2 young children - feel completely out of my depth, annoyed and trapped(57 Posts)
I have 2 young children, DS just turned 3 and DD almost 18 months. I am feeling so overwhelmed, upset and frankly trapped by the children/life and I need help to move forward.
My DH and I have recently separated as a result of his affair, although we are attempting to work through it. That has added another dimension but ultimately my feelings in relation to life with the children etc is the same.
I am from overseas so I have no family support and DH’s parents are 7 hours drive away. We are alone.
Since DS was born I have not had a night ‘off’ (overnight). I am absolutely exhausted.
The children are extremely full on. They are up (screaming) from around 5.15am daily. The days consist of basically one or other of them crying all day. They will not play, I HAVE to be there. I can’t sit down or the baby climbs on my demanding to be fed (this is literally constantly all day). I can’t put the television on as the 3 year old starts to get completely unmanageable if he watches tv.
We go out, but increasingly they are unmanageable outside of the house. If we walk, the older one cries to be carried so I end up having to push a massive double buggy then the youngest one goes ballistic to walk which is impossible while pushing the older one. If they both walk they run off in opposite directions.
Every single day, one or both of them has a massive tantrum while we are out, it is exhausting and embarrassing (and I am not easily embarrassed!)
The older one has also, since about Sept, taken to come in beside me during the night. I am too exhausted to stop him but I hate it as he fidgets and sniffs and coughs etc etc. Then up at ridiculous o’clock daily.
I feel so upset as this weekend I went out with friends on Sat night just to a comedy thing. I had to leave early and didn’t drink as I knew I’d be up stupidly early. Even in doing that I was exhausted yesterday. I feel so trapped by it all. I cannot have anything resembling a ‘normal’ life. All of my friends with similar aged children are starting to come out the other side and we are still knee deep in shit.
I really thought it would be getting better by now but it’s not at all.
DH comes every evening to put the children to bed, and stays here at the weekends to help. I am a SAHM.
DS goes to nursery 2 mornings a week so that provides some relief. But everything else just feels so overwhelming all the time. The crying/screaming/no sleeping/no time at all to myself/no time for our marriage etc etc etc.
Any advice? Tips? Experience?
Did you think having children would be easy? You need to get your 3 year old out of your bed and make sure he stays out.
Your older child can spend more time in nursery 2 mornings is not enough.
The children are screaming and unmangeable because you are so tired you have lost control.
You need to get into a routine and stick to it.
Stop breast feeding your 18 month old on demand. In fact why cant you stop breast feeding?
Put your 18 month old on reins if he walks then he cant run off.
Why cant you have a sleep or go out while your husband has the children at the weekends? After all he is their father.
Your husband had an an affair. Is the affair over does he want to come back to you?
Posh that's pretty harsh. Nothing wrong with co-sleeping, breastfeeding etc. I think a gap of 18 months must be pretty tough.
It will get better, op, but I feel for you.
We have a similar gap and it is brutal. Can you go back to work? Your three year old is eligible for lots of free childcare. Pick one battle a week and crack it, when your ex comes over at weekends just dump the kids and go to bed.
I think Devon’s post was too harshly worded but I can’t disagree with the overall premise. Co sleeping and extended breastfeeding might work well for some but it isn’t working for OP! I think a routine is critical as well
I had a 14 month gap but didn't breastfeed for long so that is hard going for you. I would not allow the sleeping in your bed - you need your own space.
I used a phil and teds buggy but I think I would be firm with the three year old 'no carrying' be really firm. Id go home if he is tantruming
Have you tried any behaviour strategies ?
Oh love, I feel for you. My boys are 6 and 4.5 (19month gap). I felt exactly the same as you when mine were babies/toddlers. Thugs that worked for me: working 3 days per week (we broke even on costs but it was worth it for my sanity). No co sleeping (like you I couldn’t sleep at all whenever we tried it). Little outings just to local park or for walk in wellies - big days out we’re just fraught with anxiety as they would just scatter as soon as they were out of the pushchair/off reins. REINS. Cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have bolters it’s easy to judge but they are a lifesaver. Being demanding with DH. I would regularly get him to take them out or be responsible while I took time for myself (to go out/have a bath/sot in a corner and rock backwards and forwards). I didn’t breastfeed past 6 months which probably made this easier.
These things may not be an option for you, I know. But I would definitely say you need to put yourself first for a few hours a week. If your DH can come over for bedtimes and weekends why not work out a schedule where he does bedtime alone 2/3 nights and you go to bed or go out for a walk? And him to take kids out on a Saturday morning for 3 hours so you can do whatever you like?
It’s so hard. It does pass though - my boys are still hard work but it’s so much better now they’re not toddlers any more.
I can’t imagine having two children that age and your relationship issues. It sounds so difficult.
A bit of a cliche but can you have a 24 hour break. Either in a hotel or where ever DH is staying at the weekend or at least make DH take the kids out for 1/2 a day every weekend.
Is increasing nursery an option while you get through this rough patch?
It will get better but much of your perspective is lost when you are sleep deprived. Plus you seem to be suffering emotional turmoil given the recent events in your marriage. I am also a SAHM to three children-18 month old, a difficult just turned three year old and four year old ( 14 months between the eldest). It is bloody hard- I also have no support network although my partner is hands on evenings and weekends whereby I ensure to get my headspace. Get some time to yourself as a start. Coffee alone for an hour even. I can’t think how I got to get this typed- I don’t get phone time with those three!
I’m still breastfeeding my 20 month old and have had a few nights away as a result of work. I wasn’t convinced it would be ok but it was. Book yourself into somewhere you can sleep for eight hours and get your ‘d’h to do a full overnight shift. They will all survive.
Huge sympathies for you. It’s hideously difficult.
Just popping on to sympathise OP, I have 3 DC, DD1 is 12 with ASD, dS is 4 in Jan and DD2 is 18m.
I'm also a LP. It's HARD WORK.
I work 16 hrs a week which I love and have started running once or twice a week for an hour (pay a babysitter). These little breaks really help!
I also co sleep with he youngest 2 and recently stopped BF the baby.
I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the days are so LONG.
Do you go to any baby/toddler groups? Also try and get 3 yo into nursery/playgroup a bit more?
And make friends with other LPs, I find Sundays the hardest, everyone has family days!
tractor TedTed My post was not meant to be harsh. I was just trying to put over my ideas of helping OP.
Cosleeping is not working for OP nor is on demand breast feeding. Op is worn out from lack of sleep.
Sirry I am not so touchy feely
I’ve reported posh’s post because it’s really not in the spirit, is it?
OP, what time do the kids go to bed if they’re waking at 5:15? Unless it’s very very early I think you’re probably not the only sleep-deprived one. My kids are awful if they haven’t had enough sleep and I can’t handle them as well if I haven’t. Do they nap well during the day? What happens if you try to make them stay in bed longer?
This was me a few years ago, I can totally relate to what you are saying. I think because of everything you are going through in your personal life, even if you think you are coping, you just don't have the energy to develop a routine and stay on top of it. I too, felt embrassed and ashamed and was unable to be my usual bubbly self, and then sort of distanced myself from a lot of people which am sure made things worse - probably depressed tbh. Until you have been left on your own as a single parent of two children this young constantly fighting for your attention, you just can not imagine what it is like. I know he is helping, but i felt as if I was in crisis mode all the time and that was exhausting.
I did carry on working though and am glad I did. I later moved to be closer to family though don't have loads of support (I know this option is more difficult for you) Its 3 years on now. Its still hard but its definitely a lot easier than it was. Just hang in there, think one day at a time. He's had an affair - get hime to do as much as possible so you can have some time out.
Little ones are hard but it sounds like you are making it harder still for yourself. One of the problems of current parenting is the notion it’s the job of parents to keep children ever happy and entertained, to respond to their every whim and wish. My own mother called it ‘ making a rod for your own back’.
There are things you can do but the first is to stop being their doormat.
Ring your health visitor and ask about positive parenting classes.
Extend time the older one is at nursery. Could he do two full days? That way you will have longer for a nap with the 18 month old. Mornings mean you drop, get home and almost straight away have to collect again.
Get some reins and strap the little one in the buggy when necessary. If he screams, let him scream. He’ll soon stop. Don’t go carrying him everywhere.
Think about a buggy board rather than a double buggy for the older one. Double buggies are much harder work.
Where are you going out to? That can make a difference to behaviour. Use local toddler groups with supportive other mothers where it’s not an overly controlled environment. They need space and time to play. Avoid tantrum inducing places like supermarkets. Go to the beach or park for a walk and play instead.
Learn the word No and say it as if you mean it.
Have blackout curtains in their rooms. Put them back to bed at at 5.am.
It does get easier.
I think one of the issues with threads like this is that people, especially those without actual young children themselves, assume that your parenting is responsible for everything. Actually kids have personalities and some are simply much more challenging than others. I didn’t realise how much that was true until I had my second. So you may have simply got two tricky kids. Acknowledging that might help you feel a bit better.
I would definitely up the nursery hours!!! Pronto!
It also sounds like you might actually benefit from going back to work, eveb if just part time. It certainly saved my sanity. Is this option open to you?
As for the constant demand to "play with" your DC, i would just sit and read or do something in the same room but dont allow yourself to get drawn in.
I tried this yesterday with my (almost 3) DS. There was merry hell at first but gradually he started to play on his own. It didnt last long (about 15 mins) but I expected to have to work up to longer periods of solo playing.
Kids wont ever play on their own unless they learn to. And in order to learn this, they have to be given the opportunity to practice! Its really hard, I agree. But it must be worth it. worth it for them too as playing on your own or (when older) being able to distract yourself is a really valuable skill and one that, imo, promotes happiness.
THank you all. I should say, we have a rock solid routine. Since both children were very young. This 5.15 malarkey has crept up on us since DD started sleeping through (so about 2 months ago maybe 3), she screams, wakes the older one, and round and round we go. Our routine was bed at 7, up usually 6.45, worked well, until all of this crap. I’ve now started bed at 6.30 instead. Any earlier is sort of not achievable!
They are both so loud that it’s impossible to ignore them as they wake each other up (this is through solid walls and solid doors).
Initially with the older one I did put him back, but then he was in every 20 mins and was completely and utterly exhausted all day long (even more so than now). We dropped his nap to try and change the sleep behaviour but nothing changed.
We got to groups/the park/friends etc, and these things are all ok as long as I drive. And can leave easily. If I walk (which sometimes I’d prefer) it is just a disaster.
I have a buggy board too, but funnily the double is actually lighter to push and there are a few big hills to negotiate so that’s why I often end up bringing it.
As to the breastfeeding etc, I’ve realised reading other people’s comments that I sound like a real earth mother, that’s really not the case. I just don’t know how to wean the bloody baby. DS weaned when I was pregnant and did so very easily, but he never acted like she does. I have absolutely no clue how to free myself of her. I do say no often, but sometimes she’s so upset that I feel I have no choice but to feed her! Which I guess is my fault really!!
Behaviour strategies... I think that’s my downfall. I followed ‘gentle’ parenting for a long while (well as long as you can with a 3 year old!) but I started to find them quite guilt inducing. Now, all I seem to do is shout and out DS on the step or threaten his toys, which feels very unnatural to me so I’m quite lost in that respect.
They are also extremely physical with each other. A lot of hair pulling, hitting, pushing. Always very, very near each other, moments from causing another screaming session!
Thank you for all your advice so far. I have actually just contacted the nursery about extending his hours. I am also thinking of finding a job to give me some breathing space, but then I’m sad that I don’t get to spend the time with DD (but isn’t that just life?!)
Sand interesting that you say that as recently a few people have said that the children are lovely (they are) but both very demanding. It was nice to see that others could see it too. And that’s entirely personality
You may find your youngest is easier to manage if sometimes at nursery. My younger one is on the challenging side of ‘normal’ (by which I mean non sleeping, a climber, a screamer, crap st eating, arches his back and ‘flops’ his tantrums. But seems easier for all of us now he’s at nursery...
Thank you, I think you are right and that I should look into nursery for the youngest too.
I know I sound like a complete martyr, I really don’t mean to be, but I feel like I’m caught in this quagmire of guilt/very limited support/being a SAHM (which adds to my guilt about having any time to myself)/exhaustion that I really have very little idea where to turn.
All of this has had an extremely serious impact on my marriage (not blaming it of course, my husband is the only person to blame for that) but having such little time together alone, constantly interrupted sleep, me on the verge of a breakdown daily and 2 very demanding and strong willed children certainly hasn’t help to protect us!
You do not sound like a martyr. I honestly am in awe of SAHPs. I have one day a week at home and just about feel like I can hold my shit together for it....
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Thank you for that inspired comment chiaseed. Any tips/suggestions?
They are happy, healthy, well cared for, loved, clothed, fed. I, as a person, am struggling, predominantly with lack of sleep/support. The children are absolutely fine...
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