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Feel like I'm completely floundering - tips from old pros, please? (sorry, bit long)

(23 Posts)
Cloudbase Tue 17-May-11 21:39:32

Bit of background - I've been a LP for 2 yrs since leaving my abusive ex - the first six months were hard work, but felt like a bit of a breeze as I was on such a high from finally getting away from him. He had been violent and controlling and very emotionally and verbally abusive to me and DD1 and DS2 (age 4 and 3 now) over a long period.

He promised to go on an abuser course and had regular contact with the kids, which seemed to go okay, but it became obvious about 8 months ago that he was starting to be emotionally abusive around the kids, and then my (then) 2yr old said he didn't want to see Daddy becuase he was scared and Daddy hurt him/hit him.

Given his past behaviour, I stopped contact and he agreed to go on a parenting course and an anger management course (which of course he didn't do). The long and short of it is that I have spent the last 5 months trying to sort out contact arrangements that would keep my children safe. I ended up having to supervise contact with him, which he used as an excuse to continue to abuse me and threaten me.

At the moment, he has no contact and we are awaiting a place at a contact centre, and our local family law court issued a non-molestation order against him, preventing him from contacting me except via a solicitor or coming anywhere near my home.

I am working 30 hours a week over 4 days, I have no support so am doing literally everything - if i'm not at work, I'm looking after the kids, and I haven't had any time without them since November last year. My flat is falling apart because I'm too shattered to keep up with the housework, my laundry is backing up out of the kitchen and I'm begining to hate coming home. To top it off, all the recent problems with my ex started at almost exactly the time that one of my oldest and closest friends, who was my main 'mum' support, died of cancer. It's been a pretty rough year.

I do have other good friends, but they are very focussed on their own families, and with the best will in the world, I think forget what it can be like being on your own.

The thing is, I can accept that this is how it is, and that it will (please God) get better over the years, but for the last 3 months, I am suddenly just so so so exhausted that I just want to sit here and cry. I've asked to reduce my work hours but they can't accommodate the request (I get in at 7 every evening after picking up the kids and by the time they are settled it's usually gone 9 and then I have to start the housework) There is just no let up at all, and I'm at the point now, where no matter how hard I try, I just feel angry all the time and end up getting really shouty with the kids when I shouldn't. I am having counselling, but tbh, in the moment, when I am frazzled and exhausted, it doesn't always feel like it helps!

I really want to be a great parent and role model, but I just hate the person that I'm turning into. I always apologise to the kids when I get angry and explain that it's not their fault, and we have big cuddles, but I hate the fact that I'm too tired to think straight or react appropriately. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one in this boat - please, any advice would be so so welcome, as I really don't know what to do anymore.

Cloudbase Tue 17-May-11 22:28:42

Shattered, so off to bed, but thanks in advance for any replies

SimpleSingleDad Tue 17-May-11 23:13:42

Sounds like a lot of it is catching up with you. Can you take a chunk of time off work? I'm pretty sure a half-way sympathetic GP & boss would be ok with you being signed off for a few weeks. It's not great, but it would give you some time in the day.

I would say the main source of your stress is having to deal with the deadbeat arsemunch - it's very very wearing, especially when you're now supposed to be past that since you and he are over, iyswim.

I don't want this to sound harsh, but it sounds like you're putting his contact with the kids ahead of your sanity.

It's his shitty behaviour that means you're waiting for a contact centre, so fuck him, he gets indirect contact until that comes through.

He's not a reasonable human being, he's a very shitty abuser (to mis-quote Monty Python).

So for now, he gets phone calls (on speaker phone), web cam (if you have it) and cards and letters. Any abuse, the call / web chat ends. If he wants more, then he can come up with a reasonable suggestion. Which he won't, as he wants you to do all the running.

(I may be a bit emotional - a friend's daughter just got shot of her abuser today, and it brings back my own past too)

pippalee Wed 18-May-11 06:20:58

Hi there, I dont normally post but I feel the same way. I am a lone parent with no support from anyone.It is so hard.I take gratitude in any way I can.A nice bath, a cup of tea, a good book, a dvd.Try and be the best Mama you can and dont let him take up your thoughts (hard I know).I also brought lavender oil which I rub into my palms and breathe in when things get tough.Crying is fine,it washes it all away, and it will go eventually. Write it all into a journal, walk when you can. Just take it one day at a time, and enjoy those precious children of yours.They will grow up before you know it.

Bearinthebigwoohouse Wed 18-May-11 07:42:51

It's hard, it's really hard to keep all the balls in the air when you are on your ownand, especially as you have no break from them.

I did wonder if you might be a little depressed? You've had a long period of coping with huge stress and that's bound to have an effect. I've had depression myself and can recognise the feeling of exhaustion and being angry. Could you have a chat with your GP about it and be completely honest about how you're feeling, and get them to sign you off for a bit? It really does sound to me like you need a bit of time out, and that's completely understandable.

Cloudbase Wed 18-May-11 09:23:44

Thanks so much everyone, your understanding makes me feel so much better.

SSDad - "Deadbeat Arsemunch" - love it! You made me laugh for the first time in ages, so thanks!

I do have odd days where it all seems okay, but it's just the overwhelming bonecrushing relentless tiredness, and knowing there's no break from it. I know I'm not unusual in that respect, but I think the stress and anger about the relentless dealing with my ex just added an extra layer of crud on top iykwim. And still grieving for my friend, which was a huge huge loss.

I think I will go and see my GP - it's really not normal to feel like this all the time, and it's not fair on my kids, who are absolutely lovely.

Thanks again everyone.

cestlavielife Wed 18-May-11 09:57:49

i sympathise - similar situation - it's hard and your children are small and hard work. mine are 8, 11 and 14 tho the 14 yr old has severe special needs.
i work 30 hours over five days - leave at 8.20 with kids tos choola dn get abck at 6 after picking up from after school club. dinner etcetc - collapse after 9 too - so i get that.

contact also stopped here so no breaks.

we did contact centre and that was ok, as was said - his behaviour led to this, it does take time (it was months) to set up but at end of day that's not your problem and beyond your control.
i also made mistake of trying to supervise contact intiially.

housework is lowest on priority tho i do have once a week cleaner who is a godsend.

limiting any contact with ex and using any third party you can is way to go.
coming to terms what is and isnt your repsonsibiltiy re contact - i've managed to let go a lot and put ball in his court rather than worrying and facilitating etc... DC are fine and settled, oldest wants to see dad and contact with a third party supervising should happen this week for him. ex still does not udnerstand why his DDs wont see him - does not take repsonsibility for his behaviour.

am sorri for loss of your friend, it may be that some specific bereavement counselling might help?

and yes if GP can sign you off for two weeks for stress that might give you chance to catch up a little.

where are you based? maybe there is someone local in similar situation?

bunsandroses Wed 18-May-11 20:41:27

Poor you. I think other posters are right, you need a block of time to catch up, an early night here and there is just not enough.
I only have one DS 2.5 years, and that alone is absolutely knackering, so 2 and everything else you have to deal with, I can't imagine.

I recently had my dad to stay (he lives abroad) and he was amazed at how much there was to deal with and said he didn't know how I was doing it, broken nights, working, looking after Ds etc. Literally, there is no other option you cannot stop, which is why i think you should really try and get signed off work for a while. Don't feel bad or guilty either, this is your health and your wellbeing and will give you a small pause to just catch up a bit

corlan Wed 18-May-11 21:09:14

Cloudbase - you have my utmost respect, I have 2 DD's but I only work half the hours you do and barely keep my sanity, so I don't know how you manage.

I agree with what others have said about getting a break and needing to be really kind to yourself. It's that idea of when you're on a plane and the oxygen masks come down, you have to put yours on first so that you're in a fit state to put your kids masks on and look after them. You need to make your well-being a priority at the moment and then you'll be a 'better' (calmer,saner,less knackered!) parent.

SoftKittyWarmKitty Wed 18-May-11 21:44:04

Cloudbase I really feel for you, and agree with the others in that you'd be as well visiting your GP. I was in a similar situation about 18 months ago - working FT, bringing up DS, not having breaks as his dad doesn't see him, was fighting to get maintenance via CSA (still am hmm), couldn't keep up with housework...it was never ending. Then I was diagnosed with a serious illness so had to cope with that on top of everything else and a few months later I was in the doctors in tears with the stress of it all. I was diagnosed with stress and anxiety, and he wanted to sign me off but I refused as we were so busy at work confused.

However I reassessed everything, decided to request going part time and I now work 22 hours per week. It's made a massive difference. I know you've already asked about reducing your hours, but as they refused, could you look for another job with fewer hours? That would give you more time to keep on top of the crap but necessary jobs like cleaning. Alternatively, could you afford to get a cleaner for a few hours per week? At least that would be one less thing to worry about.

WillIEverBeASizeTen Wed 18-May-11 22:19:58

cloudbase don't underestimate what you are having to do, you have a hell of alot on your plate. Your DC are really very young and that in itself (even if you were a 2parent family) is bloody hard work.

Accept that this is how it is for now (easier said than done I know) and you will then begin to see small changes as the children get older.

I think what you may need to do is look at practical stuff, say, bare minimum housework in the week and then a big splurge at the weekend. Get the littleuns involved in that one, they will see it as fun at that age (be thankful for the small mercy that they are not teens) and will be more than pleased to help. Try to make as many meals at the weekend and freeze them, or find really really easy/quick meals to make on getting home.

Try to grab some time when the kids are in bed and do some time management strategies. If you write things down, they do become a lot clearer, then you may actually see a way of making life a little easier.

Whatever you do, don't sweat the small stuff, housework is a thankless task and will always be there, look after yourself first, then you will be able to look after the DC happilysmile

Good Luck xx

Lemonylemon Thu 19-May-11 15:30:32

It's a tiring life, no doubt about that. I'm also an LP (both my kids' Dads died). My DS is nearly 14 and my DD is 3. I have to get up at 6, we're all out of the door by 7.30 and I get back from work to pick DD up by 5.30. Home by 5.45/6.00 - but I work 5 days a week. The next couple of hours are spent making dinner, doing odd bits and bobs, putting DD to bed but no proper housework until the weekend. I usually go to bed at about 9pm, at the same time as DS. Both DS and DD ahem, "help" with the housework, but it does take me about 2-3 hours to do the house top to bottom.

After DD has gone to bed in the evening, I don't really do anything else apart from the washing up or putting a load of washing on. To remind me to do things, I put yellow stickies on the kitchen cupboard above the kettle. I meal plan and do a shopping list according to the meal plan. I batch cook at the weekend for the week nights or freeze the extra portions.

It's the only way I can cope without going without collapsing in an exhausted heap by Thursday night.....

gillybean2 Thu 19-May-11 17:24:48

Don't do housework in the evenings other than tidying up the toys. You should be getting to bed! Housework can wait a few days while. It's not going anywhere after all. And really the house can't get that bad while you're all out all day! If you haven't got any get some storage boxes and simply chuck all the toys in them at the end of the day so you come down to a clear floor in the morning.

I find that I get more done early in the mornings after having a good night's sleep (though a good night's sleep for me is 6 hours). So I often do the washing up in the morning or whatevr ironging I need that day plus a couple more things if I have the time/energy.

Clean the bathroom while the kids are in the bath and don't worry about doing it every day. Wash up once a day at most and only worry about hoovering once a week at the weekend. Encourage the dc to help with dusting and let them do the skirting board while you do higher up. Once you accept that it's ok to let your standards drop a bit because other things like sanity are more important you'll find things much easier.

Have a mass tidy up. By which I mean throw things into boxes so they are out of the way and easy to clean round. When you have time in the future you can sort out one box at a time. By the time you get to them you'll find the stuff in them is probably obsolete and can simply be chucked out anyhow.

Get your shopping delivered. Order online at work during lunchctime if you can. Keep instant dinners like pizza in the freezer for nights you are just to tired to think. I don't ever cook anything that takes more than 15 mins to prepare and cook. The only exception being baked potatoes which get shoved in the oven a bit earlier but then forgotton for an hour. We have a lot of pasta and stirfry for dinner. Use cheats if you have to - like ready made cheese sauce to make macaroni cheese and jars of pasta sauce. Make extra at the weekend to put in the freezer and use in the week. Batch cook bolangaise which you can use as a basis for lot sof things - spagetti, lasagna, tacos etc Take it out the freezer the night before and leave in fridge to defrost during the day ready to use when you get home.

Take time out on your day off. Don't be afraid of asking the childminder/nursey (presumably this is where they are while you're at work) to have them on your day off from time to time so you can really get a break or get on with paperwork undisturbed. Or get out of the house to a soft play centre where they can run around safely and you can sit and read a magazine or write up your shopping list knowing they are busy and happy and the house won't be any messier when you get home. Go out to the park or for a walk too. Nothing better than getting out to make you feel better with the added bonus that the house won't be any messier when you get bacl!

Have a pj day from time to time. Stay in your pj's all day, veg out watching films, reading stories, building brick towers and doing jigsaws. Have your dinner picnic style on the floor and forget the housework for a day.

Hang up clothes to dry straight so they don't need ironing. Get in the habbit of only ironing what you really need to. Stuff the dc wear at the childminders etc don't really need ironing and you're not there to see them if you do object to the creases.

If you can afford it (persumably you can if you were hoping to drop your hours and thus earn less) get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week or fortnight. Or someone to do your ironing if that matters more to you.

Having an untidy house won't be forever. But these childhood years go very fast and you can't ever get them back. Just remind yourself of that and get on with enjoying time together rather than slaving over a house that only you are worried about really.

It's not forever. In no time they'll both be at school and things will be very different then.

The best thing I've found for my sanity is getting away from it for a few days. It really is money well spent. Can you afford a caravan holiday to the seaside or a few days at centre parcs? As your dc aren't at school you should be able to get some super term time deals whatever you prefer to do.

WillIEverBeASizeTen Thu 19-May-11 20:00:59

gillybean my housework sometimes has to wait a few weeks shock

Cloudbase Thu 19-May-11 22:33:34

Thank you so so much everyone. Absolutely fantastic advice from everyone - I'm really touched.

I do think getting a bit more organised and routine led will help - I used to be very organised, but over the last 6 months everything has just gone to pot. I will make a list of everyone's suggestions and work out ways to put them into practice - I guess lots of forward planning and batch cooking will be the way forward for now.

The hours will ger easier once DD starts school, as we will all be home by 4 and can have some fun time and nice meals/more organised, quieter more relaxed bedtimes. At the moment, getting in at 7.15+ every night just kills me, and isn't great for the kids either. Still, it is what it is. I think if I can
just get through the summer, things will start to get a lot easier.

Am off to see GP on Monday, so fingers crossed they can help as well. As ever, overwhelmed by the kindness and widom of my fellow MNetters smile

secretskillrelationships Thu 19-May-11 22:44:46

Cloudbase, I too understand having had an awful couple of weeks snapping and shouting at my lovely DCs who really don't deserve it. I too say sorry but I am aware that each time I snap it undermines things between us more and more. Having separated 20 months ago, I thought things should be getting better but they seem to be getting worse.

But I have just reaslised that we are all angry. We've done the sad, scared bit and I could cope with those (well, sort of) but I'm struggling with the anger - mine and theirs. Haven't yet worked out what to do about it but thinking about getting a punchbag! Both DSs are really keen on the idea, DD less so but then she just shouts at me when she's angry and gets it all out that way.

gillybean2 Fri 20-May-11 16:28:53

WillIEverBeASizeTen - days, weeks months... It's all the same isn't it! smile

Was staring at a lovely big cobweb in the corner while I was snoozing flaked out on the sofa last night. But I didn't feel the urge to jump up and deal with it. It can wait till the weekend when if I get the hoover out.

I haven't done certain household chores for weeks or more at a time. We survive. Just don't expect to go upstairs if you come visit me!

Bearinthebigwoohouse Fri 20-May-11 19:47:37

I do find having a daily routine really helps. It breaks the housework down in the very small chunks, which feel achievable, and then I stay on top of things.

Not forever, of course, there's always something that throws a spanner in the works and it all goes to pot. But when it's working, it's fab.

Is it September for the youngest starting school? That isn't actually that far away. But in the meantime don't give yourself a hard time, just keep repeating that you're doing your best. Hopefully too your GP will give you some time off, and then you can gather your strength again.

WillIEverBeASizeTen Fri 20-May-11 22:14:45

gilly I'm not quite sure whether I have curtains or cobwebs blush

Cloudbase Fri 20-May-11 22:21:25

Secret, I think you've hit the nail on the head - I am actually very angry. Not at my gorgeous kids, of course, but certainly at my ex. As it is nearly 2 years since he left, I sort of assumed that I'd worked through it, but hadn't bargained on the ongoing hassle and abuse he kept throwing at the kids and me. Also, am clearly at the 'anger' phase of grieving for my lovely friend as well -probably healthy in the long run, but hellish to go through - was talking about it with my counsellor this morning funnily enough. And I miss her too, not only because she was a huge part of my life since I was 16, but because she is the person that would have been holding my hand through all of this.

But you're right, i worry so much that being angry around the kids isn't sustainable without eventually doing some damage. It's so hard, isn't it? Plus, any kind of emotional stuff is so exhausting!

But hey, so long as I can see some light at the end of the tunnel (roll on September...)

HayleyGee Sat 21-May-11 12:29:46

Hello smile New to the site. When my ex left, I had a 15month old and a 4week old... and post natal! NOT GOOD.
I really felt like I wasn't coping, was constantly in tears and felt completely alone.
I spent a lot of time at my local Community Centre, who offered a range of courses, counselling and coffee mornings.. do you have anything like that close by?
I wasn't working at the time in all fairness, but they DID do things at the weekends and as I'm a lone parent, I got to join the 'dads group' which was fantastic!
I'm now fostering another little girl, whilst attending college and volunteering, whilst running my house. The children are doing fantastically at school and at home, we have a fantastic relationship.. and I lost a lot of weight with all this running around as I don't drive!
It's all about state of mind honey, there ARE enough hours in the day, but routine is everything. I am creamed every night, and if the washing up isn't done, so be it... can do it the next morning whilst I'm waiting for the kids to eat their breakfast!

myga Thu 26-May-11 19:34:28

4 years ago I was in the same situation. Ran away from an abusive relationship, single parent, working full time, trying to help my kid (she is 6 now) get over the abuse (she was a witness and a victim), trying to be good parent, good employee, good neighbour. On top of it bloody ex was dragging me to courts (for custody, accusing me of being mentally unstable). No family (they all live abroad) and only 2 great friends who I could talk to. After around 6 months I had the first breaking down. For 3 or 5 hrs I was sitting on the kitchen floor, crying, begging whatever good spirits or gods are up there to make it stop. I remember falling asleep praying that tomorrow never comes.
But it came.
So I kept going.
I took me a year to figure out that is is just enough to be good enough. I am still single, full time working parent. The court case is still ongoing. The situation is the same but I am not. I do not try so hard. I do not feel guilty for not doing chores when I do not feel like it. When I do not feel like to do anything I let D watching Cbeebies and I take a hot bath in the middle of the day. Last Christmas I dod not feel like to do Christmas cards so I didn't. I taught myself to be more selfish than I had ever been, and you know what – everybody is happier now.

My advise – give yourself time. Your body and soul went through hell and needs to heal up now. With you busy schedule you might not have time to participate in support group, talk to fiends or go to counselling. But one thing that you most certainly you can do: Love yourself as much as you love your children. Be nice to yourself as you are nice to your ex, or to any given stranger. Do not feel guilty if the chores are not done. If you have loads of washing make you kids put it in the washing machine and give them stickers for that. Your oldest is 4 – so will be going to the nursery – means a break for you – and I do hope you will not be doing chores in this time!

QueenofWhatever Fri 27-May-11 20:27:11

I echo all the advice and support on here. I left my abusive ex two years ago this July, work four days a week and have a 6.5 year old daughter. Earlier this year my GP signed me off with 'exhaustion' on my sick note which sounded wonderfully Victorian. But that's exactly what it was - I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Couple of weeks off work (30 hours a week) and I feel OK.

I also had therapy and my daughter and I have more recently been seeing a family therapist which I would certainly recommend when the time is right. I was on ADs on and off for 18 months and spent a year on sleeping tablets - these literally saved me on a number of occasions.

Also my DD starting school made a massive difference, partly because of the developmental changes in her but also, strangely because the six week terms break things down in manageable blocks of time and it doesn't seem quite so relentless any more.

I would also consider finding a way/new job where you could reduce your working hours a bit (I'm currently trying to reduce to three days a week). I would also have a zero tolerance approach to your ex - it may sound hard or harsh, but it's better your kids have no contact with him until it's properly supervised and/or he can behave. My ex was really bad but I have never spoken to him directly since I left and everything was handled early on by solicitors. Of course he has tried to wheedle out of everything and manipulate me at every turn, but the zero tolerance approach (as stressed again and again by Mumsnet!) is really the only option for people like this. You are protecting your children and doing what is best for them.

It's a hard road at the moment, but it really won't be for ever.

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