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  • At breaking point

    I have a 15-month old baby boy. I am finding it just completely exhausting looking after him. He has recently had several bouts of illness and I feel that I just have to change something in our lives to enable me to cope better at these times. Basically I feel that looking after him normally takes all my energy and I have no reserves left to cope at more difficult times, such as illnesses, and I feel as if the next time something happens it may just send me over the edge. I'm not sure why I seem less able to cope with it all than other attachment parenting mothers seem to.

    I am a stay at home mum, still breastfeeding and he's still sleeping in our bed and waking a couple of times in the night to feed. A friend has suggested leaving him with a childminder for one day a week so that I can have some time to myself, but I just feel very selfish doing that and worry that it will damage his sense of security (when I don't actually have to leave him). I have been trying to work through suggestions in the No Cry Sleep Solution to get him to sleep more consistently, but the illnesses have meant that this hasn't happened. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can find a way to cope better?

  • #2
    Do you have money to pay someone to come often and 'play' maybe with their own child too. I am thinking that you would all stay together in the house during these times for a while untill your Mother's helper would be the normal thing and occasionally you could leave or take a bath or a nap...etc You also might be able to arrange this as a trade with another local mother if you do not have the funds. Monday's and Wednesday's am at your house/ Tuesday's and Thursday's AM at the other woman's place.

    You do need time for you! Find a way that is the least disturbing for your child, You do deserve some me time! Does his father help?

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    • #3
      What seems the most overwhelming to you in respect to taking care of him? Are there particular things that feel like they really zap you of your energy? Do you think there are any things you could stop doing that would free up time or mental energy for yourself?

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      • #4
        Thanks so much for your responses. I did just try to write a response, but it seems to have disappeared, so apologies if you get 2 replies saying pretty much the same thing. The idea of a mother's helper sounds great and would be a good solution, except that I am very shy and would find it too difficult to have someone else around for so much time.

        I find that the most overwhelming things are the lack of me time and that I feel so tired all the time. I do go out a lot with my son, but I find that this helps me. If I have to spend a day in the house with just me and him, I find that I start to get quite depressed. I had thought that maybe I could get up early and do some exercise in the mornings, but my son wakes up if I try to get out of bed before him. He does sleep for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, but I find that I end up spending this time cleaning, cooking or travelling to or from somewhere. In the evenings, my partner gets home quite late and by the time we've eaten, etc. and my son has gone to bed, I have about an hour to myself which never feels enough so I often end up staying up late which then makes me more tired!

        I did try to leave my son in the gym creche recently, which I don't feel is the best thing for him, but felt necessary for me to have some time to myself. However, although I stayed with him for the first 40 minutes and he seemed very happy and didn't seem to notice me at all, when I left for 15 minutes, the staff had to come and get me because he got very upset. So now I just can't see any options. I feel like maybe it's just like this for everyone and I'm just moaning, but at the same time I just feel like something has to change for me to be able to carry on. We're planning trying for another baby in May and it really scares me at the moment that I just won't be able to cope at all with two.

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        • #5
          Where are you located....you MUST make some connections even if you are shy! You need support! I know it would be awkward at first but eventually you would have that familiarity!

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          • #6
            Casper,

            I hear you!! I have felt this way many times... during illness kids demand even more than they normally due, and this is hard not only energetically but also emotionally, so keep that in mind. My daughter was very sick in and out of the hospital for a whole year (from 12 to 24 months old) and I often felt I was going to lose my mind.

            Some things that helped me (and now looking back I can identify better) are first, to acknowledge I was going through a rough time and it was ok to feel exhausted/sad/etc, I am not wonder woman and I do need help, I had to really work on focusing on the important things, for me that was my baby and me (my house was a mess but that was ok at the time), always be happy to know you are doing the best you can at the moment... cheer up, this will pass! The more positive you are the more creative you will be in dealing with all this and will feel better immediately. This last one really works.

            My daughter gets really demanding and annoyed when she is bored (when we stay home) so I have to always have things for her to do, tasks, projects, things that will entertain her while maybe even entertaining me. This makes everyone happy.

            I am not shy but I am a loner, so it is also hard for me to reach out for help. Now that my daughter is 28 months I am asking my family to babysit for 3-4hrs once in a while because I find that I really need it and I can feel she is comfortable with them now. This was not true when she was 15m, I never forced her to stay with anyone until I felt she was happy about doing so but there were times I had to ask someone to come and play with her while I showered to at least have that to myself. I am single so for me it is tricky to find ways to have me time... this usually happens only when she is sleeping....

            I hope this helps. I am sending you a virtual hug and lots of positive vibes your way...
            Believe we can handle a lot more than we think we do!!

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            • #7
              Thank you so much. I feel like you've really helped me to put things into perspective and you're right - today was better and I do feel like it's perhaps not so impossible. I think I am just going to have to try to work on thinking more positively during the difficult times. Thanks again.

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              • #8
                Casper--

                I have the same story as you, right down to the details: a 15 month old boy, attachment parented, even going to a gym with child-care and being called 10 minutes into my workout (after transitioning him in the child care center for 45 minutes beforehand).

                Sometimes I am at a breaking point too, and feel like AP is just too hard. It could also be called Exhaustion Parenting. My baby is like velcro...extremely clingy and he freaks out if I so much as walk out of the room. And he's been like this since birth. But I remind myself that he won't be this age forever, it will get better, and I am building ties that will last his entire lifetime.

                I don't have any advice to share, but just know that your high-need toddler isn't the only one in the world...we can commiserate together!

                Mallory

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                • #9
                  i think that it's also important to recognize that PARENTING IN GENERAL is difficult. whether or not we choose the AP path, all parents struggle for balance and meeting their children's needs. we have friends who do not practice AP, but we have shared many, many similar stories in frustrations w/the constant demands and lack of time for self, and wondering if we're doing the right thing. part of it is cultural, this culture does not value mothers or parents, or children, so we lack support that was previously given in past societies. the blame then shifts to the parent (often the mother) who is left with the sole responsiblity of carrying for the child. parenting in this society is hard!! the important thing is to recognize that we are only human, and so are our children, and we are all doing the very best that we can.

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                  • #10
                    Exactly Paxmamma,
                    AP parents chose a certain handling of things, they choose to be responsive to a child cries at the gym care center! One could choose to leave them there regardless of their reaction, I would find that hard! (of course, a child who was not securely attached may also refuse to stay with child care but may not be listened to and left anyway.)

                    We are choosing to give our children more consideration then the average child gets. We value their feelings and experiences and do not discount them 'because you are not my equal' or "your a kid and you do what I say no matter what" It is harder giving some one else, anyone!, your time, your care, your ear, your body (nursing, pregnancy etc). It is much harder then being a single person, or farming out most of the parenting work to others. I think we invest this time and energy in our children because we believe it will be a good investment.

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                    • #11
                      I agree that parenting in general is hard, no matter what style of parenting you use. I have never met a mother that didn't struggle with balancing the needs of herself and her family.

                      Also, the clingy kid/AP connection is a complicated one. First of all we see clingyness as negative.Though, throughout most of human evolution this "clingyness" would have just been seen as adaptive and wouldn't have been much of a strain on a mother's life. In fact, having a child would have only minimally changed her daily life. Now that we live in modern society teaching babies and young children to separate from mom is a new "skill" we have to add their repertoire. And I say "have" because it's a rare situation, in current times, that a mother doesn't need to have some time separate from her little one, whether to work or to "fill her own cup" of mental energy. We're living in an environment where babies needs often get pitted against mother's needs. Many parenting approachs seem to ingnore this conflict and seek solely to change baby's behaviour. Acknowledging the truth of this conflict can make parenting seem much harder and more complicated but it is still the truth.

                      I think the goal of AP parenting is to allow children to express the level of clingyness or, put another way, closeness that is needed by them. And, the level of closeness needed varies greatly between children. There are AP parented children that are not very clingy (I have one) but we don't hear much about them because in our culture lack of clingyness in children is "easier" and not worth discussing. In addition, naturally highly clingy kids often "force" their parents into an AP style of parenting they wouldn't have otherwise considered. ie. The parents can't keep a babysitter because the kid spends the entire time screaming for mom.

                      Dealing with a clingy child is sooo hard. Having your needs at odd with your child's is challenging and heart wrenching. As moms we give all that we can but we will still sometimes need to take some time for ourselves even when it is not the best thing for our children. I think that when we do this we need to acknowledge all the feelings involved, mom's and baby's, good and bad. We need to keep mom healthy to keep baby healthy but it does not serve us or our children to pretend that separations are not hard on little ones. We need to do what we need to do but we need to do it with our eyes open.

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                      • #12
                        Hi there.

                        I think a lot of the words of previous posters are right on target. It is a difficult balance and reaching out and making connections in your community are vital. Try your local LLL if you don't already have an AP group in your area. Often you'll find some AP-minded mamas there and you can branch out and meet their friends. It really makes a difference to have someone you can relate to nearby.

                        Regarding the Gym childcare room. I have a lot of experience with this and my best advice is to find out the schedule of who works there, when it is busy, etc. I found two mamas who worked in my gym childcare room that were very AP-ish and nuturing (sp?) and made it a point to go only when those mamas were there. I also tried to go during the hours when it wasn't that busy. You might find that 15 min is all you're getting for a while before he gets upset and they come get you. But they ARE coming to get you. He is being held and cared compassionately during that short time he's upset before you can get to him. Before you know it...you'll be 20 or 30 min into your workout and realize he's still happy. It took me probably 2 months before I got in a full 45 min workout. I never stretched it beyond that, but I could come back and know that my son has been happy the whole time and playing. It takes time to get used to new people, new surroundings and time for him to learn that you DO always come back for him.

                        Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat. I really understand where you are coming from.

                        -Melanie

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