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How to stop family life turning into one long bickerfest?

(10 Posts)
elliott Mon 15-Sep-08 21:01:59

I am not enjoying my family at the moment.
We are all very grumpy and irritable with each other at the moment, and I think it is mainly my fault.
I am tired a lot of the time, dh and I bicker constantly at weekends, we tread on each others toes over minor domestic arrangements, and we are both losing it too often with the boys. I feel like I spend my whole life telling them what to do and I don't like it, but I don't seem to be able to stop. I don't like having to organise everyone's lives, my own is enough thank you very much. I don't see enough of my friends and I feel like I don't have any time and space for myself.
I don't know how to have fun with them anymore.
Bleuch. Sorry for non-specific amorhphous rant. Perhaps I am just menopausal.
But seriously if you have any ideas about how to reconnect with and spend fun time with 4 and 6 year old boys please share.

Janni Mon 15-Sep-08 21:08:57

My boys are a bit older than you: 12 and 8 and I was getting absolutely fed up with telling them at every step of the way what they had to do next. After one particularly bad morning, I sat down and wrote out detailed lists of what they had to do before school, after school and in the evening, with a space to tick off when they had done it. Now your children are younger, so you may have to do drawings rather than words, but you get the idea. My boys are loving it! I just say 'do your list' or 'look at your list' and they are absolutely starting to take responsibility. It is truly amazing. I will review their lists at the end of the week and reward them.

I was also doing a lot of picking up after DH. I just decided to stop. After a couple of days, without me saying a word, he started to pick up after himself.

Obviously there will be more that you need to deal with, but it sounds like you need to break things down into smaller segments that you can actually tackle. I always think it helps to stop ranting because you end up venting and hurting people's feelings. Have a notebook to rant in, then take more care about how you ask for what you need to be done.

Janni Mon 15-Sep-08 21:09:22

sorry, that should have said 'yours'

elliott Mon 15-Sep-08 21:21:45

Thanks Janni
We have quite a structured and reasonably ordered morning. Evenings and bathtimes are often dreadful, really due to tiredness all round. But the thing that is really getting me down is that it's time when we are together as a family, at the weekends, when things are all going wrong. This is when its supposed to be fun! If we get out of the house it is not so bad, but if we are at home it all just deteriorates, I think because dh and I are both trying to get 'stuff' done, and the kids want attention...

Janni Mon 15-Sep-08 21:26:26

Elliott - maybe your expectations are too high as you are exoecting the w/ends to be 'fun' and are upset when they're not. If you have jobs that need doing, the children need to help. Then ONE of you can take them out to the park or soemthing while the other rests or does their own thing. Don't feel you have to do everything as a family, because it's the w/end! do stuff as a family if you're sure you'll all enjoy it, otherwise split up and play to your strengths.

We've been married 13 years and have 3 kids - it's what works for us.

elliott Mon 15-Sep-08 21:36:27

Yes, I have thought that we should do a bit more 'relay' parenting. Will try and enact that.
Just have to stop being so grumpy now..

LittleBella Mon 15-Sep-08 21:39:11

My DC's have been ghastly since they went back to school. I think that's also part of it, the return to normal life, full school days again and the re-adjustment to new classes etc.

elliott Mon 15-Sep-08 22:02:59

Nah, summer 'holidays' were pretty awful here..

taxiservice Mon 15-Sep-08 22:28:55

elliot your op sounds like the story of my life! Do I get the feeling that you all just want to 'be' together sometimes, rather than be in between doing other things? Perhaps you need to set an hour aside every day where you just don't let yourselves do anything but respond to the children.

One thing I also make sure I do is from time to time to sit in bed with my daughters (one at a time), turn the lights out and just chat. It works probably because I'm relaxed and they know I'm not going to dash off somewhere to do something.

Another thing we do is have one hour screen free time when we get in from school - helps them more than me of course.

elliott Tue 16-Sep-08 12:10:35

Yes, I think part of it is that now they are past the age when they need constant supervision, I get frustrated that they can't get on with their own thing and let us do the same... I realise they still need input from us, but I feel I don't really know what sort of input that should be.

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