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Do you ever feel you wish you had stopped at 2? I feel like I'm failing them all as there are too many of them.

(51 Posts)
sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 11:55:41

Well I only have four, they are 8, nearly 7, 4 and 2. We have no family support so it's just DP and I. DP works long hours and I suppose on paper earns a good wage but I always feel poor.

I feel our selfishness of wanting four is majorly impacting on the quality of life our DC have. Like today they are on holiday I'm at home with them, we can't go anywhere as we have no money, I can only drive locally due to anxiety issues, it would be a nightmare taking them anywhere on the train myself even if I had the money.

Everything is a struggle, going anywhere is hard work, I dread it, we can't eat put even places like Pizza Hut is about £40 for us. I look at people with two and they are away to the cinema then for a nice meal out. They seem a lot better dressed than mine, I'm always scrimping to buy them clothes. I would love to take them on holiday or overnight but it's not going to happen.

I feel like I have failed them and I know it's going to get worse as they become teenagers.

I can't go back to work as childcare would be a nightmare, financially and logistically for example school holidays. If there were only two I could have been at work at least part time by now.

I know we chose to have four and its a bit like shut up you've made your bed and all that. I love them all dearly and wouldn't be without them of course but have I made their childhood rubbish by having so many. Nevermind spreading ourselves so thin. DP and I never get a night out, we are both knackered and our relationship is rubbish.

We are supposed to be getting an extension but that's up in the air so at present DS is still in a cot with us, he has nowhere for his clothes or toys. DD2 sleeps on a toddler bed too small for her as that's all the can fit in her room, the other 2 are in bunks. Lack of space is awful just now (wonders how people managed in ye olden days).

I know I should be grateful for my four beautiful, healthy children and need a good kick up the backside. It's just so bloody hard right now.

newpup Mon 15-Oct-12 12:03:01

Hello. I only have 2 children so can not put myself in your shoes. Sorry you are feeling so blue. I just wanted to reassure you that when your children are grown up I am sure they will tell you that a houseful of love and company was worth much more than material things! You have a ready made team :-) Relax and enjoy your lovely brood. Your love and each others company is priceless. smile

ZZZenAgain Mon 15-Oct-12 12:06:46

if money is the biggest issue (in order to expand your living space, afford babysitters and be able to have the occasional night out with dh, to provide clothing or weekend activities for the dc), you will need to go back to work once the dc are all at school. How long you work and whether you can work in school holidays, you will have to see but it does sound as if you need to improve the family income. Going out to work will of course also add to your stress with the pressures of work itself and the worries regarding childcare in the holidays, after school and when one of them is ill but I don't see another way out really.

As for your anxiety issues re driving. I think you need to attempt to deal with this. If it is unsuccessful, ok but at least try. If you already have a license you could attempt driving the same route many times with dh or a friend until you slowly get some confidence. Start by driving early on a Sunday morning when the streets are fairly clear. Whenever you get nervous, indicate, pull over, calm down and then start again.

If you have no family to help and no money for a babysitter, you would need a friend willing to accompany you in the car or dh to do that and a friend to look after your children for half an hour. I know it isn't easy but I don't think you have any easy options really.

TakingTheStairs Mon 15-Oct-12 12:09:13

I am one of four and although I know things were tight when we were growing up I never felt like I lost out.
We didn't go for meals or day trips or trips to the cinema. When we (the children) were old enough we got Saturday jobs so that we had our own cash for cinema trips, non essential clothes etc.

I promise you haven't made their childhood rubbish. As long as you're children feel loved they will be happy.

sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 12:16:08

Thank you newpup you've made me cry.

Zzzzenagain - yes I can drive and do so every day but only local, I freak out if I were to go near a motorway or even a dual carriageway. I've had extra lessons and hypnotherapy in the past too. I have a science degree and worked preDC but in the SE. We have moved back up North now so my career dead in the water, I don't mind per se, I love being at home with the DC feel very privileged to have been able to do so (and made many sacrifices). I definitely do want to work once they are all in school but am beginning to think will it actually be feasible? Most people I know who work have free childcare provided by family. After school is £7 a day x4 that's £28 per day. Then as you say there's all the holidays and if one is ill etc.

I know I'll get a lot of you should have thought about all of this before having four and yes maybe I should have, hindsite is a wonderful thing. But then I think but I wouldn't have had DD3 or DS and then feel mega guilty.

orangeberries Mon 15-Oct-12 13:12:41

Well I just wanted to give you some reassurance as I have 4 children same age as yours (expect youngest is 3) and work part-time and it does make a huge financial difference and it is doable. My recommendation would be to give it a go. We have no family whatsoever to help, so in the same boat as you.

Between DH and I we manage to cover most of the school holidays and also every year so far I have taken some unpaid leave. I also work from home a lot so that helps. The money does make a big difference for all the things you mention. I know what you mean, everything is SO expensive, every meal out is like a mortgage! 2 of our boys also have coeliac disease so that's been hard but we are doing ok.

We have our ups and downs and it is expensive and hard going, but I would say that working means that a lot of the stress is taken out. I would seriously consider going back to work, it is doable and lots of people do it with 4 or more children, it's just the case of taking the plunge.

sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 13:26:45

Thanks orangeberries. The thing is I cannot go back into the same field so am effectively starting at the bottom again. I've thought about nursery teaching but it's a 2 year course so 2 years unpaid whilst on a 4 day a week course although school hols would be covered. Alternatively there's teaching but at the moment that's really hard to get into the course and the job situation at the end is not good, I.e. no permanent positions they phone you up on a Mon and give you days, not great if you have to find childcare. DS will start nursery next year and DD3 will be in school which helps a bit. DP doesn't think we need me to be working hmm we will be losing child benefit next year as well.

Poledra Mon 15-Oct-12 13:51:56

Hello SK - I'm sorry to hear you're struggling. I'd second a previous poster said - love and care are more important that material things.

On a more practical note, perhaps you need to cast your net a bit more widely when thniking about what you'd like to do. The jobs you've thought of are far from the only (or indeed maybe even the best!) options open to you. I know you have a science degree - have you considered scientific writing? Clinical Research associate? Clinical data management? Clinical audit?

I'd really try to tackle the driving phobia. Apart from anything else, it'll boost your confidence in yourself when you can overcome this. And you can, but ti will take time and work to do so.

Hugs to you, and hope you can start to see the wood for the trees soon.

lljkk Mon 15-Oct-12 14:06:25

Yes I often reflect that stopping at 2 might have been far wiser!! For every reason mentioned.

I identify with lots you've said. Now NLB is at school I am finally feeling able to job hunt. Very hard for it to make sense money-childcare wise, though, and I am slowly resigning myself to likely retraining (annoying when I already have many years work experience & qualifications, but nothing very up to date).

purpleroses Mon 15-Oct-12 19:43:55

I did stop at 2, but now have 6 at weekends because my DP has 4 of his own. But I think you're wrong that they'll be harder when they're older. Coping with two under 5s was definitely far harder than having 6 aged 9-15. Older children are just so much more able to entertain themselves (or each other) and don't drain you like little ones do. Sometimes it feels hard work, but mostly they're just fun to be around.

Older kids do cost a lot more though - they eat more, clothes and shoes cost more, and they want to do activities which cost money. But no reason you can't work part-time once they're all at school. Even part-time work on a low wagewould boost your family income as there's no tax on the first £8000 or so you earn.

Bproud Mon 15-Oct-12 19:58:48

Not able to offer much advice, but on the money side - could you shop at Tesco and use the club card vouchers for treats and days out?
Since you are a scientist could you offer out of school coaching or tutoring? My son who is Oxbridge undergraduate coaches up to GCSE/A level level biology, chemistry and Maths for £15 per hour. If your DH is home by 7/8pm you could fit in a few appointments weekday evenings or do saturday mornings.

sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:18:36

Already shoot tesco and use vouchers for days out smile am hoping to get a load to double up for Christmas.

So not looking forward to Christmas this year, we're cutting back, DP mega stressed about the extension costs just now too.

I will need to do something once the youngest 2 are in school, am thinking about doing a higher at night school next year in Early Education and Childcare which would mean I would go into year 2 of the Early Years course.

deleted203 Mon 15-Oct-12 20:25:34

No, I love having 5 and would probably have had more if I'd been able to. There's never any money to spare, but we are lucky enough to live at the seaside so have happy summer holidays on beach for free. A bargain bucket at KFC is not bad value. I don't mind driving, so we are members of National Trust and often go to places. (2 trips in a year pays back your membership). Our local cinema does a kids club on a Sat morning for £1 each. We are mostly happy doing things that cost very little, and I honestly think the kids value having you around spending time with them rather than wanting material things anyway. Go for a walk, collect leaves and conkers and then come back and do collages with them - stuff like that is free and they love it. Make play dough. Mine couldn't honestly care less what they are wearing. Have you got a friend who would babysit one night for you, if you babysat for them a different night? Hope things improve.

ecto Mon 15-Oct-12 20:27:11

Don't worry about short term scrimping. I am one of 4 and my parents had no money when we were little. I don't remember it mattering, although the youngest sibling always remembers wearing stuff handed down too many times with holes in! Not such a big deal though. As an adult, it is nice to have lots of siblings, better than just having one. As a mother though, I only have 2. I couldn't cope with more.

recall Mon 15-Oct-12 20:48:02

Hi sweetkitty <<waves>>

I have three children 5, 3 and 2. We own a small cottage, 2up 2 down, and when I was pregnant with my 3rd, I felt the walls closing in. We rented our cottage out, and then rented a different house for us, it has more room, and a large garden. Is this a possibility for you ?

If you get clever at it, you can get some lovely second hand clothes off e bay. You can download a foot measuring template, and then buy them good quality second hand shoes that you know will fit.

I find that mine love time alone with me, so how about taking them out for cinema/pizza etc in ones, that would be an extra treat, and work out cheaper, could take a different one each week.

I also think that once they are all at school, your life will change.

I was an only child, and both my parents worked full time. I would have loved to have my Mum at home and had brothers and sisters to play with. Being with your children is worth more to them than material things.

I too have felt guilty for having three, and spreading myself too thin, but then I see them playing together and am reassured that I have done the right thing. It is just very hard, especially whilst also coping with anxiety wink

MisForMumNotMaid Mon 15-Oct-12 20:54:21

I've got 3. Eldest is Autistic so childcare isn't an option. I was in a managerial position as an Engineer before the DC. I have some frustrating days when the grass looks greener. And on Sunday mornings we all bundle into bed together and talk about life and I feel all is right with the world.

We use kids am, we share a couple of bags of chips in the park as a treat and have sausage rolls or something I've packed to make it a meal. The kids love picnics and walking in the woods, building sandcastles (especially when it's out of season when the beech is quiet), the library they often have freebies like stickers and colouring sheets. When they were younger we used to go to McDonald's on high days for an icecream. You can do the same at Pizza Hut and the likes just go out for the pudding, eat pizza at home then all go out for the pudding. It makes the meal more like £10 than £40 and there's no drinks to buy just the icecream factory's all round. You still get colouring packs, balloons etc even if you just have the icecream.

The money one is a tough one. It's always a question of how much do any of us need? I'm really into eBay. I live remotely so use Hermes collection service to send all my stuff. I just sell the kids old stuff, toys they've outgrown, old coats etc. it's amazing how it adds up. DH jokes that I make money from the children. I have a bit of a pram fetish and when I see one at a car boot or charity shop that I like I buy it and sell DD's current one, she's had 9 so far (not yet 2) and on most I've doubled my money. When I get them toys I look for good condition second hand and for new items i buy things from their lists that will have a resale value (I put some of the boxes in storage to keep for resale). The older two have a one in one out policy so if they bring new things into the house they have to choose things to go. Quite often the old ones bring in a fair bit of the cost of the new.

Regarding the toddler bed. At my parents house they couldn't fit another child's bed in so they trimmed the footboard off the toddler bed and had a foam mattress overhanging the end. It worked really well for DS when he stayed over. Now they are looking for triple bunks. My auntie has just installed a set of 2'6 triple bunks in her guest room - they look really good and the space between bunks isn't bad.

sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:56:40

Thanks everyone for being so kind. Hopefully things will get easier once DS is put the terrible twos/lunatic phase. I'm so stressed just one feel like such a rubbish mum. I just think if I had stopped at two, we wouldn't have needed a huge car, extension, could go on holiday, DP wouldn't be so stressed about money etc. I know I need to stop dwelling on it, we don't have two, we can't give two back (not that I would), we need to get on with it.

RandomMess Mon 15-Oct-12 21:03:29

Do you really need to extend so soon?

We had bunks in the small single bedroom at one time??? We've always slept in the middle room and had 2 or 3 in the large bedroom - we kept them in cots with the sides off for ages as they saved space. We had 3 of them sharing a double wardrobe with 2 rails in it, lots of storage that used the height of the rooms etc.

You don't need many clothes and toys when they have each other for entertainment value. I found as I washing everyday they only really needed about 5 weather appropriate outfits each as they always chose their favourite things to wear.

Had tall drawers too, some of it is about planning and thinking outside the box.

Itchywoolyjumper Mon 15-Oct-12 21:11:19

Me and DSis are our parents only children. We were very lucky and did a fair bit of daytripping and cinema etc. It was lovely but we would have far and away preferred an other sister or two. In fact I remember when we were very small the doctor came our house and me and DSis almost peed ourselves with excitement because we thought he had a baby in his bag for us grin
You sound like a lovely mum.

sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 21:19:42

Extension is SO needed I can assure you if it weren't it wouldnt be getting done. It's a tiny new build house so no storage space. We have DD1 & 3 in one bedroom in bunks, DD2 in the tiny bedroom on the toddler bed with DSs stuff in there too. Our kitchen is tiny too, whoever said the walls are coming in is not wrong, every time I open a cupboard things fall out.

RandomMess Mon 15-Oct-12 21:31:06

Our house has a ground floor space of 18' x 22' if it's smaller than that then I truly understand!

sweetkitty Mon 15-Oct-12 21:40:44

I can't think in old money randommess sorry blush

Yellowtip Mon 15-Oct-12 21:41:30

I'm out the other end having had eight DC in quick succession and can empathise with a lot of the doubts you express.

Mine have had far less materially than they would have done had I only had two, but they get vastly more by being part of a huge set of siblings. They all say, without exception, that they wouldn't have had it any other way. It's been a very long haul (eldest is 22) and of course there have been bumps. Just take a deep breath and don't think too much, just plod on - it'll turn out just fine.

Yellowtip Mon 15-Oct-12 21:43:43

My three eldest girls share, my three eldest boys share and my youngest boy and youngest girl share. They like it.

Ummofumbridge Mon 15-Oct-12 21:50:37

Sk! Waves smile (katnkittens in previous incarnation) we were in the ttc #4 thread together I think?
I've got 5 and we're always skint! I'm getting good at buying and selling on eBay, plus car boots are amazing. We did one ourselves and made about £75! Worth thinking about.
In currently in my final year of a science degree and clueless as to what to do afterwards. Am also up North, where abouts are you?

Im one of 3 and we never had any money until we were teens (so I'm told) but I can't remember that, I just remember playing with my friends and my mum taking us to the park and swimming.

I've got anxiety issues too although I've overcome a lot of them, when ds and dd1 were little I hardly took them anywhere as I didn't drive and I was scared of public transport. They're teenagers now and are lovely! They certainly haven't suffered because of it. I'm the opposite now, when I'm at home with the little ones (1 & 2) I need to go out for my sanity!!

Oh and DH & I have no life either but we'll get there!

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