15 month old, working and struggling to hold it together(19 Posts)
I’m writing for self-therapy (!) and to see if anyone has any tips for juggling work and my 15 month old. I’m finding it really hard at the moment to hold it all together and have called in sick today out of sheer exhaustion. It’s been unsettled for the last few months but he’s been unwell for the last 2 weeks; it started as a cold, then teething (molars I think) and refusing to eat and drink, and now having gone to A&E the other night due to inconsolable shrieking in the night it turns out it’s his ear becoming inflamed. He’s had a few ear infections including a perforated eardrum and it seems whenever he gets a cold, which is often thanks to nursery 2 days a week, it ends up with the ear issue.
Like a lot of people, I naively thought things would calm down in the second year but it’s still a merry-go-round of severely interrupted sleep, stress and catching bugs. Both my partner and I work (me 4 days a week) and added to this my job has recently become more challenging – thanks boss. Whereas before I could do it all in a tired haze, my absence today is based on the fact I won’t be able to do what I need to do. Unfortunately I can’t afford to give up work. I don’t have time to do any exercise anymore and my diet and health have gone down the drain. We don’t live in a great area so walking is not a pleasant experience. My partner helps as much as poss and my mum is nearby but I can’t ask her to take him overnight and get up a zillion times.
Is anyone else in a similar situation? How do people cope with having to work and then come home for “the night shift” 7 days a week? And does it ever settle down and if so when? (I am prepared to muddle through as need be but need to know it’s all going to improve). Thanks very much in advance for any advice.
Poor you. It sucks. I went from 4 days to 3 days at that point - it was that or go long term sick, I was on the edge. Stayed at 3 days until youngest started school then back to 4.
I also co-slept a lot, LO came in with me and DH went in his bed. Or sometimes I have a bed on the floor next to me that LO sleeps in. Your DH needs to be sharing this too so either he take turns getting up or you figure out some way to both be getting as much sleep as poss.
And you need to carve out some time for exercise. Could you go to a class one evening a week?
Hang in there. It will get better.
You said "My partner helps as much as poss" but is he helping 50/50? there isn't much of a difference between working 4 days vs 5 days. Plus, if you're like the majority of women, I'm guessing you still do most of the housework (statistically, even when both are working, women still seem to do all the household stuff. This could turn into a big feminist rant, but I'm holding back :D).
I'm in a very similar situation I ended up off sick due to exhaustion then took 2 weeks al. Things are still tough but I do feel a bit better for a break. Is there any way you can take a bit of time off? I honestly think when it gets this bad its the only way.
Look after yourself. Proper exhaustion is horrible and mustn't be underestimated. You really don't want to burn out completely.
Could you take a holiday or family leave of absence for a couple of weeks to give him time to get well and you to recover too? That's what holidays are for.
Thanks for your responses and sympathy...I've been wracking my brains for a solution other than to take more time off but I probably need to be realistic. I stupidly initially went back to work 5 days and immediately realised my massive error so negotiated the 4 days. It would be do-able if the manager hadn't suddenly got us all to do extra stuff at work - I guess it's the way of the world but really unlucky for me.
My partner has a mental health condition which is really exacerbated by lack of sleep so I'm wary of asking him to do more. He does virtually all the cooking and helps in the night when I'm desperate so I'm grateful for that. The exercise thing I need to get onto - it really helps...I've been tired in the evenings but actually it might re-energise me if I make it to a class.
Sorry to hear you went off sick scaredofthecity, but I'm glad you feel better now. I'd better watch myself or I'm heading down that road.
Well everyone's mental health is affected by lack of sleep. You don't need to give yourself one too by trying to protect him.
Difficult though. Could he do nights at weekends and you let him sleep in the next day if it's been bad?
Or could you talk to your manager about more flexible working ie later start if you've had a bad night so you can catch up on your sleep?
Yes Felascloak, I agree, it's a fine line between trying to help the one with the official medical condition and not ending up with one yourself!! And that was the case even before we had a baby! I think I will do both the things you suggest - our current system means neither of us is getting enough rest, we need to sit down and come up with a new game plan. I am wondering about asking with regard to 3 days a week. She can't sack me for asking at least. Or the 'family leave' idea. I've used up most of my holiday so that might be the way forward. Something's gotta give that is becoming evident.
Yes well your manager won't want you to be off sick long term or to leave either so you should be able to work something out. It isn't forever. If you have an HR dept might be worth speaking to them too.
Are you sure you can't ask your mum to have your DS overnight to give you a break - he might not wake up a 'million times' in someone else's house? Perhaps she would use a different routine which might be more effective?
Why not at least ask, most mothers would like to help out their daughters if they could?
I will tread carefully with my manager as I don't totally trust her (I got slightly shafted coming back from maternity leave...but that's another thread!!) and will definitely check what the official line with HR is on this for me.
Yes Ragwork I think I'm at that point (ie last resort) when I need to ask my mum to help for the odd overnight shift. She's a bit deaf but maybe that will be a good thing ;)
Thanks for all your suggestions it's given me some ideas. Good to get an outside perspective on what is probably blindingly obvious to people outside the situation. This has been my first post on mumsnet and you've actually all cheered me up quite a bit. Am going to practice what I preach now and get my head down for a bit whilst I can. xx
I want back 4 days a week when my oldest was 6 months. The thing that makes it worse I think is that in most jobs you and up doing 5 days work in 4.
Oops premature posting there. Try and be kind to yourself, at work and at home. Looking back I was running around trying to do everything and you just can't. Ask for help. I get your mum would love to help.
It is really hard. Mine has his molars coming through too atmand it's awful. Only advice is to spilt the childcare as much as possible and go to bed really early a couple of nights a week if you need to. So, yesterday, my husband did the nursery pick up and put him to bed. I had dinner on the train home (sandwich, had a hot lunch) so didn't have to worry about cooking. Got in, talked a bit to my DH and then went to bed at 8pm. Woke up at 6am this morning feeling like a new person.
We found it tough at that stage too (and worse when we had DC2!) what helped for us was 'one night on, one night off) which meant my DH and I took it in turns - I stay up with kids one night, then sleep the next while while he stayed up. Not ideal but it helped! Also took it in turns to have weekend lie ins. Do ask your mum if she can have your LO maybe once a month for a sleep over? Just knowing you have that break coming you help you keep going! Best of luck to you
I was in exactly that place when DD was that age. It was brutal. Things that helped:
- Reassessment and redistribution of chores. I handed responsibility for the washing off to DH entirely at that point.
- more easy / ready meals. I try to always have a stash from 'Cook' in the freezer.
- 'sleep cram' at the time that works for you. Revolve all non work time around this priority. Eg I can't sleep in in the morning when over tired. But a nap after lunch works well. For ages I'd get up with DD at the weekend because I was awake anyway. Then we'd go out and do family stuff when DH got up. Took me far too long to work out sleeping in the afternoon was my priority. I made DH take DD out so I had peace. If we wanted family time he got up earlier sometimes.
- do whatever at night gets everyone the most sleep. That might be co sleeping or sleep training. DD Was teething badly at that age, and also still fed in the night (fast metabolism) I tried to sleep train her several times after she turned one, but she just wasn't ready. In retrospect I wish I'd not bothered, it just led to night with two hours of distressed crying while we were all awAke.
- I worked from home one of my four days and had a nap that day. Or yoga class at lunchtime when I was feeling better. Depends what you do though.
- in retrospect I wish I'd sometimes got childcare for DD on my day off so I could recover.
Overall: prioritise getting more sleep. Everything is easier when you're less tired. So no chores or TV in the evening, straight into bed early. DD is three now and things are much better but I still get into bed at 9pm at least one night a week, and have learned to prioritise my own sleep when things get tough.
I sometimes take a day of annual leave on one of DDs nursery days - I drop her off, have a bit of down time (tv, reading, sewing) to relax. Then a couple of chores that are tricky to do with her here. Then a soak in the tub and an afternoon nap.
On days where I've had more energy I've met friends for lunch and gone to the cinema.
I think some down time without my dd at home is essential for staying on top of exhaustion and getting a bit of balance in life.
Thanks so much for all those ideas, I think I was more careful to take of myself in the first 6 months but then over time you start to try and 'get things done' and go back to your pre-baby habits and that's when it starts unravelling. I guess you think everyone else is coping really well and having fun by now, but no-one knows it can still be really hard behind closed doors even at 15 months. I will actually print out the above thread to remind myself that it's not meant to be plain sailing yet...well maybe it will never be completely. But I will definitely try to cut myself more slack. Thank you for making me less worried xx
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