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Four 6 and under. Feeling overwhelmed, esp with school related stuff!

(28 Posts)
educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:43:12

I have 4 and two at school dd1 yr2 and dd2 in reception. I'm feeling quite stressed about the school stuff there is so much more to contend with and worry about than i anticipated!

I'm finding it hard to dedicate enough quality time to the school work and i constantly worry dd1 is falling behind because of me sad DD2 just hates going to school and cries every morning sad

That combinde with the general trying to keep on top of things and give all four some quality time is getting me down. I find it really hard to get out and about with all four alone and struggle to think of things to do that will be possible with them all while i am on my own. And dd1&2 seem to be suddenly arguing loads and tonight i lost it and really shouted at them and felt awful sad i hadnt seen dd1 all day as she had been at a friends and i had a lovely day which i proceeded to ruin.

Any tips would be great as i feel like im just getting through rather than enjoying them atm!

girlsyearapart Wed 20-Feb-13 20:37:09

I am with you on that imip I frequently get told by other people that I 'make it look easy' having 4.
I really don't think I do but I am quite strict and I have fairly high expectations from them & never back down if I've said something.
I don't really think that is 'making it look easy' but I find that with four so young there's no room for messing around too much because then they all start!
We also do day trips with other parents so we all have company & it's a bonus to have someone to watch the others whilst you take another to the loo or something

imip Tue 19-Feb-13 22:13:08

I'm in a very similar position OP. dd1 in y1, dd2 reception, dd3 is 2 and dd4 12 months. The homework is driving me nuts. Reception is ok, two readers a week, but y1 has a homework sheet every week - writing, numeracy, phonics and a picture. Then a homework project on top of that that must be presented to the class every fortnight (6 yrs old, ffs!). Don't get me wrong, I love to do homework with my kids, but I want it to be enjoyable, not a pressure for me and a pressure for my daughters. Dd1 is a bit like me and doesn't sleep in, so while in reception, she would get up early and we would read for about half an hour every morning. However, dd2 is a sleeper, and I struggle to get the time to read with her. She is also less engaged, and it is hard to motivate her. I feel like I am letting her down, but dd4 is becoming quite a handful, and it is difficult to fine quiet time. Dh can help out on the weekend, but the dcs are more interested in playing with daddy on the weekend than doing homework.

With regards to half-term, I feel I have got it a bit more under control (well, we are only two days in here). I do tend to do a lot of day trips with all four, but I usually do it with other parents. Or play dates at ours. I actually try to 'catch up' on play dates during the holidays, as I don't do many during term time, just too difficult. We live in london, so lots of museums etc close, I usually am able to find someone to come along with is, as mentioned upthread, a lot easier with company. However, everyone will have only one or two kids and different age gaps, so sometimes that causes problems with kids dynamics etc. Half terms are easier to fill with only five days. Summer is a lot more difficult.

I have to say I find that I am pushing myself to the limit each and every day. Physically, just carrying one,sometimes two children. Meeting all their needs and demands. Dh is working shocking hours at the moment, and I am finding it relentless. Yesterday dd3 had a friend over with her mum. She said having 4dds looked idyllic in many ways, and while it is, I made it look easy, if that makes sense. Holding dd3 while making pizza for lunch, running upstairs sorting out arguments between dds. Just non stop. Dd4 still waking frequently through the night. I love it, but it is relentless....

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 19-Feb-13 21:18:59

Yes, it gets different as they get older, but overall I think that the early years were the most physically exhausting, because you never get a break.

I found that things started to get a bit easier once the younger two started pre-school, because then I started to get some time to myself to recharge and get stuff done.

educator123 Tue 19-Feb-13 20:39:31

*an insight into

educator123 Tue 19-Feb-13 20:38:34

Not sure what our school excuse is then...only 45pupils in total at the school!!

The weekly homework task is apparently set to give the parent/child some time together and the parent an insist me what they have been learning about!

I say let's jump on board with some other countries and scrap homework for the primary years.

I think the schools are so under pressure now with league tables etc so they are probably adding more work.

I've had spring/summer babies and now I wish I had planned better and had winter ones so they missed intake at four and started at five. Being at preschool was a happy medium, dd2 only started in Sept and it's been a nightmare they still have to peel her off me crying every morning sad and extra year at pre school would have been amazing esp as we had the most amazing preschool here.

I think as our children grow things get easier and other things come along so it's not necessary getting harder just different if that makes sense.

Since dd1 started school it's made me realise how much h need to treasure the early years ...not always easy though hence my OP ;)

amillionyears Tue 19-Feb-13 18:17:21

It was for me if that helps.
But mine went through primary several years ago. So things may have changed for the worse?
And presumably all schools are different. Our school I dont think was as bad as some other local primaries, and still managed to be on a par with others. But I think that had partly to do with it being a smaller size so teachers had more time individually probably.
Also I think our primary was aware that parents had other things in life to do, as well as their kids homework!

3monkeys3 Tue 19-Feb-13 18:12:08

This post us very enlightening! I was under the impression it would get easier once they start school! Eek!

educator123 Tue 19-Feb-13 07:26:48

Yes the homework seriously bugs me, there up some ridiculous tasks on their...and trying to go for the 'easy option' we've often been up late designing, making and cooking Roman cookies followed by a write up grr. I was getting very annoyed so have now spoken to the teacher and we get to do in once a fortnight now, I still end up rushing around on a Tue or Wed trying to get one of the lovely tasks complete lol.

ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 18-Feb-13 22:30:07

We're sort of in a routine now with the spellings and reading, but the younger two haven't really progressed with their times tables for weeks, because that has taken a back seat. We're having a big focus on it this half term; at every mealtime the poor things aren't allowed to leave the table until they have answered a multiplication / division question.

That weekly project would drive me mad; the more that homework requires parental input, the more it annoys me! grin

educator123 Mon 18-Feb-13 22:21:38

And the create that much hw?

Think I need to up my game smile

Atm only dd1 has spellings so we do those each morning after breakfast then the reading in the evening. Think it works well as it not interrupted and I think the girls enjoy the Mummy time!

Dd1 also has a homework project/piece of work that is handed in every's a bit of a PITA as it's picked from a grid or various things all time consuming involving planning on my part to make sure we have what we need in advance. In theory it would work best if done over the weekend, but never works out that way due to various things so trying to get it done after school is a pain as to have a calm rush free bath and bedtime I need them having dinner at 430-5ish and she isn't home until 330 normal night and 430 on an after school club night, she deserves some down time too imo.

When I'm organised with some kind of rough routine it's all great when I get tired and slack it all slips a bit.

Doesn't help on the harder days that dc4 unlike on my others, just does not nap in the day unless it's during a walk or something, my other all had a two ish hour nap after lunch with was great for organising dinner or something. She also still doesn't sleep well at night so it can feel a bit suffocating on a tired day, not having a break day or night.

But it all goes so quick so just using to treasure those precious moments and accept there will be highs and lows but so worth it

ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 18-Feb-13 21:58:16

Doing reading with the older two once the younger two are in bed is a great idea; that's exactly the sort of thing I mean.

DS1 is now in Y8.
DS2 is in Y6.
DS3 and DD (twins) are in Y4.

educator123 Mon 18-Feb-13 21:09:04

ThreeBee - wow thats alot of tasks in a week! How many do you have?

I'm already finding it emotionally exhausting at times hope for me during the teen years! I am quite a deep thinker/worrier, this explains my current MN name as I stumbled onto the primary ed section as i have been considering a school move and gosh i wish i hadn't far too much infor/stuff to think/worry about. Ignorance is bliss and all that!

I think that is what has made me have a tough few days - lots on my mind.

Atm I'm trying to get the younger two in bed for 630ish then i can spend some uninterupted time reading with 1&2 and still have them in bed for 7-730ish. Although tonight they were enojing the reading so much it was a late bedtime for them - 8pm!

5Kids - dd1 reads ds1 his favourite books now sometime, which definitely is heart warming smile

5kidsnobump Mon 18-Feb-13 20:13:45

I can completely sympathise educator. I have 5 - they are 6, 5, 2,1 and 3 months! Oldest 2 are at school, and then the 3 youngest are at home with me all day.

I totally know what you mean about being too tired for lots of groups/ activities. With my oldest 2 we used to do lots more - now I only tend to go to a couple of groups a week and the other days we just play at home as it is such a nightmare trying to manage 3 under 3 when I'm out with them. I do try make an effort to change round the activities we do at home though, which does seem to generally work.

In terms of homework/ reading ect. we try and achieve most of this at the weekend, when DH is also around as it's almost impossible to get anything much done on week nights when I'm on my own all day - DH only gets in from work in time to help with the bedtime routine really.

I think you have to accept with quite afew young kids, not everything is going to be perfect, but I'm hoping it will get easier. Also I know the DC's don't get so much one to one parent time with so many, but I think they gain lots from having siblings to play and interact with. DC3 now actively asks DC1 to read him his bedtime story, which I do find really heartwarming!

ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 18-Feb-13 16:42:23

I used to find the school holidays very long. A lot of the activities that brought structure to our week would suddenly stop in the holidays. I would plan my own activities for them but these would often be done by ten am, leaving a very long day stretching out before us.

This has improved a lot since the younger ones turned seven, but I realise that's rather a long time for you to wait. In the meantime, I would recommend company. Meet up with a couple of other families at a country park, take some snacks, and half the day will be taken care of before you know it.

In the Easter holidays a lot of places have Easter egg hunts or similar, so that's a couple of days done.

It does get less physically exhausting, I promise. Then your eldest reaches adolescence and it becomes emotionally exhausting instead, but that's a story for another day. grin

ThreeBeeOneGee Mon 18-Feb-13 16:34:00

It does go through a difficult stage. I remember when DS1 was in R and Y1, it was difficult to listen to him read or help him with any school related tasks as the younger three were such hard work.

I had to experiment with different adjustments to our routine until we found something that suited us. And then we'd be on to the next stage and we'd need to adjust it again.

You may need to be inventive with fitting in homework and reading, possibly by multitasking. At various points, I have listened to reading and tested spellings and times tables whilst feeding or bathing younger children. Spellings and times tables cam also be tested verbally while walking to school.

Although the younger ones will eventually need less of your time minute to minute, they will be bringing their own homework home before you know it. At the moment I have to do twelve sessions a week of listening to children read aloud, supervise fourteen spelling practices a week and ten times table practices, as well as eighteen sessions of music practice. Plus giving them encouragement and support with other homework when they need it.

You will become a pro at this before too long! grin

amillionyears Mon 18-Feb-13 16:17:12

I thought your MN name was a bit of a clue to your ideals!

I was hoping that you were at the end of the hols, rather than the beginning!
I used to find as well, that funny what a difference a day or two makes.

educator123 Mon 18-Feb-13 16:07:01

Thank you, your mum keeps telling me there is no such thing as perfection so stop trying to be the 'perfect' mother. Hard though being as I want everything perfect for them from healthy meals to a bit of quality time with each on their own and all together too!

Feels hard to spread myself.

Having a better day number 3 was du pre school until 1. So I went out bought some new books for dds 1&2 that we can enjoy together tonight. Has some time with number 3 reading after I collected him then he slept, dd3 was happy so I, wait for it....actually mopped downstairs smile today is a good day.

Seems to go like that days where I'm so happy and love it all...this is at least most of the time. Then dam right awful days where it all feel a little too much.
I think the key is getting out once a day if poss and getting up earlier to not have to rush...easier said than done sometimes even though I know I'll regret it when trying to get that extra half an hours sleep !

amillionyears Mon 18-Feb-13 15:03:08

Ah, end of school holidays. Remember them well!

fwiw, I do think with large families, that sometimes things have to give.
Be it housework, cooking, and yes, even brilliant childcare. [But wouldnt advise partner or husband].

Also, fwiw, they do benefit in other ways imo.

I would say though, to watch out for middle children.
It is quite easy for them to be just swept along with the others sometimes.

You are bringing back memories op!
Not all of them good.
But I am well out the other side now, and you will be too.

educator123 Mon 18-Feb-13 14:11:24

Thanks everyone.

Today was the first day back to school so end of half term...usually I love the holidays but this time I was on countdown to today!

Have a supportive partner but he works shifts so I often do the 'harder' parts of the day along like bedtime etc.
No family or babysitters close by and dd3 is fully breastfed still so with me most of the time, won't nap in the day and doesn't sleep that well. Dc3 is a my hardest toddler so far he is lovely but doesn't get staying close by and roads etc so makes it harder getting out as he has walked everywhere for the last year.

It's great getting out but sometimes hard to motivate to do the shoes, coats,pushchair, carseat etc.

And your right not rushing makes a huge difference.

Just not enough hours in the day by evening I am a zombie!

sweetkitty Sun 17-Feb-13 22:50:48

You are not alone, mine are 8, 7, 4 and 2 now and boy is it hard work. I had 4 under 6 for a bit too.

Personally I use the TV, if the younger two haven't seen much or none all day we have a quiet hour after school, younger 2 get cbeebies and a biscuit, gives me a bot of time to do homework with older two.

A friend used to put the napping ones down for a nap during homework but that wouldn't have worked for me.

Tips well it does get better as they get older but mine are always fighting too. Quality time can be a 10 minute chat in bed. Take as much help as is offered, we have no family but I wouldn't have bitten someone's hand off for half an hours babysitting. Grocery shop online.

I still get stressed on my own my four too but still force myself to go out. But sometimes you come back and think what's the point?

It will get easier wont it grin

weegiemum Sun 17-Feb-13 22:37:18

I have 3, not 4 (though did have 3 under 4 for a while) and the year with dd1 in p3, ds in p1 and dd2 in nursery (while I was in the last year of college - I went back in my late 30s!) was hell on earth.

I can only say it gets better! They're now 13 (in s1), 11 (in p6) and 9 (in p5) and I'm working - it's like a different family! I think the early school years - with deadlines etc but children who need chivvied the whole time - are very, very hard!

I only coped due to routines and organisation (which is not normally my strong point!!).

amillionyears Sun 17-Feb-13 22:29:57

trying to think of the MN expression.
And this will pass?

Sounds like you are in the thick of things.
Things will get better. Really they will.

Are you at the end of half term, or the beginning of it?
And do you have a partner, or other family support?

lockets Sun 17-Feb-13 22:21:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 22:12:37

It just feels like I'm not really achieving how I would like to in everything.

Fun family time, decent meals just feel like I'm hurrying everyone along.

With one and two I did so many groups and things with them and enjoyed it, now I feel like there is so much to do after school run and the thought of going somewhere feels too tiring or hard work so I've lost motivation for groups and end up spending lots of time at home. The first two are much better if we get out but aside from walks I struggle to think of things to do which keep my two year old happy and safe while a bf etc and that my Dc1&2 enjoy.

girlsyearapart Sun 17-Feb-13 22:07:39

Can I just say you're not alone!

My eldest are 5 & 4 and are in reception and nursery.
The younger two are 2.5 and 14 mo.

Getting out of the door in the mornings is so hard.

But staying home is also hard.

Like you the eldest have started fighting all the time..

I make sure every day they have blank paper and pens and practice their writing on them. They don't know that's what they are doing iyswim.

They have the key word sheets blu tacked to the wall by their beds.

Not much else except reading every night.

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