Exhausted with no end in sight
#1
Parents...how do you do this? How!??? I’m at my wits end. I have a three month old and a 17 month old. My husband and I never have a moment together. We can’t have sex without the baby crying. We can’t go anywhere in public without the toddler throwing a tantrum. Whenever we do go out, it takes us at least an hour to round up all the blankies and sippy cups and diapers and animal crackers. We are always late for everything. The weekends make us both miserable. My husband would rather be at work than at our home. We never go out and never have any fun together. I’m really at the end of my rope.
I love my boys so much. It’s not their fault that they need so much care. But I really miss those blissful few months when it was just my husband and I. We’ve only been married two years and it already feels like the spark has died.


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#2
(10-25-2021, 11:08 PM)Corpsman Wrote:
(10-25-2021, 10:45 PM)SacraCor714 Wrote: Parents...how do you do this? How!??? I’m at my wits end. I have a three month old and a 17 month old. My husband and I never have a moment together. We can’t have sex without the baby crying. We can’t go anywhere in public without the toddler throwing a tantrum. Whenever we do go out, it takes us at least an hour to round up all the blankies and sippy cups and diapers and animal crackers. We are always late for everything. The weekends make us both miserable. My husband would rather be at work than at our home. We never go out and never have any fun together. I’m really at the end of my rope.
I love my boys so much. It’s not their fault that they need so much care. But I really miss those blissful few months when it was just my husband and I. We’ve only been married two years and it already feels like the spark has died.


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Hang in there Champ.  It gets easier.  If you have a
 baby sitting support network, try and schedule a date night once every 2 weeks to get some time together with your spouse.  This worked well for our family.  All the best
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#3
Sounds like you are blessed , been there some years ago . Don't give up it does get easier , take a lot of pictures and know yesterday is gone tomorrow is a brand new day LORD willing . Look around their is generally something to be grateful for and yes I myself forget this fact more than I should . Families that pray together stay together. Even just saying the our Father together can help .
Prudence
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#4
I feel your pain..2of ours are 18 months apart, grown now.

I had to be treated for carpal tunnel syndrome with my younger one, he would not let me put him down until well after 2.

But these times go fast..
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#5
Just a thought. Do you show/express your anxiety around your kids? A lot of times kids pick up on that and I personally believe it makes them more anxious and unruly. I saw it in my own kids when they were very young and I made it a point to check my behavior, and after a while they started chilling out. I worked hard at becoming patient and calm for their sake and it probably helped me just as much.
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#6
(10-26-2021, 11:34 AM)jack89 Wrote: Just a thought.  Do you show/express your anxiety around your kids?  A lot of times kids pick up on that and I personally believe it makes them more anxious and unruly.  I saw it in my own kids when they were very young and I made it a point to check my behavior, and after a while they started chilling out.  I worked hard at becoming patient and calm for their sake and it probably helped me just as much.
This ^ !!!!
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#7
HUGS!  Been there!  It does get better - I promise.

1.  Make up a travel kit and keep it packed - that's what I always did.  And have backup diapers and clothes in the car - including a top for you - just in case there's a total diaper blowout or other issue and you've forgotten to restock something.  Keep a separate diaper bag for different outings.  I had one for Mass with Bible books, saint stories and the like.  I had another one for running to the store with a different set of activities.  Just grab the appropriate bag and go.  Keep shoes and jackets in a predictable place.  This also helps keep the books and toys in there fresh - because they only see them once a week or so.

2.  Tantrums - make it clear to your child that if he throws a tantrum, you leave wherever you are.  I've hauled a screaming child out of the Walmart and left behind a cart full of groceries before.  It does happen.  Then I make them sit timeout and calm down.  I usually attach good behavior to rewards when we go out.  If mommy gets the grocery shopping done and you are good, we will get chicken nuggets for lunch . . .  When all else fails: bribery.  To make you feel better: my eldest son threw a huge trantrum in the middle of Mass once.  His father carried him out as eldest son was hitting, kicking and screaming.  3 other children following Daddy out of Mass and they came home.  Anyone who has ever been a parent knows kids will kick off.  It's ok.  It doesn't make you the worst parent in the world.

2.  Set up a schedule - at least with the 17 month old.  Here's an example of how I'd do it.  

Kids that young need structure to help them make sense of their day.  Look at your 3 month old's sleep patterns.  Use those naps as the foundation of your own schedule.  So . . .   If baby gets up at around 6 am to nurse but then goes back to sleep, get up early, put on the coffee (you're going to need it), nurse him back to sleep and get up (and dressed) to start your day.  Try to keep 17 month old in bed a little longer (say 8am).  If he wants to get up early, then let him play quietly in his room or look at books until 8 am.  In the meantime, put dinner in the crockpot / instantpot / oven so that no matter what, dinner will happen tonight (if you don't it may not happen - at least that's the way it was for me).  Then have breakfast, drink coffee and spend some time in prayer.  Start a load of laundry.  Tidy.  Get 17 month old's breakfast ready.

8am - Get 17 month old up first and dressed.  Give him breakfast and nurse baby again while he's eating.  You can chat with your son while nursing . . .   Get 17 month old to cary cup and plate to the sink while you set up the baby for some play time on his mat or in a playpen.  Then give the 17 month old some coloring to do while you wrap up dishes.  I used to print out a page for the saint of the day.  Then I'd read a story from the saint's life for them.  Or we'd do something else . . .  It just depended on my organization.  Goal here: teach 17 month old to be able to do one thing while you do another - in the same room.  

9am - Read aloud time after dishes are done and the load of laundry is in the dryer.  Then let 17 month old play quietly while you fold that laundry and (if you're lucky) put it away.  If you can't get the laundry away, then at least put the basket where 17 month old won't upend it and destroy all your work.  

Somewhere between 9:45 and 10:00- Nurse again and then time for a walk.  Fresh air will tire little ones out.  It's good for you and it's good for them.  Make it a game.  Name the colors of the leaves as we see them changing color.  Can you find an acorn under this tree?  If it's cold, wrap them up - well.  Then keep the walk brief.  It's ok if it isn't but 10 minutes outside.  You can always do more as the baby gets older.  But try to make it a good long walk - trust me, it's so worth it.

11:00 - Come home.  Baby will or at least should be comatose.  If not, nurse him to sleep.  Meanwhile set 17 month old to the table to crayons and blank paper.  Draw the leaves we found or do leaf rubbings or draw an acorn.  - Whatever makes sense.  Once baby is down, make lunch for you and for 17 month old.  Sit down together and talk about the favorite things he saw on the walk. Let him show you his work.  It will look terrible.  Put it on the fridge anyway to show Daddy.  Have him clear plate and then you do dishes while he "wipes" the table.

12:00 - After lunch, put 17 month old down for a nap.  Put away that laundry if you didn't get to it earlier.  Pick a part of the house to focus on for a good cleaning.  Spend 20-30 minutes cleaning up.  Don't vacuum because it will wake kiddos but do the rest.  Then, you get some rest time.  Lay down on a bed or couch and read a book / nap for at least another 30 minutes.  Give yourself some breaktime.

Don't think it's possible?  My 13 year olds still have a "quiet time" in the day.  During their quiet time, they have devotional time, reading, arts and crafts and sometimes bake for me.  This gives me 2 hours a day where I can get some stuff done.  I love quiet time.  Give yourself and your kids this time in the day - it makes the rest of the day so much easier!

2:30 or so - After quiet time/nap, it's time for a snack for your 17 month old and nursing the baby again.  I usually read aloud and serve tea and cookies.  You do you.  It could as easily be a book on tape and popcorn or whatever the snack of choice is.  Let him enjoy this time.  Make it intimate time with mommy and baby brother.  

3-5pm - Now, go outside again.  This time, take a trip to a playpark or play with toys outside.  Goal: tire those kiddos out!  Now it should be the warmest the day is going to get, so push that time outside a little longer than the morning.  If you and he are tired, you can always spread a blanket on the grass and read together in the sunshine.  I love doing lesson time outside with my kids now that they are older.  It's just beautiful!

Inside again.  Baby should be content to play in a playpen.  This time, let's sing a song as we tidy up kids rooms together.  Put away books and toys, make it fun but make sure your little one is doing at least a little.  Where should those stuffed animals go?  Where does the book go when you are done?  Then, give him a few minutes looking at a book while you vaccuum the room you worked on in the morning and (if needed) their bedrooms.  

5-6/7pm - Tub time for both children.  Get them jammied.  Nurse the baby to sleep and put him down.  (change up this order as you like - my kids bathe before dinner)  Give your 17 month old dinner while you talk about favorite parts of the day....  Brush teeth, story, say prayers, and then bed.  I usually play music for my kids to put them to sleep.  This also disguises my movements around the house.  

7 pm - You spend a few minutes cleaning yourself up - brush your hair or a fresh top (if needed).  Hubby comes home.  Here's the setting he encounters (and I bet it's different from what happens now):  The kids are either asleep or quiet.  There's music playing.  Dinner is made.  The house is neater than it has been.  His wife is actually happy to see him and share what happened today with him and hear about his day.  

The two of you eat dinner together.  You get an actual conversation.  You show him the things you and the kids found or drew after your walk /time outside. Maybe you play a game after dinner.  Maybe you watch a movie or read quietly in the same room.  Maybe you pray together because you can actually do so.  Around 9pm or maybe 10, you get the baby up to nurse - hopefully a dreamfeed.  Put him back down and then you get to go to bed yourself.  And, because the baby's needs have been seen to, you get to have sex if that's in the cards that particular night.  Or maybe you just pass out because you are so darn exhausted.  

Once a week, we have an at home date night.  We don't get out much, but we do make a special or fancy dinner for ourselves at least once a week.  Because our kids are older (youngest is 5), we eat with them every night except date night.  On date night, they get a special meal too (just earlier) and then a movie or board games.  They know that this is our special time and largely let us enjoy it.  If we have to discipline someone during date night, they automatically go to bed - immediately.  I don't listen to explanations or blame game.  If two are involved, two go to bed.  We can always sort it out later if we must.  Like I said, it doesn't happen often at all.

Here's the key to the schedule: The kids have structure and stimulus to the right levels.  They are happier for it.  That makes your life easier.  Hopefully, you are happier too.  Hubby comes home to a restful environment.  It makes him want to be there.  If he comes home early, he finds tired children in need of stories, cuddles, a bath and bed.  Home life becomes something desirable rather than a cross.

If the kids are sick, obviously the schedule shifts.  Sometimes, bare minimums are everyone is fed, safe, and in bed at a reasonable time.  That's ok too.  I keep an assortment of activities for days like this - along with a set of medicines I will need if the kids aren't well.  Keep it all in one plastic tub that you can pull out and go to emergency mode.  We did this Friday - Monday this past week.  Kids were sick, I was sick, everyone was cranky.  So I pulled out my box and had what I needed to see us through.   I also keep Clorox wipes, extra tissues, the type of snacks sick kids will actally eat, canned soup, crackers, cough drops - it all goes in a box ready to go for when we get sick (it's going to happen at one point or another - so be prepared).  If hubby is at work and kids are sick, I just text him "we've got sick kiddos today." He will usually call and see if I need him to pick up anything on the way home.  When he does come home, I'm grateful because he's usually more than willing to pitch in.  We have the emotional and physical resources to shift all our focus onto sick kiddos because we have other times when life is more balanced.
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#8
(10-26-2021, 12:18 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(10-26-2021, 11:34 AM)jack89 Wrote: Just a thought.  Do you show/express your anxiety around your kids?  A lot of times kids pick up on that and I personally believe it makes them more anxious and unruly.  I saw it in my own kids when they were very young and I made it a point to check my behavior, and after a while they started chilling out.  I worked hard at becoming patient and calm for their sake and it probably helped me just as much.
This ^ !!!!


Oh, yeah! Most definitely this! ^

As hard as it can be to remain calm when the kids are flippin' out, as toddlers are wont to do, it pays off big dividends. My wife and I had to start switching out with the kids. Ex: if she's with them and I'm doing something else (or vice versa), we'd switch to avoid getting frazzled. We also started incorporating them into our routines in small ways; if I'm cooking dinner, I'd get things measured out, then have the toddler add the carrots to the stew, or something simple. They enjoy it, and it occupies them.
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#9
Can relate. My children are (nearly) three months and twenty-four months.

We do family sleeping, so we always have at least one child between us during our waking moments and even in our sleeping moments. Hard to be romantic with little kid's toes in your face. 

Our youngest is a little girl version of a frat boy: not satisfied unless there is an exposed nipple nearby. Thus, my wife is hardly ever free. 

Given that I was already in my 40s when our first was born (thankfully, my wife is considerably younger), I had grown calcified in my selfish habits. I still, God forgive me for admitting this, am not crazy about doing things with my children because I have lived most of my life as a freewheeling bachelor who could come and go as he pleased.

Yet.

You mentioned "spark." Your children are your sparks. Even as I typed this, I had to stop to make sure my son was not choking on a chicken nugget. That put everything in perspective. 

I do understand your husband, though. Work grants men both a concrete sense of meaning and escape. One thing that may be difficult for women to understand is that men can be HAPPILY married yet still feel incomplete because work has not allowed them to flourish or actualize the worth they believe they incipiently posses. (Not implying that this applies to you, though.)

Not sure if any of this will help, but I do echo the responses of others in other threads: Seek outside help if you feel there is a need. 

We are all broken--no shame in admitting that.
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#10
You have gotten some pretty good advice here.  I just want to add - as far as feelings go..... love is not a feeling.  In marriage, love becomes something of a choice every day.  The feelings of excitement and euphoria that you have in the beginning don't last.  Marriage is work!  It is hard to deal with another person that has their own feelings and free will on a daily basis.  There are many days that you may wake up and not like the other person or feel disgusted by them.  Then you make that choice to love them.  Marriage isn't about sparks - it is about sacrifice.  Especially when the children are young and you are exhausted.  You both have to put the other person first.  We are trying to get them, and ourselves to heaven.  It isn't all sunshine and roses.

That said - now that I have made it sound ominous and awful.... it isn't.  I love my husband more after almost 20 years than in the beginning when he set my heart fluttering with excitement.  We are a strong team and I know that we can weather any storm.  It isn't always pretty.  In fact, typing this to you is a good reminder for me.  We are selling our house and under tremendous stress right now.  This morning I feel super crabby because of lack of sleep and wrestling with fear over not finding a new house.  My husband hit the snooze button on his alarm for 40 minutes this morning when I haven't slept in days and didn't need to be up.  I definitely was not feeling very loving or charitable towards him.  Today I will choose to let that go and love him - (even though a part of me doesn't want to and really wants to just unload on him......) because that is sacrificial love.

Hang in there Sacracor.  Marriage isn't easy, raising kids isn't easy but there are always moments where you really see how beautiful it is.   You got great advice for setting a daily rhythm in your home.  Little kids thrive with a solid routine.  Figure out what the most important things are to you and them stick to it.  Even small changes can make a big difference.  For us, bedtime was a really big deal.  My husband traveled a lot when my kids were babies and toddlers.  After dinner we did bath, stories, prayers and bed.  Once you establish a solid routine- your kids know what to expect.  And on the toughest days, I knew that I could count on the fact that the kids would be in bed by 8:00 and then I could decompress.  I always co-slept with my babies because it just made my life easier, but I know it isn't for everyone.  Prayers for you as you navigate all this.
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