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Shit parent

(36 Posts)
mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 11:47:39

I am a shit parent. I thought I loved being a mum, and it turns out I do, when I spend half my life at work. DS is 7 weeks into placement, and he's wonderful and funny, and gorgeous, but I am so bored. I do love him. But I really miss work. I'm used to being very busy, but due to work, I am used to outsourcing the domestic tasks.Now I'm on leave, I can't afford to do that, and I hate it. I think I'm actually a man- I like to go to work, come in, play with the kids and be all fun, while someone else does the dusting. I do only work part time, but in a busy, high responsibility job, that forms a large part of my identity.

DS is nearly 2, but cannot cope with going to groups yet, and there is little suitable around here. I am going slowly mad in the house.

I'm trying to break the day into chunks- floor play time, activity, nappy change, song time, lunch, nap, then stories, etc, to try and break the monotony. And that helped for a couple of days. But I can't do just this for months. I feel overwhelmed by the monotony of my days.

I have an older BS, and I really miss him. He and DS are besotted with each other, which is great, but I miss time with my big boy. I wouldn't change having DS, this is what I always wanted, and at last we feel like a real family, but I'm a single adopter, and I feel guilty that DS isn't getting as much 1-1 time as I'd planned, although some of this is because he has his own life, and is busy with his hobbies.

Can anyone give me ideas of what to do with DS in the day? Particularly on rainy days? I know we need to build attachment, and I feel guilty I'm not doing enough attachment focused play. The HV etc just suggest 'getting out to some toddler groups', as if DS being overstimulated and losing his delicate attachment to me in a crowded atmosphere is a good thing. The HV said 'oh, but you need to look after yourself', but I can't relax and chat when I know DS is like a swan- doing fine on the surface, but distressed and struggling underneath.

How do stay at home parents do it? DS attending nursery just now is unthinkable. He needs to learn to rely on his new mamma, and I want this time with him, I really do. I just feel as bleak as the weather about actually surviving this time without losing my sanity. Help! Please?

CrazyCatLaydee123 Mon 17-Oct-16 12:30:49

I know that attachment is key, and forming that good attachment is the most imporant thing - however, you need to be in a position to facilitate that, and if hours spent alone with a child is driving you potty (and who can blame you?), you need to sort that out so that you can be the best you can be.
Perhaps an hour a day at nursery, or a small group with an understanding childminder, will allow you to get the break you need so that you can be your best self.
If it's still too early, then at least it's something to work towards.

Allington Mon 17-Oct-16 12:55:16

Let go of the guilt - I know it's easy to say! But you are not superhuman, and your children don't need you to be superhuman. It sounds as if you're doing really well in what will always be an exhausting and stressful period.

Have you tried swimming (or splashing in the pool!)? I know many people have found it good in the early days - lots of holding, and reassuring contact, but also gets you out of the house and gives you a focus for part of the day.

Try and get out of the house every day, even if it's a quick trip to the shops for something that isn't urgent. DVDs are therapeutic if you snuggle up together wink and it takes the focus off you for a bit. Or even for a bit without snuggling, if it keeps you sane.

It will get easier smile

Kr1stina Mon 17-Oct-16 13:58:29

Get a running buggy and take up running .

You can do toddler gym classes that mean you work one on one with your child ( sorry I don't know the name )

Kr1stina Mon 17-Oct-16 14:00:31

Go to the park and collect leaves. Go on the play equipment. It's better in the rain as fewer children.

There's no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 14:04:17

How would those help?

There are no toddler gym classes here. We live in the country. And DS can't cope with classes.

Honestly, running is the most boring activity I can think to do. Running buggies are all forward facing, so wouldn't promote attachment at all, and so any length of time spent doing it would induce more guilt about my lack of activities to build attachment. Running is absolutely not something I can do on a rainy day. I can't see how getting a running buggy is going to help me in the slightest.

I'm off to weep in to my tea.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 17-Oct-16 14:09:09

Definitely go out every day. Going to a play park or soft play could be a way to meet other mums with child of same age.
Presumably you do the school run each day too which helps routine.

When AD1&AD2 arrived found playgroup a godsend with AD2 (AD1 at school). Yes I had to stay close and hover during free play, but I could chat with others at snack time and also during singing.

If you don't want free flow playgroup, how about seeing what is on at your local library, they often do story times or similar.
Yes to swimming too.

user1471555041 Mon 17-Oct-16 14:11:42

Hi, I could have written your post smile. Our lo hasn't been home long and whilst this is all I've ever wanted I am really missing work. I miss the pressure and responsibility and the adult conversation. The monotony of morning television and doing the housework whilst lo naps isn't what I'm used to. I don't have any advice really other than I know how your feeling. Best of luck smile

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 14:20:35

Swimming is good, yes, but today DS has a stinking cold, so don't feel getting cold and wet is a good plan. But yes, swimming is good.

Groups really don't work, we're too early in placement for him. Plus they compound the 'not normal' feeling, as I'm obviously different from the other mums who can relax and drink tea. I find them very stressful, watching for DS to start getting distressed. I don't think doing something that distresses DS is fair on him, no matter what I want to do. Plus I haven't managed to find a way to field questions politely, yet, and there'sonly so much "so, are his real parents drug addicts?" I can take.

Thanks user. I just miss being a grown up.

If DS did go to nursery/childminder, I'd feel awful, as he is so confused by the move anyway, it could well distress him. Then I'd have to use the time to tidy/housework, which is what is driving me mad. I can't just pop off and do a session at work, which is actually what would help me.

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 14:21:28

Our library doesn't do story time (lack of demand). We already pop in there an embarrassing amount, as something to do.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 17-Oct-16 14:29:18

re fielding questions, yes it takes practice!

You need to think in advance what are you willing to disclose and what not.

So I was happy to say 'adopted', as it then allowed me to ask stupid parenting questions.
When/if asked why, I replied in generic terms 'well children needing to be adopted have come through the care system because their parents can't look after them properly'
If pressed on details I say 'That's not something we discuss' (has only happened to me very very rarely).

I understand if you don't feel either of you are ready for toddler groups yet. But keep an eye out for more low key ones like at libraries. I really do think if you could meet some other parents with same age children it could help you relax into things and you'd enjoy it more.

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 14:37:45

One issue is that DS (older)'s friend's have similar aged siblings. So when I go to things, they're there. And they cannot leave DS alone. Just can't. And because we're already 'friends', they cannot see the boundaries regarding questions. And because we're 'friends', I can't say anything short, or rude. And I'm so tired, and so grumpy, that short and rude is me just now. We live in a small community, and I don't want to piss everyone off, when I just want to shout "Play with your own child! My child has had his world ripped apart, leave him alone!" and answer "Fuck off, it's none of your business" to "How many foster carers has he had? Has he had trauma? Did his real mum not want him?"

I'm naturally someone who's quite straight, so evasive answers aren't natural to me, I'd be rubbish at poker.

Or when I try and tell people to let me give him the biscuit, they look at me like I have two heads, and say "But he's clearly fine!" Is he? Is he fine? We are less that 2 months since everything he knew was taken away from him, would you be fine?

I had an adult adoptee lecturing me the other day that I don't know what I'm talking about, obviously he's settled with us, he knows I'm his mum, and he'll never need to go looking for his real mum, as he (the adoptee) never did. I was like "WTF? Get me out of here!"

I feel like no where is safe for us to hang out, except home. And home is doing my head in.

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 14:39:04

So, not only am I a shit parent, I'm a horrible person who can't be nice to others.

cockadoodledoooo Mon 17-Oct-16 14:53:01

The fact you are so aware and worried and actively trying to fulfil your dc needs proves your not a bad mum!

My dc could not cope with groups until pre-school age, it is mind numbing isn't it! The only advice I can give is to set up play dates at your home with one mum and child at a time - maybe from a local adoption support group, who understand your worries. Or from your group of existing friends. This will be good socialisation in a familiar setting for your dc, but also gives you chance to have adult conversation and maybe explain the situation more in-depth to those who don't necessarily understand.

Although you and dc may need to focus on attachment etc it is so important to look after yourself too. And I bet your sick of being told this! But dc seeing you in social situations, observing positive communication and relationship building will help dc so much

dimples76 Mon 17-Oct-16 16:04:37

I found swimming, going to the park and music classes the best activities during our early days (my son was 18 months at placement). In the classes i was really focussed on him - there was little time or opportunity for small talk and it helped cement our bond.

tldr Mon 17-Oct-16 16:17:26

Toddler DS and I did music and dance group things which was us doing stuff together rather than 'him plus others', but as you've said you don't want to/can't, that's no use. And from what you say about other people's boundaries, you're probably right.

Yes, attachment is important but you can't be doing 'attachment activities' all day every day. Same as any other mum, it's alright to put the tv on for a bit, or to put out some little toys and let play happen (or to use a forward facing pram). You don't have to be occupying/entertaining/eye contacting all the time.

I spent a lot of time in the supermarket too - out the house, but no requirement to interact. Lots of very small but slow walks. Going to the library. I turned errands around the neighbourhood into an art form.

I also spent a huge amount of time on FB/mumsnet. I would have gone insane without. Still would some days. I feel no guilt. grin

But you're not a shit mum, or you wouldn't care. flowers

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 17-Oct-16 17:06:31

Sounds like you need flowers and wine and cake

I think it must be really hard if you have other parents not understanding the need for funnelling and who think it is OK to ask intrusive questions. I'm not surprised you are feeling bad.

I think you don't need to be evasive. Be a broken record. We're not talking to others about his background. They'll soon get bored if you never answer.

Are you in contact with a local adoption support group run by your LA or AUK or something? Mixing with other parents who 'get it' might help a bit?

What's your support network like? Is there anyone in real life who can provide you with some tangible support? You must try to find a way to look after yourself too. flowers (again)

PoppyStellar Mon 17-Oct-16 18:15:24

As everyone else has said you're not a shit parent, you're just having a hard time at the moment.

I'm a single adopter too and I can empathise with the feelings of relentless monotony. I found (still find) that because it's just you and the kids things can get to the point of being utterly overwhelming a lot quicker than I imagine they may do if there was two of you to share the load.

Things that kept me sane during adoption leave:

1. Walking to the park whatever the weather.
2. Roaming the streets (under the guise of a trip to the shops - I would do the weekly shop in dribs and drabs so I could have an excuse to go out)
3. Setting aside 30mins a day for quality play with them - ie really focused playing and interaction - and then not sweating the small stuff for the rest of the day. As in if we'd had our good 30mins quality play and later on she was playing and I was feeling too knackered to engage properly I didn't feel bad cos I knew we had had some good quality play time earlier if that makes sense. (Does make it sound a bit like I couldn't be bothered playing which isn't the case but when you are on your own it is hard to muster up the enthusiasm for a 15th tea party in one day)
4. DVDs. DD was mad about peppa pig and we watched that ad nauseum for what felt like months but it entertained her and I could occasionally fall asleep to it, or go into the kitchen and get a few mins respite to read a few pages of my book or browse the Internet or whatever.
5. Trips to poundland saved my sanity on many an occasion. We would even drive out to visit different pound shops around the county just to make the activity last longer. DD would be delighted to have a pound to spend and would be entertained by whatever tat she had chosen.

Do your parents live close, could they come round and have a cuppa with you during the day? Mine live a way away but they came down to visit quite regularly and it did save my sanity. We often didn't go anywhere in the first few weeks but just having another adult to speak / rant to when it all got a bit much helped. It helped DD too, we are now a good few years in and she has a really strong bond with grandparents which both her and they enjoy enormously.

If LO sleeps ok (mine didn't / doesn't but that's a whole other story!) is there a good friend who could babysit for a couple of hours one evening so you could go to the pub, or cinema or just get out the house for a bit of adult time? I know that's easier said than done, and ironically it's harder for me to do these days than when DD was newly arrived but even just getting out for an hour and a half to the local pub quiz saved my sanity in the early days.

I know you said he's not up to toddler groups and I totally get that but do your LA run adoption playgroups (stay and play) which you could go to? At least at these types of playgroups no one will ask you stupid questions (theoretically anyway wink)

In terms of looking after yourself and your own mental health it's massively important but pretty hard when you're the only parent. I left DD at our house with grandparents relatively early on so I could have a couple of hours out getting my hair done. This was prob about 2 or 3 months in. I felt really guilty as LO was naturally upset but she was fine within about 5 mins of me going, had a lovely time with GPs and I felt like a totally new person for having done something as simple as getting a hair cut.

Basically take what you can, when you can. Lean on your friends and family if you can and know that it will get easier and you're not a rubbish mum for feeling exhausted by it all.

luckylucky24 Mon 17-Oct-16 19:31:38

I have had DH's Gran asking me today why her mum didn't want her. I must have said so many times that she DID want her but was unable to care for her. Very frustrating and makes me want to make them wait even longer before introducing her.
We are only a month in and are doing walks, park (not in the rain) and play in doors. I like you go stir crazy at home so try to be out the house by 9am ish which is nap time. We may go to the shops and stop in a cafe for something when she wakes and then go home. Play for a bit, have lunch. Nap time again. Trip to the park or another walk. Play at home and then put some music on and have a dance before having tea. Shortly after tea is bath and then bed.
To be honest we have spent a small fortune to avoid being bored.

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 20:12:26

Thank you.

Posting has been cathartic! I think because a couple of my friends were also interviewed by SWs, (as my support network) they feel 'involved', and so more entitled to pry.

I have just inhaled the chocolate buttons bought to reward potty poos (yes, I bribe), and have a glass of wine. Feeling better!

I think structuring chunks of 'good parenting' when I try and be supermum will help. With BS, I used to cut myself a lot of slack because I breastfed him for ages. When I felt like I was on the internet too much or whatever, I would tell myself 'yes, but think of all the great stuff he's getting in the milk!' and feel that I was getting something right. I need just a part of the day when I'm getting it right, then maybe I can relax the rest of the day.

Thank you.

mindmush Mon 17-Oct-16 20:14:07

I've adopted through a VA, and the LA is not near, how would I find out about local LA groups?

Kr1stina Mon 17-Oct-16 20:44:53

If you've adopted through a VA they should have better support workers. Phone yours and tell her how hard you are finding it.

You won't like this advice but I'm going to say it anyway . You are getting pissed off with your friends and family because they ask questions about your son. You need to learn to say no to them. Because trying to give them a small amount of information , then cutting it off when you think it's getting intrusive - it's not working .

You give them a little, they want more. It's human nature. They only keep asking because you keep answering.

Stop trying to be evasive or clever. Just come up with one phrase that you feel OK saying and repeat it . Over and over again. Whatever they ask. Give NO information at all . To anyone, for any reason ( except those professionals who might need to know, like doctor or teacher ) .

You choose your phrase e.g.

" I'm sorry, we are not telling anyone about his background "
" social services rules mean that I'm not allowed to discuss that "
" I'm sure you will understand that I need to respect his privacy and not discuss that "
" I'm sorry I can't talk about that "

Just pick one and practice it .

It doesn't matter who asks or what they say -just repeat. And don't say to me "oh you don't know my neighbour /sister / mother, I have to tell them because X or they will do/ say/ think Y"

Yes I do know them. There's not a single question that you have been asked that some of us haven't been asked. There's not a trick or emotional blackmail that someone else hasn't thought of first .

" well since I'm your mother/ best friend / referee I thought you could at least trust me "

" I'm a nurse , I see all sorts in my work, I know all about kids in care "

Reply = it's not that I don't trust you it's just that [standard phrase ]

I'm sure you know a lot , but [standard phrase ]

Well I'm sorry that you feel hurt but [standard phrase ]

I understand that you were just asking / didn't mean to cause offence / but [standard phrase ]

BTW I know I'm bossy but it's just because I care. You need to reach out more to people for support and that's not going to help you if you are worried / stressed about the questions issue.

PoppyStellar Mon 17-Oct-16 21:04:04

RE the LA stay and play playgroups. I would suggest phoning their adoption team - number should be on the council website somewhere. Whilst they won't (or at least shouldn't) give you specific details of individual events over the phone as you could be anybody, I would hope that if you gave them the name of your VA and your social worker they would be willing to speak to them to confirm you are an adopter and then be able to share details of the sessions with you.

Another alternative would be to try the local support groups run by adoption uk. Did your VA give you a year's membership to adoption uk? If so make the most of it and tap in to their support groups both online and real life meet ups.

There's also another organisation called after adoption that run some 'fun day' type activities for adoptive families. I've been to a couple and it's a chance to meet other families in the same boat. They are not usually very expensive and the whole family are encouraged to go.

gabsdot Tue 18-Oct-16 07:03:07

You're not a shit parent. It's hard being at home all day with a small child. It's boring as hell sometimes and the days are endless.
If I were you I'd plan each day well with different activities. Toys and playing but also housework and outings. Perhaps once a week go to a group, invite someone over for a play date or go visiting. And try to have a few hours to yourself each week. Get a babysitter after baby is asleep if possible and go out with a friend for a meal.
Do look after yourself. I had depression after our second adoption and it was very hard.
And again you're not a shit mum.

Clockworklemon Tue 18-Oct-16 13:49:36

It's very normal to feel the way you do. Ask yourself if you had a friend in your situation saying the same what you would say to her?

It does get easier. We funnelled for a long period and I didn't cope very well. I developed Post Adoption Depression.

Things we did which helped:
1) before AD arrived, we sent an email to all friends and family telling them the following things:
What we were doing (funnelling), and why. What this would mean for us, our AD and them (friends & family). That we knew they were excited to meet her as were we excited about them meeting her, but it would be later, when the time felt right etc.
We specifically explained that we were going to exclusively care for her, which meant handing her biscuits etc, and whilst we couldn't wait for them to change a dirty nappy (joke), that would have to wait. Again explained why.

We made it clear that while we were telling people that needed to know, that she was adopted, we wouldn't be sharing that information with new people.

We also told them that "when we care about people, we are interested in knowing their (background) story", HOWEVER it is not our story to tell and we wouldn't be sharing that information with anyone at all other than AD when the time was right, so please not to ask questions.

We obviously fluffed this email up to have a positive spin, but it really helped people to understand the situation and boundaries. I honestly think it was the best thing we did.
It's not too late to send this as a "now that AC has settled in" email.

It's not ok for people to ask questions, but we live in a society where people are interested because they genuinely care or are nosy. Practise the same reply until you feel comfortable saying it.
Mine is "we don't be sharing this information other than AC, As it's her story to tell". Nothing else. Most people got the hang of it first time.

2) Agree that it's too soon for groups, however I found a very small private pool with tiny group swimming lessons, 4 max, and it was perfect for both of us, promoted bonding and was something we both enjoyed once a week. Her progress was amazing (same teacher, same group of mums and babies and none of them knew she was adopted so it felt like a safe haven for me too).

3) if you can get outside for a walk, feed the ducks, stop at a cafe that does decent coffee (keep to the same place to avoid too many new places, people, experiences), do.

4) if they still have naps, invite friends over for a cuppa while they sleep, or in the evening, that way you can keep your sanity but no adverse effect on LO.

5) funnelling.. Don't be a purist about it, I think I took it too far and damaged myself in the process, so oddly delayed the bonding process and really had a tough year or so post adoption. Yes, funnel, but find ways to be good to yourself too. It's a fine balance.

It will get easier I promise.

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