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  • Help needed

    hello all~
    your posts have been very helpful to read. I am having a really hard time right now. I am not recognizable to myself, and so far away from the parent I always imagined I would be. I have a 2 year old son.
    As brief as I can be:
    I struggled with infertility and had 2 miscarriages before having my son. I also lost my best friend, my dog, while I was pregnant. I think I didn't allow myself time to grieve any of these losses because I wanted to focus on my son. without going into my relationship, it was bad for many reasons, and I am now a single mother.
    I have co-slept with my son his entire life and am still breastfeeding. as a result, (but not only due to this) I can honestly say I have not slept more than 4 hours straight, and usually total - in at least 3 years. all the stress at home keeps my head spinning and I am beyond sleep deprived.
    to make things worse, he has never slept as much as his age is "supposed" to - never. and he rarely sleeps or sleeps well without being attached to me. this leaves little to literally no time for me to take care of me, let alone the dishes, the laundry, the house, the cats - you name it......
    so, all that said, I am not handling anything well.
    my son is smart and is a nice kid most of the time. but entirely too often he refuses to let me change his diaper, get him dressed, wash his hands to eat, sit down to eat, get in the car seat, let me put his shoes on, get him undressed... and on and on. I am just so tired of it all. I don't want to yell. I don't want to "force" - but I am sad to say I have done both.
    I have tried to distract and redirect and give him choices and give him a heads up of what is to come. I am at my wits end.
    I would really appreciate any suggestions on:
    helping him sleep without having to nurse
    helping him sleep without me in the bed
    what to do when he just won't listen (from car seat to dangerous or simply unwanted behaviors)
    and - he is up. so I must go now. story of my life! at least I got a bit out.
    I would really appreciate any suggestions.
    thank you~

  • #2
    You sound tired...mentally, emotionally, physically! So many of us have been where you are at some point in our parenting!

    What you need most is to take care of YOU right now. We must nurture ourselves so we can nurture our children, right? Is there some way you can get some help? A friend, neighbor, nanny, babysitter, relative who can take your son on a regular basis? If you can start getting some regular "Me" time, you could start to do those things that would fill your cup. Even if it's just to go somewhere and sleep for a couple of hours!

    As for the behavior, it sounds very normal for a 2 year old...but it's so much more overwhelming when you're sleep deprived and emotinally drained. Young children require so much of our patience and ability to stay calm. This is why it is extra important to keep our cups filled and meet our own basic needs first.

    A couple of ideas on positive discipline...remember that we cannot control what our children do, but we can control what we do. Keeping this in mind might help in those situations where you feel powerless and tensions are rising. Also, it might help to reevaluate the expectations...for example, you said:

    get him dressed--do you need to get him dressed? Can he dress himself? Is it worth a struggle or can he go out in his pjs?

    wash his hands to eat--does he need ot wash his hands to eat? Can he use a hand sanitizer or wipe instead?

    change his diaper--well, this one might be non-negotiable! But maybe give him 2 choices as to where he'd like it changed

    sit down to eat--does he need to sit down to eat? Can he stand on a stool instead? Can he run back & forth between playing & the table to get bites of food? Can he walk around the kitchen during dinner?

    get in the car seat--this is a tough one too, but maybe you could have a special "car toy" that stays in the car and only gets played with during car rides, like a Leapster or something. You might also offer suggestions as to how he wants to get in his seat, hop like a bunny? Pretend he's a kitty? Pretend it's a rocket ship? Do you want to buckle yourself in, or would you like my help?

    let me put his shoes on--does he have shoes that he can put on himself? Can he get some? Could he go without shoes? Can you bring the shoes with you to put on when his feet get cold?

    get him undressed--again, think about what the alternatives are here...does he need to get undressed? Can he sleep in his clothes? Could he try taking a bath in his clothes? (how fun would that be for a little kid?) Can he do it himself?

    Offering him some limited choices may help him feel like he has more control over what happens to him. And trying to think of "alternative" situations (when things go less than ideally) may help ease your mind that parenting doesn't have to "look" a certain way. Throw out your ideas about what's right or wrong or what a parent should do. Diffuse power struggles with some creative, child-led solutions.

    Hang in there, and be sure to prioritize your needs for a while!


    • #3

      I'm afraid that I don't have any answers for the specific issues you asked for help with (ie sleeping). I guess you have focussed on these because it's the lack of sleep that is exhausting you? I think Kelly's fantastically practical suggestions could probably take some of the strain out of the day, so that until you can get some more rest, you can cope a little better.

      My daughter is 3 and we have similar flashpoints during the day surrounding getting dressed and fed. I actively try and tell myself, what is more important ie that we get to x appointment on time or that she gets dressed so that we get to x appppointment on time. Mostly I forget to do this analysis before I step into what has become my routine mode of behaviour, but occasionally it's worked. It's kept my frustration levels down and this in itself makes me feel better overall that I'm doing better and can cope. I think that's what they mean when they say "don't sweat the small stuff", but have to admit I'm not sure as I'm definitely a sweaty small stuff type of person.

      My little one only stopped nursing to sleep when I stopped breastfeeding her at about 21/4, something I regret, but had to make a tough choice about at the time. I've heard of friends of friends having sucess using strategies from the No cry Sleep Solution book, however the success does seem to take time.

      I find the afternoons are the worst when I'm tired. Sso now, if I feel my temper rising and I know it's due to lack of sleep or time to myself, I'll sit her in front of the TV (I know she will sit there safely glued to it!) and sleep next to her on the sofa. I absolutely hate doing this but I decided it was better than me shouting at her or us having an awful afternoon because I'm picking at every child like thing that she does. (I'm not a single parent, but we have no family back up and my little one refuses to be looked after by anyone other than me or dad, not even close friends!)

      I send you lots of luck and positive thoughts.