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Please help...Totally lost my way with parenting, especially with DD(6)

(25 Posts)
SpawnChorus Tue 09-Aug-11 16:24:13

The summer holiday has been a complete disaster. We've recently moved house, so I'm feeling bogged down with the enormity of DIY tasks, plus we're adjusting to living in a 1st floor flat (no direct access to garden) plus we are seriously strapped for cash. I feel like I've absolutely HAD ENOUGH of being a SAHM, but can't afford to return to work.

I've spent pretty much the whole holidays being at best disinterested in and at worst angry with my DCs. (They're 6.5, 5 and nearly 2). DD(6)'s behaviour has always been full on, but at the moment I feel like everything she does is driving me mad. She causes aggro with the younger two siblings within minutes of beig in the same room as them, and she is STILL lashing out physically (kicking, hitting, and now, worryingly, "pretending" to throttle them). This is (obviously) the aspect of her behaviour that bothers me the most, but she is also constantly seeking more minor mischief (breaking stuff, rummaging in "forbidden" drawers, ecouraging younger siblings to do naughty things etc etc). She's "playing quietly" right now, and I can almost guarantee she's doing something she shouldn't be doing.

She completely ignores me when I tell her to do / stop doing something, until I get to the point of shouting. I've tried the How to Talk stuff, and it doesn't seem to help with her at all (although I'd be glad of a refresher tutorial in case I'm not doing it right).

My youngest DS (nearly 2) is also very very full on...never stops climbing, jumping, danger-seeking. He is incredibly loud and demanding (yes, even by toddler standards). I can hardly take my eye off him for a second because he'll be scaling the shelves, or climbing on the window sills and bashing the glass, or falling off the kitchen table, or rocking on a chair til it falls over. EVERYTHING is a battle with him, and I'm exhausted by it all. Oh, and he still doesn't sleep through the night.

DS1 (5) is actually pretty well behaved and sane, but the poor kid gets ignored by me (battling with the other two) or beaten up by his siblings.

I AM TRULY DESPAIRING. I think if a friend was seeking advice, I'd probably suggest that they are attention-seeking, and that I need to set aside some time to play with them. BUT, whenever I try it all turns to shit. DS2 literally destroys any puzzle / game / craft I set up.

God this is long...thanks if you';ve read this far. I'm ustterly miserable, and would be willing to try anything, so be frank with your advice.

By the way, we're in Scotland so back to school next week. Thank fuck.

SpawnChorus Tue 09-Aug-11 16:34:01

OK, for the first time in about 6 weeks, all three of them seem to be playing nicely...they know I'm grassing them up on here grin

SpawnChorus Tue 09-Aug-11 17:00:50

Oh please someone tell me what to do! <<wrings hands>>

I'M SAT HERE CRYING

<<Except I'm not as I have better grammar and my tear ducts are hard as nails.>>

Spero Tue 09-Aug-11 17:09:08

I am sorry to hear you sound so miserable, I have only got one and I am in complete awe of anyone who'd can cope with more, particularly of the running around and shouting variety. Is there anyone who could help you take the shouty one off your hands for an hour or so while you did some quoted craft-y type stuff with the older ones?

It sounds like they are at very different stages and maybe your eldest is trying to get more of your attention, and acting up to get it.

When things got bad for me it always helped to get out of the house, but I know that must be a lot harder with three.

I hope someone with more experience is along soon, but the darkest hour is always before dawn. Apparently.

changeforthebetter Tue 09-Aug-11 17:12:25

- You've just moved = big upheaval for everyone
- You are worried about finances
- You have too much to do around the house fixing it up
- Little kids (especially arsey 6yo - I have one of those grin) need fresh air and it is hard for you to organise
- They will play up for attention as bad attention is being noticed at least
- 2 yo are enough to try the patience of a saint as they possess enough wit to get into danger but little sense as to why it might not be a good idea.
- There are 3 of them and 1 of you
- You're thinking about your own identity SAHM/WOHM

I have absolutely no advice - sounds hell wine or brew

<<from mum whose school-aged child's behaviour sent somewhat judgy-pants mum into a tailspin today blush>>

Migsy1 Tue 09-Aug-11 17:13:09

Poor you. I think loads of mothers have felt the same. I have 3 kids too and it is damn hard. I know you are supposed to play games (i.e. board games) with them but I gave up as it inevitably led to a fight. TBH I gave up a while ago on all the middle class advice that is bandied around and things got better as a result as I lowered my expectations of what a good parent is.

I also think I was too soft with them and I have toughened up a bit now so they are not quite so bad. I mean tough - I have to go mad and scare them sometimes to shock them into behaving.

At least yours are going back to school soon. Thankfully, I work almost full time which saves my sanity as I put them into a sports club during the holidays. Some of these clubs are quite reasonably priced. Are there any in your area that you could put the kids into for a day or to so that you can have a break?

Also, what about inviting their friends round. This keeps mine amused usually and it ends up being easier to cope with them and a friend or 2 rather than just my own kids alone.

Your children are young - they drive you mad. That is kids for you! It is not just you or your kids. Some kids are harder than others. My eldest is extremely difficult. I know the feeling.

Good luck.

SpawnChorus Tue 09-Aug-11 17:16:13

I don't really have anyone who can look after youngest. No family in Scotland, and all my friends are either on holiday or have large broods / newborns of their own. Yes, my usual tactic is to GET OUT, and last summer was (relatively) great as DS2 was young enough to nap or relax in his buggy while the older two played in the playground. Playgrounds are now hellish as loony DS2 makes constant bids for freedom, and teeters precariously from the high bits on the climbing frames.

Thanks for the sympathetic ear...it helps to be boring someone other than DH with my woes.

lels99 Tue 09-Aug-11 17:28:41

find a bit open field with nothing to climb and get them all water guns, they will soon be exhausted! (yes I am a very mean mum!) smile

SpawnChorus Tue 09-Aug-11 17:30:25

CFTB - ooh it really does help to have someone validate my feelings re: hellishness grin

Migsy - the whole board game thing just makes me want to weep. I really wanted to be a board-game-playing parent, but I can't bear it. I still live in hope that it might become bearable a few years down the line when they leave home and I can resume playing scrabble with DH.

We've had loads of friends round, but DD just goes beserk...completely ignoring me and giving me "attitude" and showing off in front of her friends. However, I'm going to try a kid swap later this week, and send DS1 to play with a friend while the friend's sister comes here to play with DD. The reduced head count might make it less stressful.

Migsy1 Tue 09-Aug-11 18:40:12

The kid swap sounds a good idea. My eldest, most difficult son, does the attitude bit too when his friends are here. The other 2 are good with their friends.

I also found that pocket money helps which reduces if they are bad but your kids are too young for this. When they were younger, if they were going beserk I would lock them in their room for 5 or 10 minutes to get them to calm down. They just played with their toys but would be better when they came out. It just breaks the cycle a bit and gives the other members of the family a few minutes peace.

If all else fails - go and buy a cheap bottle of wine.

ommmward Tue 09-Aug-11 18:55:06

one direction to go in is structural discipline - finding ways to structure the environment so that within the home a child is much less likely to incur your wrath.

This might involve having a room that is locked with a high padlock/hook where you keep precious stuff; locked cupboards - that gets rid completely of the "opening forbidden drawers" scenario (I mean, what could be more tempting than a forbidden drawer???)

and then providing safe climbing opportunities for the 2yo (my mother's motto was always: Scatter More Cushions). Sellotape holly leaves to the edge of any surface you don't want your 2yo climbing. Looks like shite but means you don't have to have the argument every five minutes. Pretend it's an early Christmas decoration smile

Find activities that work for the whole age spectrum. Painting? train tracks with a million matchbox cars? Cookery? Playdough? And the more involved you are, the longer you're likely to get before meltdowns.

singforsupper Tue 09-Aug-11 18:55:42

Spawnchorus

Hi, please don't give up. It must be desperate for you but it can work, it can all work out but it takes a shift in attitude.

I am a parenting trainer and the one thing that makes a difference is being calm with dcs. If they are seeking attention you just have to give it to them. Difficult but worth it in the end.

Before I spout the stuff you already know the priorities are such:

Activity - lots of it, as soon as they are up you need to go out to the park - whatever the weather. Sit back while they play and don't intervene when they fight. Take turns with them, get them to play with each other if that's possible (push each other on the swing etc).

Friends - or let them play where there are lots of other children

Peace - hard to come by, but the emergency solution is to count to 10 before you respond to them about anything at all, and smile when you are talking to them.

Food - give them lots of protein - eggs for breakfast, sausage, cheese, even as snacks. This fills them up without the carbohydrate highs and lows. It's also not bad for their teeth.

singforsupper Tue 09-Aug-11 19:02:07

As far as your oldest and her attitude is concerned you need to be very firm with it. Never let it slip. You don't have to do anything, just tell her in no uncertain terms that it's NOT ON.

Give her extra time at bedtime, just sit with her in her room and let her talk, preferably with lights out. This is not so hard to do because the others will be down earlier (I assume). That way she will know you're on her side, even if you will be seemingly tough with her during the day.

Carrotsandcelery Tue 09-Aug-11 19:16:20

Where have you moved to Spawn? Do you know a lot of other mums yet? Maybe there are some mumsnetters close by you could meet up with.

Migsy1 Tue 09-Aug-11 20:03:59

I have also found, as SC suggests, that not intervening when they fight is a good one. I don't know if it makes them fight less but it certainly makes for less hassle for me. I only intervene if I can see it becoming out of control or dangerous.

MrsGravy Tue 09-Aug-11 20:17:31

Well I'm shitting myself now. I was hoping that life with my 1, 4 and 6 year olds would be soo much easier next summer. Clearly not.

Erm...I'm not sure what to suggest, it sounds like a lot of stressful situations colliding. I don't think anyone could come up with a magical solution for that lot.

Can/does your youngest go to bed earlier than the big 2? Mine does and it means my big 2 always get at least 1/2 an hour of my/DH's attention every day. It can be a life saver when we've had a hard day - the baby is very demanding at the moment and I really struggle to give them enough of my time. Chin up hey, it can only get better?!

ballstoit Tue 09-Aug-11 20:18:33

IMO any fighting between siblings is on some level a fight for your attention. Dont give it to them unless they are behaving how you want them to.

Step up the opportunities to have fun together, and make as much of it as possible outside. I find water is always good...paddle in a stream, take washing up bowls or watering cans into the shared garden. Toys to wash etc, and leave them to it for a bit.

I find my DC will chat in the bath, and I take turns to have a bath with them each day...may be an opportunity to do 'girly' stuff with DD. Wash her hair for her, massage conditioner in, then blow dry her hair and perhaps do moisturiser on her feet and hands and some clear polish.

When DH is around, take the opportunity for a break...send him to the park with them or go for a walk yourself.

Look up free play stuff in your area...our local Sure Start and libraries do sessions at least once a week. I find my DC (and me blush) behave better with an audience, and the staff are able to supervise a bit so you can spend time with each child for a few minutes.

Not long til the end of the summer now, and remember, tomorrow is another day.

addressbook Tue 09-Aug-11 20:33:36

Op I feel for you, it can be so hard

I only have two (2 and 5) but my eldest can have the attitude and my youngest is, well 2!

I so wanted to enjoy these summer holidays, as my eldest starts school next week so it seems like the end of an era. However I have had my fair share of yelling moments and less than ideal parenting.

The fighting - yes I find this hard. I set up an idea for their play and it is lovely for all of 15 mins, then the bickering starts. I do think I step in too quickly sometimes. I am an only child, so I struggle to understand the sibling rivalry thing. Once or twice I have left it and it did resolve itself. I know this won't work every time. Also the age gap can be a barrier I know

The house/DIY - you have to set yourself realistic targets and not be too hard on yourself. I set myself one small task each week, aside from the daily and necessary stuff. It might be to clean the bathroom or do a bit of admin.

SAHM/Identity - your kids are still young. You are at the stage where setting aside a bit of time before your bed or maybe a couple of hours at the wkend, just to relax and do something you enjoy is okay. Read a book, exercise or even a bath with a glass of wine. Make sure you treat yourself.

Absolutely the best advice is do not be unrealistic in your expectations. Others may seem like they are coping fine, but I would bet most if not every mum struggles sometimes. Board games will come as they get older. I always had visions of doing lovely art and crafty things, but that usually ends up with a tantrum and sequins all over the floor! You may make mistakes, you might not even like them all of the time but you have three lovely kids (a huge achievement) and you love them.

dikkertjedap Tue 09-Aug-11 21:09:22

It will get better, probably quite soon, when the Holiday is over two of them will go back to school.
In the meantime it would be good to look if there are any affordable sport camps for your older two or at least for your dd. Does the school do anything which she could attend for a few mornings?
Also, it may help to have more structure and to give them time to burn off all that energy. For example, mornings go to a park for a few hours (even if it rains), take a ball, skipping ropes, bubbles to keep them busy and so they get lots of exercise. Back home for lunch, maybe let them watch a bit of TV or a DVD or take them to the library (does your library do stories during the afternoon?) or do arts and crafts (drawing, play dough, pasta pictures, etc.).
Good luck and hope you feel a bit better soon.

Cathycat Tue 09-Aug-11 22:18:16

I'll share what I do with mine but it may or may not help. We have a lot of house improvements going on too. I get up early before they all wake (and try to get to bed for 10, so had better post quick!) so that I can get my basics done - cats fed, wash on, coffee, put out a few activities for the children (independent! - dressing up, play people, duplo, a couple of books, a jigsaw) dishwasher, shower. All hopefully before they awake (or at least if the odd one does it's not so bad). When they are down, I then do breakfast, clear up and go through a list of jobs that we have to do everyday (eg., bins, sort and put away washing, a bit of cleaning). I get these jobs done in the morning, give them lunch and then go out for an hour or so in the afternoon, eg., between 1:00 and 2:00. (They often have a little rest after this).

Are you trying to get DIY done in the day? I have never managed this with my four children, on my own, so hope you are not struggling to do this. I always do DIY while DH is at home on a Sunday or vice versa, and it is a slow process, as the dc's still need looking after. Last Sunday dh did two walls of dd's bedroom - that was it, so at this rate it will take 3 weeks! I looked after the dc's.

Because you little one is so active it may be a good idea to run around for a few evenings just making sure that everything is rearranged for her safety and is super tidy?

Personally, I wouldn't kill yourself to do fantastic activities like art and baking just yet, if you are up to your eyes in chaos! I would just join in with the things that they are doing themselves, with dolls, cars and normal less demanding toys, and they will appreciate that. Slow down a little and get the basics done, expect a little less? But give yourself time to talk to the children while you do less.

This may not work for you - it does for me - we are all different!

mummyosaurus Thu 11-Aug-11 09:26:50

Have been watching this thread with interest.

My DC are 4.5 and 6, and I often look after my nephew too, who is 4.

A lot of people suggest not getting involved in their quarrels, which I agree with as often they will sort it out themselves. However, if I don't get involved a fair amount of time it descends into violence.

I take them into a "meeting" and say they should come and tell me instead of hitting/share - whatever is appropriate, but then when they do come and tell me, I try not to get involved. (so coming to tell me does not satisfy them).

No easy solution I know, just wondering how others do this.

Do you have any advice for knowing what they can sort out and what's going to end in a fight?

EndangeredSpecies Thu 11-Aug-11 09:41:08

can totally relate to this I also have three although 1 is only a baby. This THIRTEEN WEEK summer holiday has also been a total disaster so far and there is still another month to go. I am trying to work from home and even with a babysitter it is complete and utter chaos. My head is all over the place. You are not alone!

10 days ago I basically got a wall chart and wrote out a timetable, which we update every morning with basic things like 8 a.m. have breakfast 10 a.m.X reads book, 11 a.m. Y plays on bike and so on and so forth, so you know what you are doing at any given time. The aim of the game is to allow each child his "own" time and his/her own choice of activity so each one gets a bit of quality time even if it's only 10 mins. Obviously X will not get to read book or whatever if she starts throttling Y and misbehaving, she will have to wait until she stops.

It's worked quite well. My middle child in particular who usually drives me round the twist all day every day has calmed down quite a lot and seems to like the structure.

SpawnChorus Fri 12-Aug-11 08:25:40

This thread has been so helpful..I've taken something from each and every post, so thank you!

I've actually booked a babysitter for a couple of hours the afternoon, as I have to go and sort out some stuff in town and it would be horrific with the DCs in tow. Two hours of freedom...Yay!

singforsupper Fri 12-Aug-11 10:25:03

Mummyosaurus, as someone who has come out the other side, I have found that it's about striking a balance, which is what you are doing.

The parents I have observed who intervene at every slightest peep end up stressing themselves and the dcs out, to the point of calling in parenting experts etc because it's all about Mummy and not each other. The parents who just ignore it and let them sort themselves often end up with an unhealthy pecking order going on around them, where the weakest gets weaker and the strongest gets stronger and that has other long-term consequences.

I try and listen out for when the fight is actually about them wanting ME to be with them. Quite often that's what it's about - they just want Mummy. They argue particularly loudly because they want you to hear what's going on, but the argument isn't serious. That's when you go up and say 'everything OK?' etc and get them back onto playing with something, if you've gone in early enough.

When it's out of hand, to resolve the conflict I usually get them all to say what happened, in front of each other, one at a time. If they lie you have to say things like "do you mean that this happened..." or, "perhaps you forgot that you did x..." so that way you are letting them out of the pickle they've got themselves into. It also means they don't lose face in front of each other. Eventually you get the truth which means you know what you need to resolve.

In terms of prevention, what I found worked was making sure I play turn-taking games with them, games where they are all given an equal chance. With some games making sure that younger kids get extra time or a head start. Don't let anyone cheat (to keep the peace) although it's tempting.

But you know what, just thinking about this is exhausting. Parents need a lot of strength and calmness, it should never be underestimated how hard this is. But it will pass, and what you teach them now about resolving conflict will be a better lesson to them than anything they learn at school, so keep at it. x

singforsupper Fri 12-Aug-11 10:30:12

sc babysitter great idea. Very healthy to have time away from dcs, for their sake as much as for yours. You bet they'll be on best behaviour with babysitter. smile

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