I have three children, they are 1, 2 1/2 and three months. I have been feeling so stressed out and on the verge of losing my sanity and I don't know what to do. My husband works overnight so I don't have any help from him what so ever. It seems like all my one and two year old do is fight over toys, pull each others hair, kick each other, smack each other, bite, scratch, the list goes on... I have found myself so overwhelmed with trying to even feed my three month old while they are doing this i have to stop feeding him, break the girls apart and then resume feeding him only to have to stop 30 seconds later to break them apart. I have resorted to just yelling at them and teling them to just stop because I don't know what else to do. I feel so horrible and like a horrible mother after this that I just want to cry and hug them. I have tried time outs, taking things away, it just seems like nothing works, Any time i tell my two year old no she either laughs at me or tells me to "shut up" and she has even resorted to smacking me, scratching me, and ripping handfulls of my hair out. I feel so lost and alone on it I don't know what to do.. And as far as getting my husband to help me or be on the same page as me thats a joke, i have tried he just laughs at me or when i put one of them in time out for something he takes them out of it and babies them and tells them that "mama put you there because she's mean" I feel like I am stuck in a hopeless situation and don't know what to do anymore...
Oh, my goodness, I'm not sure if I have any good advice but just wanted to give you a hug. That sounds so very difficult. Do you have a friend or relative that can maybe stay with you a couple nights a week so you can get some help and a little bit of a break? Your husband sounds like he needs to understand that since you are the one dealing with this, you need to be able to make rules and not be undermined by him. You are not a horrible mother but you have a very tough situation that would drive anybody nuts.
As far as timeouts & taking things away...those can be effective maybe with a 2.5 year old but I'm not sure that a one year old really understands that kind of consequence? so maybe the 2.5 year old is the only one that feels punished?
Maybe 2.5 year old can get some kind of treat (like a little screen time or a special sticker book...?) to keep her busy while you feed your 3 mo? Or you can read stories to the older two to keep them engaged while you are feeding 3 mo? I only have one kid so I don't have a lot of ideas here and I hope mamas of more will weigh in for you.
Good luck and hang in there. Come back and let us know how it is going.
I think the pp has some really great ideas. A thought occurred to me as I read her post: do you have a pack'n'play? Maybe you could set your 2.5 in there with an exciting "big kid project" (cutting paper with safety scissors, building with duplo, playing with small animals in a doll house... ie. whatever would be esp fun for her). At least that would keep the toddlers separated while you're nursing.
ETA I think the biggest thing that stood out to me in your post (OP) was your dh's behaviour. I think you need to have a serious sit-down with him. It's awful that he is calling you "mean" to your kids. He needs to brainstorm and come up with positive discipline ideas *with you*, instead of undermining your ideas.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
my schedule for the day is crazy,
The kids usually wake up around 7 am
then we have breakfast around 8, i know its an hour later, but between dipaer changes, getting sippy cups full, and feeding my smallest one his cereal its time consuming,
then after breakfast i clean them off with a wet washcloth, usually takes about 20 minutes, and get another dipaer change for both older kids
then i start my big project of cleaning, and dishes from the day before or what i didnt get done the night before after they went to bed.
then its lunch time, and i start all over again with dishes and cleaning up
then i normally have to feed my 3 month old either cereal or baby food again
then i have to clean him up get his clothes changed
then its normally the girl's nap time, so that gies me a few minutes, normally to just breathe
then i after they wake up i normally have to start dinner, then bath time
and then my husband is awake and i have to get him ready for work make sure he has everything he needs and then finally when 9:45 pm comes and he leaves for work it is bed time.
I have all this going on all day, while diaper changes, taking my dog out, important phone calls, and trying to keep my sanity are going on lol Although I do admit i cheat and bring my playlist for youtube up on the computer and let them dance until they cant anymore lol
This is the hard part. Your kids are all still babies, and very close together. It gets easier, I promise.
My kids are 6, 4, 2, and 1, and I am due in May. When the older two were little (2 and new), I was stressed out. Then they were 3, 1, and new, and I had my game on, but was tired, very. very. tired. Now, with 4, we roll with it. Some days are longer than others, but the bigger kids are so helpful and big now that they do so much, and I'm finding it so much easier. I thought it would be hard for much longer than this, and was pleasantly surprised in the last year (two, really), that the hard part is over. It was just 4 years of hard...and you are already 2.5 yrs through that!
ChitownTracy is right. It is all about staying one step ahead of them. I know how it feels to be living among piles of laundry and dishes, and just cycling through the dirty faces, dirty clothes, and dirty dishes, wondering when you'll ever sleep, and wishing you could just enjoy one of them...for just a minute. And...will it EVER be bedtime? Ever? And, in the midst of all that, it is so hard to get ahead.
I know this goes totally against the grain for the natural side of MDC, but sometimes, imo, you have to cheat. Buy paper plates. Buy prepared meals. Skip baths for a week. Get a few movies and plop your kids in front of them.
While you have bought yourself some time...
Box up all the extra stuff, and get everyone down to 3 outfits. That way, when ALL the laundry is dirty...it's still only a couple of loads. When ALL the toys are out...they can still be picked up in 5 minutes or less. It is good for your children to learn to play with less for longer...builds imagination and attention span.
Make a list of meals that can be cooked super, super fast, and freeze ahead. I like to cook meat in really large quatities, and then freeze it in smaller portions. Hamburger can quickly become sloppy joe, tacoes, chili, etc. Make some muffins and throw those in the freezer. There are two benefits of making food ahead....it keeps you out of the kitchen cooking everyday AND it prevents you from having all the cooking dishes to deal with daily. Plan meals that make little mess (like try to avoid spaghetti sauce...less kid washing later).
After you have figured out how to trim your chores down as much as possible, start to make choretime your friend. Like...skip washing their faces, and put them in the bath instead. You don't actually have to wash them every time, but the splashing around will clean up mealtime enough. Instead of having to clean them up, you can now sit on the toliet and nurse the baby. The bigger two will be in arms reach as you feed him, so you can break up problems. Also, though, this is the staying ahead part. Google bathtime games...colored shaving cream, teapots, measuring cups and spoons, bath crayons, beach water toys (like those funnel things), etc. Use those to keep their minds engaged. After bathtime, they can help you clean up the towels, etc. Just keep them moving all day, don't give them time to fight.
Figure out other ways to build a break into your day. What happens if you strap them in their seats, hand them all a cheesestick, and crank up the music and cruise around town for 20 minutes? Drive through starbucks and get a coffee with soymilk. There is enough caffiene and estrogen to boost your mood and hormones for a while. And, the 20 minutes of not having to watch anyone will be calming. I would only partially open the cheesesticks, by the way. It will buy you some time as they fiddle with the packages. If they fuss, just express your confidence that they can do it, and continue to ignore them. If they throw them on the floor in anger, just casually say, "Wow, frustrating, huh. It's hard the first few times. You'll get better. I'll give it back in a few minutes and you can try again if you want. Right now I think you'd just throw it again." Cool as a cucumber, completely non-invested in drama. That tack goes a really long way in parenting, imo. (Obviously, don't open the baby's cheesestick, but my babies do love chewing on those...pre teeth anyway).
Mealtimes can offer you a break in the same way. Get some high chairs/boosters with straps so nobody can go anywhere. Hand them a clemtine with the peel started. While they mess with those, slap some pb and j on bread and hand it out. Grab the baby and nurse him while they eat. When they are done, off to the bath. (Or, clean them up and pass out the playdoh or puzzles while you do dishes).
I, by the way, stopped trying to keep my laundry done or my kitchen clean. I do one load of laundry, and one load of dishes a day. If I happen to get them all done, wonderful, if not, they will still be there tomorrow. I decided a long time ago that mundane tasks were not going to eat my life.
The tricky part is your dh. You have to be able to do something, and you two need to be on the same page. Does he feel that the time outs are not reasonable. Are you plopping them down somewhere in frustration and he is picking up on that?
For this age, I don't think punishments are necessary, or productive, personally. I have found much greater success in just sitting the midst of them, and making everything go my way. That sounds bad. I mean that I am involved in everything they are doing to create habits that I want to be their default. Instead of reacting when they fight or scream, I jump in at the first sign of conflict...when one is getting close to the other, I'm right behind. As she is approaching, I start saying the words for her, "Nice tower! Do you mind if I crash it?" And then for the other, "No, no sister. I like my tower. Please don't break it. Would you like a green block?" And then I hand over the green block ,or otherwise distract the one who is imposing.
Babies and toddlers are very, very self centered, they can't help it. So, I just try to prevent it as much as I can, and, like I said, teach them what I would like normal to be. If I wait until they do something, then react, they just learn that sometimes I will do something, and sometimes they can get away with whatever. But, if I am there, constantly intervening, and guiding BEFORE the conflict happens, they learn a new pattern of thinking...outside of screaming and hitting, and tantrums.
When there's a lot of attitude (the fighting you stuff) going on, I would matter of factly say, "Oh, I'm so sorry you aren't wanting to play nicely right now. You'll have to go take a nap/have a snack/sit on your bed/whatever so you can be nice again." I'm really big on teaching my kids that we need to work with the needs of our body, be it hunger, thirst, tiredness, over stimulation, whatever. They need to learn to recognize WHY they are having such a hard time, and what to do about it. I start that very young, too. It's not shaming or punitive, it's just guiding them in a way to help them manage themselves.
It does sound like there is a lot of attention seeking behavior going on, though. Your 1yo is too young to understand, but your 2 yo can probably handle a brief conversation of, "You are acting that way because you don't like Mama playing with sis/nursing bro/whatever. You want Mama to play with you. I'm sorry you are sad, but I can't let you do that. Mama will do x with you, after y, just like we do everyday. If you can't play nicely in here, or if you are going to keep yelling at/hurting me, you'll have to x while I finish." It's okay to call a spade a spade, and not let a little one push you around because you are the mama. You are a people, too, and it's okay to set those boundaries.
I think I just typed a book, but I have so been there (and my dh was deployed for most of it, and my second was very. very. stubborn and colicky). You can do this.
Just figure out a way to ease the workload long enough to get ahead, and then get on the floor with those babies and teach them exactly what you want them to know!
"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."
the part about the husband's help is what frustrates me the most. he works 10 pm to 7 am. so he normally gets home between 7:30 and 8 am. he either takes a shower and goes to bed right after he gets home or sits in his chair playing ps3 until noon then takes a shower and goes to bed. on his days off which are wednesday and thursday i have to pretty much beg him to get off the game and so something. he will get down on the floor and play with our two older ones but then he complains and whines when they climb all over him and try to rough house with him and then he gets back up and sits on his game some more. and yes this really pisses me off lol i understand that working nights takes a lot out of someone and that it is not easy but i dont think he understands that his job is only 8 hours long, i dont get a break i rarely have a couple hours without my kids. i want to try to talk to him about a date night or something i think that might help but im not sure. i think part of his problem is that he doesn't understand how much change I have went through in the past 3 1/2 years. And it doesn't seem like he has at all. Then agian our 8 year age difference probably doesn't help either. I was 19 when I married him, shortly after that i got pregnant with our first child, when she was around 4 1/2 months old i got pregnant with our second child when i was still adjusting to life with the first, then when i thought i had it down with 2 children our third surprised me, he just doesn't seem to understand how much change has happened between being 19 and just getting used to being married and new life aside from what i was doing before, to oh hey your 22 here's three kids that are going to be with you 24/7 good luck. and no im not complaining about my children i wouldn't change it for anything it's still just very hard adjusting to it all. i just wish i knew how to get him to be more suppportive than he is. here's an example of how not supportive he is, I had a TL at the end of november, i was sitting in our living room crying in pain because afterward it hurt really bad, and all he said is "well you didnt have to do it" instead of supporting my decison that I made for myself and our family. i feel so alone..
Oh mama I'm so sorry. You know, when DH felt his xbox at the time was the most important thing out there... I found that if you cover it with blankets and keep it turned on it will fry it. I'm just saying...
No that's not a nice thing to do.
Im sorry about your lack of time and how you arent getting adequate support from your husband but im afraid i dont have any experience there to offer suggestions for that one. It sounds very overwhelming and hard. I hope it ges better for you.
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OP, forgive my bluntness, but I think it's time for your dh to grow up. It just does. not. fly. to sit around playing video games for hours while your partner is struggling with 3 very young children/babies. That's lame.
I would make time for a very serious discussion about my needs re. parenting, discipline, division of duties and all that. And if I still felt he wasn't hearing me I'd suggest going for some couple's counseling.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
Ah... you know what let me chime in here. I worked Nights. Five days in a row. 10 pm to 6 am. I would get home and still take my kids to school because they loved it when I took them. I also would pick them up after school help with homework and help DH make dinner. I still washed clothes and did some house work. All while volunteering at the school and doing regular maintenance on things around the house. DH would do the night time stuff with the kids and all the feeding and housekeeping while he was home. He was and is the stay at home. But seriously I'm a disabled veteran. And I was capable of doing all that. I knew DH needed some help now and then I realized I was not more important than my family. My needs were not more important. Why wouldn't I help? I'm about to do it again except this time 12 hr shifts from 6 pm to 6 am. I will take a week or two to get myself comfortable with my new schedule and I will continue to be involved with all the day to day needs of my family.
Just1More, you rock. That post was full of awesome, concrete ideas for helping the OP retain some sanity on a daily basis. (Or for anyone. I will be using the cheese stick idea in the near future.)
OP: Your husband sounds really immature. My sympathies. He really needs to man up and put his children--and you--ahead of his PS. He should understand that like anything worthwhile in life, he'll get out what he puts in, and if he can't be with his children without wanting to go play games instead...it will have a long-term effect on their relationship.
I hear what you are saying about how you feel like your life has changed and his hasn't. I think a lot of SAHMs feel that way (I know I did, even though my DH was very good at prioritizing appropriately). It sounds like he is using the PS to escape from reality; having 3 kids so young was maybe not what he envisioned? But no excuse. I can't believe his reaction to your TL pain, what an @**.
If he can't change, your relationship is not going to last. If you can't have a real discussion where he validates your feelings and tries to change his behavior...eep. I agree with what pianojazzgirl said.