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We can't seem to cope now I have 3 children

(35 Posts)
claypole44 Mon 25-Jun-12 16:37:38

I have always thought of myself as good at caring for children, in fact I have made a career out of it. However, with 3 young children of my own, aged 1,3 and 6 I feel at my wits end and my husband feels the same.

I am trained in managing challenging behaviour which is why it is such a slap in the face, not to be able to manage my own kids without feeling like I want to scream and run for the hills. My kids are all very loud,confident and outgoing (which I love) but they challenge us all day, everyday and I find myself wishing myself back to work and away from them. I have planned to retrain at university which will mean my husband and I will both be working full time. I really wanted to enjoy this last year at home with them and I feel so guilty that I haven't.

They are rude, argumentative, destroy the house etc. I think we are strict and follow all the text book advice. Praise & rewards, time out, consequences etc I am referee for their bickering and fighting.I guess this is all normal behaviour just amplified 3 times!! Maybe not being with them all the time will change my perspective. I wish I was more earth mother type and I know a lot of people would love a year at home with their children. Family say I set my expectations way too high but it's hard not to when being a good mum is so important to me.

Anyone else relate to this? any other parents of 3?

hattymattie Tue 11-Dec-12 10:24:35

Just to echo everybody else really - it's a totally different dynamic - mine are now 16, 14 and 10 - 2 girls and a boy. The house is still chaotic - I do not tidy their bedrooms and every now and then I mobilise the troops for a big tidy. Sibling rivalry I'm sad to say continues. When they were smaller and fighting I sent them all to their rooms. It is very easy to get sucked into refereeing though and I'm not very good at avoiding that one.

Also - refuse to respond when they yell "Mummy" from elsewhere in the house - they have to come and ask in a quiet voice - you are not the servant!

naturalbaby Tue 11-Dec-12 10:16:52

anti-depressants....have been on my mind for 3yrs! last time I was really low I was bfeeding so couldn't really take anything. Am very tempted to go to the GP now, just to get through Christmas!

SrirachaGirl Mon 10-Dec-12 22:58:31

Mine are 11, 8 and 6 and sound exactly like yours...all very active, talkative, clever, argumentative and I spent every day feeling like I was being outfoxed by them when theywere tiny. The ages you describe we're the absolute hardest (sorry). I read every book, tried charts, stickers, punishments, rewards etc. Nothing really worked until I decided to just surrender and go into survival mode. Beg, borrow, steal childcare as often as you can and go to the gym (use a crèche if they have one) to unleash the frustration, get everyone outside as much as possible...even if it means just taking them to a field and letting them run riot and have a large glass of wine in the evening while they are having their tea (only one, mind). Anti-depressants are also really, really amazingly helpful for getting you through those tough theory is that the day-to-day exhaustion of multiple mini-person care and sleepless nights is enough to trigger low-level depression in anyone and I think they should hand the out in the hospital to all multigravidae.

Aboutlastnight Mon 10-Dec-12 22:45:13

I think the bar is set so high these days. I have three children and I work -about to go on nightshift tonight- and I find a lot of the time I am too damn tired/ busy to do nice things with them like games, puzzles, crafts.

I work, I sleep ( alot as I work nights and evenings and find it impossible to get up sometimes) I do housework, washing and then more housework and then go back to bed/work.

It isn't how I thought it would be -but my girls are happy, thriving at school, we are financially stable, we can afford the odd treat, after school activities, so I hope I am doing my best.

But a lot if the time I feel I have nothing left to give sad

Leafmould Mon 10-Dec-12 22:33:35

Eye of the storm. It does not sound harsh, it is very true and clear advice. I recommend it.

naturalbaby Mon 10-Dec-12 22:08:30

Lingdilong I'm registering as a childminder at the moment...because I only have 1 till 11:15am in the mornings while the others are at nursery/school.
Trying to set up a business is hard enough without being a full time mum!

robino Wed 05-Dec-12 11:13:38

Thank you for making me feel more normal.

I have three girls aged 5, 4, 1.5. We live overseas and I am currently home schooling them. Day in, day out they are at home, demanding food and making a mess. Exhausting.

The middle one and the little one are sleeping spectacularly badly at the moment and DH and I have given in, we're having alternate nights in the spare room, fondly known as the isolation tank, just to try and get on a vaguely even keel sleep wise.

The only thing I can add for those of you with destructive phase younger ones is something I've been trying to do after chatting with a friend who pointed out that DD3's running away and pulling every piece of every toy out were both just spectacularly effective ways of getting my attention. I am trying to sit down with just her a couple of times a day and read a story with just her, or do a jigsaw or something - it seems to be helping a bit.

hazeyjane Wed 05-Dec-12 10:29:48

I have 3 (6, 5 and 2.5).

It is a mixture of craziness and calm. There are days, when I look at all 3 of them together, and thank my lucky stars that we had 3. Other days, there is a lot of screaming, and everything they do seems to wind up one of the others until there is the equivalent of a mini atomic bomb and everyone explodes. When it gets like this I try and separate them all, so we can all have 10 minutes away from each other, then we all come back together for a cuddle on the sofa.

HilaryClinton Wed 05-Dec-12 10:15:37

Out three are similar ages, and yes it is hard work with Waltons/Texas chainsaw days. I don't think of myself as strict, but the expected standards of beviour are there: We are kind to each other, we talk quietly and politely, we find a solution that everyone is hapy with.
We've learnt the hard way to minimise stuff that can cause damage and not to have stuff that we (the parents) will be upset if it gets broken. I really really try to minimise screen time. We go outside a lot.
I am no fan of time out (and I also think it sets up an 'offender' for further bullying by siblings).

It does seem that you are taking this personally, and it isn't really.

Basically i agree with zookeeper

LingDiLong Tue 04-Dec-12 21:35:47

Well you could do what I did. I'm a mum to a 7, 5 and 2 year old and found it hard going. Then I became a childminder and often have 6 kids here at any one time. Once they've all gone home 'just' having 3 feels positively relaxing - seriously! I only had my own 3 after school today and feel almost well rested grin

zookeeper Tue 04-Dec-12 21:29:37

My advice (this is more my survival guide as I lurch from day to day!) is this; -
- get them outside as much as possible, and especially when you're feeling murderous; the exercise calms everyone down and , as my mother reminds me, you're less likely to hit them in public grin
- try to drop your housekeeping standards, or at least decide what you can't live with and tackle that, eg if you can't live with a messy kitchen just try to keep on top of that even if the rest of the house is a tip
- try to be consistent with them so that they know that no means no
- really concentrate on not getting overtired; even if it means going to bed with them some nights
- seek out other parents of three or more so that you can share your pain and ongoing daily disasters. you won't feeel so inadequate when you realise that it's normal to find three bloody hard work
- online shop where possible
- really limit extra curricular activities during the week so on top of everything you're not chauffering the little darlings everywhere whilst exhausted - they've got each other for company and can do their own thing when in secondary school
- forget the whole reward charts/stars/stickers stuff - with three it's really hard to apply them consistently. I lob fifty pence into a family fund pot when I think of it when one of then does something helpful or kind and then we all have a treat with it every couple of weeks or so. (we're talking small scale here - a hot chocolate at Asda or a cake or pens or something.)
- lastly, the old cliches do help - find one that you like - my current one is "this too will pass" but it could equally be "tomorrow is a new day" or "one day at a time" and repeat it often to yourself.

Hope that helps a little - I'm always on the lookout for coping tips so watching this thread with interest!

zookeeper Tue 04-Dec-12 21:08:02

I have three, aged 11,9 and 8. The older two are two boisterous confident boys and the youngest is a feisty no holds barred girl.I have been a lone parent with them for five years. It does get easier but I can remember my exdp and I and subsequently just me feeling overwhelmed with them.

I think however well disciplined and firm you are with three young children there is always going to be noise, banging, crashing, breaking things (albeit accidentally), arguments, etc. More and more however, as their characters and hobbies develop, mine at least are becoming more self contained and less needy of me and uptight with each other.

Hang on in there because it does seem to get better although I am awaiting with no small trepidation their teenage years

WeAreSix Tue 04-Dec-12 20:54:59

I've just posted something similar in parenting. DCs are 9, 7, 5 and 4 months. My 5yo has SENs and is needing more and more support as each week goes by.

If being a mum was my career I'd say I was burning out. I thought I'd be good at being a mother too. It seems I underestimated reality!

My plan is to follow the good advice I've been given on here I'm in bed asleep, honest and to cut myself some slack Hope you feel more positive soon.

naturalbaby Tue 04-Dec-12 20:49:00

I have 3 under 5 and I really wanted to go retrain at Uni but am convinced there is no way anyone will be able to cope with 3 very boisterous little ones.

I have 2 manic/very active/very determined boys who loose focus and run into roads/car parks and a lovely gentle caring boy who has now decided enough is enough and has turned into the biggest bully of all of them.

One has just come out of the terrible twos, another is rapidly going into the terrible twos.

Today was a fairly good day - we all had a long walk home from school and I gave ds1 jobs from the minute he walked through the door, non stop till I had to cook dinner then it was t.v time. Ds3 kept turning the t.v off. After dinner ds1 slapped ds2 in the face, just as I was about to give him a sticker for being so good and helpful.

threebeautifulboys Tue 04-Dec-12 18:56:56

Oh I have just read this thread. Thank you to everyone who has written it is such a help. I have 3 boys aged 10, 8 and 2 and feel like a failure on a daily basis. I know I look chilled when out because people comment on how relaxed I look! Like a swan serene on the outside but kicking like crazy under the water.

I recon my expectations are way too high....but I like a neat least I used to!

My children bicker constantly which makes me feeln like a failure but individually are a joy. I think they need more 1 on 1 but I struggle to find the time. No more for me!

shrinkingnora Mon 25-Jun-12 18:53:35

Timing out the toy they are arguing over really works. Or if they are arguing over tv channels it goes off. But three is bloody hard work. Sometimes just taking the path of least resistance is good. And be out all the time when it's not pissing down. less time for the house to get messy...

BombasticAghast Mon 25-Jun-12 18:42:21

I only have 2 - twin boys aged nearly 3. I love baskingseals description of "one moment it's the Waltons, bilk and it's more like Texas Chainsaw Massacre." That's exactly it. Also the good, crap and 'can't go on". That is exactly ow it feels.

Maybe it's just me being crap, but I identify with so much of what is being said - even with just 2! So you guys are doing really well!

baskingseals Mon 25-Jun-12 18:37:44

clay whatever you feel, don't fall into the trap of thinking everybody else is doing it all so well, and you're the only one who isn't. that's one slippery slope. NOBODY on earth has ever been, is or will be a perfect parent.

i have 3 dc. one moment it's the waltons, blink and it's more like texas chainsaw massacre.

i find it seems to go in patches, as in good, crap and 'i honestly cannot do this anymore'. at the moment it is sort of okay, but i have learnt to let go of my own expectations and focus more on the moment. i also rely heavily on friends with children - have you got any good mates? without them to moan to i think i would end up sobbing in a corner somewhere more often than i actually do.

try and keep perspective. they will grow up. they will.

EyeoftheStorm Mon 25-Jun-12 17:57:06

Mine are 8, 6 and 3. I have zero tolerance for tale telling as it drives me crazy. Since they were very little, I have answered: "I'm not interested. Sort it out yourselves." If they don't sort it out, I take away whatever they were playing with. If they carry on trying to argue their point, I walk away.

It sounds quite harsh when I write it down like that, but it is all in a nice, calm voice.

Tale-telling I'm good at, now can anyone help me get the 3 of them out of the house in time for school without shouting?

claypole44 Mon 25-Jun-12 17:46:36

I have low standards about the house.My husband is more fussy but he does lots of housework despite working long hours. I just tell him there is no point, it will all be undone by lunchtime.

With regards to tends to be relentless tale-telling How do you stop the 'Muuum, E just took my...!' 'Mummy! F just said I'm a .....' I can only ignore it so long before I explode!

Oh...I'm not having any more :-D

camdancer Mon 25-Jun-12 17:42:07

Claypole I'm not really that negative, just this time of day is always hardest - all three at home, dinner etc. You might find that actually you are one of those parents who seem chilled when you are out. I think most of us seem to look like pretty decent parents when we are out and about. It is at home that it all falls apart! It's one of those "don't judge your insides by their outsides" type of things.

Anyway I think it is wine o'clock! grin

moogalicious Mon 25-Jun-12 17:34:42

Mine are 5, 7 and 9. It does get easier although I am also back at work, so don't have much spare time.

I don't referee (unless it gets physical)
I try not to shout as it encourages them to shout which lead to a shouty household <sighs>
Destructiveness is not tolerated
I pick my battles
Toys left lying around for days will be binned!

Like PissyDust I find it hard to be positive on the 'shall I have 3' threads and look forward to days off when the house is empty of dc's and dh.

Hat's off to those with 4 or more!!

PacificDogwood Mon 25-Jun-12 17:32:42


I have four boys between 9 and 2 years and I can honestly say, that it is only in the last 3 months or so, that I feel there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

My top tips:
Surround yourself with people who have more than 2 children - 2 hands, 2 children = much, much more manageable than when the blighter are able to outmanoevre you. It help to be able to moan discuss thing with people who are going through simimlar challenges.

Allow lots of friends to come and play. Mine fight less when there are more children thrown into the mix. There are currently 7 boys in my house (I think wink) and I am on MN...

Live life like an alcoholic - one day at a time grin. Works for me anyway.

I have become very aware of sibling rivalry as well, maybe worse as mine are all the same gender, and found 'How to talk to children so they will listen, and how to listen so they will talk' and the same author's sibling book very interesting.

When I am really honent, I have to say the biggest disappointment of parenthood for me has been the constant niggling/picking fights/looking to find cause for complaint which is likely simply an attention seeking ploy on their part, so then I feel guilty for having wanted (and got!) so many...

wine is also helpful. And chocolate...

ParkbenchSociety Mon 25-Jun-12 17:31:54

Mine are now 15, 17 and 18 and everything you say sounds totally, totally normal to me. In fact , I could have written that myself. They have always been so much fun but also so frustrating. I was deffinitly in the shouty mother club too. They are actually quite nice now....
I am not sure I am qualified to give advice but I would say, keep them exercised and busy, make sure they are polite and respectful and try and be consistent. No means no. Otherwise try not to worry as it will should get better. smile

Ps My Mum said when I had two DC that I might as well have three as its not much extra. She was lying.

PissyDust Mon 25-Jun-12 17:29:45

I have 3 with the same age gap as you op.

Mine are now 10 8 & 4.

Pens get thrown away in my house if they are left lying around, pens are only allowed in pencil cases and pencil cases have to be in school bags. DD3 isn't allowed to touch school bags.

I was reading a "shall I have 3 children" thread the other day and I wanted to reply to say NOOOOOOOOO but all the replies were saying how lovely they find it and left me a bit hmm

Going back to work hasn't made it easier (sorry) I'm exhausted and spend weekends being a taxi or catching up on house work I couldn't do during the week, the children don't help they just want to play outside or wreck one room with a sodding camp whilst I clean another room!

Wish I could post more positively smile at least you know your not alone.

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