I don't think I'm enjoying my children...(31 Posts)
Is that normal doc?
They are almost 4, 2.5 and 5 months, Dh is with us only at the weekend but I do have a part-time nanny.
But all I do is fire-fighting, rushing from one to another to stop them crying or do silly things (like putting a whole loo roll down the toilets)... I don't have the time nor the energy to actually play with them. Everything I do feels like a chore... Endless washing (gastro this week + potty training), endless cooking, endless bickering, endless whining.... Baby is not a very good sleeper either.
When am I supposed to enjoy them? Do I need more childcare (including the nanny/mother help, combined I have 50 hours
a week now)..??
Should I have stopped at 2?
From my experience, obviously specific and personal, you should be getting some fun with and without your dc.
Part time nanny should make that possible. Are you sure you have recovered fully from pregnancy and birth? Have you been checked for pnd? Is your marriage ok? Links with extended family good? Are you seeing your friends?
I had three of similar ages, was recent,u bereaved with dh working overseas and i think I was having a bit more fun than you seem to be, so I would look to see if there is another problem.
I have five and, being brutally honest, feel like this most days at some point. In our culture we have very high expectations of parenting and family relationships, and the reality is often very humdrum and borne by the mother who was trained from childhood for equality, travel, time spent exfoliating, intellectual stimulation etc etc.
I found references to PND unhelpful - for me it was boredom and intellectual frustration by the sheer relentlessness of lots of kids endlessly throwing toilet rolls down the pan.
The solutions that worked for me: 1. redefining my expectations and developing a bleak sense of humour, so I sought out the joyous moments amidst the chaos rather than wallowing in the hard bits.
2. insisting totally that my partner shared the chores and childcare and aimed for us to support each other emotionally when it was tough.
3. stubbornly persisting with my career so I can afford good childcare and time away from the kids, totally essential so that I can re-charge and come back as a loving mum four days a week. (although by the end of a Tuesday I am pulling my hair out...and surgically attached to my blackberry!)
Sounds like you need to feel more in control.
Think about what the biggest challenges are and what you could change?
If the loo roll thing is happening every day what about a lock on the bathroom they can't reach? Loo roll out of reach?
Could you be out of the house more? I get dd (3) out of the house all day for 2 days a week minimum and she's at nursery another 2. I do soft play every week for about 4 hours. I would go mad if I didn't regularly wear her out. Swimming is good for this too.
Does the nanny get them out of the house? If not then ask her to - library/soft ay/park etc
What about some set activity time. I enjoy dd the most when we are focused on one activity even better if she is sitting at a table to do it. Craft stuff works well for us or jigsaws/colouring. You could do little contests with yours for art and sit with them and do hand prints with the baby?
Sounds chaotic just now hence no enjoyment.
It is the loo roll one day, next it is catapulting tangerine peels everywhere when I'm out of the room... They are very mischievous...
Lack of sleep is one thing, baby still wakes up every 2 hour just to comfort feed.
Two of them are ill right now and DP is working so hard he is exhausted too.
Weekends we really want to socialise a bit so we are out of the house most of the day, have babysitting on sat eve but the baby stays with me as he is ebf.
I did try to give him the bottle do the nanny could take him for a 2-3 hours but since I've put calpol in the milk he refuses it
Older one is at pre-school every morning but 3 hours a day is nothing. Toddler is at nursery 2 full days. Nanny is really here to help me in the evening but she also do two full mornings, drop-in them to childcare and then taking baby out to library singing classe. Only if I have lots of things to do so I just can't rest...
I usually take them out once in the morning and once in the afternoon, rain or shine. We do playdates, soft play and structured activities (foot, music)
I don't think I'm depressed, don't cry, don't have dark thoughts... Just very tired..
So what do I do wrong??
If you have 50 hours a week of childcare why not try going back to work? Maybe this would make you feel happier?
A friend and I were discussing this the other night - whether we really enjoyed our children when they were young.
She has 3 close in age, I have 2. It did feel like fire-fighting for quite a bit of the time. I think that's the nature of having children to some extent, especially if they are close in age.
It sounds like you are doing all the right stuff with them. It is just relentless! It probably seems even worse when you have a small baby keeping you awake at night too. Maybe you could work on him sleeping through now he is 5 months?
Oh, and yes, yes to working We both worked part-time when they were small. I found working part-time so much easier than being at home full-time
You have quite a lot of support from your Nanny, around 4 12 hour days? Can you use some of the time she's working for yourself? Get out and go for a swim or a coffee with a book for a few hours? I also found the constant suggestions of "well, it would be no wonder you're depressed after what you've been through" (MIL) really bloody annoying. I wasn't depressed, just bloody tired. Having a break from DS really helped, just an hour or two sleep would make me feel like a new person. Obviously if you're breast feeding you can't take too long breaks from your baby. Keep persevering with the expressing, or try different bottle teats. If you try a different teat it might be enough of a distraction for baby to have a little taste and realise its yummy!
Thank you!! Today feels better even though this morning started with poo in pants from DC2!!
I do a 50 hours of childcare but that is cumulated...
Dc1 - 3 hours in the morning, 5 days a week (15 hours)
Dc2 - 2 full days at nursery (15 hours)
Nanny - 2.5 hours 4 evenings a week (10 hours) and twice 4 hours in the morning when dc2 is at nursery(8 hours)
There's no way I could work!!! It is all fragmented so it is really tiring for me To drop-off/pick-ups...
Actually I do have some freelance work I am trying to do but it is almost impossible to do it in the few hours I am on my own when they are all taken care of. This create more stress...
Hopefully this year is going to be hard but things will get easier next year when one is at school and the other two are a couple of days each at nursery and the baby stage is over (no more broken night, no more breastfeeding, more autonomy, can play with other two)...
Also the thing about tiring them out my problem is they don't have the same age so I would have to ferry the 3 of them from a to b for a 45 minutes class (often interrupting baby sleep: grumpy baby).
Apart from soft play I can't do much... Swimming is a no no!!! Where would I put the baby???
You seem to have lots of help with the kids so you can get on with chores but no help with chores so you can enjoy time with the kids?
How about you get a cleaner/housekeeper and leave them doing the boring stuff while you take the kids swimming, to the park and the zoo? Take the nanny too if an extra pair of hands would help it be enjoyable for all :-)
Traditionally parents did not play much with their kids. Very little, actually. Play is what siblings & cousins were for. If you removed that (play) expectation, would you feel satisfied with things? Coz it sounds like you're doing alright, other than failing your own expectation.
that's not 50 hours childcare. I read that as 14 "school" runs which are stressful with associated younger children and their differentiated sleep patterns, plus a helpful pair of hands in the evenings.
In your situation I wd keep the mother's help for the tea-time shift for now but aim towards returning to work 3 days a week, recruiting a nanny to care for all three during the day, including the school runs, and then ditch the nursery.
It sounds to me as if you haven't fully accepted that you're a mum of three and the implications this brings.
You're seeing everything as a chore and need to start viewing things differently. For instance, you say that the three hours pre-school is nothing. It's not nothing. It gives you one less dc to manage. Start viewing things more positively.
You're so lucky having all that nanny help. If I had that it would be a breeze. I've got four dcs including a baby and toddler and have no nanny help.
In some ways I think the nanny help is stopping you embracing being a mum of three. Without it you would have no choice but to get stuck in.
Learn to see the positive in things for a change and accept that being a mum of three is full on.
I have 5 and my first 3 were very close together. I was looking at some videos the other day of the time they were around the age your 3 are and I was thinking to myself 'I don't remember enjoying any of that and just look how gorgeous and funny they were!!' It made me feel a bit sad tbh, I know I was just exhausted and grumpy a lot of the time.
Don't beat yourself up about it. Too soon they will be at school and you will have your life back.
My eldest 3 are mostly a delight now and don't seem to have suffered from me not enjoying them enough when they were tiny.
I've been there. Similar age gaps to you. I look back and wonder how I survived. My youngest Bf all night for over a year. It's tough. But worth it in the end. My youngest now 2 and I'm working 3 days and that has helped hugely for me. Second now at school and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Still don't get enough sleep and days at home when they all fight and I wish I was at work!
Sounds to me like you are doing well, going out for activities etc. it will all get easier!
Have you got a sling for the baby? I survived by co sleeping and dc3 exclusively in sling for months, he could just go to sleep if I was in or out or busy with 2 and 1.
You need to get a grip actually. You have a lot of help. I have 5, my youngest three are the same ages as yours. Just get a job. Put them all in full time all day childcare if you are not enjoying it. You sound very self absorbed, perhaps you are depressed.
I think the biggest thing we did when we had #4 (#1 is much older) so had 3 in 3 years was accept we couldn't carry on doing as much that life had to change.
Perhaps you do too much?
We walked as much as possible just did toddler groups locally. I heavily relied on lunch time nap to clean/clear up. Lots of use of a playpen to keep the baby the safe. Cooked meals so that the following day I just had to reheat etc.
I'm sure the night waking is a big factor, you must be shattered!
My sister used to say that one of the secrets was fresh air and exercise, that they all needed at least one hour, pref two, rushing about. The baby was in a sling. Just in a secure playground, not much parental help unless someone fell over. Then they were easier, or put it another way, they were worse if she didn't.
As she was in Switzerland, the weather wasn't good the whole time there, like here. And they were naughty. But charming. And she was stressed.
Also Involve the older 2 in what you are doing to minimise the mischief they can get up to, try and achieve less in terms of housework and focus on doing what you need to do to be calm. Rushing around trying to do too much in terms of getting out and about could just be adding to your stress.
Each day I did one load of washing and got it hung out (plus a nappy wash each night) kept everyone fed and one trip out or someone around that was probably it.
I think that we all have too many high expectations of motherhood - the whole yummy mummy thing prefectly turned out with her neat as pins children perfectly behaved - perfect neat house, children doing lots of activities - and we have too many distractions which are instant and constant - phone, mobiles, mumsnet etc. I have 4 (first 3 in 3 years) and found that you just need to lower your expectations on everything and turn your phone off for a bit (until they are in bed). In America they call babysitting "watching children" - this should be a good enough point to aim at. Be in the same room dont do anything else (multitasking) let them play alone/together and just be ready to intervene. A sucessful day is you not raising your voice. Then you need to get out yourself. I would be using the evening nanny for you to get out -- shouldnt take 2 of you to get them ready for bed. Mostly it is boring -- but we can sometimes choose to make it less stressful....I hated playing games with my kids - but loved physical things outdoors walking cycling etc
this is good advice. remember... children are terrorists, have the ability to sabotage any calm situation and disrupt every aspect of your life. Some aspects are easier with larger families; the relationships are less intense, you can stylishly faze over a tantrum by continuing a relaxed chat with an older child, etc etc. But some aspects are harder, such as finding activities and food which a wide range of ages/tasts enjoy ...
DM's family has a wonderful phrase for warring, whiny or winding up children,
"I'm hearin' but I'm no heedin'"
Ignoring them puts distance between you and them at bad times.
Also, give up ironing. I gave it up for Lent. Give it up for advent. Have a nice sit down in the time saved.
I used lots of childcare to help me cope with three under four and looking back I wish I'd got a cleaner in every day and eaten more easy ready meals and played with the children instead.
Try and live in the moment it goes by so fast childhood
Oh dear read your post with interest as could be me in a few months time..pg with DC3 and will have very similar age gaps and nursery/pre-school time but without the nanny in the day!My first thought was sympathy though.Breast fed my first 2 until 7 months and until they were properly weaned they were up every 2-3 hours during the night too and no matter what help you have in the day broken nights are knackering and make you go a bit mad.All I can say is that the broken sleep may only be for a couple of months longer if DC3 is already 5 months old.If you can get baby sleeping through the night everything else might seem easier in the day.Good luck
Thank you for your support! I had two very rough weeks but I'm delighted to say that everything is much better now and much more enjoyable now!
Baby is still waking up hourly at night but with the fresh air and sunny weather it doesn't seem so bad! Seeing friends really helped too!
I too have had periods of feeling like I am not enjoying my children. It doesn't help when it feels like every old woman in the supermarket stops to say "^oh these years are so precious...enjoy them whilst you have them^"
I'm an only child of an alcoholic mother and workaholic father so didn't have the greatest childhood, or role models.
Hubby and I sit down every now & then to discuss how we can make our lives easier, and enjoy our children more.
A couple of things that have really helped us (they may not help you but I thought it was worth sharing):
- dramatically reducing the number of things we had to be at "^on time^". We noticed how stressed I got a good few hours before had to be somewhere, so now we try to only go to things where you can turn up within a certain window which reduces my stress levels and means we can go at the pace of the kids to some extent rather than constantly nagging them to hurry up. Or warn people that "^we'll show up when we can^"
- rather than trying to do chores and then spend time with the kids I try to include the kids in the chores. My 3 year old DD has turned out to be a wicked little sous-chef so helps me cook. Yes it takes 3 times as long, but we are doing it together.
- I have really reduced my standards in terms of housework and tidiness. And if I find that the strawberry stained finger marks smeared on the bathroom door as DD went to wash her hands, are stressing me out, I check-in with myself to reduce my standards some more!
- We try to only hang out with friends or at places that support our parenting style. Very little time is spent with the grandparents because they expect the kids to "behave" a certain way. So this goes back to point #1 somewhat of avoiding people who judge you for being late.
Just reading your post, for me personally, I would find needing to get the older kids to preschool / nursery for certain times and then back again to pick them up 3 hours later way more stressful
Anyway, good to hear that you've had a better time recently.
Honestly, you get a lot of help and when the children are out of the home even for only a few hours that's a break in my opinion.
I think people either cope or they don't, no matter how many kids you have. Some women are naturals with the day to day chaos or they aren't. You don't sound like you enjoy the reality of dealing with small children.
I had 3 under 3 with my first few and it didn't bother me at all. I actually prefer small age gaps. I went out with a double buggy and eldest on buggy board.
Maybe stop breastfeeding if you don't like lack of sleep, they sleep for longer with bottles and someone else can do it. You don't have to go out all the time, it's possible to occupy them at home and less tiring. Your kids don't sound naughty just like normal children. It sounds more like you are not coping very well than anything in your life or circumstances. PND doesn't always mean you sit in a corner crying.
All going well, I'll have three under four by the end of the year! I found it hard having two under three but I'm determined to learn from my mistakes this time.
Is there any chance you could put the preschooler into childcare two full days, the same days as the other one? Then you'd have two full days with baby and less running around. For the days when you have all three you could spend the day in the park/ stay and play at surestart centre again with no running around stress. I do sympathise!
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