I don't know how to mother(57 Posts)
I'm a single mother of a 4 and 6 year old. I am the non-custodial parent meaning I only get my children once or twice a week. I suffer with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder.
I find having the children very stressful because I struggle to entertain them. I find parks and soft play boring but obviously I go regularly out of desperation.
I don't know many other parents with the same age of children as I don't do the school run.
I told my mental health worker that I found it hard to parent but she just asked me if I wanted social services involved (obviously not). All parenting classes in my local area are for babies and toddlers.
I am struggling and don't know what to do.
Are you in a town / city? If you can find some activities for the dc's it will take the pressure off you having to keep them entertained. Do you have a car?
Why wouldn't you want social services involved, they might be able to advise you?
Firstly, well done for admitting that and asking for help. That's a huge step and very brave.
What do you enjoy doing? Is there a way to involve the children in things you enjoy? That will be less stressful and help with bonding as you are sharing an activity with them that is important to you.
Parks and soft play are boring but the children enjoy them - that's you being a good mother, you're better at this than you think. What about swimming, you might enjoy that more, or activities you can join in a bit more, conker picking, baking, crafting, jigsaws?
Also, social services are not the enemy. They can help you access help. Do you have home start, family keywork or similar where you are? Social services may help people at high need, there are other services that are available to help families who don't need social services input but do need some support. They can be very helpful with advising on play and behavior management.
I don't drive.
There is a sure start centre near me but they cater mainly for preschool children.
As you have an under 5, do you have a local children's centre that you could pop in and ask if they provide services. Ours had parenting courses for parents with older children, as well as having a family key work service based there. Your health visitor should be able to tell you what kinds of help are around in your area.
Let social services help
They won't stop you from having your children. They will offer support where you need it
I think you might be being a bit hard on yourself. Almost all parents find parenting hard, boring and stressful at times.
Can you manage cake baking or painting?
Even just getting a load of Play Doh or pens and paper. Can they help you cook dinner?
I think you are right not to get social services involved.
SS might help you get on a parenting course though sometimes they run them , anyway soft play is dull nobody likes going but kids like it. What is it you struggle with maybe we can help
Do approach the children's centre, they are aimed at 0-5 even though in practice it is mostly preschoolers. They won't have weekly activities for your children but they may have parenting courses.
Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can involve your children in?
Even a simple Film Night where you make popcorn and sit with them can be a nice experience.
Baking (no cook recipes are fine, if this sounds too much right now, make crispy cakes or rocky road!), colouring (very good for anxiety), gardening (in pots if no garden, plant salad it grows quickly), walks in the outdoors (you could make up a nature spotting game or collect leaves and things).
I think some people on here have a very naive idea about what social services do. They're not a hand holding service and only really offer support where removal is a distinct possibility and to prevent that. They're a very intrusive and often distressing service to be involved with and you really wouldn't want to have social services involvement unless you have to. It's also hard to get out of involvement with them once it starts. They're far too overstretched to be involved in advice and support for families without big problems where children are at risk.
Nothing the OP says suggests her children are at risk so I don't think SS are a good idea.
That is not true SS is not just there to prevent removal of children the ops MH worker offered to refer the op i think you have quite a negative view of what SS do Bill not 1 poster suggested the op use them for a handhold
I too think your been too harsh on yourself. We are sold this image of earthy mothers who just know how to mother, never get bored or stressed and it comes natural to them. Well in reality we all get bored, stressed, irritated quite a bit. But we also have moments of earth mother too ha. Some days I bake cakes with them, other days I'm stressed to max and think roll on bed time. It sounds to me your doing a fantastic job taking them out to park and soft play. I too find them boring but it's nice to see the kids happy. As others have said can't you do things with the kids you find enjoyable too sometimes?
I am not naive i dont tend to post advice that I know nothing about
Bill that's not true - social services are much more about support and accessing services. Scare stories such as yours help no one and only stop people who could use the support from asking for it.
I think you've been sold this line we all are about what a mother should be. It's bollocks.
Park and soft pay are great because you're DC like them. Purgatory for parents, of course, you're not alone there!
What about board games, movies, Lego? Stuff that they can do but you can join in with if you/they want?
Maybe find out what's in your area, not necessarily specific for kids, but that you all might enjoy. Library, swimming. Trip to cafe for juice Nd cake. Any local museums/farms/petting zoos? Don't know how appropriate any of these might be, just throwing some ideas out there.
Being a mother doesn't come naturally to me either, my best times are when DD is happily playing by herself.
Try not to be too hard on yourself.
Are you an effective parent? Are the children well-fed, and is the house clean? Do you shout? Are you affectionate?
It's hard to answer your OP without having ever met you, or seen you with your children. Lots of us find parks/soft play/toddler groups boring. You could well be making a mountain out of a molehill over twenty minutes a day sat on a park bench wishing you were at home with a glass of wine.
Do you have anybody in your life that you trust, and who you could ask if they think you're a lazy or disengaged mother.
Yeah I agree with Bill
Can you just take a book or your phone to soft play? My DS is a bit little for me to get away with this but when he's older I'm just going to get a cup of tea and let him play.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself, OP. Soft play and parks are boring for a lot of adults, so it's great that you're taking them regardless. I have to really psych myself up for these things!
Re: social services - they are not the 'child snatchers' people make them out to be. They have access and funding for a wealth of services which may be useful to you. I have had them involved in my son's life when he was very small. Their priority is obviously the child, but if you show willingness to access help and cooperate with them, they will equally support you. I wish there wasn't such scare-mongering regarding them.
I was in a tiny one bedroom flat with very active twins so I had to get out or climb the walls. Nor did I drive. The park/soft play thing is boring but could you invite a friend/relative along for a catch up, they don't necessarily need to have kids. One of my Park meet up friends was single but always had busy evenings. A late morning take away coffee in the park suited us both. Read a magazine or a newspaper have a chit chat with other bored looking lone parents there.
At home, try reading a book to them (do all the voices) in small bursts. Dancing/singing competitions via you tube. Simple cooking activities go down really well. My kids loved walking around Pets at Home looking at the animals. Even supermarket shopping can be an activity. Give each one a simple list and they get to find the items with clues from you. Cheap Saturday morning cinema (if you have one near you mine was two bus journeys away but worth it). Agree with the poster that a lot of kids 'things' are boring but the kids love it and a good parent enjoys seeing their children happy and smiling. Don't be so hard on yourself, your days don't have to be action packed. Break them down into a two or three activities. Also, have you asked them what they want to do?
Would it help you to have an actual timetable?
A trip to soft play is an endurance for you and believe me I also hated going but the DC loved it.
Soft play or park
Get the DC to build a little with blankets and cushions and then have some biscuits and juice in the den. Get them to invite their soft toys.
Buy a roll of plain wallpaper. The cheap lining paper stuff and roll it out for the longest picture in the world it can be added to every week. Buy some cheap glue and then chuck all manner of bits and bobs on a table and get them to make collages cutting up old magazines or free newspapers.
I can honestly say that though I did all these things with multiple DC I was often zoned out thinking about something else.
I've worked in an NHS service (peri-natal mental health) with a lot of contact with SS and I pretty strongly disagree with that. HV, children's centres and other frontline services are for accessing services and support. SS are for when there are serious problems. They're so overstretched they just can't be anything else. They can't even cover the serious problems properly in a lot of areas. You really don't want to get involved with them unless you really have to. Even just one brief episode of contact with them means that you're tied to them for the rest of your child's childhood and even fairly routine things like mild PND or a trip to A & E for a playground injury years later will automatically get passed onto them. Obviously if there's something serious like post-partum psychosis going on this has to happen for the safety of the children involved. But I've seen people do it voluntarily without serious problems and really, really regret it because once you're in that system you're in it. This was a particular problem in the service I worked in because we found some women were really reluctant to use our service because if they'd had any previous SS involvement accessing the PNMH service would mean SS were automatically informed. They're not really a nice fluffy service, they are there to check up on you and weed out unsuitable parents and find children in danger.
SS would even say to us 'GPs and health visitors are for support - don't use us for cases where just support is needed, we're here for serious problems'. The OP would do much better approaching her health visitor or children's centre for support.
The only SS which are exceptions to that are well funded services with low demand in affluent areas.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.