diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, snacks, bottled water, basically anything I think I might need if I forgot my diaper bag at home. If I happen to use that 'emergency' bag when I'm out I'll bring it inside with me and restock it to go back out to the car the next time.
You didn't mention your house being disorganized (and it's certainly not my place to assume!) but I feel much better in a clean, organized space. I spent a lot of time decluttering and simplifying to make day to day life a bit easier. I try to keep on top of cleaning, because it's easier to clean up small messes than to clean a huge mess (IE: I clean our one bathroom daily - but 6 people use it - if I left it for a few days, it would take me an hour to clean, if I clean everyday it only takes a few minutes). Maybe you can try to get your 4 year old to help? My 4 year old isn't very good about helping, but his older sisters were great! I always feel like getting the kids involved in a project (even if it's cooking or cleaning) helps me feel like a better mom than when I do the same thing myself while telling them to go play.
Amber SAHM Fiber Artist Mom to:
Maddison (9): Arwen (8): Finn (4): Aedan (2)
My MIL had 3 children in 35 mos. I don't know HOW she did it. She really has very little memory of the time, but she does look back on it very fondly. Hopefully years later you can see it that way too. My 2 that are 2 1/2 yrs apart keep me plenty busy.
Same story here mama, but we are a 1 car family so many days it feels like I'm tending wild animals in their cages! Get as much yard time as you can, it really seems to help even though we have an end unit townhome the kids have some things they enjoy: sand table, picking berries, water garden, slide, pool ( slide in the pool : p) they even like helping scoop doggie poo and picking off japanese beetles
I really need to get a better system, every room in our house is a wreck, I have at least 10 loads of laundry to catch up on at all times, we hardly ever do arts and crafts and it usually ends up with supplies being eaten and thrown (not even colored pencils were safe!) This is our routine:
hang laundry outside/ playtime maybe take a walk
inside to nurse/ cool off/ playtime (sometimes I am able to clean or use the computer)
"Nap time" though usually only the baby gets to sleep, the oldest watches netflix in our room while the middle has started waking up no matter how long I let her sleep nurse. She has to fall asleep in a carrier on my back or it's no nap!
Outside time, (maybe hang out another load of laundry or at least take down the ones hanging)
Inside to cool off/ nurse the baby/ playtime
7pm - daddy takes kids to bath and bed
phew! mommy stays up waay too late reading MDC & googling random recipes, garden tips, etc!
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