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Deep thoughts, and serious advice

May 29th, 2013 at 03:22 pm

Funny how being away from home can make you (at least me) get all big picture.

I'm at the Atlantic ocean with my mom, sister, and two boys. Here is the view from our rental.

It's lovely. Of course, as a wise friend once said, you can travel with kids, just don't expect to come home refreshed. Very true. The boys are a handful, but still, I've had a little bit of time to myself to think.

And what I feel deep down is that life is out of control.

As far as parenting:

We are constantly on top of the kids, yelling and bossing them around, and in return, we get completely ignored or bad attitudes and yelling right back. (Funny how that works). I'm always supremely stressed out, balancing too much freelance work with the responsibility of raising a 3 and 5 year old all day most days while hubby works, plus fixing dinner, and taking care of everything related to our personal lives-- swim lessons, fixing the house, calling the plumber, mowing the lawn, etc. I'm crabby all the time, and frankly, not always very nice to the kids, unless they are playing quietly and not "bugging me".

This is totally not the person I ever thought I would be. How did it happen? It's as if I have been so busy just barely meeting my work and family obligations every day, that I've turned into a horrible, screaming monster.

I'm thinking and hoping, really, that there is still time to turn it around. This isn't how I want my kids to grow up, and this isn't the person I want to be.

A big obstacle, frankly, is that I don't know how to manage small children. And, I certainly don't know how to manage two boys with wildly divergent personalities who are both incredibly energetic and loud, and of very highly active temperments.

I'm very low key, quiet, and need plenty of quiet time for contemplation. I didn't realize people could have children so different than they are. Stupid me. So yes, that has been a strain since the beginning, just because I don't have the infinite energy or desire to play that they were born with,and I struggle every day to find ways to channel that energy into something other than hitting each other or destroying all the furniture. So, I'm either shuttling them to some activity, or sitting them in front of the TV just so I can get a moment's peace without them hitting each other or yelling, or asking me for something. Not what I had envisioned.

It's tough, and because I'm no longer able to take care of myself and get what I need, I'm always short and one whine away from yelling. I haven't had a good night's sleep in more than 5 years. I'm not doing well. Frankly, the highlight of my year is the 6 days they spend at their grandparents and I get to stay home alone. How sad is that?? Is that normal??

On the money side:
Our credit card bills have been gigantic since Christmas. It seems like I just can't get ahead anymore, between the mortgage and the preschool bills. I'm used to being able to sock away big chunks of money, but it just isn't happening.

I recently cancelled the newspaper subscription, and the cable tv, which will save us about $600 a year. It isn't enough though.

It's always something. Either we had to spend $2000 on plane tickets to a family reunion none of us really wanted to go to but were obligated to attend, or hubby had to pay $300 to recertify for work, or the plumber had to come and that was $200, or I had carefully scrimped on groceries, etc, but hubby decided to go buy some $400 part for his super computer and I didn't know it until I opened the bill, so the whole plan was off.... You know how it goes, and it goes on and on and on. This year, it just hasn't stopped. (This week is costing about $500, thanks to sharing costs).

Then, at tax time, I realized federal, state, and city tax ate up more than 60 percent of my pay last year. So I worked all of those hours and wrote all of those articles for virtually nothing. All that stress, all those late nights writing, all those trying to keep the kids occupied so I can make a work phone call days. For so little. I spent a few nights crying about it. I decided to try to work less, since the money isn't great, but the work doesn't seem to have slowed down. I have two more weeks of my lowest paying high stress gig before the official hand off to someone else, and it seems as though a million other small projects have crept in to fill the gap. It seems impossible to say no to freelance work, because it's feast or famine. You either have too much work or none, and if you say no, you might not get asked again.

And, because I am so exhausted and aggravated all the time, I overspend. I don't have time to shop around or clip all the coupons or plan menus (plus I'm mad that I have to plan all of that and do all the cooking-- which I do not enjoy. I thought college would magically free me from the fate of being a housewife, but lo and behold...)

So yes. I have lost sight of a better future. I am feeling truly low, despite the scenery. What can I do to change my life? How can I be a better parent? Or, at least, enjoy parenting at least a little bit? Right now, it all feels like such a crushing responsibility.

25 Responses to “Deep thoughts, and serious advice”

  1. laura Says:

    1) Realistic expectations for yourself and your family
    2) Prioritized goals financially (can't do it all)
    3) Support system of like-minded people who can relate to you
    4) Time to invest in your marriage
    5) Time to invest in yourself
    6) Scheduled time for "fun" with the kids
    7) Scheduled time for "work" for freelance
    8) There will always be something "extraneous" to deal with

    For me, I've recently had to find more fulfilling volunteer work. I'm the housewife with a Masters degree who does like to do something other than run a largish family (housework, chauffer, shopper, money manager, tutor for son with dyslexia, etc). I spent the past few months dealing with planning Dinners and Luncheons (Cub Scouts, Father Daughter Dance high school, Mother Daughter Luncheon). God opened the door of being on the Parish Board which will effect more long-term change. I've learned to say no to the things that I don't want to do. It's practice for being a Deacon's wife: investing my time where I want to, rather than where I think that others think I should (a bit redundant).

    I can't say that it is a phase because your kids' temperaments are who they are forever. I gave birth to myself in the form of my first child. While it is easy to understand her, it can be somewhat uncomfortable - determining that we have the same strength and weaknesses. My issues are mine, and hers are hers. Sort of interesting concept to learn with a teen-ager. I think that acknowledging your feelings, accepting them as valid, and moving on to a solution is the first step. We are created to be Human, not Divine. I think anything you can do to bring peace to your situation is a first step.

    Take good care, and know that this is a walk we are all on.

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    Thanks, Laura. It's nice to talk to someone about it!

  3. Petunia 100 Says:

    You sound very overwhelmed. {{hugs}}

    Young children are VERY demanding, and you are the primary caretaker. So, prioritize. If you hate to cook and grocery shop, then get some help doing it. If hubby doesn't have the time or the inclination, hire it out. Have your groceries delivered. Have complete meals delivered. Yes, it will cost some money. But if easing that burden helps you have some time to enjoy yourself, isn't it worth it?

    You are a person, too. You need and deserve to have some time for YOU. It's good for you, and it's good for your entire family. If you are a happier person, you will be a better wife and mother.

    When my daughter was born, she was unplanned. Ex-h and I were not financially ready to be parents, and we were still very immature. Those first few years were HARD, and I wasn't very happy. When my son was born, everything was different. He was planned. Our finances were better. I already knew what caring for an infant entailed. I knew what to expect from those toddler years. As a direct result, I was a much better mother to him in his early years than I had been to my daughter in hers. I still feel SO BAD about short-changing her, but I did the best I could at the time. I was so much more patient, tolerant, and understanding with him; I expected so much more from her.

    You and dh have been making huge financial progress. But perhaps you are pushing yourselves too hard? It is my belief that a happy life is all about balance. Find your balance; it is OK if you have to adjust your time table.

    That beach looks beautiful! I hope you are enjoying yourselves! Smile

  4. snafu Says:

    The reality is only you can change your attitude and behaviour. 3 & 5 y/o still want to 'help' you so give them age appropriate tasks that keep them occupied rather than vegetate at the TV. Prep dinner as soon after breakfast as practical. Have you developed a routine? It's boring but efficient. Every day has a list of chores, done is good enough, don't aim for perfection. The secret here is eliminate the evidence to develop meals based on loss leaders + what's already at hand. Grocery shop only with a list, take DKs to grocery only after breakfast with remaking. Kids pick up anything on the floor & dust, you vacuum starting in the worst room. Saturday is 'wet day.' Everyone helps wash floors, scrub sinks & toilets, water plants, DKs go with dad to car wash. Monday: Laundry, wash, dry, fold, put away. DKs can 'help' haul laundry to washer, fold hand towels, undies, pair socks and put away.

    It takes 21 days of conscious repetition to develop a habit but after several weeks it become automatic and you'll not be yelling or viewing your children as 'bugging' you.

  5. snafu Says:

    sorry, obviously I messed up posting since parts go missing when I touch 'submit.' I don't seem to be able to use the 'edit' feature so I'm flummoxed

  6. ThriftoRama Says:


    We have a routine. MWF they go to preschool from 9 to 1 so I can work. T mornings we go to swim lessons and the library. Thursday is the only unscheduled day. The three days a week of school is nice (and expensive), but really is only enough time to make work calls. All the writing happens at night after bedtime, which once they settle down and sleep, is 10 p.m. and I'm exhausted. Laundry happens every day.

    Petunia, I don't mind getting groceries, I just am paralyzed at meal planning. I'm not a good cook and I don't enjoy cooking, but I want to have nice healthy meals for the family every night. I can't afford more food out, with the preschool bills and mortgage.

    Laura-- how do you propose dedicated time for work, for fun and for me? I don't think it's possible, but I hope there is a way. Do you mean daily time or maybe once every week or two? Also, how do you juggle kids and your volunteering/work? I have been struggling for years just praying it will get better once the kids are in school all day, but that is still years away. I don't know how long I can keep this up.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    ((Hugs)) Good advice thus far. I will second the need for routine...by the hour or half hour, since young kids generally have short attention span. Involving them in the tasks you need to do will help greatly. Stir the soup as you put it in a pan. Simple things make kids glad to help. Also don't let them run over you. You are the adult and you set the boundaries and guidelines. Loud is not allowed indoors. They need a time out when that behavior happens. Yes it is hard to put those limits on them, but it can be done and most kids thrive with boundaries.

    Also look for fun/simple experiments to do. Write alphabet letters in pudding or shaving cream. Paint with water on the sidewalk. Get out chalk and draw pictures, make hopscotch on your driveway. There is so many good ideas online to keep young kids busy and interactive. If the five year old know how to write letters, have the child write the grocery list even if you have to spell each item.

    I'm also going to say you probably need 'you' time every day. At least an hour. Your husband needs to takeover with the kids after he is home. He can take them to the park, blow bubbles in the back yard, have them help gather trash or pick up toys.

    I also think there is likely a need to connect with other mom's. I have always been a better parent when I've had support of other parent's who understand the hard work of raising kids. It's been helpful to send the kids to the neighbors for an hour and even to have kids over to play with mine.

    I know that I can get irritated at my kids, but I've noticed for me it is usually when I'm not meeting their needs and getting too involved in my own projects. Thus expectations of what I need to do or get done have to get scaled back or postponed. It is just a fact that we can't do it all. We can only do our best and know that it is good enough.

  8. My English Castle Says:

    Thrift, first do know you're not alone. I see those people who naturally seem to shift into parenting, and I think, How come I can't do that? But hanging out with a bunch of women with small kids at the university has REALLY helped me. So many of us go through those same issues, and you know, we all fail a lot. And really, it does get easier when they're in school at least part of the time. I used to feel so guilty saying that, and there are plenty of people who will make you feel guilty about it, but some of us are just better with slightly older kids. I know I am. For me, I had a very boring meal rotation--and with some variation, we still do. Sunday is a bigger meal--even in the summer a bigger grilled meal with leftovers for Monday. Tuesday is usually chicken, Wednesday was soup or chili or sometimes sausages and mash in the winter for my DH, then Thursday became pasta, Friday pizza, and for us, Saturday was grown -up food night while DD ate nuggets or some yucky kid food. Occasionally we varied from the plan, but I was super-busy at school, it kept us going. Food gets better too the older they get. My S-I-L insisted her boys eat what they ate--or they eat PB and J or cereal. No other options. Her boys are very healthy 25-year-olds with advanced degrees so they survived.

    Make it as easy as possible on yourself. My English S-I-L virtually always makes her daughter a raw veggie plate with dinner--sliced peppers, cukes, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots. Full of nutrition and it keeps them busy while you're trying to survive. And things always change. Gradually it gets easier. Ask for help and advice --hey, like you're doing now! My DD was driving me crazy, and I was a little hesitant to discuss her behavior with friends--but one suggested a book--The Highly Sensitive Child--which has really helped us.

    Hang in there--and talk to us. There's lots of wisdom here because we all keep falling down.

  9. ThriftoRama Says:

    I'll have to check out that book, MEC.

    I will say, yes, I do have mom friends who get it. But I feel like i need guidance on a whole other level. I've stolen some of their good ideas, but others just don't apply. Their kids are way older than mine, so they are way past my stage of problems, and none of my best mom friends are also trying to juggle a career with being the stay at home mom, and that is a huge part of my problems.

    And CCF, this line was very poignant: "when I'm not meeting their needs and getting too involved in my own projects." I find that is true. But how do I manage that when I have very real work deadlines? Is my only option to give up my career? That doesn't seem fair.

  10. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    On my phone so a succinct: I see myself a whole lot described in this post!! Kids under grade school age are physically exhausting - do not doubt it!!! I leaned HARD on my husband those years and only by supreme fortune have an easy going mate who awaits my full attention in only a few more years. My kids are 13 and 15 now. And be aware, this age is psychologically exhausting. i am not proud to see a reflection of my worst traits. But I have also been a better parent than my own, and I do things regularly to keep that tendency in the right direction. What I do? Every morning, especially after a bad prior day, I wake up and seem to be able to start anew. Figure a way to do things 'right'. sometimes i laughed inside thinking up new approaches in parenting, it doesn't end for alot of years! Too long already more later.

  11. PatientSaver Says:

    First, I give you a lot of credit for coming forward and telling us exactly how you feel. I can really relate to the challenges of child-rearing, not because I've ever done it, but I guess becus I also am a calm and quiet person who cherishes her private time and solitude. I don't think a lot of parents would admit to feeling so frustrated with their lives right now, because society seems to want us all to believe that becoming a parent is life's ultimate achievement. I think it can be, but often times it's filled with challenges that equal or surpass the rewards.

    A lot of people here are giving you advice. I guess mine would be either 1. Have a serious talk with your husband and insist that he take on a greater role in parenting (or get his agreement to hire you help, either by way of cooking or housekeeping or maybe even a nanny). I have no idea the costs involved, and I have no doubt they are high, but your sanity is more important.

    And/or two, could you also find some sort of women's/parents support group or possibly a very good friend, someone you could talk to? It seems you could use more emotional support as much as practical forms of help.

    You have a lot on your plate. You need more help from those around you, that's clear. Eventually, they WILL grow up. That probably doesn't do much for you now, I know. IS there anyone in the family who could take the kids every now and then for a few hours? Could the grandparents step in maybe once a week? You shouldn't be expected to shoulder the entire parenting responsibility on your own.

  12. laura Says:

    From what I have re-read, it sounds that the freelance work you are doing might not be worth the financial outcome. You are totally stressed, and understandably so. You know how if you are on a plane and the oxygen masks drop down and you're supposed to put yours on first, then help the kids? I think that this the moment that you are at a crisis because you're not doing enough to take care of yourself.

    The time that the kids are at preschool, I would take at least an hour of that for yourself. Coffee with a friend, a walk around a lake, time to read a book or whatever. The work will be there, as will the to-dos. But if you are in a cave, the darkness will only come if you take steps to get out.

    I admit it is easier for me because my kids are older: 15, 14, 10, 9, 8. But I deal with a chaotic schedule and dyslexia on a daily basis. Homework struggles can be really bad. I've had to deal with realizing that my kid's sanity is worth more than a grade. His esteem isn't based on frustrations. I rework lessons, use audio books, and sometimes when he's at a precarious spot, I will say "30 minutes" of schoolwork today, max. We go out to play soccer or something. I've got two hormonal daughters who are angels, but their personalities will be out of whack for one or two days. And there are tears.

    I admit to starting my day watching "In Session" - 1.5 hours of nothing but mindless court drama and I stitch. Usually a gift or two that I'm working on. And dinner, thank goodness for a crockpot. And I confess to the fact that my kids eat cereal for dinner at least one night a week. In front of the TV. And I like it when we're all sitting there laughing at what is going on - Dance Mom Drama or Project Runway.

    Volunteer work ... I do it in dribbs and drabs on my own time now. I got to a passive aggressive place where it wasn't good. Nothing happy or humble about my helper's heart. We've joined a "strengthening families group" at church, too, because it is nice to commune with other Catholic Families. Do you have anything like that at your parish? A moms of young kids group?

    Rereading my comments to you now, do something for yourself. Yoga? Book reading? Book writing? Bike riding? Coffee out? Working at the gym? Self analysis is good, but is becomes dangerous when it is self-bashing. I think that you can move out of this place with some good communication with your DH, I agree that he should be more involved. And I think that you do need to give yourself some time and space to breathe. The lighter that your heart is, the happier you will be.

  13. ThriftoRama Says:

    Hubby is involved with the kids. He gets up with them in the morning, so he has them from 7:30 to 8:30, then I get up and he gets to work. He gets home around 6:30, we eat dinner, then he takes them after dinner for a couple of hours. I love him, but he doesn't do much other than work and take the kids those few hours. Everything that happens to the house, all the organizing of our personal and social lives, all falls to me. We had a big fight a few months back when the washing machine broke. I was tired (of course) and had tons of deadlines, and it needed to be fixed. He promised he would help me, but when the kids went to bed and it was time to work, he said he was just too tired. I was so mad, to say the least. It became a big blow out. I want him to care more about how clean the house is, and repair and upkeep, etc. but he just isn't made that way!

  14. laura Says:

    Housekeeper twice a month? Number of an affordable and recommended handy-man?

    I rebelled as keeper of the calendar (in regards to DH) and now there is a central one, large with everything on it. It is up to him to add his things and to confirm his availability based on what is there. And if I don't put something down and he makes other plans thinking it is free, I have to deal with it.

  15. PatientSaver Says:

    Well, if hubby doesn't care as much how clean the house is and how quickly repairs and such get done, maybe just let it go a bit then, just to make your own to do list more reasonable. Not to say it won't ever get done, but maybe take some pressure off yourself to keep hard and fast deadlines for doing things.

    Housekeeping is always my very last priority, and I must admit, there are often small clumps of cat fur every which way. But so what?

  16. ThriftoRama Says:

    I often let the housekeeping go, but there is a point where it becomes too gross for me, but hubby doesn't notice. Maybe it's a man thing.

    As for the calendar, it's a situation where we sign them up for activities, and the one per week that he is responsible for taking them to, they only go half the time because he comes up with some excuse about why he / they don't want to go. (traffic, ds2 is crabby, etc. ) It's kind of frustrating. We want the kids to have an outlet and be involved, but I shouldn't solely be responsible for lugging them and their stuff to and from sports, etc. If he doesn't want to take them, he shouldn't ask me to sign them up and then volunteer.

    Sorry. Now I sound like I'm just complaining...

  17. creditcardfree Says:

    Just so you know, I, too am keeper of everything...sign up for classes, drive to lessons, meal plan, pay bills, make investments, decide when to take on a project. My husband made his first dentist appointment the other day, and said to me, "I'll need the insurance information." I explained I didn't have that because he isn't on the same plan and that it works different for him. Turns out he made an appointment with a provider who wouldn't take his insurance, he worked it all out and canceled the appointment, but he definitely looked to me initially to handle his thing! Ugh. It sometimes feels like I have three children instead of two. Now, he does have lots of things he takes care of and is more than willing to handle, but it still feels that way.

    You responded to my first comment and you asked if your only option is to give up your work. No it is not your only option, but it is an option. However, I think what you are looking for is a way to balance both. Maybe you do take on only a maximum amount of work. Maybe you do have to say no for your sanity. Can you take a small break with work...tell clients you are taking a month off? To see how it feels not to work with small kids. Or take a year without your kids involved in outside activities if those are part of the problem.

    I can tell you are stressed, and my best advice is that you have to make a change in some way or you will just keep doing the same thing which clearly is not working for you. ((Hugs))

    Glad to hear your husband is a help! Think what it might be like without him.

  18. CB in the City Says:

    I went through an awful, awful time when my kids were that age. I had boys, too, and my older son was ADD - unmedicated -- and angry and defiant because his parents were divorcing and his life was going to hell! Really rough stuff. I behaved in ways I cringe to even think about. I don't have any practical advice -- other than letting go of the freelancing -- but I will say, YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS! It really helped me when a counselor told me, yes, you can choose to scream, and then again you can choose not to. He was right. That night my little one broke a plate. I was about to blow a gasket, and then I thought, it's just a damn plate. I told my son it was no problem and saw the surprise and relief in his eyes. You may not relate to this at all, but it was mind-blowing for me!

    I sense that you have perfectionist tendencies -- I did, too. I think you should dig down inside and find your inner slob. You need her laid-back attitude during this challenging time of your life!

    I've said this here before -- my troublesome boys have grown up into wonderful men, so I am proof that you can make a lot of mistakes and still be doing the job you need to do.

  19. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    No words of advice, but I just wanted to offer you a hug {{{Thriftorama}}}

  20. MonkeyMama Says:

    Good Advice so far.

    I think the central point is the world won't end if you do less, accomplish less, and find more help. Of course you can afford to eat in more or hire out some more help - something *less important* has to give, is all. I think you need a good prioritizing session. I remember those years being tough, but that my only priority was basic survival. I wouldn't change a thing...

    Priorities: you don't need to go crazy on the hiring help or convenience, but maybe spending a small amount in one area will bring good results to all areas of your life.

    I probably can't get across what a viscious snowball you are in - how it affects everything. You clearly get it on some level (for example, you know you are spending more in the stress of the situation), but not enough to have declared "emergency" yet. When the snowball is going in the right direction, everything else is just easier. For that reason, it does get easier, but it won't get any easier, ever, if you don't change course. Just as an example, people are always offering/begging to watch our kids. So hiring that helps has become moot over the years. If we were short-tempered and overworked with them, I am sure no one would want them. Financially is the same. The less we work, the more we have. You need to have *faith* that it will work out. Things snowball in the good direction as much as they do in the bad direction. But the *good* snowball allows us to cut ourselves more slack (& to maybe accomplish more, anyway?).

    I also do not agree that personalities are so set. We have always found our eldest *extreme extrovert* to be exhausting, but he exhibits far more introvert tendencies with age. (Nature versus nurture - I can't imgaine him being so introspective if he had been raised by more extroverted parents - kids learn what they see and he has spent 8+ years living with 3 *extreme* introverts). My younger child inherited bipolar tendencies (runs heavily in my family) but with age and maturity he seems to handles it a lot better. At age 2 I probably figured he was screwed. At age 8 I realize he kind of fits in with most 8yos (who are still learning to control their emotions) AND that I could see him being high functioning for the long run. Different parents could be drastically different results. & I feel and know that nature is the *most* of it, but nurturing is also quite powerful. & as far as the extroverted one - he has a very rich social life that does not involve us. That is the benefit with age. "Go play with your friends," or "Go spend the week with family out of town." Phew!!

  21. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Last comments, from me.
    Thanks for all the good reading, bits and pieces obviously applies to many many many of us.

    YOGA! a very excellent recommendation, it can be done at home using video but takes a year or so to internalize the calming effects.

    PRAISE some little thing about the kids, yourself, someone more often! It feels good. (REMIND ME TO DO THIS EVEN MORE!!) Takes effort at first, then gets easier and becomes a positive force in daily life.

    Here's a snapshot of yesterday in the life of the Frugal Artisan
    15 y.o. son- gets self up in the morning, eats his way through the pantry for breakfast (cereal), does bare minimum of clearing dishes and putting away food, rides bike to school, comes home and eats again. Hangs out in room doing homework and playing iPod, responds to questions with a couple words to parents (more than the usual silent treatment!). Asks for ride to school next week when class schedule is messed up due to end of the year.

    13 y.o. daughter- drags herself out of bed, takes shower late, rushing to get breakfast, get dressed, fix hair. Leaves things strewn about bedroom due to rushing. Has unpleasant verbal exchanges with mother about timing, cleaning up, responsiblity in general. Gets out the door to be driven to school. Returns home and after a short break, gets working on big school project due the next day (already part done). Works on project on computer and all over the dining room table (paper, scraps, paints, notebooks, pens, calculator, etc.) for 4 hours. Asks for opinion frequently at first, but mom emphasizes not always very nicely to 'just make decisions and get it done' (and be time conscious, plan better, etc.). 9pm and still not done. Told to get off the computer (brother needs it!!) and get ready for bed (change clothes, brush teeth, etc.). Returns for about 1/2 hour and does enough to call it a night, cleans up table (HALLELUYAH)

    Frugal Artisan: Gets up an hour before everybody to have quiet unstressed time. Dressed, makes bed (just one, not the kids beds which do not get made). Packs daughter lunch, packs own lunch. Works a little on small business (such as getting 3 pair glove ready to deliver to shop). Waits for daughter to get ready for school but is increasingly impatient the last 5 to 10 minutes. Not very nice verbal exchanges but makes it out the door and to the bus on time (with a couple minutes to spare instead of the preferable 5+ minutes to spare). Work and take the bus home. Check that daughter is doing what is responsible after school (homework and not texting). Makes healthy dinner meal for son (toast, eggs and fruit). Mom cleans up his dinner stuff. Offer to make daughter different small healthy meal (peanut butter and jelly). Greet husband arriving home. Make large dinner salads for us. Clean up all kitchen stuff. Check that daughter is on track (if that is possible). Take the dog to the park for couple mile 1 hour walk with husband. Return, shower, check in some more with daughter. Exasperated with her and make her break at 9pm with a plan for finishing before school the next morning.

    So I have 1 (normal) sullen, impossible to reach teen boy, and 1 incredibly frustrating emotionally roller coaster teen daughter. And basically, this is VERY TYPICAL internationally.

    We avoided major meltdowns this day, but it isn't a rosy picture really.

    Epilogue: I am happy to report all went rather smoothly the next morning!! Daughter woke herself up an hour early!!! I approached her with "What can I do to help?" and she replied, "Check my work that I printed out as draft". And, can I take her a little late (by skipping the bus to work and driving). At first I said NO, but I reconsidered 10 minutes later and said ok. Project done and off to school. I am going to get a little card and give her a reward today, either $10 or an iTunes card.

    THANK YOU for all the reading.

  22. rachel021406 Says:

    Hang in there!

    Life is hard. I know it seems tedious but planning out your day may really help. Allowing certain blocks of time for certain tasks...including yourself and "fun."

    I think a lot of us feel the same way you do. I am the "big gear" in our household. I do all the planning, chores, driving to and from, paying bills, cooking, etc. But if I didn't have the support of my husband, the "medium gear," and my step daughter "the small gear," it wouldn't work. We all have to work together to keep it moving.

    You are doing better than you think.

  23. ThriftoRama Says:

    Wow. You guys are awesome. It's so easy to feel so alone when you're in the trenches every day with the kids. I'm very thankful for all of you and for your advice not only on this but on everything else as well!

    I have a lot to think about. I do think that with more organization and planning as far as menus and dividing up the daily household tasks/chores, that will improve some things.

    I have made some steps to change things, realizing they are out of control, but those changes have yet to materialize. It took some time for my employer to find a replacement for one of my weekly freelance gigs, and that isn't over yet despit months of planning, and as for other changes, I have yet to see how it will shake out into our daily lives. But yes, my thinking cap is on.

  24. scottish girl Says:

    Great advice given here. I've been moody lately myself - with DH - so it's nice to read what experienced mums have to say. You guys give great advice.
    I think you're doing great ThriftoRama, I only have one child and I'm a pain to live with these days!

  25. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Try putting a crockpot to work for you. There are tons of meal ideas online and the slow cooker does all the work!

    When it gets overwhelming, its time to take a step back and evaluate. Make a list, prioritize...the stuff at the top should be tackled as you can...the stuff at the bottom perhaps can be either stuck to the side for a while or eliminated from the list.

    It does and will get easier. Just tackle it in small, realistic chunks.

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