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

 

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