Parenting

9 Jul 2018
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"Lord, why did I ever have children?", I said silently to myself as I attempted to be UN negotiator. My two were tearing chunks out of each other and the air was blue.

Parenting can involve enormous highs and lows. I am just experiencing the start of parenting teenagers who are going through their own emotional rollercoaster. Add into the mix a sporty, lively alpha male 10 year old and it doesn't take much to imagine that it's quite a potent combination.

Parenting when also suffering from mental health problems has additional challenges. Tonight felt like an epic fail... I lost my tether and ended up screaming in frustration. I've had two challenging days at work, the uncertainty of a restructure and with my first Fathers' Day looming without my Dad, it all seems overwhelming.

So what can I tell myself that makes me feel better? Both children do well at school, and behave. They save misbehaviour for me!! We managed two family events at the weekend with both myself and their Dad, despite not being together.

So one sidled up to me on the sofa later and gave me a cuddle when I had a cry about missing Dad. They have a lot of emotional intelligence. They have had to and I try to teach resilience, although not my own personal strength.

As for me I took some spare medication, picked some red currants and made a cup of tea....

So to those who are parents or grandparents, what are your tips for dealing with kids when you are having an 'off' day or your mental health is not at its best?

BrumMum

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Comments

Molly

July 10, 2018, 12:39 a.m.

Aw Brum Mum, I don't have children but I know how hard it can be. I will be told I don't know (a bit the same when I criticize driving and do not drive) lol. Hope you get some answers here from others. It is one of the reasons I did not have kids. But I feel I missed out on that experience..... so cuddle them, appreciate them, treasure them, love them, just love them. I think you are doing a great job Brum - on your own as well. In answer to your last question, lock them in the shed ? Keep going, you are doing okay. You might not think it but you are. Lots of love Molly xx

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Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 6:49 p.m.

Thank you. I do have a shed!!

Molly

July 11, 2018, 10:04 p.m.

:-)

DAVE

July 10, 2018, 5:01 a.m.

Hi BM, I feel for you with all your responsibility that is placed upon your shoulders without your permission. When under such a 'load', perhaps there is a greater need to share that load with your children. You say they are good and well behaved....that has to do with my last blog to you, regarding order in their life, tha comes from the rules of school life. So when they arrive on your doorstep at 4pm....they are in the deep throes of wha they now call 'CabinFever'..... They need to let off steam, and perhaps this can be achieved by giving them more responsibility in the home 'chores' to lighten your load !! Our three kids were not given pocket money, they were give chores which dependant upon and pro-rats to the type of chore would equate to money accordingly. Sitting them down quietly to explain your situation without husband and now loss of father and grandfather might help them understand the need to find a solution for all.,, If we say to them that using their own initiative they coul easily earn as much or more pocket money tha their friends. BM that will give them and you an 'incentive' to keep them occupied and at the same time help them to 'earn more' in preparation to keep them solvent in later life....again taking the responsibility 'off' your shoulders later in your life, when your energy will undoubtedly start to flag. ! ! I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad, he must have been a real 'anchor' in your life. I am not patronising you but you're amazing how with your BP and at the same time with all your responsibility.... This s only my opinion, as a father of a 49 year old Girl, a 42 year old Girl and a 39 year old son. I may be covering things that you already do...BM but your children need ' gently 'letting down after the restraints of school life and need something to keep them from fractiousness and at the same time help you with all that is upon your plate. *** bless Dave XX.

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Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 6:53 p.m.

Thank you, Dave. I have started paying for chores. I will do more on that. My son is now allowed to play out on the estate where we live. This enabled him to let off steam with other boys, They both have had trips away doing outdoor activities. I appreciate the advise of a sage. My Dad was David so that is special.

LP

July 10, 2018, 5:23 a.m.

Hi BM, I struggled with my son at 3 and 13. At three it was about being in control. At 13 I guess it was hormones, although my kids dad and I were also majorly falling out at the time. The house was too small which didn’t help. My brother advised us to take his gadgets away rather than grounding! Maybe I’ve been either lucky or too lenient but I’ve got along with my two pretty well otherwise. It’s not been easy on my own, but I think if there’s one tip I would give is that I made sure my kids knew that I was on their side, not against them. I had their back. I wanted them to be happy and I wanted them to be safe. I had to stand back a bit and trust that they would make good decisions when I’m not there, which it sounds like yours do :) They only really appreciate you when they get a taste of having to look after themselves I think. They’re too wrapped up in their world. Having said that, I came back after a day of work and a food shop to find a bomb site. They rush around and at the moment they’re treating home like an all inclusive hotel! Or they’ll cook for themselves feeling great about the achievement I’m sure :) and then pile what they’ve used on top of the bomb site. Having a dishes rota is great when it works! I’ve taken photos and whatsapped them that we need a house meeting as it’s not fair on me. I do it with a little humour and admit that I’m not perfect. Maybe unpick what’s behind the behaviour and try to change something that might ease it. Is there a common thread? Maybe the run up to the event took its toll on you all emotionally. I miss them when they’re not around and try to make the most of these precious years (but that doesn’t occur to me in the midst of I’m-not-your-servant-gate!) Thanks for a great blog, so good to take a step back and reflect. Wishing strength, calm and many wonderful moments to you and all BM. Look after you. LP ***

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Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 6:55 p.m.

Thanks, LP. Your reply made me smile. We are on the same page. Being mean Mum when you only have them half the week is tough but I will get there. Your experience was so helpful. X

Orangeblossom

July 10, 2018, 6:50 a.m.

Thanks BrumMum. These difficult times don’t last forever. Your blog took me back some years when my kids bickered endlessly. I twice threaded, & carried out the threat to bang their silly heads together. Didn’t lessen the noise but they turned their anger & hostility onto me. Also set up a dreadful catawailing. The noise was awful. My son brings this up from time to time in jest. Hope that you have a bicker free week ahead.

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Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 6:56 p.m.

Thank you. Will make sure I don't bang heads!!

The Gardener

July 10, 2018, 8:07 a.m.

Hello Brum Mum - I wrote a blog on 'childhood' on 15th April - ellicited considerable response, quite a bit of it 'hostile'. We are a case study on nature and nurture, having three sons born to us and two adopted mix-race daughters (adopted from tiny babies, so there was never any 'rupture'). However, a huge sadness, the 2nd adopted is estranged - blames us for everything, even the break-up of her marriage. Looking at photos she had a very happy childhood, the same facilities/chances as all the others. She has, close friends tell me, always felt 'rejected' when things go wrong.

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The Gardener

July 10, 2018, 8:11 a.m.

Mr G would not discipline the girls when they were teen-agers in case they left home, they did anyway. I try not to be bitter, because he regards the estrangement as 'good riddance', because whenever she broke off with somebody she'd phone and 'cry on my shoulder' over the phone - never to her dad, of course. 4 out of 5 dropped out of school or college, all fine now, but the headaches! There is no way I could or would give advice - just 'be there' and do the best for that child at that time depending on your means and their needs. Good luck! xx

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Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 7:01 p.m.

Dear TG thank you for sharing. Very honest. Don't be scared of negative responses. They feel awful when you expose yourself to the world but they are only someone else's opinion. Last year I took my two, my new partner, who is British black, and his nephew, who is mixed race, away for a week in the Gower.Wow that was interesting. Stressful for me but everyone else had a great time. Thanks for your advice xx

The Gardener

July 10, 2018, 8:14 a.m.

And try and have a good laugh when the most obstreperous teenager, in his 30's, tells you that you should have been stricter with him!

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Hope

July 10, 2018, 8:58 a.m.

Hello Bruno Mum, For parenting tips I recommend listening to 'zen parenting radio'. I think the 'awareness' parenting they promote is idea for anyone struggling with mental wellness. It is essentially getting yourself to a good place & then sharing it with your kids. No quick fixes or do\don't do just good old fashioned self care & then broadening it out to parenting. For me it was a revelation but I must admit not many people I have recommended it to even tried it ? Well I keep sharing the message because I find it really helpful so maybe you will too. One quote that I thought of when I read your blog was 'even the dalai lama would blow his top after 3 snow days with 2 x 4 year olds. He would just be better at giving himself compassion after he'd done it'? There is no Buddhist connection it's just a couple from Chicago who do the podcast. It's a bit ' American' for British ears at the start but you get used to that & sticking with it is well worth it. Bon courage & love???

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Hope

July 10, 2018, 8:59 a.m.

Oops I meant Brum Mum not Bruno! Don't you just love autocorrect!

Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 7:02 p.m.

Hope thank you, I will look it up. X

Lexi

July 10, 2018, 12:33 p.m.

Hi Brummum! your post today resonated with me. I have one daughter and I am going through a divorce. I have been knocked out by a serious cold for the past two days. It's summer here and my daughter is home and while she is sweet and can entertain herself for periods at a time, she still needs my attention. Yesterday I thought " what if I were seriously ill and I had more than one child? Could I do it?" She has seen me depressed and she is a sweet, compassionate child. I know she doesn't have the perfect childhood but I do the best that I can, and when I am feeling better I do try to make it up to her. I think that's all we can do: do our best, be ourselves, give ourselves a break when we need it, and know that we'll be there again one day 100% for our kids. You're an amazing, kind, compassionate mom. Bravo :) xo Lexi

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Brum Mum

July 10, 2018, 7:03 p.m.

Thank you, Lexi. So are you!! Xx

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Salt Water Mum

July 11, 2018, 7:05 a.m.

Dear Brum Mum, I am late to this but wanted to respond. I hear you! I too and separated and am essentially solo parenting my children who are a teen and a pre-teen. It's not easy! As well as working and all the daily life challenges. I find now, their demands are bigger, their wants are more expensive (!) and their attitude less sweet and caring. Naturally - they are hormonal!! On good days, it's okay, I can mostly manage, but on a 'sad' day, it all gets too much...too overwhelming. That's when I tend to react to small hiccups in a huge way. I can even feel me doing it but can't stop myself. My anxiety rises and then the whole world seems out of kilter and out of proportion and it's hard for them to understand. I barely understand myself ! When I am like this, I now tell my kids that I feel low, that I am not feeling well and that I need a bit of space. I heard my son the other day tell his sister that he 'needs a bit of space' !! so my words have been heard! Of course they don't understand, and being teens and pre-teens, they don't really care (as long as I'm still alright enough!!) but it's up to me to take the step back, to show compassion for me when my anxiety and sadness hits, it's not up to others. At the end of the day, it's only me who knows how I feel. Same for you Brum mum. Hope, I like that sound of that zen parenting, I am going to tune in too, thank you. Lexi, I am thinking of you, It's an extremely difficult time for you. I will never forget how hard it was but you are on the road now and you will get through it. Stay strong. You're doing great. LP - I'm-not-your-servant-gate !! love it! I have said it many times! I now hear myself say expressions that my mother used to say to me!! Brum mum, thank you for your blog. Take care. SWM x

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Shizzle

July 14, 2018, 11:44 a.m.

Hi BM. Very late reply but I wanted to make sure I commented. Huge solidarity here. I have 2 year old twins and although life around us seems alright the sad and hard days come. I've already started to tell them that mummy feels a bit sad today and to keep talking to them about feelings. I'm hopeful that in time it'll help. I'm a pretty reasonable human these days but as a teenager I was awful. I, too, would be good as gold at school and then let rip at home. One of my teachers once told my mum that it was actually a sign of a good upbringing and safe environment that I knew I ought to behave and concentrate at school but that I felt safe enough at home to explode. I certainly couldn't stand my parents as a teenage but I see now, looking back, that they probably did the best they could, they gave me more freedom than I ever gave them credit for. Having hated it at the time, I will probably parent my girls in the same way. Apparently one day I told my mum that I'd start being nice at home again and from then onwards I was. I wish the same for you. I know it seems so useless at the time, the old parenting adage of "it soon shall pass" may be applicable here. Sending solidarity and thank you for your blog. I'm sorry to hear of your father. xx

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