Calling All Mums – How Do You Cope With The Stress?

Of parenting, I mean.

Note: I focus on the negative here because I am interested in whether or not it is like this for all mums. Obviously, among the wailing and naughtiness there are hugs and laughter. But most some days it seems like everything, everything is a battle.

People often say to me, having two boys close together, that my days must be busy/hard/tiring. No shit.

I actually think most people (both of our parents included) have no idea how hard it is.

I’ve been looking at my stress levels over the last two days (post to come about why, when I get a spare 2 mins), and I’ve pinpointed that most of my stress actually comes from trying to be (and often feeling like I am not) a decent mother.

Just this past Friday we ended up in A&E because DS2 slipped over while he was chasing DS1 upstairs, and he crashed his head into the bedpost in our bedroom. They had to glue him back together:

ds2

I walk around on red alert all the time because they seem hellbent on destruction – of themselves, each other and their environment.

They ride bikes looking backwards and laughing, they run looking sideways at each other, they pull each other over for fun. Did I mention the A&E trip after DS1 ate a dishwasher tablet? Or the time DS2 almost got run over while out with hubby? Or the times that DS1 thought it would be fun to stand on 6 month old DS2’s back when he was learning to crawl? Pushing each other off the bed? DS1 hauling DS2 out of his cot? DS1 leaning out of the upstairs window watching the cars go by?

They are 2.5 and 4.

What the hell will it be like in a year? Two years? 10 years?!

And have I mentioned the bickering and screaming? I haven’t??

Let me tell you about my day today.

Is this normal?

Because it’s damn well normal in this house, and I’m sure it’s driving me to an early grave.

7am.
I am woken by:
“Yes.”
“No.”
“Yes.”
“NO.”
“Yes.”
“NO!”
“Yes.”
“NOOOOO!!!! WAHHHHH!!!!!!”
from the boys shared room.

Lucky for me, I have a cardiologist appointment, so hubby does breakfast and holds the fort until I get home at 10:15am. Hubby goes off to work. I am alone.

I get the boys a snack and afterwards DS1 starts walking around burping loudly, and grinning. It’s his new thing, and it is horrible.

I make a cup of tea and we sit down to thread some beads on pipe cleaners and play with Play Doh. Unusual peace follows.

beads

At 11:15 the boys want to go outside and the sun is out, so we get out the bike and scooter. After 15 minutes DS1 is repeatedly telling DS2 “I’m gonna beat you,” which makes DS2 stop scootering each time and scream in protest (because he is smaller and slower).

bikes

After repeated requests I tell DS1 if he doesn’t stop that we will have to head home. DS1 does it again, DS2 screams, and we head home. DS1 shouts and drags his heels all the way back.

50 metres from our house, DS1 races ahead and DS2 is behind me. Both are out of reach. Suddenly they both teeter dangerously close to the curb just as two cars drive past. DS1’s wheels slips backwards down someone’s driveway into the road and I hesitate between the two of them for a split second with the impossible decision of which child to save from certain death. DS2 is at least not moving, so I run to DS1.

Back at the house, as my heartbeat slows back down to something approaching normal, we put the bike and scooter in the garage. DS2 then decides he wants to bring a dirty football from the garage into the house. I refuse and brace myself for meltdown. Amazingly, it doesn’t happen.

In the house I take off DS2’s shoes. DS1 asks me to take his shoes off as well (he is 4.5 years old). I tell him that it helps me when he takes his own shoes off. He asks three times and gets the same answer so eventually complies, but sulks by lying on the floor with his thumb in this mouth, kicking the xbox in the TV cabinet with his feet.

I read them some stories and then make lunch. I ask five times for them to put the beads on the table back into the bead pot and in the end they do it because I tell them I can’t give them their lunch until the table is clear.

We have lunch and I repeatedly have to tell both of them to stay in their seats while they are eating. DS2 gets a book from the bookshelf and brings it back to the table, “for teddy”. While I am talking to DS1, DS2 starts flicking through the book with ham and crumbs over his fingers. I ask him to leave the book to one side and DS1 burps loudly and smiles at me. I ask DS1 to say ‘excuse me’.

DS2 spits out a massive ball of chewed ham and I explain for the 100th time that small mouthfuls are easier to eat. DS2 burps again and smiles at me. I ask him to say ‘excuse me’.

I get them some yoghurt raisins and DS1 shouts “Yumayumayumayumayuma!!!” until DS2 screams at him to stop. I ignore this as they both settle down to eat the yoghurt raisins.

They get down from table and DS1 walks about burping and saying nothing. He is smiling. I know he’s trying hard to provoke a reaction, but I just repeat that he needs to say ‘excuse me’, which he does.

I stack the dishwasher, make some more tea, and read them a couple more stories. Then I tell them I am having 5 minutes to drink my hot tea. DS1 goes upstairs, takes off his clothes and puts his pyjamas on. He comes down to show me. He goes back up and puts another pair of pyjamas on. He knows that the husband doesn’t like him to keep getting clean clothes out. DS2 pushes his trousers half down and cries for me to take them off, which I do (because the alternative is screaming meltdown).

They start fighting over DS1’s jumper and who gets to use it as a cloak, tugging one end each and shouting. I am trying to decide what the hell to buy for dinner, and am reading a recipe book, but I can’t concentrate. DS2 is standing behind me and suddenly he screams because he’s now found another jumper and he can’t put it on by himself.

I jump at the shock of the scream and go upstairs for a self-imposed time-out to stop myself yelling at them. They come up and find me having a wee on the toilet.

I try to get them to return downstairs with me, but DS1 has turned out a drawer with a shoebox in it (that I’ve kept because it has a pair of shoes in it we will reuse) and DS2 wants to take the lid downstairs. I say no and put it back in the drawer. He starts screaming. I ignore him and start to walk downstairs but he protests even louder that I am leaving him behind. I stop and ask him if there is anything I can help him with. He says no and runs off to the bedroom. I go downstairs.

I go back to the recipe book. DS2 eventually comes down and then he starts taking cushions off the sofa and putting them on the stairs. I ask him to put them back on the sofa and he refuses. I am highly intolerant to dangerous things (like stuff on the stairs), and can feel the limits of my patience approaching. DS1 runs over and grabs the cushions from DS2 on the stairs, so he can put them back on the sofa. DS2 almost loses his balance and screams at DS1. I yell at both of them. DS2 starts crying.

I go back to the recipe book for the 3rd time because we need something for dinner.

Shopping list sorted, I get DS2 dressed for the second time. I tell DS1 he has to get himself dressed, since he chose to put his pyjamas on. He wails and moans and asks for help and cries, but eventually gets a top and trousers on.

We get in the car. DS2 stops halfway to the seat and tells me his zip is wrong. I ask if he wants it up or down. He says down. I unzip it. He screams he wants it up. I zip it back to where it was originally and grind my teeth together.

At the supermarket they run around like crazy, pretending to be sharks or crocodiles, while I pick up a handful of items. They narrowly avoid smashing their heads on other people’s trolleys and baskets. Fellow shoppers look either terrified, amused or annoyed. DS2 falls over at least three times, but seems unhurt. They need new toothbrushes so I show them a selection of four colours to choose from that are for ages 3-5. DS1 picks up Every. Other. Toothbrush on the entire shelf. I repeat at least four times that they have to choose from the ones I have shown them. DS1 eventually picks blue, DS2 picks green. They are happy for 10 minutes. After we have paid, DS2 has screaming meltdown because he realises he actually wanted a blue toothbrush. He wails “I want blue!!” 352 times between the car park and home and all the other shoppers look at me and think what a terrible mum I am.

At home DS2 wants to hold DS1’s blue toothbrush. I tell him DS1 won’t be happy if DS2 has the blue toothbrush so DS2 cries some more. I wonder what it must be like to spend a day without listening to the sound of your own children crying.

It’s 15:50, so I cave in early and put CBeebies telly on. I sit down to write this post, consume a disgusting amount of plain orange chocolate and then make the boys tea.

After tea, I sit with them at the table while they play with dinosaurs and we chat a little.

Bathtime. Not too bad today. DS1 pushes DS2 once and DS2 slaps DS1 on the back. I rate that as a success.

I get them out of the bath and while I am rinsing away the water they have a naked, screaming fight over DS1’s backpack, tugging a strap each.

They come downstairs with me while I get milk, stories and bedtime stuff. While I gather things together they wrestle on the floor and DS2 pushes DS1 into a toy box. There is a loud bang as DS1’s head hits the plastic, followed by lots of tears.

After comforting DS1 we all head back upstairs. DS1 chases DS2 into our bedroom (exactly how we ended up in A&E on Friday), and I walk in to find DS1 sitting on DS2, holding him down.

I separate them and send DS1 downstairs so I can do DS2’s bedtime in peace.

After stories and cuddles DS2 goes down OK, and as soon as I get downstairs the door goes (someone collecting an ebay item), I can’t find my keys and spill the contents of a kitchen shelf on the floor trying to get the spare key from behind a cup.

I smile and wave off the eBayer, acting as though I am a perfectly organised and composed mum of two.

I sit and give DS1 a cuddle for a few minutes (possibly more because I need it than him).

I survey the devastation in the house and kitchen, but decide dinner is more important. I cook chilli while DS1 chats to me, do a whirlwind tidy-up of the lounge and we are sat at the table calmly when the hubby walks in at 7:30pm.

Today was a reasonably good day.

Honestly. It can be much, much worse.

Questions:

  1. Is this what parenting is/was like for you?
  2. How the hell do you stop yourself losing your sanity on a daily basis?

We do not have parental help, so it’s just me, all day, every day.

And some days… well. You can imagine, right?

End note: Please do not ask me why on earth I want another baby. There are some things that cannot be explained, and as much as I find the chaos overwhelming, I love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

boys

 

29 thoughts on “Calling All Mums – How Do You Cope With The Stress?”

  1. Hey Rose, guess who? It’s me again, lol! Yes, it is exactly the same for me – my eldest woke up this morning screaming, ran into my room, waking me up, grabbed my book from beside my bed and when I asked for it back she had a massive meltdown and started hitting me. Then she shouted and screamed all day while jumping off the sofa, falling down a few stairs, her little sister screamed all day because she was being attacked by her sibling, the youngest poured her drink in her toy sink and covered her toys in milk, and the day ended with me losing the plot and ordering them both to bed at 6 because my eldest had ripped the curtains (and curtain rail) in the living room out of the ceiling!!! I now have debris all over the room and destroyed curtains. I don’t have any help with childcare either, and to be fair, I don’t know anybody else who doesn’t have some assistance from parents / in-laws. My answer may not be inspirational but take some comfort in the fact that there are other parents out there in the same boat!?! (if possible?) My kids are also always trying to kill themselves – my eldest runs across roads and has escaped at a zoo once (was lost for 20 mins( and my youngest is forever falling off of furniture she’s climbed while my back has been turned.

    I find that sleep is the key to coping. If I need to, I’ll go to bed at 8, and then I’m ready to start a new day. I also laugh loads and tell myself that eventually, these ‘precious’ moments may be humorous. Hang on in there (and on a separate note, hope you’re doing OK?) 🙂

    • I am fine, thank you, and I laughed reading this. Oh I feel for you, I really do!!!!! Destruction of the home is a regular thing here (although we haven’t lost a curtain rail… despite attempts!). I’m beginning to wish you were my next door neighbour – even if playdate swaps were too much to handle we could at least chat over the fence while the kids ran riot and enjoy being in the same crazy boat together 🙂 X

      • Oh I know Rose, ha ha, that would be great! Luckily I have a very sensible friend (who has four kids – only one of whom is anything like my eldest in terms of energy, activity, death-wish and disobedience, lol) who I moan to on a regular basis in order to survive…it’s so hard, and I regularly spend days wondering what is wrong with me and my children etc. It is wrong but so nice to find someone who understands because they’re similarly suffering 😉 Feel free to get in touch anytime – we’ll survive this thing together 😉

  2. 1. This is what parenting is like at least one of the two days of the weekend. Through the week I take my kids to school and sit at my desk teary because I feel I should have them home with me and it’s almost too late to have any of that time back.
    2. I lose my sanity on a regular basis, I think that’s why I like to read farfetched books and escape into a different world for whatever time I can get. I bounce between parenting books to the point my brain is fried and I am paralyzed by fear of using the wrong method and having daughters that turn out to be hoochimamas because I chose to parent by one method over the other.
    Long story longer – you’re not alone!

    • “hoochimamas” hahahahaaa! I do exactly the same. I’ve read the first half of probably 20 parenting books (mainly because my own parents did zero parenting so I have no idea what I’m doing) and I’m convinced I’m creating future psychopaths. It is impossible and terrifying and some days I just want to hide in bed all day but I daren’t because I’m too scared that somehow other people will do a worse job than the terrible job I am almost certainly already doing. How I am not in the loony bin already (with my brother, bless him), I do not know.

  3. Oh. My. God.
    Rose, I feel like someone needs to gift you a spa weekend. Nix that. A spa WEEK away. Holy moly. I am exhausted just READING this post, let alone dealing with it in real life. Bless your heart for embracing this and facing it with a smile!
    I honestly don’t remember things being that crazy for me with my two (aged 3 yrs 5 mos apart). Then again I may have blocked the traumatic moments from my memory. 😉

    xoxo nancy

  4. I don’t have kids myself but I look at the moms in my life and wonder how they manage to do it – even with all the wonderfulness that comes with having children. You have to be “on” all the time. You are chauffeur, chef, nurse, playmate, teacher and a whole world of other roles all the while barely even getting a bathroom break without someone barging in. I think it’s entirely normal for a little break in your sanity once in a while. The thing is, your kids will look back years from now remembering only a mom who always kept it together (despite the fact that you may not feel that way now) and when they have their own kids they’ll wonder what your secret was. You are doing a great job! Do you have a friend who would be willing to watch your boys for an hour occasionally so you could have a long soak in the tub or a nap or get a massage? People aren’t always great about offering up help but if you ask they are usually more than willing.

  5. You are not alone! My mixed gender kids fight, bicker, hit each other all the time. It’s draining especially I work full time. Got a young baby to handle too. Just give yourself a spa like what Nancy says, ask for help and recharge from time to time! We are all good mummies! Never doubt it!

  6. Holy moly…i am so sorry but that was hilarious to read! And it was funny because reading it is so much funnier than living it. Boys are inherently more physical so my parental issues are different but the same in how crazy they make me. My son is more physical (2.5) while my daughter (6) is one big ball of sass and it has reached its peak or rather I have fully reached my limit with her arguing, sassy, bratty, 6 going on 16 attitude. So, I finally put the breaks and started taking away privileges which so far is working. You know what I took away that has been most helpful? gum. Freaking gum! I told her she can’t have another piece until I see consistent good behavior, We’ll see how long it lasts. And I often feel like a crap mom. I lose my patience and all that jazz. But, that’s just par for the course.

    • Ooooo yes the removal of privileges! I’ve even started doing this with my monkey and he is only 2.5 years old. He recently got a spiderman costume which he ADORES and the other day I took it away from him and made him watch me put it in the bag and put it in the cupboard as he stayed up screaming for 2 hours in the middle of the night simply because i wouldn’t let him sleep in my bed (I was offering the port-a-cot at the end of my bed in case he wanted to be nearby but noooooo). Anyway the next night I told him if you want it back you have to stay in your own bed all night. You can come into mummy’s room in the morning. IT WORKED! So yes, I’m all for removing something they REALLY want. It has honestly been the best thing about buying that costume. Best $20 I ever spent!!! lol

      • yes, that is awesome! I’ve seen you FB pics of him in it, adorable! My daughter has lost interest in a lot of her toys and taking away one or two hasn’t been so effective, but gum. Heck yeah…thank goodness for gum! It has to be something they reeeealllly like.

      • Ha ha! Bless him – superhero costumes are a BIG thing in our house too. Maybe I’m just not strict enough!? I hate taking things away from the two of them!

    • My oh my – I think I’d actually have died of stress if I’d had a girl. Attitude at 6 would just about finish me off! Gum, LOL! But hey, whatever works is a good thing!

  7. Ok, I think I laughed, cried, then laughed, then cried, again and again reading this post! But I have said it before and I will say it again: parenting is SO HARD. Yes, it’s amazing, but it is SOOOOOO HARD!!! It’s a moving target every hour of every day. You are my hero. I do not know how I could possibly handle two kids as close in age as yours. I believe that’s why the universe didn’t give me a second child shortly after my first. I’m currently terrified of the possibility of actually having a second one now, and they will be a full 5 years apart, which is a whole different ball game than what you are facing. AND, you are at home with them, while I pay day care workers to raise my child for me (yeah, no guilt whatsoever about that…can you tell?) Anyway, you are an AMAZING mother, and do not ever think you are not. Our kids will rock us to our core, though, and challenge us in unimaginable ways. They bring us to the absolute brink of every emotion under the sun. Reach out to other moms (including us!) for support as often as you feel like it, because we are all here for you. And you are here for us, too. Not all of us have family nearby to support us in person, but we do have this network of wonderful women! (well, I think most of us are women, anyway!) So, I’m here for you. We are here for you. When you need reassurance, a sympathetic ear, or to laugh or cry or whatever. Love and hugs!

    • Thank you so much – and YES they do bring us to the brink of every emotion. More than any love affair or anything else in life. They have total control over my emotions sometimes and I know that if I go to bed and they have had a good day, I sleep peacefully. Conversely, when the day has been full of tears and shouting, I cannot sleep and berate myself for being a crap mum 🙁 I WISH I WISH I could ride the storms more peacefully, but their wellbeing is so important to me that I become obsessive about it, which affects their wellbeing… oh it’s impossible…!

  8. Oh god we are going through the ‘I want blue, no I want red, no I want blue” stage at the moment. Driving me batty. I won’t change either if his already chosen lol. I don’t have a lot of advice as I only have 1 little one and you have 2 so I think that is a different beast altogether. I am, however, mostly on my own so need some strategies to handle that too. These I mine that keep me sane:

    1. I choose my battles. I fight to have Monkey sit at the table for dinner time but breakfast and lunch can be moveable feasts.

    2. I do an activity that takes us out of the house most mornings. The whole getting into the car, going somehwere, doing something (playgroup, park, indoor playcentre, beach, WHATEVER) breaks the day up and keeps little one distracted. Then when we are home in the afternoon we do activities, I prepare dinner etc.

    Hope that helps! Going to read over the other comments now and look for tips of my own.

    • Choosing your battles is one of the BEST things. It really allows you to focus on what is important and let the other stuff go. Thanks for reminding me – I need to remember that.

  9. Hi! I can definitely tell you are frustrated. My tomorrow’s post is actually a play by play of what a typical day for me is like if you want to check that out (it’s not detailed like yours or anything). Since December I have embarked on a “project me” where I took all the pieces of my life that were falling apart and worked on them one at a time. Mindfulness was a big one. Living in the present moment is the way life was meant to be lived, and it really eliminated your stress. Then there was learning how to stop yelling and start coaching my kids, then exercise, then redefining strength, and so on. I would invite you to a) visit the project me tab on my site, and b) visit my two favourite parenting sites AHA parenting and A Fine Parent. These are not your average parenting sites that are superficial and unhelpful. These help to bring you mindfulness, awareness and peace. As a mom of three myself, I have gone through some hairy situations like “two sick babies, no power or heat and a fire, oh my!” but I made it through with a smile on my face and I know that you can do it too because I am you. I am here to help if you decided to embark on your own project me and you can email me at gameofdiapers.com anytime. Best wishes.

    • I love the idea of “project me” 🙂 I’ve read a lot on Aha Parenting and it is a great site. I will have a look at the other one – thank you for the recommendation. Mindfulness IS so important. I just need to remember that each day.

      • At the end of the day us mommies need to stick together and help each other. It’s amazing the great strides you can make just by taking little steps each day 🙂

  10. Rose, first off – you are awesome.
    Second – I think it is like this for most mums ago don’t have grandparents/ paid help/ kids in day care. It is simply bloody hard.
    But you do reap the rewards. Later on. But you do reap them.
    Unfortunately it doesn’t mean it’s less tiring. Less disheartening. Make it less of the thankless task that it is.
    BUT you DO reap rewards. But later.
    Take heart in that
    Xxx

  11. The only reason it’s not like this for me every day, is that I have one child in the morning class at school and the other in the afternoon class. Six hours where they are not together. People say, “But don’t you want time alone/what about all those pick ups and drop offs?” But I can tell you wouldn’t ask those things because you would just immediately get it.

    Also, I work part time and someone else looks after my children during that time.

    That pretty much answers your questions about how I keep my sanity/deal with stress too, I guess! Sorry it’s not a more widely-implementable solution.

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