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Feral 17mo. Feel a total failure.

(91 Posts)
cobaltblue27 Sun 01-May-16 11:49:19

We have just abandoned a bank holiday weekend which we had planned to spend at a (not cheap!) 'family-friendly' hotel and spa in the country. I am very anxious taking our 17mo DS anywhere, as he is a terrible eater (he barely ate anything until he was 9/10mo and then only under perfect conditions with no distractions, being sung to, taking ages etc and still making disgusting mess). So I never go out to eat with him and our lives have become much smaller, revolving around his routine at home. It is very lonely and boring, but it seems less stressful that way. We attempted one holiday to Sicily when he was 10mo which was a total disaster. Our luggage was lost for 4/7 days, he ate nothing, and then started refusing bottles (later we found out this was because he got a throat infection), and it was a nightmare from start to finish. At the time I resigned myself to never going away until he was a teenager, but having had a terrible few months, with a stint in intensive care, subsequent diagnosis with a lifelong health issue, and significant strains in our marriage, we felt that we would try a last ditch attempt at going away somewhere to see whether we could enjoy ourselves as a family. So my husband booked two nights at this 5 star family-friendly place, and off we went yesterday.

BIG MISTAKE. DS had been struggling with a nasty cold, and I was wary about going away, but DH insisted. When we arrived, DS became increasingly hyper and distracted-so many new things, light switches, TV remote, picking things up etc etc. Then we took him to have supper. He barely ate anything, threw stuff on the floor, stood up from (useless without proper harness) high chair and knocked over glasses of water - everywhere, and then had a tantrum. We gave up, put him in bath and put him to bed, the whole of which felt like a wrestling match. No other child was behaving like him. Last night, the hotel was full for the bank holiday weekend and my husband and I didn't sleep for hours as it was so noisy. And then DS wakes us up at 615. We were both shattered, trying to keep him amused until the breakfast place opened. By the time we got there, DS was crying and refused to be put down. We managed to get some yoghurt and banana into him, having insisted on high chair with a working harness, but then he started throwing things on the floor, getting cross and crying. I tried to distract him with toys but he just threw them on the floor as well. I started to cry, as felt so embarrassed as everyone was looking at us, and said to DH that I wanted to go home. He said that DS 'had to learn', and that other people manage to go away with their children. This just made me cry even more to the extent I just got up and left and packed our bags. We are now in slow traffic heading home feeling useless.

I do love my son, but I have to say that I feel that having him has ruined my life. I am totally exhausted, as he never sleeps beyond 630am, and I hate the tantrums and all the crap. I work full-time as although I hate my job and am useless at that, the thought of staying at home with him all day makes me want to run for the hills. We are lucky enough to have a saint for a nanny, but she makes me feel even more inadequate as he behaves well for her but is so difficult with us. DH never feeds him, and it is always me who baths him and puts him to bed at night. At weekends it is me who usually does most things for him, changing nappies etc. I have met up with friends in the evening three times since he was born. I barely ever see friends any more and I've been out to a birthday party once. My husband and I have been out about five times since he was born.

I used to be a pretty social, physically fit and energetic person, with nice clothes and felt ok about myself. We went on a couple of simple holidays a year. Now I am always exhausted, look awful with threadbare/filthy clothes, have no time to exercise or make myself look good, feel a total failure at work and as a mother. I absolutely hate this. I worried DS has a disorder on the autistic spectrum as he still has only two words (shoes and hat...he may say Daddy), doesn't respond to his name, and is totally impossible. The thing that really scares me as we are expecting another child (my health conditions meant that I should get on with it as it is more likely I will suffer early menopause). I can't cope with my existing child and cry thinking about doubling the trouble. I don't feel I have anything to look forward to as I am not a good enough mother to be able to go anywhere or on a holiday without crying through the whole ordeal. Life seems so bleak. Has anyone been through this? Any words of wisdom much appreciated.

TormundGiantsbabe Sun 01-May-16 11:55:30

Go self catering. In a tent. In a field in the middle of nowhere. The screaming doesn't sound as loud if you are surrounded by countryside. Lots of fresh air and walks. Pottering about. Eating cheerios out of the box. No plans, just doing whatever you feel.

Camping is not my favourite holiday, but everyone screams less, so I put up with it.

Daisyandbabies Sun 01-May-16 12:06:41

Oh, you poor thing. If it's any consolation, your next baby will probably very different. My first was hard work and also wouldn't eat, I cried about it many a time. No use now but next time, perhaps feed him in the room before you go out, or order him something you know he won't refuse, even if it's just chips. Also, does he like any cartoons? We would have to take the iPad at that age if we ate out. One of us would usually have to walk around outside with him and bring him when food was there. I was amazed when my second child could sit there for an hour In a restaurant.
You need to get your husband to help more, if he's home then there's no reason why he can't feed and bathe him. He will also pick up on any tension at meal times, which I'm sure you know.
You HAVE to make time for yourself, let your husband look after him for an evening, get new clothes and get dressed up and go out. Just because you are a mum doesn't mean you aren't you anymore . You can't pour from an empty cup and your cup is sounding pretty empty at the moment!
If he acts differently with the childminder then you know he's capable of better behaviour. Doesn't make you a failure to speak to her about it and ask what she does differently.
Seems far away right now but one day ton will be able to look back and laugh and say to him, 'remember that time we went away and we had to come home coz you were such a little turd.' It won't always be this hard x

uhoh2016 Sun 01-May-16 12:11:48

If you feel that having him has ruined your life why on earth are you having another baby?? Do you think life will become easier with another baby cos I can assure you it won't.
Why have you not been out much since he was born? Do you not have any family to help out or do you not want to leave him?
Your baby is 17mo he's still that a "baby" you can't expect a BABY to automatically know how to behave when out in public, your dh is right in that he needs to learn this and being in these situations regular and watching the world around him is how he will learn these things. Let me tell you we have ALL been there having a child tantrum in public, yes it's not nice yes you want the ground to swallow you up but your ds won't be the 1st or last baby to have a tantrum.

ipswichwitch Sun 01-May-16 12:12:36

You are not a failure! And believe me, just because nobody else's child is doing that right now doesn't mean they never do!!
We had a disaster of a trip when DS1 was 18mo. He screamed for the entire 6 hour drive, pretty much the whole 5 days there and the journey home too! He used to be a really poor eater, and after some medical issues were sorted for him, he improved but what made the biggest difference was when I stopped trying to get him to eat. No more encouragement, bribery, playing games. Just put food in front of him, then remove again when dinner time is over.

DS2 is the tantrummy one. I've long since stopped giving a shit if people look when it happens. Kids tantrum - some more than others granted, but it's a normal phase. Things will get better op. DS2 is 2.5yo and is getting better behaved - fewer tantrums, less throwing of food/toys/etc. It's been a hard slog but as his communication skills have improved, so has his behaviour. DS1 was a late talker but at 2.5yo it was like a switch flicked and now at 4.5 he never shuts up!!

Have a large cake op - would recommend gin normally but that'll have to wait too after you have DC2! It is a phase, and hopefully a short one

Pico2 Sun 01-May-16 12:15:14

We only go to places that are self catering or offer room service. And that's with children who can sit through a quick meal in a restaurant. We recently went to a country where belts on high chairs didn't seem to exist. DD2 was 12 months and it was a bit problematic. A few months on and I don't think we'd have been able to eat out without a belted high chair as she'd climb out and hit the floor head first.

AliceInHinterland Sun 01-May-16 12:20:47

I'm not clear what your husband is doing here to support you/fulfil his responsibilities. I am often very close to the edge (also pregnant with a toddler) with a DP that generally pulls his weight, so I can't imagine what it would be like if we didn't divide things fairly. I always remember that until 2 we are in 'the tunnel' i.e. one of the most demanding times of our life!

gandalf456 Sun 01-May-16 12:28:55

Mine were like this at this age. I also had the' no one else's child syndrome ' but later learnt that it's another variation of the norm.

I doubt you are doing anything wrong apart from worrying too much about other people and comparing him/yourself

. It is not an easy stage. It will pass. Get DH to split everything 50/50 in the meantime. No excuses.

Pico2 Sun 01-May-16 12:29:28

Uhoh2016 "If you feel that having him has ruined your life why on earth are you having another baby?? Do you think life will become easier with another baby cos I can assure you it won't. "

That is possibly the least helpful sentence I've seen on MN. Even if you think it's true, why say it?

53rdAndBird Sun 01-May-16 12:30:08

Oh, OP, you poor thing.

I don't think your 17mo is really the problem here, though. That does sound like a miserable meal, but I can guarantee you, he wasn't the only child at the hotel who ever behaves like that. You saw the kids sitting at their meals - you didn't see the ones who had already been carted out tantrumming under somebody's arm, or the ones whose parents decided just to get room service, or the adjustments everyone else is making (bribing with CBeebies on iPhone, etc) because they know their toddlers won't sit quietly in a high chair for the length of a meal in an exciting new place.

But it sounds like you're just so worn down by everything that you can't see the wood from the trees here. You need to make time and space for yourself, to recharge. Your DH needs to step up and do his fair share of the parenting - why are you doing all bedtimes and weekends? You sound like you have nothing left, and no wonder you don't have the emotional energy to cope with a difficult holiday or mealtime.

FoxesSitOnBoxes Sun 01-May-16 12:30:43

DS is the same age and is totally normal. He will also sometimes refuse to eat, he'll throw a glass if he gets chance, if he arrives in a new room he wants to grab and play with everything, he only eats if he really wants to. This is all totally normal for a baby. Yes your life has to adapt. You have to judge when they are tired/hungry and provide for them if you don't want them to get upset. You have to scan rooms and put all the breakable a out of reach as soon as you get in there. Sometimes you have to sit them in front of the iPad because they are tired and don't want to be in their high chair but you're in a restaurant and you can't let them get down.
There is nothing in your OP that sounds remotely unusual. How much day to day time do you usually spend with your son? I'm with DS 24 hours a day so I can read him really well and spot potential disasters before they happen but DH struggles sometimes purely because he only sees him for an hour or two most days around work when he's already fed/washed/napped etc. If he's doing it himself he,understandably, is less practiced and finds it more stressful and their can be more tears.
Don't expect too much from your DS, he is still a baby. He isn't autistic (unless both of mine are and I've not realised!) language comes later to some children. DS says "na na" for night night, "na na" for banana, "lo" for hello, and "da" for daddy or that. I'm not worried & neither should you be.
It took me aaaaaaaaages to get myself back together from an appearance and exercise point of view after my first. Less time after DS but still spent a good while with bad eyebrows and wearing leggings.
Don't worry. It will come. Don't put yourself in high pressure situations, don't put pressure on yourself for everything to be perfect. It is really hard and DS is still a baby.
Crap that was long and waffling & I'm in a rush so not going to proof read so sorry if it's unreadable. Basically give him and yourself a break. It isn't easy but it gets better

Buckinbronco Sun 01-May-16 12:33:54

OP you poor poor thing. Working full time and looking after a baby is very very hard, and i get the lack of time money effort thing. Everything snowballs.

I don't follow this myself but i do think if you don't look after yourself you won't be fit to look after anyone else flowers

lonerboner Sun 01-May-16 12:35:20

Don't want to read and run. I'll come back later with my feral 2.5 year old DS story last night.

You are NOT alone in you're

Onsera3 Sun 01-May-16 12:38:00

He sounds like a normal little boy. Not feral. Mine was very similar. Still an early riser and that was hard when I was pregnant with number two.

I've travelled a lot with my son- relatives homes, hotels, apartments, self catering etc.

The best for us is an apartment in a hotel with restaurant and others nearby. You can go downstairs for a meal if you like or stay in and serve your child when convenient. Completely self catering means I don't feel like I'm on holiday.

I have seldom gone anywhere without child but most of the time I don't mind really. I do miss lots of things like lying on beach relaxing, regular pedicures among other things though. I have a lot less time and money for myself and I do feel like a frump sometimes but I have streamlined makeup routine etc so I can make myself look what I deem to be passable.

I love being a mum but do have days when I look with enormous envy at childless people. The freedom!

I thjnk its normal to feel overwhelmed when you are pregnant and have a toddler. I find you have a lot lower expectations second time around. I think you need to lower yours and not be so hard on yourself and DS.

MaddyHatter Sun 01-May-16 12:41:34

Is he really that bad or is the fact you are quite clearly so exhausted making you catastrophise his behaviour a bit?

When you say he doesn't eat, what's happening? Is it that he is refusing or just messing about? Have you tried bringing food from home to see if it's the unfamiliar food causing problems?

MrsA2 Sun 01-May-16 12:44:01

I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes eating out at that age is just more hassle that it's worth. DD was still throwing plates on the floor at 20 months, now a month later she can just about sit reliably in the highcbair with a plate in front of her and feed herself with a fork. And even then I have to watch her like a hawk. We have lowered our standards, I order food that she'll enjoy eating when out (like sausages and chips), a d take a pile of snacks in case she refuses that. Raisins are our lifesaver. smile I have a bag full of stuff that may or may not get us through an hour of highchair sitting and we have CBeebies stuff on the iPhone as a back up. We don't watch TV at all at home so out and about is my compromise to allow us to have a reasonably relaxing meal/drink. It varies every time but now at 21 months we are much more likely to make it through a meal than a few months back. She also discovered a love for colouring and sticker books a few months back and that has helped no end.

Don't make sitting in a nice restaurant an important part of the holiday. It's hard though, I sympathise.

bewarethesavagejaw1984 Sun 01-May-16 12:44:11

Honestly there is no need to feel like a failure - he is tired, sick, and 17 months old. Mine would have done the same in that situation.

There was not enough enough money in the world to have paid me to go away with my children when they were 17 months old. My second child sounds like your little boy and the thought of her not sleeping the entire time we were away and tantruming at the merest whiff of not getting her own way whilst being in a strange environment without any of the shortcuts I desperately relied on to get through my normal day on 2 hours sleep was more than I could bear. So we didn't go away anywhere.

But now they are 4 and 3 and I have contemplated it and we have gone away. When we went, we went somewhere close, we went in a car on the ferry so I could take everything we could possibly need and so that we could drive straight home if it all became unbearable and we rented a house so there was some privacy when it turned ugly grinand paid extra to have it cleaned so we didn't have to worry about that.

My husband and I took turns looking after them. We had no expectations - we didn't expect to overly enjoy it or have any time to ourselves and pretty much everything was based around the children's needs. It was in no way a holiday I would have had pre children but it was ok - and we got through it - and we have done it again and we actually had lots of fun. You just define your parameters really small.

There is hope I promise you and you poor thing being pregnant and that looming realisation that somehow you have to learn to do this with two makes everything seem worse.

You are working, you're a mum and you are pregnant that is such a lot to deal with, it's hard. Be as gentle on yourself and your little boy as you possibly can be with your expectations. If he will sit on a chair beside you, even if he stands, and eat a little breakfast reasonably happily it's honestly not worth making them sit in a highchair. Make sure his water is in a sippy cup or drink bottle so it doesn't matter if it gets knocked over and have a couple of snacks stuffed in your bag so you can make do till a cafe opens. Try and sit outside - tantrums and mess always seem less noticeable out doors. And don't worry about anyone else, most of them will have been in exactly the same situation and feel nothing but kindness and empathy. x

Salene Sun 01-May-16 12:44:31

Sounds like normal toddler behaviour if I'm honest. Please do not care about what other people think, if they have had kids they have been in your shoes and if they say they haven't they are speaking bullshit

Toddlers can be a utter nightmare at times and push you to the very limits m

Can you take a weeks holiday from work and spend time with your nanny and son and see how she goes about day to day with him, see how she handles his tantrums etc, she sounds like someone who can help you become less stressed about the whole situation

Also give your husband a kick up the Arse to help you

Remember your pregnant and your hormones are running wild and often small things feel like a huge deal to you when pregnant

I'm also pregnant with a 19 month old and a husband who works away and a p/t job and I feel like I'm crumbling at times , it's bloody hard. Don't beat yourself up, you are doing your best. Why don't you talk to your HV if you have development concerns also, she can help put mind at rest or look into further help if there is issues

You need to take a step back and stop letting it all get on top of you, you need to be looking after yourself as well remember.

It might seem terrible now but you can get through this stage, just hang in there xxx

Good luck

Salene Sun 01-May-16 12:45:09

By the way toddlers and restaurants are always a flipping nightmare 😂🙈. You are defo not alone

SueGeneris Sun 01-May-16 12:45:30

You sound like you're in a bad place at the moment with not a lot of fun in your life so I can totally see why you abandoned your trip away.

I think at 17 months though you need to make things easier for yourselves. In my experience (3 DC) it IS a bad age for eating out. I'd take any route to make it easier and lower expectations. Could he have had a banana earlier on so he wasn't in meltdown by the time you got to the breakfast table? Then could he have sat on your lap (take it in turns with DH) or looked at an ipad or could you have taken it in turns to take him out? I find at this age if they get wound up about eating whatever it is they are meant to be having chucking a few raisins or other known favourite their way will get the temper back on track and they often then carry on eating whatever it was they refused. This age is about getting food in and enjoying eating (as far as possible! ) and learning to behave comes much later IMO.

But more generally it feels like you need to get the balance right in terms of work -life-equal parenting so that you begin to feel a bit more relaxed and able to roll with the punches.


MaddyHatter Sun 01-May-16 12:45:30

And if you are worried about ASD, start documenting everything and talk to your gp, you will make a better argument for an assessment if you can give clear reasons for your concerns.

If he is autistic, it's likely he is having issues with change of routine and sensory problems with different foods from what he's used to.

pinkyredrose Sun 01-May-16 12:46:18

Why are you doing all mealtimes, bath and bed?! Is your 'D'H working away or something? If not then you should split the work, one night he does bath next night you, etc. If he's unwilling to do this ask him why he wanted 2 DC, did he think they'd raise themselves or something?

MrsJayy Sun 01-May-16 12:52:07

I work with mainly under3s and your baby is like every other baby you really need to do things with toddlers in mind what did you think would happen taking a toddler to a fancy pants hotel thats what toddlers do they explore and touch stuff you cant stay indoors till you think he is acceptable

MrsJayy Sun 01-May-16 12:54:40

Saying that sounded harsh sorry you sound very unhappy and unsupported

Iguessyourestuckwithme Sun 01-May-16 12:57:58

He is a baby and he does need to learn but he really needs you to start being firmer.

You say you have a nanny who he behaves for. Have you spoken to her about the discipline put in place when you are at work. I am a nanny and I know I discipline differently from my bosses but I put the effort in so that my bosses can go out at the weekend without this happening. The group of nannies I work with ensure that we take the little ones out for meals/coffee shops/grown up places and teach them how to behave. We did meals out from a young age - Lunch at a restaurant from 12 months and we know our time limits [40 minutes] and we try to chat/involve them with table time - I would not accept a toddler [under 15 months] to throw things on the floor, shout, scream, misbehave - other people have paid to go out and they shouldn't have to deal with this behaviour.

You need to decide what is driving you mad first and try to work to sort out a plan of action. Speak to your nanny and work together.

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