Quick rundown of my personal situation:
I have two daughters – 4 and 5.5 -, my partner works from home 90% of the time while I’m a support worker for a woman with late stage Multiple Sclerosis and we’re closing on a house after searching for about a year so we’re in the packing and paperwork stage.
Summer break starts on the 1st of July here, we got back from a week abroad about ten days ago and I am just so done already. My children will not grant me any peace. They are stuck to me like glue from the second I get home until they finally fall asleep well past their bedtimes after many tantrums and tactics to stall.
They get up at 6AM at the latest, we’ve tried reward charts, later bedtimes, special alarm clocks, nothing keeps them in bed longer. We moved my youngest into my eldest daughter’s room because she – the youngest – kept waking up in the middle of the night. This helped for a while but ever since our trip abroad, it’s started again.
From the moment I get home – I mean, I’m in the doorway, still holding my bag -, they won’t take so much as a step without my involvement. I can’t pee on my own, I can’t take the trash out, we’ll be watching TV and they’ll both be at least partially on top of me, asking me 700 questions. Bedtimes are a nightmare. My 5-year-old is clingy, she doesn’t want me to go, I have to stay with her forever, etcetera. Same thing when I leave for work; tears, tantrums, tactics. The 4-year-old seems generally happy but seems to be forever wanting more physical affection.
I love my daughters so very much but I seriously cannot live like this anymore. They’re not like this with my partner, they get plenty of attention, I’ve had the same work schedule for a year now, they don’t seem to be experiencing any stress to do with the move… I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I do know that I’m so constantly overstimulated that I’m losing my temper a lot more than I would like. And then I feel guilty and it’s a spiral of frustration and fatigue. Advice?
They’re old enough to know and respect certain boundaries. I started my oldest young- when we first walk in the door is not the time to bombard us. Let me take my jacket off. If you’re (not often) watching something on tv that requires some attention, it’s okay to say “be quiet right now please, we can talk about it after.” I don’t have anything for them laying on you cause I LOVE that shit. For peeing, “this is my private time.” Stuff like that. It will take time to train their brain to realize you need to be separate from them, but it’s possible.
I’ve tried this. I’ve told them so many times to give me a little space when I get home, that I don’t need an audience when I pee (this wouldn’t even bother me if they’d give it a rest outside of the bathroom), that it’s also okay not to be touching mommy for 30 seconds but to no avail. I like having them in my lap or cuddling but not every second of every day. I’m an introvert whose partner has worked from home since the beginning of the pandemic, I’m literally never alone and my environment perpetually needing things from me without a break is just weighing on me a lot. I guess that’s what it comes down to.
You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re in a stressful situation, and you’re doing your best.
My advice would be to explain to your kids (or your partner) that you need some alone time. Go and meditate, do some exercise, anything peaceful that helps you recharge.
Give your kids some options, like they can either do some crafts or watch a movie. Or ideally, have your partner take them out or do an activity with them so you get some alone time.
It’s normal and healthy to need some time to yourself to recharge. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others.
I used to run three times a week but I got injured one too many times and was basically told I could only run on dirt paths anymore lest I risk further more permanent damage. Dirt paths or actual tracks aren’t exactly a thing nearby. But I get what you’re saying. My kids just have a habit of following me everywhere. That was pretty much the only place they couldn’t and I guess I haven’t really found a decent replacement.