I just recently had my 4th baby. I now have 4 children under the age of 6. I feel so overwhelmed! Everything feels like such a struggle and I feel so uncertain of the future. My husband works a lot, and he's at a new job, so he just seems so focused on work, leaving me with everything else. We don't have a lot of family or friends here either, so I just feel so isolated. I have been yelling and snapping at the kids just so they will leave me alone for a minute, but this is not how I want to raise my children.
Can anyone relate? What are some things I can do to help these 4 very different personalities, and maintain my own happiness? Busy work ideas fo the kids?? Outlet ideas for me?? Thanks.
Welcome to MDC and congratulations on your new little one. It sounds like you have a lot going on right now and it's totally understandable to feel overwhelmed when you have that much going on. I think it's great that you reached out!
I'll come back and post more, but my first thoughts were about self-care. What do you like to do? What gives you energy? I find if i can do something I really enjoy, even just for a short time each day, I am so much more patient and energized. In terms of ideas for helping your children, one of the techniques I go back to is to help my child focus on what she can do. I find the "no"s exhaust me and my child and that makes everything harder. It's not that I don't have boundaries. For example, if my child wanted to write on the walls, I'd say "you can use the markers on this stack of scrap paper" and try to focus her energy and interest on drawing in a way that works for her AND me. Once she's engaged in an activity, then I can get a mini-break. I hope this helps as a bit of a start.
Are there are specific challenges that you would like feedback on?
Edited to add: Hopefully the moms on the board who have more than one child will share their experiences, as it sounds like that's something in particular that you are asking about.
heck, I feel like this with 2. I can't imagine 4! I know that doesn't help, I'm sorry. The only thing I can recommend is routine routine routine. This has helped us a lot. I was getting snappy and yelling a lot at my DS. Turns out a lot of his issues were because I wasn't giving him enough attention, and he wasn't getting his energy out fully each day. Unfortunately, the one day I gave him plenty of attention, and got all of his energy out, I was exhausted by 8 pm! My DD so far is much easier because she's only 15 months and just thinks everything her brother does is exciting, so she stays entertained most of the day. So, when he is hitting his sister, or demanding me to listen to him, etc. instead of yelling at him to just let me be for a minute, I simply give him the attention he needs for 10 or 15 minutes. I'm not saying this will be easy with 4 kids, but you could start by giving them games to do if you just don't have any energy to help them out with their energy lol. Simon says, Mother May I, etc. Throw pillows at them..you can just park your butt on the couch. We just started piling up blankets and pillows on the floor and letting DS and DD jump off a small stool into the pile of blankets pretending it's water or mud or whatever, and doing some imaginative play. I'll also pretend to be a monster that's hungry for toys(today we were cleaning up the ball pit), and I need to eat lol...so DS went and gathered all the balls to feed to the monster...We made a game of cleaning up. As far as getting things done while your kids are needing attention too..you HAVE to lower your expectations even more than you did the first, second and third time. Seriously. Baskets of unfolded laundry can still be worn, especially with kids clothes...they're smaller and don't get as wrinkled :) Use paper plates one night a week to get a break from dishes, microwave instead of using the oven to save on dishes. Only clean the bathroom when it's really bad(deep cleaning...like scrubbing the tile, etc). I do a once over about once a week..swish the toilet, wipe down the surfaces and wipe the mirrors..thats it. And i use vinegar so my kids can help me clean and I don't have to worry about chemicals. If you haven't already, enlist your kids for chores. If they are getting enough attention from you, they should be more willing to help out around the house. I remind myself daily..yes daily that they are only small once, and while it's important to get stuff done around the house, it's more important to focus on growing a healthy confident, responsible adult...in your case you have 4 to raise up! Think of that as your job before housekeeper or cook and it will help change your mindset a bit. I tell myself daily because if I don't I start to get obsessive about things that simply don't matter in the long run. I'm sorry this is longwinded, but I had a lot to say. PM me if you have any other questions
DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)
Thanks, Ladies, for responding. It's nice to have some reminders of what I need to be focusing on right now. I like to clean when things feel out of control, so that has been an issue since I had the new baby- ignoring the mess and focusing on the kids. I try to take a few minutes for each child at some point during the day, but it seems next to impossible.... someone needs a diaper change, someone else is crying, someone else wants to eat.... I never sit down anymore! And with a 4 week old, that scares me. I am still post partum and I need to rest for a few minutes, you know? I am trying to remember this is temporary.
I like some of the ideas you have! Very creative! I have to remember to keep it light and have fun. That's been really hard for me this time.
I love to make art with or without the kids, but I like to be structured about it- maybe I need to find some projects that they can just go on their own and have fun without me giving directions, etc.
It doesn't help either that we have completely gotten away from eating healthy and making meals from scratch. I normally love to cook, and that was a great outlet for me, but I feel so tired and on a time crunch everytime I enter the kitchen. It just seems imbalanced, like if I can't make everything from scratch then I just need to make a frozen pizza. There has to be a better solution.....
Girl, with a 4 week old, you are soooo in the thick of the transition. Let your house rot :)
My DH also works long hours, and we have no family nearby. It's hard. I feel you.
One thing that helped me, during the first few months, was to think of things as "vacation time" not real time. Anything that got done around the house was bonus, not to be expected. My only goal was to keep up with dishes so there was no actual rot/insect infestation.
As far as the other kids go, you don't say what ages (other than under 6). I set up a shower curtain on the kitchen floor and make slime for DD. In the early days with DS, I would pull up a chair and nurse him while she happily got disgusting. I havent' made it in a while, but I want to say it's just cornstarch and water, and food coloring, because ours had to be pink :) Other things that kept us busy were putting him in the Moby and going to the playground or just on a nature walk. I was totally hands free for her, but he was sleeping and or nursing and happy as a clam. While taking care of little one, I narrated everything I was doing to DD, so that she wouldn't be left out. I'm changing his diaper now, can you pick which one he should wear next? Until she potty learned, the diapers had to match :) Since about 2 1/2, DD has rinsed dishes while I wash them. She also gets a spray bottle (filled with water) and cleans cabinets while I do other things in the kitchen. Or, sometimes, she has a tea party, and I sit with her and snap beans or cut veggies and talk to her while she sips "tea".
Other ideas: watercolor paints or food colored shaving cream and a paint brush in the bathtub. We "chase" each other down the hallway with toys that want to get put away. We do 5 minute cleanups, while playing loud kid music. Anyone who stops while the music is playing gets their belly "eaten". DD has her own "vacuum" and she vacs while I do. I chase DS with the vacuum, now that he's mobile- he finds this hysterical, but when he was little, he was in the Moby for chores. When DS was still wee, there were lots of stories while I nursed. She loves stories. Princess DD and Prince DS live in a castle on the beach near a waterfall....Great when I had no free hands for books.
For quiet time for you.....in the early days, DD was allowed to watch 1 30 minute DVD. While DS napped. As much as I am against tv, everyone gets a 30 minute break during their work day or they go INSANE. My DD was and is VERY clingy, so that was the only thing I could find to work for us. When DH is home, he knows that the only thing I want is 20 minutes in the bath BY MYSELF, and I am a happy camper. I have spelled this out for him bluntly. And I ask specifically, so that there's no misunderstanding. I don't think he truly has any idea how stressful constant childcare can be when you are by yourself, so I don't wait for him to volunteer. So, probably my biggest suggestion would be to find ways your DH can help you to get your needs met, and then be very specific (in a positive way, of course). I know my DH works very hard, but his co-workers don't cling onto his body and yell insane demands at him all day long, kwim?
Oh, and for food. Crock-pot. I used it almost daily during the early days. That, and cooked insane amounts of food at a time, so that we had tons of leftovers. Dinner-time was too crazy, and the kids too crabby to try to cook anything then. A huge roast with some veggies in the crockpot would make 2 dinners and a lunch or so for us. Boil a dozen eggs at a time(if you eat them), so that you have snacking food. My kids favorite snack is frozen blueberries, so I keep them in the freezer. If I have a minute where everyone is occupied, I'll cut up cheese into cubes for snacking.
Thanks for updating. I hope you can give yourself applause for all you are doing! I often feel like it's easier to see and hear what I haven't done (I meant to clean up this room today and didn't, someone needs a snack now) than to think about what I did do, but I imagine that the list of what you have done just today is incredible.
A couple things that came to mind:
--eating healthy: with a newborn, I lived on salads (especially with a hard-boiled egg added to the salad)! quick, easy to through together, but tasty. Also, when your DH is around, could you make a big batch of soup or stew and then freeze it in small containers for something quick and healthy to heat up when you need it?
--snacks your kids can do themselves: for your children who are a bit older, do you have a way to keep a bowl/plate within their reach and some simple snacks (baby carrots, cheese stick, apple, crackers) in a place they can reach so if they are hungry, they can get a snack themselves. Also do they each have a water bottle they can keep with them. This might meet two needs simultaneously: your kids might feel a bit of new independence that they might like and they'll be asking less of you.
--timer: I find a time great for all kinds of things. Freeze dance. You can be sitting, but the kids dance until the timer goes off and then freeze. Or quiet time. We're all going to be as quick as possible until the timer goes off. For quiet time, you can start small. 1 minute. And I don't mind if my kids are doing things (looking at books, drawing, stretching) as long as they are trying to be quiet.
--plastic table cloth for making art. contains the mess and you can fold up and reuse over and over.
I'll keep thinking! And I'm sending support your way.
My kids are now almost 8, 5, 3, and 20 months. :) been there! I have the added sometimes-bonus, sometimes challenge of having my mother live with us. It's a bonus because I get help so there's not dishes piled up and stuff. Challenge because well. we don't *always* get along.
INSIST that you get some time that is YOURS. Even if what you do is take the baby out and go do something, DO IT. INSIST ON IT. You won't regret it. One of the best things I did with my 4th, and I was sad that I didn't think of it before, was to go run errands and take a break at the library for a nice long nursing session while I read something. I'd also bring reading material and plan on nursing somewhere quiet if we weren't near a library. A smartphone works too. ;)
I have a family rule that doctor appointments are for the patient, and that applies when I drive my mom too. I get quiet time to look at a magazine in the waiting room. (My mom and my baby have had lots of those lately.) Not that I think that specifically is going to help you, it was just one outside-the-box thing I did that helped my sanity. I told my mom to make her appointments when DH was available to watch the kids, and I don't negotiate on Mom and/or DH watching everyone else while I take the patient.
I run Mom on errands just us two sometimes now that the baby is older.
I insist on shopping for clothing for myself alone.
DO NOT feel guilty for doing this!!! You NEED it!
lovin DH since 1/04, best mom for my 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), and one 13 wk (10/13) just your average :ha ng multigenerational living family!!
I have 6 and I know how you feel. It is more about having a 4wk old than it is about having 4. Things are not going to get done as much as we would like. Whenever I have a newborn I think...What was I thinking??? Until they grow a bit and I change it to...Well this is easy! I could totally handle another one! lol It WILL get easier. You will know when baby is going to take a nap and mom can take a breather. Right now baby is so young that there is no set time you know you will have for you. Here are some ideas I do with my kids (but really life is going to be hectic for a bit)
Freeze water in freezer with toys in it. Let them chip away at the table.
Bring them to a good park. This gives you time alone while they play. Sure they need help sometimes but it will get you out.
I use TV when I really need a break.
Put down a tarp thingy in the kitchen and give them bowls of soapy water. Give them straws to blow bubbles in it. Give them little toys to wash in it.
It also gets easier because your older children get to an age where they help you.
Remember, This will pass!