I don't know how to be a good mom anymore. :( - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter (almost 5) has begun acting up over the last two months. I know that it is because she doesn't get enough attention, but it's just not possible to give her the attention that she craves. She has always been incredibly high-needs and I have never had one second of peace since she was born. I have ALWAYS had to play with her and talk to her nonstop or she completely flips out. If I pay her constant attention, she's the sweetest kid ever.

 

With a new baby, I just can't do it anymore. She has gone from 100% attention to 50% and it has hit her hard. I don't have any help AT ALL. I have to do this 100% by myself, so please do not suggest a situation where my husband, friend or family member takes on some of the childcare. Any childcare or school other than me is completely impossible in every way and is not an option. Completely off the table.

 

The worst problems happen when I'm sleeping. She sneaks out of bed when I am asleep and wreaks havoc on the house. Today I woke up and my new white desk was completely covered in Sharpie marker. Yes, the Sharpie was hidden out of reach. It's not that she accidentally gets into trouble while being curious, it's that she purposefully searches until she finds something she can completely destroy. She can climb anything.

 

Also, nap time for baby and I is a problem. I have tried staying awake when I put him down, but I can't. I'm so exhausted that I always fall asleep. I can't even function without the extra rest. I have tried keeping my daughter locked in the room with me, but she just craves that attention and will come right over and wake us up. Every. Time. Then baby is screamy all day and won't go back down and I'm ready to just drown myself in the toilet.

 

Ideas? They can't cost anything as I don't have a dollar to my name.


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#2 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 11:49 AM
 
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Wow. You have my total sympathy! Hang in there, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I discussed this with my son, who was like your daughter (there were no other children after him, though). He said you need to find a why to make your five year feel important through being responsible for something (that is not crucial). Ideas include setting the table. Make sure you say things like "I don't know how I'd take care of the baby without you here to help me" or "you know how glad I am that you are here, don't you?". It may be hard right now, because she has been so irritating, but if you can take a moment to reach past that irritation to get to the love you have for her, the words can be genuine. It is so obvious that you love her a great deal, to have given her all that attention before the baby!!

When my son decided to be a writer, he needed less attention. He peppered me with stories he was making up, but that took less from me, if you know what I mean. Is there something your daughter focuses on more than anything else? Think back to before the baby. What did she do daily? Perhaps art or books (you reading to her, or her reading, either way), puzzles, games, cooking, playing with dolls, some sport, something else? Make that the focus.

PM me if you want to simply vent to someone who had such a high needs child. My son is now 17 and has a confidence and determination that I admire, so there is hope for the future. We just have to help you get to that future while keeping your sanity.

Good luck!!
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#3 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 11:58 AM
 
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Oh my gosh, that sounds incredibly difficult. Having to deal with a new baby all by yourself is hard enough, but when you add a high needs five year old who is also adjusting to the new baby, its just about impossible. Its no wonder you feel like drowning yourself in the toilet; anyone would in your situation. You're in absolute survival mode and there's no one to take care of YOU.

 

I don't have any advice because everything I would suggest doesn't sound like an option for you, as getting extra help is the only thing I can think of. Are you certain you have applied for every resource available to you, financially and through non-profits and churches? Anyway, I just wanted to let you know you have my utmost empathy. Your situation sounds very difficult right now. It will of course get better as the baby gets older and your little girl learns to entertain herself a bit more, but for now, things are really tough.

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#4 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 11:59 AM
 
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Another idea! If there is a mom you can find (in the spare time that never exists), you can give a place for a semi-responsible older child to be while giving the other mom childcare. That way, the other child is a playmate for your daughter. Maybe an afterschool care arrangement. Especially for a preteen or teen who doesn't want or have an after school program in the school, but wants to be somewhere.
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#5 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 12:17 PM
 
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How hard to be doing this all by yourself -- sounds like you've been doing a great job, but there's understandably some sibling rivalry. A few thoughts off the top of my head: 

 

- Could you make nursing the baby into a "special reading time" for your daughter, where you let her choose her favorite books and read them to her while cuddling all together? I only have one, but my mom said she did this with me when my brother was born and it helped. 

 

- Some of the ideas from "Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting" (a book I've been reading and loving) might be really helpful here. Since you might not want to buy another book right now (or have the time to read it even if you did), here are some highlights -- you're probably doing some of this already, but it could be helpful. 

 

1. Try to do as much descriptive praise for your daughter as you can -- the book says that it's important to distinguish between nonspecific superlatives like "Good job!" or "That's fantastic!" -- kids start to tune that stuff out. What will be more important to your daughter is to hear exactly what she's doing right or okay -- things like "I noticed you played quietly while I made lunch. That really shows independence." I would think about what qualities you want to encourage in her -- given her age, and your needs, I would think focusing on her role as the helpful, independent, kind, responsible big sister would be really important. So praise anything, even the tiniest steps, in this direction, even if what you're praising is just the absence of a misbehavior. "You're not slamming the door," etc. 

 

2. The book also talks about the importance of "reflective listening" -- helping your daughter understand her emotions better by responding to tantrums or defiance or misbehavior with a guess about why she might be feeling the way she is. "You might be thinking that I'm not helping you put on your shoes because I don't care." "You're probably feeling angry that you have to wait until I'm finished changing your brother's diaper before I can play with you." 

 

3. Special Time. Maybe after the baby goes down for the night, you and your daughter can do 15 minutes of what you tell her is your Special Mother-Daughter Time. Whatever she most loves -- reading stories, playing a game, etc. 

 

4. Other "big girl only" stuff -- can she help you make dinner while the baby's in his high chair or wherever? If she can gather ingredients, help stir a bowl, etc. -- and get lots and lots of descriptive praise for it -- that might help. Same with anything where she's helping you by being independent. Basically the more she realizes it's FAR easier to get praise for doing the right thing than it is to get your attention for doing the wrong thing, the less she will feel the need to misbehave. 

 

5. Do "think-throughs" with her for how you want her to act/what the rules are/etc. At a neutral time, take about one minute to ask her some questions. Let's say you want to make a rule that when you and the baby are sleeping, she can play quietly or cuddle, but she can't yell or slam doors etc. At a neutral time -- not naptime, and not right after misbehavior -- say you want to talk to her about naptime. Tell her the new rule, and maybe do some reflective listening ("You might not like this new rule...") and praise her too, whether it's for not yelling/running away/etc. while you talk to her. You know her best. Then, the key part of a "think through" is to ask her some questions so that you make sure she understands and builds a mental picture of herself doing the new thing. Things like, "At naptime, where should you be?" "Who can touch the baby when he's asleep?" "What should you do when mama and your brother are asleep?" Don't let her say "I don't know" -- make her take a guess, and praise her for her right answers, and help her along if she's only partially right. But keep it short, and do them frequently throughout the day, and keep doing them for any new rule or behavior you want to work on.

 

Hope some of this is in a helpful direction... I'm vastly oversimplifying what the book goes through in terms of step-by-step ways to make these ideas work, but hope it gives you some ideas. Check out http://www.calmerparenting.com/ for more if this seems helpful.

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#6 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, all!

 

No, no church groups or anything. My daughter can't be around most other kids because all of the groups of kids I have tried to put her with have resulted in her coming away with horrific behavior. Groups are always filled with kids that cuss, hit, etc. Even going to the playground or beach has been horrible much of the time. I have had great luck with a select few kids that we have met on playdates and through homeschool groups and she has a good group of regular friends - about 15 or so, but they live far away. I have to drive to the playgroup meetups. I do know one woman with a 12 y/o daughter who wants to be a mom's helper, but we live way out in the country and so far from everyone and everything She couldn't come every day and I have no money to pay her for gas. Everyone is almost an hour away. I live in Hawaii and we have no family here.

 

I'm trying something new today. I'm removing everything from the bathroom except towels and put her laptop and a pair of headphones in the bedroom. I'll start locking her in there with us when we are sleeping and implement some kind of reward/punishment program if she will be quiet and do Starfall or watch Kipper. I'm against punishment and against giving food as a reward, but this is completely out of hand and I think maybe when you come to the end of everything you can do, maybe the rules just need to be reassessed. :(

 

Food is a huge issue for us right now, too. I think I'll make a separate post for that.


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#7 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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My DS sounds so much like your DD and I can't even imagine dealing with him AND a new baby AND by myself. hug.gif You definitely have my sympathy!

Unfortunately I don't have many ideas beyond what's been suggested... baby-sitting swap with another mom, invite friends over, set up a rotating schedule of friends/mother's helpers so even if one person can't do it every day, several could each take one or two shifts a week...

There is something called "busy bags" which are ziploc bags with different activities in them. You make them free/cheap mostly from things you have around the house. You can also ask other mamas to each make a bunch of one kind and swap them so you each end up with a bunch of different ones. Maybe something like that would keep her entertained now & then? Honestly they don't work for my DS because he needs the human interaction but thought I'd throw it out there anyway. Google or let me know if you want more info on them. On a similar note, I've seen people set up Quiet Time boxes -- 5-7 shoe boxes that you rotate through, different one each day, with various toys/projects/activities in them. The novelty supposedly helps keep the kid entertained longer than usual.

I don't think a behavioral plan/reward chart is out of line in your situation. I don't know if it would work but it might be worth a try. TV, too -- not something I would normally suggest but desperate times call for desperate measures. You may need to find a variety of shows to keep her engaged longer. Youtube has a lot of (free) options.

Is she getting a lot of outdoor time? Might be hard with a new baby and you already feeling so overwhelmed & exhausted but it might mellow her out some.

Also, is there anywhere you can give a little on your ideals? It looks from your sig like you are EC'ing, unschooling, cosleeping, etc. and I think those are awesome things but not if everyone ends up miserable. Maybe if you took a break from EC'ing you'd have one less stress. Or maybe if you had the baby sleep alone at nap time, you & DD could have your own quiet time in a separate space. Then at least if she wakes you up or doesn't let you nap, the baby would still be getting enough rest.

I agree with the other suggestions posted, and especially the idea to think back to before the baby was born, what she enjoyed, what she thrived off of, and whether you can try to re-implement some of your old routines or activities.

And extra child-proofing... I know it's a strange suggestion for a 5yo but it might by you a little more peace... Just an hour ago my 4yo DS was out of my sight for literally 1 minute and he ripped up one of our floor boards with his toy hammer. We actually emptied out his playroom completely for a while (including wall decor, shelves, etc.) so I could have just one space to contain him where he couldn't destroy anything. He's gotten slightly better but we still keep very few items in that room in case I need to empty it out quickly.

Have you posted in Special Needs? I don't know the extent of what's going on with your DD but I know for my DS there are lots of various issues (sensory, social/emotional, etc.) that I've had to work on with him. He's been in therapy on & off (mostly on) for the last 2 years, needs a lot of very specific sensory input, has to be on a GF diet, etc. I really don't know what is 'typical' since I only have one child (who is not exactly typical!) and I may be reading too much into it but on the surface it seems like maybe you are dealing with some issues with your DD that are a bit outside the realm of typical...

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#8 of 12 Old 01-03-2013, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

There is something called "busy bags" which are ziploc bags with different activities in them. You make them free/cheap mostly from things you have around the house. You can also ask other mamas to each make a bunch of one kind and swap them so you each end up with a bunch of different ones. Maybe something like that would keep her entertained now & then? Honestly they don't work for my DS because he needs the human interaction but thought I'd throw it out there anyway. Google or let me know if you want more info on them. On a similar note, I've seen people set up Quiet Time boxes -- 5-7 shoe boxes that you rotate through, different one each day, with various toys/projects/activities in them. The novelty supposedly helps keep the kid entertained longer than usual.
I don't think a behavioral plan/reward chart is out of line in your situation. I don't know if it would work but it might be worth a try. TV, too -- not something I would normally suggest but desperate times call for desperate measures. You may need to find a variety of shows to keep her engaged longer. Youtube has a lot of (free) options.
Is she getting a lot of outdoor time? Might be hard with a new baby and you already feeling so overwhelmed & exhausted but it might mellow her out some.
Also, is there anywhere you can give a little on your ideals? It looks from your sig like you are EC'ing, unschooling, cosleeping, etc. and I think those are awesome things but not if everyone ends up miserable. Maybe if you took a break from EC'ing you'd have one less stress. Or maybe if you had the baby sleep alone at nap time, you & DD could have your own quiet time in a separate space. Then at least if she wakes you up or doesn't let you nap, the baby would still be getting enough rest.
I agree with the other suggestions posted, and especially the idea to think back to before the baby was born, what she enjoyed, what she thrived off of, and whether you can try to re-implement some of your old routines or activities.
And extra child-proofing... I know it's a strange suggestion for a 5yo but it might by you a little more peace... Just an hour ago my 4yo DS was out of my sight for literally 1 minute and he ripped up one of our floor boards with his toy hammer. We actually emptied out his playroom completely for a while (including wall decor, shelves, etc.) so I could have just one space to contain him where he couldn't destroy anything. He's gotten slightly better but we still keep very few items in that room in case I need to empty it out quickly.
Have you posted in Special Needs? I don't know the extent of what's going on with your DD but I know for my DS there are lots of various issues (sensory, social/emotional, etc.) that I've had to work on with him. He's been in therapy on & off (mostly on) for the last 2 years, needs a lot of very specific sensory input, has to be on a GF diet, etc. I really don't know what is 'typical' since I only have one child (who is not exactly typical!) and I may be reading too much into it but on the surface it seems like maybe you are dealing with some issues with your DD that are a bit outside the realm of typical...

 

That busy bag thing sounds brilliant! I'm going to Google that tonight. She does play with Legos so well and so quietly for so long. It's just that they are super noisy. I can't have her playing with them while baby is sleeping in the bed beside us. Scraping around in the box to find the Lego she wants is really loud.

 

Actually, those parenting practices all help give me a break! It would be so much more difficult for me if I got rid of any of them. With unschooling, I don't have to do anything. Putting her in a school would mess up her behavior, plus I'd have to get her up early in the morning with me and the baby, get us all ready, fed, packed up, shipped off, drive to the school, come back, wake the baby up from his nap to go pick her up because he sleeps when school gets out. Not to mention that we live way out in the country and have only one car. I don't even want to think about what a complete nightmare that would be. The cosleeping is easy and not a problem. We all sleep all through the night. The EC is awesome. It means I only have to wash diapers once a week instead of every day. Ugh. The idea of all of that extra work does not sound appealing. It's much easier to just go "oh, you have to pee? Here's the sink. Done!" :)

 

I don't think there's anything wrong/different with her, I think the fault is entirely mine. :( I just can't quite be the mom she needs. I have my hands full with no one to help me, so the problem lies on my end. I'm just not exactly sure what to do about it. We did the computer at nap time thing today. I told her she could have a treat if she was quiet, but that if she woke us up, we would do time out instead. She was very quiet and watched her show and she got chocolate-covered raisins afterward while I made her second lunch (we eat four meals a day) which she actually ate today. Go me!
 


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#9 of 12 Old 01-04-2013, 06:33 AM
 
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Great! I'm glad you found something that worked, at least for one day. Maybe keep up with the rewards for a couple weeks while she is getting used to the rhythm of it & then slowly decrease & taper off the reward? Sticker charts I know can help some. One day at a time...

I get what you mean about your parenting practices making things easier. I hope I didn't offend by suggesting giving something up... I am totally in favor of all those things & practice them myself & usually do find they make most things easier in the end. I guess I just meant to look at your day and see if there are any points of stress that you could cut back on/eliminate by making a different choice that might not be ideal but still good. Kind of like giving up your 'no punishment/rewards' policy to at least try something different. I remember when DS was a baby that I was so set on doing things perfectly in line with my ideals that I didn't even notice how miserable one of those choices was making us! Maybe not the case for you but thought I'd mention it.

Here's some ideas for busy bags: http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=busy+bags+preschool It will take a little time/effort from you to at least create them, would it be possible to have someone watch her just once so you can have some uninterrupted time to work on a whole bunch of different bags? You could "pay" them by making some extra bags for their kid(s). smile.gif

Please be gentle with yourself. You sound like you are coming down hard, blaming yourself for not being able to be 20 people at the same time. No one can do everything all on their own. Reach out for help & accept whatever is offered. Have some compassion for yourself. You are doing the best you can, and your best is pretty awesome from the sounds of it! Hopefully in a few months things will get easier, I remember 9mos being a really tough age for babies too, so maybe once he's a bit older it will all feel a little easier. hug.gif

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#10 of 12 Old 01-04-2013, 07:34 AM
 
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I was going to suggest busy bags or pre-k activity bags too. I would think up a bunch of stuff that could keep her busy, in addition to making up a bunch of bags, and give her them to work on a rotating basis. Here are some of my ideas:

 

*Handheld game

 

*music with headphones

 

*puzzles

 

*a stacking game

 

*a memory game

 

*workbook pages, if she likes that kind of thing

 

*some sight word books, like the Bob books

 

 

I think all the busy bags on this site are free. I'll see if I can find some more for you:

 

http://mysmallpotatoes.com/2012/07/21/a-busy-bag-round-up/


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#11 of 12 Old 01-05-2013, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hug2.gif Thank you so much! You guys are awesome!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

I was going to suggest busy bags or pre-k activity bags too. I would think up a bunch of stuff that could keep her busy, in addition to making up a bunch of bags, and give her them to work on a rotating basis. Here are some of my ideas:

 

*Handheld game

 

*music with headphones

 

*puzzles

 

*a stacking game

 

*a memory game

 

*workbook pages, if she likes that kind of thing

 

*some sight word books, like the Bob books

 

 

I think all the busy bags on this site are free. I'll see if I can find some more for you:

 

http://mysmallpotatoes.com/2012/07/21/a-busy-bag-round-up/

 

Yes, she has all of those things. She doesn't like toys too much, but she loves building sets like Lego and puzzles. I don't know what Bob books are, but she can already read at about a fourth grade level, so she does a lot of reading. DH bought her Shel Silverstien's books which are her absolute favorite and she also has a cool kids' comic book about Greek myths which is so awesome. She'll spend one to two hours at a time reading those every couple of days. I'll put them in the bedroom. Right now the computer is the big thing because I haven't been allowing her to watch TV except on her computer, so it's a special thing and she sat quietly during nap time today and watched it as well. I hope this lasts. We have Netflix and she has a list of shows she is allowed to watch that she chooses from like Kipper, Fresh Beat Band, Angelina Ballerina and some dinosaur documentaries. She also likes that show "How It's Made." It's great for kids!


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#12 of 12 Old 05-19-2014, 11:23 AM
 
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I typed I am a bad mom into yahoo today, found this thread. Created an acct, and began following you. I'd like to know how your daughter is doing now, I read what a difficult time you had with her, and also. I need help. I have a14 year old girl and a 19 month old son. He is SOOO difficult. Horrible tantrums, bangs his head on the floor, walls, everything in his path, when he doesn't get his way. I'm having sleep issues with him, (blame myself). There are a million things going on. I feel like a horrible mom, and most the time, feel like I can't handle him anymore. I stay depressed and anxious and tired. I'd like us to talk if you are willing. I need a friend- a friend with unbiased advice.
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