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Struggling with practicalities of 12 m.o. & almost 4 y.o.

(50 Posts)
AngelDog Tue 29-Oct-13 12:10:14

Can anyone give me some tips on coping with the practicalities of life with two little ones?

I have a 12 m.o. and 3.10 y.o. I have (undiagnosed) chronic fatigue and find the practicalities of life very difficult. My boys and I have some complicated health problems which make things harder eg all our food needs cooking from scratch and takes a really long time to prepare.

Most of my spare time is taken up by researching our health issues and trying to find people to help us since the NHS doesn't deal with our problems as an identified 'package' of issues.

I am finding it really difficult to cope with the basics of food prep, laundry, keeping on top of basic organisation in the house.

I am very, very tired and rarely get to bed before 1am as there's just so much to do. The baby doesn't nap well - never for more than 40 mins and usually only in the sling, and then only if we're staying at home. He's in the horrible phase where 2 naps are too many and 1 isn't enough. He usually doesn't get to bed till 9pm or so due to a late second nap. DS1 is at home with me full time - nursery is not an option for various reasons.

My parents come & help for an afternoon a week, and my PIL come every week or two, but it is only limited help as I don't really get any extra time - though it does give the boys more attention and proper playing time. DH helps as much as he can but when he's home a lot of his time is spent with the boys as I don't get to give them much time or attention during the week.

We do get out of the house to the park for a short while most days, but we simply can't manage to get out to any groups. We have a couple of friends with similar aged children who each come over every week or two but apart from that I don't get much company. We spend a lot of time doing the shopping.

Any advice on how to handle the practical side of life?

AngelDog Tue 29-Oct-13 12:41:34

I need something like FlyLady really but I don't have the energy to organise it.

ninjanurse Tue 29-Oct-13 12:45:19

I would say you definetly need to meal plan a week in advance and order your shopping online. So much easier, saves time and less hassle than lugging 2 kiddies round the shops. And focus on quick easy meals to cook.

Put a load of washing on timer on before you go to bed so you can hang it out first thing in the morning.

Spend 20 minutes a day blitzing whatever cleaning needs doing. Bathroom, mopping, bedrooms etc. Keep it time limited.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 29-Oct-13 16:14:28

For the moment, addressing the day to day chores, I am not a perfectionist so perhaps my way of doing things wouldn't suit.

Check the calendar before you go to bed, any appointments next day? Any bills need paying? Prescriptions re-ordering or collecting?

If it's run overnight, put any washing on, if not do it first thing after you get up and see to the DCs.

Allow yourself 'grooming time', grabbing a shower, or washing your hair, better still this can be pulling on something decent, (ie clean and fresh smelling).

Shop online, making sure you are in for the delivery slot. Encourage DH to add to a running shopping list of anything he uses up or that needs replenishing so you don't have to remember them all in your head and run out for things.

Use daily outdoor time for a walk to blow away the cobwebs or meet up with friends. Even if you can only manage a very short distance. Little ones like your company, they don't have to be constantly entertained, stimulation can be from 'helping' you or playing with their toys as you are in the same room but doing something else. Don't be embarrassed to plonk the older one down in front of the tv for a while, as long as you vet what they're watching.

When home, open windows, (cheaper than plug-in room fresheners), put on the radio, find some music. If you are a list person, write down 5 things to get done that day, no matter how trivial, to have the satisfaction of crossing them off.

My DM used to focus on one room a day over 5 days. I like to have one room straight where unexpected callers can sit without feeling they're in a muddle. I'd rather have company and "take me as you find me" than an immaculate home and nobody adult to talk to until DH returns.

I have heard someone suggest using a timer, coupled with a sort of 'chore and reward' programme. Set a timer for 20 - 30 minutes. I know some of that is taken up with nappy changing and kiddy interruptions.

So empty/load dishwasher or wash up, wipe all the kitchen surfaces, sweep up crumbs, empty bin, throw back the bedding to air beds, check bathroom(s). Then sit and rest, check MN, have a drink. 15 minutes' at least. Then walk round with something like a laundry basket, pick up stray stuff that belongs elsewhere or random papers, clothing, toys. When dusting cheat with a slightly damp cloth where appropriate, pick up dust rather than spread it. Then hoover and/or mop downstairs, then sit, rest, with drink and snack. Read DC1 a story, have 1:1 time when DC2 naps.

If you can have a restful soak in the bath while your parents/PILs are round, excellent. If someone can do some ironing or just fold up the bigger items, brilliant. If there are cobwebs to eradicate in the high corners or they can wash the downstairs windows, fantastic.

Ironing and cleaning windows imo are bonus items, you want to be able to walk through the house without tripping hazards, you want to eat without getting bugs, you want to have clean (if not perfectly ironed to Jeeves's standard) clothing.

AngelDog Wed 30-Oct-13 18:16:27

Thank you. smile

We are pretty good at dispensing with non-essentials like ironing, cleaning etc. I really should use the timer idea again.

waterrat Wed 30-Oct-13 18:36:30

Do you really need to stay up till 1? That would kill me! My way of coping is early bed whenever possible - if I was you I would make that a priority. If housework and cooking are keeping you up that late then you need a different system.

I cook from scratch but mainly simple stuff - as long as lots of veg you don't new much variety !

I think the lack of a proper nights sleep is probably making everything else harder.

DollyShouldHaveDumpedStiva Wed 30-Oct-13 18:47:25

Could you tell us more about the dietary restrictions so we could make food prep suggestions?

CurlyhairedAssassin Wed 30-Oct-13 18:53:37

Are you sure your chronic fatigue problems are not simply due to the fact that you are just not getting enough sleep? I would feel at death's door going to bed at 1am and then looking after 2 children during the day. Seriously. I would be down at the doctors telling them there was something wrong with me cos i felt so bad.

When you say "there is too much to do", what is it you are referring to, seeing as you say you are pretty good at dispensing with non-essentials like ironing? (Didn't understand the cleaning being bunged in with the non-essentials either, unless you are talking about dusting, which I never seem to manage to do.)

Oblomov Wed 30-Oct-13 18:58:38

Why are you staying up till 1am. I have diabetes and thus bad fatigue. I sometimes put the kids to bed and jump into bed myself at 8pm , when dh isn't here. Bliss.

AngelDog Thu 31-Oct-13 00:14:32

Thank you. The fatigue is a medical issue which has come up on tests etc; I've just not got a formal diagnosis from my GP as I've been seeing a private practitioner about it. But the lack of sleep isn't helping.

DS2 usually finally gets to sleep at about 9pm then I usually spend an hour or so researching around our health issues or ordering the things we need to help with them (mainly dietary supplements). Then I clear up the dinner things and do some cooking for the next day.

Carbs need to be soaked, drained, rinsed, drained and then cooked so I do the soaking etc during the day, and the rest of the prep in the evening, portion them up and freeze ready for the next day. Unfortunately DS2 doesn't tolerate the same foods as DS1 and I so he needs separate things cooking for him.

We tolerate barely any veg (no fruit) so the ones we can eat, we have at every meal and snack. Unfortunately most need cooking separately to deal in various ways with the natural food chemicals they contain, and DS2 won't eat the same things that DS1 and I are able to eat. I think I probably need to get the veg all out and peeled the night before so it's quicker to organise during the day.

I also have a whole lot of dietary supplements to dose out for the 3 of us, which probably takes at least half an hour. DS2 usually needs bf'ing once or twice before I go to bed too.

I'd love DS2 to go to bed earlier but that just doesn't work with having 2 naps. If I try to give him only 1 he still only naps for 40 mins, he crashes at about 5pm then gets so overtired he simply can't go to sleep till about 9pm anyway.

I need a housekeeper! smile

waterrat Thu 31-Oct-13 05:56:15

Well I think you need to really make yourself get into bed by 10 and not spend every night researching health issues - because you can only be getting about 5/6 hours sleep a night which is exacerbating health issues.

Surely if you have fatigue as a health problem sleep should be a priority.

And there must be a quicker way than soaking carbs ?! What carbs do you mean ?

lolalotta Thu 31-Oct-13 06:09:02

Can u batch cook?

SteamWisher Thu 31-Oct-13 06:14:19

Is the private practitioner a medical professional? What is their profession? I would be hmm to be honest - I know someone who's "nutritionist" diagnosed them by getting them to hold vibrating wands hmm

You shouldn't need to research into the early hours every day - there's only so much info surely. And why isn't the private practitioner providing this information?

I agree with pp who said is this just exhaustion? How was your life before DCs? Did your diet affect your life? As for the kids not tolerating foods - what are the symptoms? Is it just fussiness exacerbated by tiredness?

If your ds cannot go to nursery for dietary reasons, what happens when he starts school? Can you put him into a preschool for just morning sessions where he won't eat there? Then instruct the nursery to keep him away from certain foods - my son's preschool is excellent and deals with severe allergies so certainly possible. And your DS's age is such that he would get free hours.

I would also be concerned that despite your supplements you could be deficient adding to the tiredness.

Can you get your baby into a better routine? I would go to one nap and put him to bed super early, say around 6pm. It sounds horrible but get him napping in the pushchair or cot if you can. Former might be easier - use a blackout cover, go for a walk then park him somewhere. What times are you napping? 9pm bedtimes are going to be making him
Massively overtired so you need a week or so to work on sleep.

Also shop online for food.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 31-Oct-13 10:26:09

I don't have relevant expertise in dietary requirements so am sorry I'm unable to offer advice. Do you mind me saying - and I am not under-estimating the stress and effort you put up with - but to an outsider, it sounds as though at least half your world is shrinking to food preparation and consumption. And consequently your family loses downtime with you. I appreciate food is vital but I am concerned other types of nourishment take a distant second place. Your DCs have input from DH and grandparents but the impact of trying to fit so much in is taking its toll.

How does your DH fit in with this, you say he provides suppport, does he ever suggest exploring further help from health/nutritional professionals?

nocarsgo Thu 31-Oct-13 10:45:38

Who is advising you on your dietary needs? It does rather sound like you are devoting an enormous amount of time and energy on research, dietary supplements and complicated food prep... on the basis of what exactly?

It's just that when you say you need to prepare food in a certain way because of "natural food chemicals" I rather suspect that some woo practitioner is feeding you a load of utter nonsense.

You say the NHS have no diagnosis for you or either of your children? Would you mind telling us what your private practitioner has diagnosed? And on what grounds are you not allowed to eat any fruit or vegetables?

Ok, I'll be honest. You sound misguided and rather obsessed. Spending all your free time Googling your problems in search of validation is obsessive and unhealthy. The internet is full of people coming together to compare conspiracy theories about their health problems and why conventional medicine won't diagnose or help them. There's usually a good reason for that.

nocarsgo Thu 31-Oct-13 11:00:01

I also have a whole lot of dietary supplements to dose out for the 3 of us, which probably takes at least half an hour. DS2 usually needs bf'ing once or twice before I go to bed too.

And this - the three of you take so many dietary supplements it takes you HALF AN HOUR to administer them?

Your children are one and not-yet-four.

That is frightening. What are you giving them and is it safe to give a baby and a child all this stuff?

waterrat Thu 31-Oct-13 11:49:24

I agree with others - are you backed by medical advice in not giving your children fruit and limiting their diet?

More importantly - stop spending hours online at night, you can't separate chronic exhaustion from lack of sleep - say you are asleep at 130 and up at 630/7? That is not enough sleep for anyone - do you suffer from anxiety?

I think you should try a month of No research at night and going to bed early .

HoleyGhost Thu 31-Oct-13 12:49:09

I think you should speak to your GP and health visitor.

AgathaF Thu 31-Oct-13 17:56:33

Your life sounds excessively complicated. You are unsurprisingly tired due to the lack of sleep you are getting.

I am struggling to understand some of what you write, so like other posters, I have some questions -

When you say that your children 'don't tolerate' certain foods, what happens to them when they eat those foods?

When were you diagnosed by your private practitioner?

The supplements that your children are taking daily - who suggested them, where are they from?

Given that you have a diagnosis from a private practitioner, why do you need to still spend so much time researching your health issues?

Have you spoken to your GP about this issue at all, and if so what was the reply?

In all honesty, you sound to me like you are suffering from post natal depression (I am an ex midwife so have some knowledge of this).

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 31-Oct-13 18:28:22

Being a caring conscientious mother can sometimes leave a person depleting their own reserves of energy. I would hate to think these health concerns could isolate you. We only see a snapshot so to speak, so with the best will in the world can only advise based on what you tell us. Do you think perhaps a chat with your GP to outline the lengths you go to might help getting further support?

CurlyhairedAssassin Thu 31-Oct-13 19:41:37

I am very worried for you. Who exactly IS this private practitioner? What is their area of expertise and what are their qualifications? How did you come to see them? Did you go to your GP first, and if so what happened as a result of that? Have you seen any consultants at an NHS hospital? What are the children's supplements? Very worrying that they are taking half an hour to administer.

I am also concerned that you might be obsessing over something that you don't have a proper diagnosis for (if this private practitioner is not medically qualified, then you can't really call it a diagnosis.).

This is not how you should be living your life. I would get back to the GP ASAP and get them to tell you exactly what they think is wrong with you.

SoftSheen Thu 31-Oct-13 20:19:04

You sound like you are having a hard time. It must be very tough to cope with two young children full time as well as deal with your own health issues. My suggestions would be:

-Go back to your GP and ask to see a fully qualified NHS dietitian and base any changes to your and your young children's diets on their advice, rather than on the advice of any practitioner who doesn't have recognised professional qualifications.

-Do your shopping online, once a week.

-Get to bed much earlier and don't spend hours researching your medical issues- leave that to the doctors.

-Try to get your elder son into preschool- even if he has food allergies and /or other additional needs, a good preschool should be able to cope with this. You will get a bit of a break, and he will benefit from the opportunities for social interaction and different activities.

-Make it a priority to get out of the house every day, to the park, soft play, a group or a friends house. This will help keep you sane as well as (hopefully) wearing out the children a bit.

-Could you afford to get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week, just for a month or two? Or perhaps for a one-off deep clean?

SteamWisher Thu 31-Oct-13 20:40:52

Angel, I hope you're ok having read these responses. seeing your circumstances in black and white shows just how difficult they are and how much scope there is for you to change things.
Good luck!

waterrat Thu 31-Oct-13 21:08:05

Op I know people here don't know the reality of what you are dealing with - I hope my posts were not dismissive of your diet concerns

I do however think you should make sure your son gets his nursery hours and you should get more early nights !

ImNotCute Thu 31-Oct-13 21:46:00

Hi op, my kids are just a little older than yours, with a similar age gap. It is tough sometimes and there is no way I could function if I wasn't getting to bed until 1am and spending hours in com

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