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#1 of 12 Old 03-23-2004, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hi i have two children aged three, and one yr. i love them of course. i stay home with them, my partner works normal hours. i am tired and worn out. so ihave tried gettingmy life together, i am doing a workout walking a class to finish up a degree i started 10 years ago. i feel i am making positive changes in my life, but also feel likie it is sooo hard. i here people say, don't hide behind your kids, don't let them stop you fromdoing what you really want andi agree. don't use them as an exuse for everything. but how do you do both, me and them. my days are long, i feel soooo tied down. i know i should enjoy these moments but i am just not as into everything like i was with my first. how are you other mom's getting time out and balance? i want to add the hardest time for me is after 4:30 pm i just loose it completely. any tricks for getting through that part of day. ????


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#2 of 12 Old 03-23-2004, 11:27 AM
 
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Hi Tara -- I do know how you feel, but I don't think you should be pushing yourself too hard right now. Your plate is full with a 1 yo. and a 3 yo. You should carefully anazlyze whether or not working on your degree adds quality to your life right now, or just stress. If it is stressfull -- then its okay to wait a bit! Things will be massively easier when you have a 3 yo. and a 5 yo. You don't have to do everything at once.

But I do think it is important to add things to your life that satisfy and make you happy. Sometimes that just means a bubble bath each night! Or maybe it is being in school. One thing that helps me (and helped me more when my kids were younger) is working at a low-stress job 1 or 2 nights a week as a chance to get out the house and interact with other adults.

The dinnertime hour is *very* stressfull. IMO, that is a great time to turn on PBS or a video! Or maybe to lay in bed and read books to the kiddos. If you have to cook dinner, it helps to do most of it earlier in the day. Keep it simple. As the weather improves -- that is also a good time of day to get outside and let them blow off steam.

I hope your spirits lift soon.
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#3 of 12 Old 03-23-2004, 01:31 PM
 
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It IS hard. Don't pretend otherwise. It's really really tough and, in general, we're isolated w/o our own professional peer group. And, we get NO breaks; ie. I potty w/a kid on my lap and the other one in the room, too.

I schedule I'm anal. That's how I survive/thrive. I'm out the door everyday by 10:30 on a kid adventure. I have a group of friends (fun, smart women that I've met b/c of kids) that join in so there's maybe my group plus 2-3 other families.

And, twice/week, I head out the door as dh comes in. That's MY time as a grown up.

Good luck!!

oh, re: dinner, I turn on fun music, let one kid help cook while the other empties out my entire spice cabinet. I try new recipes a lot for variety. Every night is diff; ie. I have 2 nights off, Dh has 1, we swim one evening and walk or golf on another.
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#4 of 12 Old 03-23-2004, 07:49 PM
 
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Dinner time *is* hard -- it's hard for me, and my kids are "easier" ages than yours (one 4 years, the other 3 months). Things I do that help --

-- Always have a backup plan if I just can't cope with the kids plus cooking, e.g. pasta and sauce from a jar. Frozen vegetable lasagna. Soup. You get the idea. Another good one is canned soup, like lentil vegetable, over noodles. You get the idea.

-- Involve the 4 y.o. in cooking if I'm up for it.

-- Turn on PBS or a video. (Yeah, yeah, TV is a drug. But sometimes drugs in moderation are better than parental meltdowns.)

-- Prepare dinner early in the day, ready to rewarm. Takes some planning, but it's so worth it if you can pull it off.

-- In a real emergency, order pizza. Expensive, but cheaper than therapy.

I would be very skeptical of messages that you should not let your 1 y.o. and 3 y.o. "rule your life" or that you should be able to "do it all" or "have it all" (or however someone put it). Frankly, I usually hear this nonsense from kidless hipsters or parents who are so tired they aren't making sense anymore. Give yourself a break -- these kids are at incredibly high-needs ages. Having kids two years apart is hard, hard, hard!

No matter how hip, smart, or capable you are, you still only have 24 hours in each day, and at least some of that time must be spent in non-negotiable activities like using the toilet. Just do the best you can (for yourself and your kids) and try not to beat yourself up!
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#5 of 12 Old 03-23-2004, 09:20 PM
 
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Those messages about "not hiding behind your kids" are always unsettling. I found parenting so much more unfulfilling until one day I sort of woke up and realized that sequencing is okay. Everything is temporary. These kids will only be little for a short while, and right now, for me, the right thing to do is include them in every aspect of my life that I can because later, at a different time, our lives and needs will be totally different. Someday, I can work full time again if I choose to. Someday, I'll start exercising again (when DD2 starts kindergarten next year, it's GOT to happen!) Someday, I can write a novel. Someday, getting my hair cut and shopping for clothes for me BY MYSELF might be more important. But right now, I've got to embrace my life with young children and let my life be centered around them. It's still a major struggle sometimes to see the joy in "living in the moment" when at the moment my daughters are whining or fighting or bugging for the 15th time in two hours for a junk-food snack, but I do find that reminding myself that this is the right life for me TODAY really helps keep things in perspective.

That said, 5:30 sucks. It is the hardest hour of the day, and I remember it being particularly awful when my DDs were younger. We gave up on a traditional-style dinner for a couple years--with DH working nights, me working at home, the girls being hungry all the time and not wanting anything like a real meal for dinner, we just skipped trying to make dinner. The girls snacked or we took a light picnic to the park, we went for walks, I let them play in the bathtub while I read a book nearby. Just whatever made them happy. Because I found that if they were happy, I at least was calm. Then I'd make something DH and I would like for a late dinner--sometimes at 9 o'clock, after the girls were in bed, there we'd be, having a relaxing dinner. And now that our DDs are older, we can all make and have dinner together. It just wasn't the right time to have a family dinner when they were littler. WAY too much stress to add to an already difficult time of the day.
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#6 of 12 Old 03-24-2004, 01:34 AM
 
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Yes, it is definitely the hardest time of the day. I think back ten years (DS#1 is 9, DS#2 is 3), and at 4 p.m., I was likely to take a wonderful nap (I am self-employed, which means my boss believes in flex hours ;-) ).

At any rate, I realized that it wasn't just the kids that was making this a horrible hour (or two): *my* low spot was hitting right before theirs. The answer for us is blood sugar.

- First thing I do is make up a glass of EmergenC for me. The minerals give me enough pickup that I'm not ready to drop, and the Vitamin C isn't hurting my stress management or immune system either. If I'm on it, I'll watch the clock, and get it in me before I crash.

- Then I set about getting food into them. I know this is counter to my mother, "don't spoil you appetite", but if they're too far gone, they can't manage to eat supper anyway. Try for a balance of quick energy (fruit) and protein (cheese, salami, etc.). While they're eating, you can munch and get started on supper preparations, even getting ready for them to "help."

- The TV may seem like it's buying you some peace, but it may acutally be working against you. Since it places the child in a position of being 'fed' they tend to become less able to self-amuse. Research also indicates that the state it puts our minds in when we watch it means that we have the same stress level when we're done watching. Think about it: the kids have added hundreds of images to process, but they're still tired/wiped, and chances are their sugar level is still way low (unless they're munching in front of the TV...).

Since I started doing this, I find we actually get dinner ready ahead of time, which gives us a chance to relax: put on some music, play a little, maybe do some handwork.

Remember: If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
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#7 of 12 Old 03-24-2004, 08:22 PM
 
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some things that have helped me through this is......

- swapping childcare with friends/neighbours
- hiring a teen to come play with the kids for a couple of hours after school while I'm home (only $3-5/hour, and you can use that time to either make dinner or do something for yourself)
- have meals in the freezer
- when DH can get home early enough, and we've managed to plan out our week of meals beforehand, he'll put together the meal that I've started while I slip upstairs to do a yoga video. Makes such a difference!
- a neighbour with a son the same age as oldest daughter and I call each other up a couple of times a week for tea and cookies at about 4, as that is the hardest part of the day, and it makes it much easier to get through when we're visiting!!!!
- I'll put in some kids music to change the energy. Or fill the sink with water and get DD to "do dishes"
- as for doing it all, the more I get out on adventures, with other moms, and the less I worry about keeping the house clean, the happier I am! I've decided that my two goals are a happy healthy family and making sure we eat healthy wholesome meals. When I have extra energy, or on the weekends or whatever we'll houseclean, but basically our house will look well lived in until the kids are older!!
- with first daughter, I went back to school when she was a year, and DH had flexible hours so I'd go to a couple of classes and he would be with DD. Added stress to our lives, but I was also happy and satisfied. However, I graduated just before second child was born, and now that she's 6 months, I"ve been debating going back to do my masters now or later. I think for now I'm going to stay home, as it's not worth the stress and I'd like to focus on the kids while they're so young. I look at my mom, who is really enjoying her career and still has years ahead of her in that (and in fact, she really misses the days of young kids) and I realize I still have all this time ahead of me........I don't think it's healthy or helpful to feel like you have to do it ALL now.

It's hard and lonely and frustrating and all-consuming at times, but so worth it! And it only gets easier as they get older, to find your own time!!!

Living life as fully as we can, with our three fellow adventure-seekers ~ K (2000), T (2003) and R (2007).  
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#8 of 12 Old 03-26-2004, 07:02 AM
 
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I am wondering if you ahve been screened for PPD? I year is definately not out of the PPD range.

P.S~ Take things slow.
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#9 of 12 Old 03-31-2004, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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wow thanks for your support and ideas!! i am feeeling on the up side again. i have tried out some ideas too. lately we are going to the botanical center at 5:00, just down the road for walks and picking flowers. the kids loving running all through the gardens and getting lost. i am also teaching my three old the plant names. why not. anyway, i have used tv a couple of times. i have also read that tip for angry mothers postedandit helped too, i am not reacting to much and then they are not as angry too.

concerning ppd i have had that in past and i amsure i do not have that now. i am seeing a dr. who does saliva and blood testing all through a month and test cells and hormones. i might be going on natural progesterone cream which will make difference.

and concerning school i agree my career can wait. however i will be proud having finished this class. i pray i pass it then i get my AA lib arts degree i started 10 years ago!

again thanks you fine mother's for your thoughts. tara
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#10 of 12 Old 03-31-2004, 06:31 PM
 
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It DOES NOT get easier as they get older. That has not been my experience at all... - my kids need me MORE not less. I have a 6.5 and 4 year old and this is the truth of it for me, and I wish people would stop perpetuating all these myths about mothering.
I am not fulfilled by being a mother.
My fulfillment comes from something much deeper than that.

I really hear - differently, what the OP is saying. There needs to be more to our lives than our children. I know this is heresy on these boards. I know many, many mothers are totally in love with mothering and appear able to get all they need from it. I am not and I think I make my kids neurotic by trying to fit that mold.

I want my kids to see me as a fallable, REAL, human being with her own dreams and life. A mother and a Woman. I do not only live for them. Is that selfish? It feels selfish - though I think it's our culture's "blame-the-mother syndrom".

OTOH we live in a country the really does not care about kids and families and so all the responsibility rests on the Mother. There is huge amounts of pressure on us. It's not right. No one benefits with this scenerio.

Just putting my two cents out there.

Peace,
Lesley
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#11 of 12 Old 04-01-2004, 10:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by loved
It DOES NOT get easier as they get older. That has not been my experience at all... - my kids need me MORE not less. I have a 6.5 and 4 year old and this is the truth of it for me, and I wish people would stop perpetuating all these myths about mothering.

You know Lesley -- I agree with a lot of what you said, and I certainly respect your experience. But since I'm the person who said "it will get easier..." I'm sort of offended that you are accusing me of "perpetuating myths." I'm not perpetuatin any myths. I have a 3 yo. and a 7 yo. and MY experience of it is that it *is* easier in a lot of ways than chasing a toddler and an infant. It certainly easier to fit in work and school and other activities than it was in the early years. To accuse me of lying about this is to discount my experience of motherhood.
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#12 of 12 Old 04-01-2004, 01:13 PM
 
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you're absolutely right, I realize that does look like I am acussing you or anyone else who says it gets easier of lying. I apologize.
It was not my intention.
I had expectations. I was told it got easier, over and over. It has not. It has gotten harder. And my experience is not an isolated one. So perhaps it would be best if we as mothers, acknowledge that this is often the case and start saying - "hopefully" or "probably" or "sometime, often" ---it gets easier. "For a lot of people, it gets easier" it may, or it may not.

Peace,
Lesley
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