Dear Dr. Meg,
I am a mother of boys. One is 3 and the other is 2. They are 15 months apart. I was an only child to a single mother with no financial support so she had to work and I had very little knowledge of child rearing. Thanks to the help of my church family I’m a little tougher with discipline. My husband tries to help but works ALOT to support us and I feel alone and frustrated. I try very hard to keep up but my mind wears out and I want to hide in my closet. I take meds for depression and anxiety and it helps some. They fight and wine constantly. My oldest is very strong willed and doesn’t do very well with change. It really sets him back. My youngest would be pretty compliant but does everything his brother does. I’ve bought all of Dr. Dobson’s books but I barely have time to shower, much less read. I want to be a kind gentle mother and create peace in my home but I spend my time disciplining and overwhelmed. They are not content to play they want my attention constantly. The only way I get them to be quiet and still is to let them watch TV. I just want to gain control but I can’t seem to get ahead…I’m never caught up, and if I almost do something, I am knocked right back to where I started. Please help.
Dear Desperate Mom,
Take a big deep breath. I understand what you are going through and it’s not easy! Battling depression and anxiety are hard enough but are especially challenging when you have two little ones underfoot. Here’s what I suggest you do.
First, you MUST figure out a way to get some alone time. I would like to see you ask someone like a high school student, family member or girlfriend take your kids for 2-3 hours two afternoons per week, to give you a break. That person can either come to your house or you can take your kids to theirs. You must be brave enough to tell a family member or friend that you need help, because you do. The best thing that you can do for your kids is to help yourself be a little happier and getting a break two times per week would do that. If you don’t start taking better are of yourself, you will have nothing to offer your kids. So please, get away from them for a few hours at least twice per week. When you are alone, go for a walk, sit in your room and pray, take a bath. Anything that will help you relax.
Second, find one hour each afternoon and tell the boys that they have to stay in their rooms for quiet time. They will not want to do it at first, but they need quiet time too. They may be irritable because they are tired and are getting too much stimulation. So, make a time in the afternoon when they have to be in their rooms either napping or playing quietly. Have them listen to music, a story tape or anything quiet.
Third, hang on. This very hard stage will pass, I promise. You are in the worst of it right now. Your boys don’t hate each other, they’re just boys. Once they get in school and spend time apart, they will settle down. If you tell your self at the beginning of each day to just get through today and not worry about tomorrow (as scripture says) then you will begin to feel God’s strength.
Fourth, don’t feel like a bad Mom. When kids fight, we moms feel like we’re doing something terribly wrong and this isn’t true. Some kids just fight a lot! So continue to follow Dr. Dobson’s advice and over time, it will work. But remember, your boys won’t change in a month or two, but over years.
You will get through this but you need to be nicer to yourself. Keep praying, ask for help from friends or get someone else to help you for a while and you will get ahead. Try to do only what you really need to get done during the day. You will have more days than you’ll want to clean your house and catch up on chores when your boys are in school, so don’t worry about all of that stuff now. And remember, you are a better mom than you feel like because you are being really hard on yourself. You will raise Godly boys and you have about 16 more years with them to practice! So relax.