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Very very down and struggling to cope on my own with 2 small dcs

(25 Posts)
mrsibley Sun 30-Jun-13 21:45:33

My children are 2.5 years and 4 months old and I am on my own with them most of the time due to my partners job, he works abroad for 2-3 weeks at a time. This situation is not going to change under any circumstances. I suffer from bad anxiety at times but only a handful of people close to me know this. I have had many types of drugs and talking therapies over the years which have not really helped.

Basically I am very stressed a great deal of the time. I was very poorly parented myself and have no support. I adore my children but the older one is going through a difficult phase-no doubt normal for his age- and I reay struggling to cope. Everything is a battle against the backdrop of the baby screaming for me and no matter how much i try to remain calm I am not patient enough, have regularly screamed at him and broken down in tears in front of him and I don't think this is right, I am ashamed as this is nothing like the kind of parent I want to be and not helping his behaviour. I am starting to hate myself.

I really, really, really do not want to discuss this with my gp. I just need to know that I am not a bad person who is damaging my kids and where do I turn and deal with the shame of admitting I am finding the stress of dealing with stuff alone unbearable whilst being patronised by some hcp who has never been in my shoes.

I need to be able to cope better as my head is done im and I have daily migraines and chronic insomnia due to how stressed I feel. I feel like a shit mother and person and that my kids deserve better.

Sorry if this is unreasonable but I don't want to go to the dr about this I just need to know that I'm not as alone as I feel.

Hi Mrsibley sorry you're feeling so bad. You're not alone - there are many posters on here who struggle as you describe. I know you don't want to go to gp about that, but would you consider going re your migraines and insomnia? Each of those make being a mum to 2 small dc hard, let alone together and with dh away a lot. Do you have a health visitor or sure start Centre you could use? They can often be good places for support too. Be kind to yourself x

mrsibley Sun 30-Jun-13 22:00:19

Thanks for replying. I have all the medication I want or need for the physical side. I am just terrified I am damaging my son and don't know how to break this cycle of stress that makes me lose my temper and feel so unwell.

I don't think there are sure start centres around here. I just need another adult in the house but that's not going to happen.

midgeymum2 Sun 30-Jun-13 22:03:02

You are not alone. I found 2 small children extremely hard work and was living on the edge for a long time and I have a husband who is not away for 2 -3 weeks (although he did work long hours). I really did find it overwhelming at times. I also think that when my youngest was 3 or 4 months old (oldest would have been 2.2) the hardest stage. It was just awful and felt so guilty for not finding things easy, like everyone else seemed to do.

If you can, it might help to try and take back some control and implement a routine if you haven't done this already. This helped me to focus a bit on meeting the basics for me and the children such as sleeping and eating! I also tried to get outside every day for a walk.I'll admit this was torture sometimes with baby yelling in pram and toddler sitting in puddles but was good for all of us overall. Would your dh take them out for a bit when he is back at home? Perhaps you can arrange for him to take to park/soft play and you can look forward to this and spend some time alone or doing something just for you. I have found that things got better - mine are 2.5 & 4 now and I really do feel better and an ok mum most days!

Hoophopes Sun 30-Jun-13 22:09:25

Hi - I would think any parent with two children those ages and a partner abroad will struggle. I would think if you were able to go to parent and toddler groups, most parents would admit the same!!

I second going to your local children's centre (a sure start) - each area has one, so you can ask your health visitor where your nearest one is, if you are in England that is. They have outreach workers for families that are struggling, so you could fill in a referral form for help from your children's centre. You could also self refer or get your health visitor to refer you to homestart - which can provide you with an actual adult in the home for 2hrs a week. A friend of mine used homestart, and had an adult there just to hold one baby whilst she hoover around, or had a cup of tea and chat etc. The homestart do not look after a child without you there, or do housework but are a physical adult in your house in England, does not involve your gp and is free!!

Also sure start centres (if not one right where you are, there will be a larger one somewhere nearer you that does lots of things) have parenting classes, support groups etc - all sorts of things.

One thing I do to help (I only have one baby!) is to have a routine of getting out of the house. I found lots of activities to do - lots of sure starts have things and larger churches seem to have almost free (and non religious) baby and toddler group!! You may find lots of willing helpers there just desperate to coo over your youngest (and hold if that helps you!!) - I did!! I am not sure of how easy it is for you to get out, but I found my car my friend!!

So - am sure if you look on the internet you can find your nearest children's centre, phone them up and go and talk to someone there!! Just tell them you have 2 young children under 3, husband is abroad and no family or friends to support and see what they can do. No need to mention anything else.

Do you have any friends or family that could visit occasionally and be helpful?

Hoophopes Sun 30-Jun-13 22:14:30

Oh - the other thing I thought of, can your oldest go to a pre-school for a few sessions? My nearest takes them for 3 half days at 2.5yrs. Have to pay but it is not as much as a private nursery. When your oldest is 3yrs old, the term after they turn 3, you get in England at least (don't know of other areas) funding for about 16hrs nursery a week in term time. You can use that at a pre-school, or at a childcare provider - does knowing that help? Then you would only have one at home much of the time and oldest will be kept busy etc!!

For some people there is some funding available for nursery places for 2yr olds, but I don't know of the criteria - saw info about it at the place where I go to weigh my baby!

Finances are never easy with young children, but was talking to my dh tonight and we said if we were ever blessed with a 2nd (not likely as needed ivf for 1!) I would have to manage somehow to have 2 days a week of oldest one in a nursery in order to cope (no family, no helpful friends here either!!) - as I know I couldn't do it on my own. Could you consider even one day a week with ds in childcare to help? A local childminder or nursery so not having to go too far with the baby??

mrsibley Sun 30-Jun-13 22:30:16

My oldest goes to nursery as I was working til recently. It helps but I still can't control my reactions to his behaviour when he is with me. I'm a joke.

There are no sure start centres here. I don't live in England.

In my experience no one really admits to getting this stressed with their kids and I find it extremely isolating.

I do get out with them every day it's just the endless battles about every day stuff eg hysteria over teeth brushing for example, the refusal to do anything i say and the fact that he is delightful with other people- normal i know but childishly i find very tough on my self esteem- that I don't know how to handle and I'm so worn down by it all.

mrsibley Sun 30-Jun-13 22:38:16

I also can't bloody stand mother and toddler groups right now as I do feel like the only person this stressed even if this isn't really the case, I haven't the energy for the others
Mothers and the faces everyone has to put on.

I am disgusted that I have let my little boy see me so upset and told him to shut up etc when lost my temper I don't think that's acceptable yet something just keeps snapping and i keep on fucking up.

midgeymum2 Sun 30-Jun-13 22:51:55

You need to take steps to reduce your stress. It will get better with time, really it will, but while you are waiting you need to try and think of a few positive steps to implement to make your life easier and reduce your stress levels. Can you pick your battles more? Toothbrushing is always a nightmare! We try: singing songs, looking for exotic animals hiding in her mouth, giving her choice of cleaning teeth before or after bath, picking her own new toothbrush, worrying aloud 'what will the dentist say?' We adopt these in rotation and most of the time she will capitulate. It is really wearing though to have to endlessly negotiate. I try and offer choices that enable me to get what I want but still give her a sense of control i.e. Do you want to wear your blue jumper or your purple jumper? Sometimes I will get 'no! I not want my jumper nooooooo!' but sometimes I get 'blue on' she puts it on and off we go. Try not to take 'bad' behavior personally, other than to realuse that your ds clearly feels able to test boundaries with you which is a good thing (for him) and a frustrating thing for you!

You are right that the behavior you describe is perfectly normal for a 2.5 year old but that probably doesnt help!

mrsibley Sun 30-Jun-13 23:03:28

Thank you for the suggestions about the tooth brushing which sounds so trivial yet drives me insane amd always ends on tears (both of us tonight)and you are right in what you say I have to figure out how to reduce my stress. I just have so little patience and find it incredibly hard going trying to keep the baby even fed let alone give her any attention whilst constantly battling with my son and trying to run this house single handedly on not much sleep and keeping aid on my anxiety.

midgeymum2 Sun 30-Jun-13 23:07:25

Of course it is not ideal to shout at your kids but 2 small dcs is hard and you are human. It is fine to show emotion in front of your children but make it healthy. I think it is ok to say 'oh mummy is fed up and frustrated today! It makes me sad! I will have a little cry and then I will have a think about how I can cheer us all up.' then give him a big hug. You dont need to blame or feel guilty it is normal and natural to have the feelings you do in the circumstances you are in but try and set a healthy example to your kids of how an adult deals with difficult feelings.

midgeymum2 Sun 30-Jun-13 23:15:26

Three little words that helped me were "lower your standards". I did wonder if my standards could get any lower as I felt like such a crap mum but actually when I thought about it it was possible for me to see where I was trying too hard and maybe expecting too much too soon and tring to be perfect when in fact 'good enough' would do. I was setting myself up for a fall and continually pissed iff that I didnt meet the standad I had set for myself. But I did have the luxury of a dh at home at night who could do dishes/put a load of washing on/do a night feed or 2 so sorry if this sounds patronising or trite - it is not meant to be I remember that time well and have sworn never to let my dds go through that phase alone.

mrsibley Mon 01-Jul-13 09:08:21

Thanks ladies I use the phrase choose your battles on a daily basis and totally believe that parenting is usually a gradual process of standard lowering- this is why I have had to pretty much give up breast feeding my dd (heartbreaking as she is my last baby and I bfed her brother. It's why i give her very little individual attention and I let my des watch tv all morning even tho I don't want him to as his dad has got him in this habit on the rare occasions that he has him alone in the mornings. This is why my house is generally such a mess I can't have people round and my son regularly goes to bed having refused dinner.

Do you just let them not brush their teeth? Am worried Bout the consequences of this.

Am also toilet training and ds refuses to co operate with it with me- fine at nursery etc, but yesterday peed on sofa with potty right next to him, swore blind he didn't need to pee then had huge pee in potty after much coercion and immediately emptied it on the floor and had a tantrum.

Please don't get me wrong - none of this is the end of the world and I am well aware that people have much, much more difficult kids. In fact written down this all sounds ridiculously trivial but when ds was a baby I had a bit of a breakdown for various reasons and when you are an anxious person you crave some kind of control to make you feel safe. I get so frustrated with myself for getting so wound up, although I do apologise to ds if I scream at him.

I guess I just needed to hear that I'm not alone in this struggle and the effect on my mental health and that this stress won't lead to a break down this time.

Midgeymum2 my mum is dead and would never have helped me anyway and I feel the same I would never let my daughter be alone with all of this.

Feel stupid now for whingeing. Yesterday I had been up since 4am and really struggled to stay awake at certain points and it just scares me how alone I am.

midgeymum2 Mon 01-Jul-13 09:42:51

Good morning, how are you feeling today? I've seen a thread on here (i think in parenting) titled 'has patenting affected your mental health?' - I think it is on it's 2nd thread so no you are far from alone. It is well worth a read.

I do try and make sure that teeth are brused yes. Looking at the bigger picture it is better a few tears at bed time than a lifetime of bad teeth but there are ways and means and if it does turn into a battle perhaps do it before bath so its not the last thing before bed and the day ends on a low for both of you. Perhaps your dentist might have some tips? Mine had free samples of fruity toothpaste which worked for a bit.

Can you put off potty training for a while? My oldest wasnt trained till 3 (she did it herself really and was quick and dry overnight too) so will be in no rush to faff about with dd2. Nursery have asked me if I am thinking of training and I just say 'no'. Im sure she'll be readier ina few months when shes closer to 3 as well.

Also mine both watched far more than recommended tv when dd2 was born. It was very cold winter of 2010 and we are very rural I found that hard I got such cabin fever but now both seem fine and quite 'normal' I guess time will tell! But what was the alternative? Possibly some sort of breakdown as you say - which is more damaging? Just my take on it though. I remember getting through a day at a time or an hour at a time or even a minute at a time. But it has got better.

Hope today is a good day.

mouses Mon 01-Jul-13 10:21:19

hi mrsibley, sorry if i repeat anything - i havent read through the whole thread (head ache making it hard to concentrate) your youngest is 4mths? you may have PND? i had it after the birth of my DC's and i found everything unbearable!

what is it about going to the GP that worries you? they can help, give you suggestions, medication to take the edge off things.

looking after children is tough and we all struggle wether we admit it or not.

dont put yourself down, you are deffinately not alone. no one will call you a bad mum. i struggle everyday and have guilt that i cant be a better mum than i wanted, i often think they deserve better, wish that i can do more etc.. we on here understand - even if its just a conversation you need. were here listening x

mrsibley Mon 01-Jul-13 12:26:43

Hi there. I got a better sleep last night and ds on nursery so today is a bit better thank you. There was a moment when my headache started and my son was making a huge fuss about getting dressed and the baby was crying earlier when I felt the fear/ uncontrollable stress starting but got past it.

I should explain I am on medication for sleep/ anxiety and I do not have pnd I just do not cope well with stress physically or mentally right now. I don't want to sound like a martyr but I have recently clawed my way out of the mental health system and am actually in the process of trying to find the time to make a formal complaint about stuff that happened with the psychiatric service I would be referred back to if I saw the gp. I do not want medical attention I want to learn to not lose my temper so much if that makes sense.

I am taking some of the advice above and going to take ds to get a fancy new toothbrush and special tooth paste this afternoon. I can't really stop the toilet training at this stage as when its not just me and him he does well.

I just get so so down when I think I am failing my kids because I was failed by my parents. Am also quite lonely even though I can't actually be bothered with other people so it all becomes a bit of a cycle. I reach rock bottom when I haven't slept enough.

midgeymum2 Mon 01-Jul-13 13:17:26

Lack of sleep is awful. I cope so much better after a good night of even a few hours unbroken sleep.

I think that if you are worried enough to question your parenting ability, you are probably a good parent. A bad parent wouldnt care about all the things that are worrying you.

I know what you mean about not having the energy to put a face on for mum and toddler groups. And not wanting anyone to come round because the house is a tip. And then the crushing guilt that youre not coping...I dont think I had pnd I was 'just' exhausted and lonely and felt emotionally isolated from the rest of the planet.

You sound very positive about your mental health which is great. Is there any way that your dh could take the dcs for a day when he's back in the uk and you can have some time to yourself?

I hope the new toothbrush and toothpaste work! Good luck!

mouses Mon 01-Jul-13 13:36:41

ok, sorry to hear your experience with the services was bad. i think there are people on here who have used the psychiatric services - would it help to talk about it? im awaiting myself but someone else may come along who can relate to you?

there might be some books on stress control? on info on the net?

i can relate to feeling alone. i too feel isolated but cant bear a conversation! just want to be by myself but then get abit down when i see neighbours with visitors - messed up ay?! confused my parents failed me too, no affection towards me, not the best childhood. now i have my own kids i find it hard to hug and show affection to them.

im sorry if none of this is helping, hopefully some one with more experience could help.

mrsibley Mon 01-Jul-13 14:00:19

Mouses it does help just to get this off my chest so thank you. I have had terrible depression in the past and I just feel that this is stress and exhaustion rather than pnd.

Yes my dp will take them to let me have a day off when he is home and that is great but as you know it's the day to day stuff that builds up- I just want someone to feed the baby whilst I bath him or stuff like that sometimes.

Anyway it's a new day, a new week, a new month x

you're not alone. some things that might help managing stress what's particularly good is the quizzes, especially the one on coping skills. I have found it helpful to pinpoint where the stress is coming from.

you don't want to go to groups - I'm guessing partly because you don't want people to know you aren't coping but also because your stress makes you avoid talking to people because you've got so much going on already. trust me there are others out there like you. my DD is a little older than yours and DH doesn't work away but otherwise I could have written your posts.

something else that's helping me is this CD I'm also trying to practice mindful breathing - I think the key is to learn how to relax and physically make yourself do it.

You may also want to have a look at your emotional needs - I suspect they are not being met and that's why you are struggling.

one more thing I am sensing from your posts is that you want to be a certain kind of parent but in times of stress the way you were parented kind of 'pops' out before you've had a chance to get your brain in gear. I can really relate to this and I think if you try and go easier on yourself and start getting your needs met you will find it easier to control.

I hope there are some things there that will help. I'm going to try and find the time to PM you if my DCs stay asleep, I think we have a lot in common grin

Hoophopes Mon 01-Jul-13 15:46:21

If it is the practical stuff that help would make the difference with would you consider an au pair for a few months or possible some paid help, like a mother's help. Know money is involved but just thinking of strategies that may help.

Having raised a formal complaint myself against mental health services ( they said my word against them, lost important pieces of paper, etc etc and made it as stressful as possible over 8 months!) all I can say is if it takes up a lot of energy for you to do I hope it help.

Do you have health visitors where you are? If so why not tell her what you need help with. They may have resources? Ideas? It is either the NHS or private if no friends or family sadly.

mrsibley Mon 01-Jul-13 21:07:43

hoophopes I am under illusion whatsoever that making a complaint will get me anywhere or that the MH services will take any responsibity I simply want stuff on record so that if anyone else complains about the same thing they can't say it was a one off. I have no energy to get into any Lind of battle and am aware that medical people close ranks a d deny things I just want a complaint on record as the way I witnessed other people being treated was worse than myself as well.

nicecupoftea I am trying to find the time to respond to your pm properly. Thanks x

Burg36 Tue 02-Jul-13 19:49:42

You're way, way too hard on yourself. Many people don't understand just how difficult it is with zero support. You're doing a great job by just getting up every day and muddling through (I'm not kidding). I have totally been where you are and still find myself there some days with a 2 yr old and a 6 month old. But it gets better I promise. My mum died when I was very small and I was physically/emotionally abused by my Dad and his wife. I have realised that the only person putting unbearable pressure on me to be the perfect Mum (to make up for my own crappy childhood) was myself. Kids don't care if the house is a state.

Don't be scared about going to the GP or any other local support group/charity or whatever you can find. Best thing I ever did was to start going to counselling. Maybe think about asking your GP to refer you? I totally get you on the mums group front too. I've found that a focal point really helps (like a diddi dance class or baby music) because it's too busy for you to worry about small talk and it gets you out of the house. Best of luck xx

mrsibley Wed 03-Jul-13 07:10:59

I have come to the conclusion that yes I am too hard on myself. I recommend anyone who feels like I do should read the "has parenthood affected your mental health?" thread in _Chat on here. God the relief I feel from reading that.

I think that finding this all very stressful is maybe not in fact a mental illness it is a rational reaction to very very challenging circumstances. I know the mental health systems reaction to this stress inside out and I really want no part of it this time.

Many thanks for speaking to me ladies x

Stripedmum Wed 03-Jul-13 19:25:23

Just to chime in I have DS1 26mo and DD1 12 weeks WITH lots of support from DH and family and still struggling - mostly with my mental health. Just wanted you to know it's not just you.

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