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Feeling at the end of my tether with two DCs and working - I hyperventilated this morning!

(19 Posts)
iwouldgoouttonight Mon 05-Oct-09 12:05:38

I have a DS aged 3 and DD, 8 months and a lovely DP who is a brilliant dad and gets really involved with the DCs but also works long hours and evenings/weekends. I work four days a week. My parents live nearby and help out too.

But I feel completely and utterly exhausted, mentally and physically! At the end of the weekend me and DP were saying, you know when people say 'oh I just spent the weekend relaxing with the family' what do they mean??! Looking after two small children definitely can't be described as relaxing (well not in our house anyway!). DS wants attention all the time and is at the stage where the slightest thing (e.g. he has slightly too much milk on his cornflakes) sets off a huge tantrum.

I don't feel I have had any time for myself at all lately - weekends seem to be spent doing chores and trying to diffuse toddler meltdowns! And in the evenings once we've done clearing up/bedtime/getting things ready for the next day/etc I am off to bed. So me and DP rarely get any quality time together. It hasn't helped that between us we have had a string of minor illnesses over the last couple of months so we're all probably feeling a bit run down and more easily upset.

But this morning I was on my way into work, thinking I just can't cope with working and looking after children - it just isn't physically possible! I got myself so worked up I ended up short of breath and I think I had a kind of panic attack. The first aid people at work had to get me to breathe into a paper bag to calm me down!

Work isn't too stressful but its the amount of time I have to spend here which might be the problem. But I can't work out whether staying at home with the DCs would be just as stressful even if I didn't work (can't afford not to work so this isn't really an option anyway).

Is anyone else in this situation and how do you cope??

hf128219 Mon 05-Oct-09 12:07:35

It's probably not much use but throw money at the problem if you can. Get a cleaner/gardener etc.

iwouldgoouttonight Mon 05-Oct-09 12:13:28

We have actually just got a cleaner who comes in twice a week which helps a bit, although there is obviously cleaning to do in between. We can't really afford any more help - although we both work long hours we don't actually earn that much - DP is starting his own business and assures me it has the potential to pay him a decent salary but until then we're stretched as much as we can really.

iwouldgoouttonight Mon 05-Oct-09 12:13:59

When I said twice a week I meant every two weeks, sorry! If they came in twice a week that'd be fab!

hf128219 Mon 05-Oct-09 12:15:51

Try and get organised as much as you can. Laying out clothes the night before etc. Order food on-line.

fatsatsuma Mon 05-Oct-09 12:24:04

Haven't got any practical advice for you, but wanted to send you sympathy, and also say that this really difficult stage will pass.

Having a toddler and a baby is just exhausting, whether you are working out of the home or not. You get so little time to yourself, and so little 'thinking space'. That's what I've found anyway. I need a bit of time to myself every so often, and you hardly ever get that with young children.

But they will grow up quickly, and before you know it they will be at school and so much more independent. There will be other challenges - older kids are just as demanding in different ways - but you will get a bit of space back in your life for you.

Don't know if that helps or is just blatantly obvious. But if you can just get through each day, and then each week, and each month etc etc, and even enjoy them a little bit on the way, you will find that this stage passes.

iwouldgoouttonight Mon 05-Oct-09 12:31:04

Thansk - I think that is part of the problem, its not just the physical demands, its the lack of time to think! My head is constantly full of what I need to do next, getting bottles ready, clothes ready, washing to do, what to make for tea, etc, etc and I can't ever switch off, even if my mum looks after them I'm still thinking about what I need to tell her, worrying about little things, etc.

I need a break from my own head at times!

hettie Mon 05-Oct-09 12:32:46

erm things that I think can help with a v busy life/work/kids...
1. slow cooker (bung things in and naff off for the day)
2. Over cooking and bunging in freezer for 'ready meal' later
3. Cleaner (but you'r on to that)
4. Ordering food/ everything on-line (there are loads of vouchers to make this cheaper
5. Dishwasher (kept me sane)
6. Being absolutley ruthless at work- more decisive about what you can take on with you're boss, makeing decisions more quickly, delegating and being very very strict about when you arrive and leave (contrated hours ONLY).
7. Being slack about house work- (seriously, though to be fair this does rather suit my slovenly nature wink)> I don't iron anything EVER- Dh does his own shirts all mine and ds's clothes are worn un-ironed. I wear sweaters and tops for work and materials that don't need ironing. Cotton work shirts are your enemy!
8. Toddler behaviour crackdown.... this is a hard one 'casue when you're tired you are least lightly to cope with it BUT, we ignore whingy tantrumy behaviour (if necessary I walk out the room or he goes in time out). Engaging with it or trying to defuse it is time consuming, frustrating, tiring and ultimatley pointless. If I have days where everything is a battle then I feel tired, emotional and cross at the end of the day. SO I pick what's important and then am absolute about it. It gives me a strategy (so I feel less drained trying to think my way around the problem ifykwim and ds firm boundries that mean flare ups are less likely.
9. Be nice to yourself- it's a killer kiiller job doing what you're doing, deep breaths, offloading on friends and time out (even an hour reading a magazine) are needed!

hattyyellow Mon 05-Oct-09 12:33:55

Hmm, it is difficult. I guess, without meaning to sound blunt, that people have coped with more children and less help. I don't mean to trivialise your post as I've experienced panic attacks and they are horrible. Are you a perfectionist? I tend to be and that is linked to anxiety/panic attacks.

If your parents live nearby, could they take your children for an hour on one of the weekend mornings while you whizz around with the hoover?

I have three DC and work and have no help -all parents a long way away- and I try and limit cleaning/chores as much as possible. My house is relatively clean and tidy but I have to accept it won't be spotless most of the time, with three children and wellies and mud etc.

Is it the housework that's getting on top of you? What exactly takes up all the time at the weekend?

We try and cut corners by having simple meals - I will cook something huge on Friday night that we can eat for rest of weekend - like big bowl of pasta or stew. Lunch is simple sandwiches and fruit etc.

I am also an obsessive list maker, I find having everything written down makes me calmer as I'm not trying to remember things all the time.

frogthistle Mon 05-Oct-09 13:39:21

Ditto the writing everything down. I check my list three times a day & add things on each night.

Definately a cleaner, dishwasher, lower standards in house etc etc etc.

I use the organised mum big desk diary for planning (I promise I don't work for them!) & on Sunday night, all info for the coming week is written onto the calendar on the front of the fridge. If it isn't on there, it ain't happening.

I hear you on husband time (mine works away most weeks). We have set a monthly date, which we take turns to organise & book babysitting. It's not a lot, but it does help.

But, I'm going to throw something back at you. Your post covers very very familiar ground to me but the thing that really helped me through this stage was getting involved in an activity completely external to my work, my husband or my family. It was something little, which I did regularly, which was just for me. It kept me sane at times.

It's very easy to get lost in the doing & quite important to keep a sense of yourself while doing it.

Re the 3yr old, 'it's just a stage' repeated 26 times or so while sipping a glass of wine can help. wink

hattyyellow Mon 05-Oct-09 13:44:26

Ditto the time out for you. We both take it in turns to go for a walk at the weekend or go for a coffee while the other has the kids.

Seeing as our day starts around 6.30 most of the time, it's not hard to be up and out before 8am! I can be back by 9am having had an hour of lovely peace and I can feel my brain reorganising and filing everything away - often everything just feels more in control because I've had that space.

Re finding time for you both as a couple I think perhaps you have to accept that it will be fleeting at this stage but that is part of life with small kinder. We will let the kids watch a programme on ceebeebies at lunchtime on a saturday or sunday and we will go and sit outside with a cup of coffee and just switch off for five minutes. Going out in the evening is knackering and you will be more tired the next day but it's worth it to get that babysitter and spend that time together - even just once a month.

Must do some work!

iwouldgoouttonight Mon 05-Oct-09 13:51:10

Thanks again, your posts are all very helpful (and make me feel as though its not only me!).

I already do shopping online, we have a dishwasher, and I do try to cook meals for the freezer (although not so good at remembering to do this!)

I am a perfectionist - maybe that's partly why i get more stressed/anxious - I have always been quite an anxious person.

Trying to think what took up all the time at the weekend. Did some ironing (I never iron mine or DP's clothes, only the kids - their's always look so much more creased - maybe I should stop that!). Seem to be doing two loads of washing a day (DS is potty training and DD is BLWing so seem to be getting through so many clothes - I always wait until I have enough for a full load so no idea why I have to do it so often!) and hanging that out. General tidying.

But mainly looking after the DCs I suppose - they take up most of the time, its very difficult to get other things done when they are awake, and once they're asleep in the evening we have to rush around doing everything and then I flop into bed. Wish they would both nap at the same time in the day!

I realise many people have it much harder, especially with no relatives around to help - I think its my coping mechanisms that are the problem. DP gets stressed but not as much as me. I need to be able to relax but things are always running through my mind!

frogthistle Mon 05-Oct-09 14:05:37

More thoughts...

Yup, stop ironing children's clothes!

Perhaps have a tidy-up time bell at X (in our house, it's 6.15) o'clock & tackle two rooms (only) with the toddler as a game? Leave everything else, close doors if necessary!

Yoga? Some relaxation methods? visualisations? Learning to see the value in the great mothering you are doing & not in having pristine, constantly entertained children? (BTW, if you haven't read 'What mothers do - especially when it looks like nothing', please do so) Letting the kids watch some TV while you do 45 mins of admin tasks (or whatever).

Weekends - Plan some trips out as a family? Picnic in the park? exploring a national trust property grounds - by re-enacting 'We're going on a bear hunt/Gruffalo' - not by scaring yourselves silly by taking small children near priceless china etc. Family time for all, a break from the daily grind for you, entertainment for the children & so on.

Good luck

LadyoftheBathtub Mon 05-Oct-09 14:19:14

Don't forget the power of telly (or a DVD) - sometimes my "me time" is sitting with DS while he watches a film and I have a cup of tea and read a magazine.

You don't have to cook "properly" all the time - you can still have healthy food if it's just cheese on toast with a few salad bits, or pasta with ready-made tomato sauce or pesto, or just rolls and bits and bobs like hummus, cheese and cucumber.

Do weekend activities that involve sitting around while your DC play - I take DS to the beach or botanic gardens, where he can run around very safely. Cinema is good from about 3 (one of you could take him), also we like just going for a walk, tires DS out and keeps him busy.

Have a time every day when you have done stuff by - eg after bedtime you have an hour to do what needs doing, to a basic standard, then you have until bedtime for relaxing, watching a film together, etc. Even if everything's not done, you have to switch off - think of it as an important thing in your schedule that you relax and spend time with DP, because it is.

CBT might be helpful if you can't switch off.

Morloth Mon 05-Oct-09 14:31:26

Seriously lower your standards. It doesn't matter if the house is messy, doesn't matter if the kid's clothes are rumpled - nothing wrong with pulling a frozen pizza out for dinner on the weekend.

A bit of telly won't hurt them.

When you are that busy and stressed it is best to have a time or two each week, where you just say "Fuck It" and sit down with hubby, watch a film and have a nice glass of wine. I suggest after kiddy bedtime on a Friday and a Saturday night. Just ignore the mess and the stuff you have to do and chill.

hattyyellow Mon 05-Oct-09 14:45:10

Thinking about it, I think I have a plan in my head for the weekend. It doesn't always work and I still get stressed when things aren't done but certain things matter more and I get them done.

For instance making sure we all go out together as a family, even just for a walk down the lane. Making sure we both have time off even for just an hour.

Housework I do during the day - DH and I will take it in turns to have the kids if we have loads on. He might take them all outside for an hour while I load dishwasher/hang washing etc. I can't bear to do more than an hour of admin and housework after the kids are in bed. I need my switch off time! Our baby is similar age to yours and I will constantly be doing bits of housework while she crawls around.

3 is a good age in that your older DC should get better at entertaining themselves giving you a bit more time.

Older ones can watch tv for a bit while the baby is sleeping - does your baby have a lunchtime sleep? Could you co-incide tv and nap time so that you can get things done/do housework/sit down together?

iwouldgoouttonight Mon 05-Oct-09 16:02:07

Thanks - I do need to try to be less of a perfectionist. I am a perfectionist in my head, but the house is still messy, DS watches (probably too much) TV, etc so I get frustrated because I'm not meeting the standards I keep setting myself (probably comparing myself too much to others who seem to cope much better too!)

Sadly DD won't nap for longer than half an hour in the day - she has 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the afternoon, but I could sit DS in front of the telly at those times. Which I think I do - I just then spend that time stressing that he's watching too much TV rather than relaxing! And then we have the turning to TV off battle/tantrum!

Your comments are all helpful though - lists definitely seem a good idea, and making a plan for the weekend. Think that was part of the problem this weekend, we didn't have anything planned so DS was probably getting bored and so was more prone to kicking off!

Bumblingbovine Mon 05-Oct-09 16:16:59

I think your expectations are a too high. (I have the same problem).

Ignore what you have heard, no-one has a 'nice relaxing weekend' at home at the weekend when they are home all weekend with a 3 year old and an 8month old. Well not by my definition of a 'nice relaxing' weekend anyway. It is just that their definition of 'nice and relaxing" is different to mine.

Accept that you need to be organised and yet also manage your expectations.

A plan for the weekend is ESSENTIAL, just a broad idea of what if happening, and this should include taking the children out a bit. A bit of tag parenting with one at home relaxing or doing stuff at home and one out with the children for some parts of the day can work.

Also, it took me a long time to learn this but if I play with ds and I mean really play with him at his pace and the games he likes for some time in the morning (half an hour or so) he is MUCH happier and less prone to kick off during the rest of the day.

I need to focus on him though and not try and do other things at the same time. Your 3 year old might benefit from that a bit too.

frogthistle Mon 05-Oct-09 16:59:38

Another idea?

Perhaps I should also admit to working 4 days per week but leaving DD2 in nursery for an extra half day so that I can do all the necessary admin/paperwork/phone calls/household bits & pieces on Friday mornings?

Not ideal but much easier & faster to clear the decks without the children around. The cleaner comes at the same time so house is clean for weekend.

Sometimes I even meet a friend for coffee... but rarely share that info with DH!

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