I'm at my wits end... fighting with my kids constantly... I need help.
My kids are 7 (girl), 9 (boy) and 11, almost 12 (boy).
I'm a single mom, I have been through an incredibly difficult international divorce, we have gone from rags to riches, and are on our way back up, but I just can't seem to get my parenting skills back.
I used to be such a good mom... when I was home full time, even though I had other interests and work. Now, I just can't seem to manage it all, and the kids, well... I don't seem to know how to relate to them. How to get them to help.
I feel exhausted most days. Alone, a lot of the time. I don't have time for friends, I'm not dating, and because of all the changes, my lifestyle and LIFE has totally changed. Not bad, just uprooted... I've lost everything, as have the kids, and I've worked so hard to get us back to ground level... just a decent home, and not struggling to find the money for food. But money for everything else is still a struggle..
Okay my question started out simple... I'm at my wits end.. fighting with my kids all the time... I need help. And it's turned into a general rant about stuff. I apologize for the randomness of this, but I have allowed myself to just type what comes. I trust you as the expert to make sense of it all.
Hello, I can assist you
Thank you for your question. Welcome! No I wouldn't say it was ranting and raving- you gave me a clear and descriptive picture of how incredibly difficult and stressful things are for you right now.
You are a good mom, and that's why this concerns you so much.
If you were not struggling, or your kids were not acting out a bit, that's where the surprise would be- what you've been through is effecting all of you. In a sense a "normal" response to an "abnormal" experience and series of events.
You must feel alone, isolated, afraid, worried- just to name a few emotions.
If you had the skills before, it's like riding a bike, you will get them back. I'm hearing you say you are exhausted, overwhelmed, isolated, lonely....All these things create one to feel depressed, also grief related to the loss of a life you once had.
On a stress scale questionnaire- quite sure you would be off the charts. In saying all this- I'm normalizing what things look like right now for you. Four children is considered a big family now a days.
Because you are in such a torn down state- first and foremost you have to figure out a way to take care of yourself- support from a friend, family, support group, counselor, someone to lean on a bit. Someone who may also help with the children.
We can not do the big job of being a "perfect" parent- no there is no such thing- a good enough parent- if we have nothing left to give. It's sort of like an emotional bank account- too many withdrawals and not enough deposits. Your children will also get through this. Your children are struggling too- part of it is in response to your struggle- Taking care of you is taking care of them- being up to the task of parenting. You are still parenting your children, taking the best care of them that you can- doing the best you can considering what you have been through.
It's similar to a death- however- with death there may be more closure- with a divorce the end of the relationship= loss, like a death. However, with divorce the "coffin" just keeps popping up.
You are faced with an uprooting of the life you were accustomed to- and you are now having to re-invent yourself. It may feel like starting over- a life once lived has been torn apart- and you are starting over. Except this time around you have four children.
Begin to identify your strengths. Asking yourself, if you went to bed tonight and this was better, what would it look like. What would you be doing, what the children would be doing, Would you be reaching out to friends, making time for you?
As frustrating as it is as a parent when children do not cooperate- they have also been uprooted from what they knew. Talking as a family, validating how difficult it must be for them, reassuring them this is not their fault, and that "we" will work towards getting better, but that it does take time.
It takes time, energy, consistency, and persistence to establish the structure you need in the home. Where might that energy come from?? Filling yourself up, taking care of you, making yourself a priority before you flat out collapse. You said you have worked so hard to get back to ground level- that's still up right? Your hard work and persistence will pay off. Check out your local hospitals, mental health clinics and inquire about a divorce support group, or a single mom's group.
In my mental health practice- one thing is clear- one needs SUPPORT the most in times like this- realize just for now you can't do it all, and do it perfectly. Do it good enough- better can come later.
Also plan some play time for you and the kids- it will do them a world of good to see their "ole" mom back- the smile and happiness they once saw. Eventually or gradually you can establish more structure in the home- setting up those rules and expectations, and the natural and appropriate consequences. Your young children may also be taking advantage of this- a bit of a free for all. You deserve to be happy, to have fun, to have a life of your own.
Remember also that when establishing new expectations with children, who were also uprooted, it sometimes gets worse before it gets better. Children naturally resist change, or change creates discomfort but they don't always have the words to describe it. They just know things are different, feel a bit insecure, uncertain, and afraid. Rather than stating I'm afraid they act out- behavior is their communication.
Did you have a chance to read what I wrote? Do you have other comments or questions?
You are not alone in this- sadly, divorce is an everyday thing. I see it everyday in my office. It's very complicated- the loss grief, change, struggle to reinvent etc etc. The rug being pulled out from under you. How much more can a girl give before she waves her surrender flag and says "help". I'm glad you reached out tonight. As with death, time is the true healer.
I will look for your comments if you decide to post. Thank you for your question tonight. Do let me know if I can offer any further assistance.
Apologies, I had to get the kids into bed.
Your reply brought me to tears. I know you are right, and everything you have said is true. And unfortunately the support I have needed has not been there. I have had to do it all; be it all; all of the time.
What I would like from this 'session' is a clear strategy, steps to follow,to get myself back in the flow, so to speak.
The most valuable thing that I have taken from what you wrote above is, if I went to bed, and things were good, what would be different? What would we be doing... That made me think.
The answer is, I would be on a schedule, getting myself up early, enjoying 'me' time before the kids get up, doing yoga, fixing breakfast, maybe changing over the laundry or some other light housework, before getting the kids up and ready for school, and myself ready for work. I would have a routine - pay the bills on this day, vacuum on these days, food and other shopping with a list, on certain days, at certain shops, I would have a small group of healthy friendships, and I would meet them from time to time for a cup of tea and a chat, at a time and place without kids, I would have a man in my life, but only at arms length, someone to go to dinner and a movie with, or a comedy show, maybe every other weekend, the kids and I would have one-on-one time, each their own, and we would have family time that was fun, I would feel energized, and not exhausted, so when these times came, I looked forward to them, rather than found an excuse to back out because I'm too tired, I would have a regular job that fits around the kids and pays enough so we don't have to struggle, I would be going to the kids games, etc, ideally with someone by my side - but NOT living with us - and that someone would be supportive and amazing with the kids, I would be reading... LOTS! Enjoying my books again, going to the spa for a day to myself, maybe once a month (it's only $16 - how could I not, really?? :) I would be looking forward to an opportunity to travel, ideally back to England, to reunite with my friends there, and take care of what remains there, there would be no loose ends in England. I would be creating something... art maybe, I'm not sure. And going to a training or workshop once or twice a year. Basically all of those things I had, before the divorce, minus the husband.
I'm not sure if this helps you. I'm curious where you might take me from here...
Sincere gratitude. I do not know if you got my earlier thank you, it doesn't look like you did. I appreciate the Support :) Blessings, Laurie