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How do you cope? I'm failing miserabley at being a parent.

(13 Posts)
MrsJayGatsby Tue 29-Jul-14 10:31:56

Morning. I'm sorry if this post turns a little jumbled and ranty, I just don't know what to do and I think I need some help.

I have 2 children, a son of 6 and a daughter who is 4. As I'm sure everybody knows, it's the 6 weeks holiday. Over the past school year my son was in year one, I went back to college and my daughter went to a childminders and nursery. I'm a single parent and I have to be honest, this past year was incredibly hard, with college and a few other issues, I was looking forward to spending a few weeks with my babies before I start university this September and dd starts school and our lives get chaotic again. Now the holidays have started and we're all together all day every day for the first time in 10 months I can't wait for it to end. I don't actually know how we're going to get through it.

The children fight constantly. It is an endless stream of winding each other up, screaming, crying, shouting my name. They hit each other when my back is turned and they call each other names. Sometimes they are at the complete opposite end and they get on and play together, but then they get silly and start defying me. Dd hates the word 'no' (I know, it's normal) and will scream and shout and stamp her feet if she doesn't get her own way. This is not just at home, it's when we're out too. At home I ignore the tantrums, I don't give in to them ever so I just leave her to calm down herself, but when we're out - say in a shopping centre (this happened last week) how do you deal with it? People were staring, it was horrible. She's a tall 4 too, so looks a little older, and she is loud!

It's only the second week of the holidays and already I'm reluctant to take them out anywhere, simply to avoid the scene's that will inevitably take place. I'm constantly asking them to walk nicely, stop running around (in crowded places), stop winding each other up. I know it probably doesn't sound like much but I really think they hate each other! The bickering starts the moment they wake up and doesn't stop until long after I've put them to bed; they share a room which doesn't help and bedtimes are just as bad as the days. What do I do? How have you/do you deal with this behaviour? I'm willing to try anything, any ideas or strategies. Anything sad.

ShoeWhore Tue 29-Jul-14 10:45:38

OP if it is any consolation my 3 were all pretty hard work in the summer holidays before they started school. Might be that age? We def had more tantrums at 4 than at 2.

Another thing is, I always find the first week of the holidays a little fraught (even now mine are older) - it takes a bit of time for everyone to unwind and settle into the new routine and they are tired from the end of term. It usually then starts to improve (fingers crossed!)

What gets us through the holidays is meeting up with friends as much as possible - if you had a friend you could swap a child with for the afternoon, much the better. Do you have a children's centre? They will have free activities you can take them to. Library also often good for this. Park and swimming are other favourites here.

I also try and keep trips to shops to an absolute minimum. Get food delivered. If we do have to go to the shops we make it really focussed and try and have an element to the trip that is something they want to do eg yesterday we did quick food shop and then went to get a DVD from the library.

One thing that worked really really well for me when my dcs were that age was a Kind and Helpful Behaviour chart. It's a joint family thing and anyone (inc you) can earn a sticker on the chart by doing something Kind or Helpful. Everyone has to try and spot each other doing it. It's helpful to have a treat in mind for the end and for the chart to clearly show them their progress towards it.

Hope it gets better soon! I am sure you aren't failing at all. Uni sounds exciting by the way - good luck with it all! What are you going to be studying?

livelablove Tue 29-Jul-14 10:49:14

Hi MrsJ you are not failing as a parent! I have only 1 dd but as I half joked to a friend who said at least you don't get sibling rivalry, she just squabbles with me the whole time. The thing is they are used to school routine and it is all out of whack when on holidays. I am sure you will get some great tips from MNers on getting them sorted out though.

LairyPoppins Tue 29-Jul-14 10:52:35

Hi MrsJayGatsby

I have 4 yo twins, and we have had our share of this too. The only thing that has worked for us (and it has really worked) has been a 'Pasta Jar' - two jars, one with 10-20 bits of pasta in, the other labelled 'treat jar'.

The key is that the children win pasta for all the things you WANT them to do - for playing nicely, for sharing, for using good manners, for being kind. But it is a SHARED jar, so it's not a competition, they are working together. We have the small bags of Haribo for treats, but you can use anything you think will appeal.

The first couple of days, you need to be quite 'on it' to catch them being good - we aimed for 2 treats in the first day so that they got the idea. They now are so much nicer and better behaved, and we give out only about 1 or 2 treats a week.

Best of luck and hope it helps smile

livelablove Tue 29-Jul-14 10:59:26

One thing is to make sure they get lots of exercise and running round. Try to start early in the day after breakfast get them straight out into an activity, go to playpark if they like it, maybe. I agree with arranging things with friends too.

tellmeastory Tue 29-Jul-14 11:09:44

I often feel as if I'm failing too, my hope is that at least I'm aware and can try harder each day.

Mine our 4 and 2, definitely agree that tantrums at 4 are much worse than at 2. Recently I cut out all sugary treats/cereal etc from 4yr olds food in hope of better behaviour, we had around seven weeks if meltdowns, no idea why. Whether the sugar ban helped I don't know but that phase has thankfully passed, for now.

Sounds like you are doing the best you can, not failing, but we are always harder on ourselves as parents, if that makes any sense.

MrsJayGatsby Tue 29-Jul-14 11:13:16

Thankyou for the replies, I have honestly felt like I'm losing my mind so any and all advice is greatly appreciated.

ShowWhore You're probably right and it is just their age, I really don't want to wish these precious years away but it's what I keep finding myself doing sad. What you said about the first week being difficult has given me a little bit of hope that things will improve. I will definitely try to make more plans with friends, we're actually meeting two friends tomorrow (one with a gorgeous 3 month old baby boy and the other with daughters the same age as my two) for a picnic so that is something to look forward to and I'll certainly try to arrange more days like that, and I've been meaning to check out the library too so thank you for reminding me! That's a plan for one day next week.
Also food delivery very good idea, they hate food shopping and although I have recently started online shopping (Sainsburys are very kindly delivering my picnic food this evening and I'm strangely excited!) I do still pop to the supermarket quite a lot so will make an effort to keep these trips to a minimum. Love the chart idea too, thank you (again)!
I'm going to study English Literature & History, and I'm excited but terrified!

LairyPoppins thank you for the pasta jar idea, I'll definitely try that out. They love sweets and rarely get them so I think that could work nicely.

livelablove I knew I'd get some good advice, I bloody love mumsnet. Thank you so much for replying.

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Tue 29-Jul-14 11:13:59

Your doing great op

My advice would be to plan everything. Keep them busy.

Ignore bad behaviour when out, who gives a shit what other people think.

Plan ahead your days with and over praise when you see good behaviour.

Failing that ... Get out a stick!! - obviously that was a joke!

MrsJayGatsby Tue 29-Jul-14 11:18:38

Livelablove you're right, getting them running around in the fresh air is definitely the best thing, we did it yesterday and bedtime was definitely much easier, but before then, when it was time to leave the park, we had a tantrum (dd - again). It's things like that that make me reluctant to do it - but I do need to get past it and just persevere. Thanks again.

tellmeastory I'd not thought about sugar - which is odd as I've been reading a lot recently about associated health issues etc. I may try that - they do have sugary cereal and a couple of snacks each day. I don't think I could completely cut them out, I'd have nothing to bribe them with treat them with! But I could certainly cut them down quite a bit, so thank you for the suggestion.

You're all so lovely.

MrsJayGatsby Tue 29-Jul-14 11:23:13

Softlysoftly thank you, so much. You're right, who gives a shit? I need to practice my 'what are you looking at?' stare I think. I don't praise them enough either, I've got so hung up on the terrible behaviour that everything else gets ignored. That's really made me think, so thank you, I will definitely take the time to let them know when I'm pleased with their behaviour.
The stick advice is exactly the sort of thing my Mum would say (also joking!!), that really made me smile.

tellmeastory Tue 29-Jul-14 11:24:51

I found some fruit based snacks which look like sweets so they don't think they're missing out. At the same time have also increased my chocolate intake as it helps me, don't tell my children though.

A reward chart helps with some things. Also when it all gets too much i take them out, parks are always good and many are surprisingly quiet, so if your child has a meltdown then there's only you to see.

LucasNorthCanSpookMeAnytime Tue 29-Jul-14 11:31:18

I feel like this too and mine are 11 and 6 shock grin

Definitely agree that 4yos are harder than 2yos - we always say that ours didn't have Terrible Twos, she had Fucking Fours smile

Sorry I don't have anything practical to suggest, just wanted you to know you're not alone!

livelablove Tue 29-Jul-14 12:26:02

I think if you make the park a bit of a routine it will get easier. Have enough time there to enjoy it, but not so much they get bored and mess about or too tired to walk home nicely. Make the walk home fun in some way. Maybe play a guessing game or who can spot something or ride on scooter. Have a nice activity they will like for when they get home too, maybe a snack.

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