I’ve written before about my situation with being divorced & having difficulty with my DD 6. I feel like both my girls (DD2 also) are just getting more ingrained with bad habits…especially the basics of obedience & respectful attitude. DD6 also refuses to focus unless it suits her…she’s able but just does it if there’s nothing she would rather do. I’m completely stressed & never get a good nights sleep b/c they both come to my bed every night. I’m too worn out to battle that so just let them stay to squish, kick or ask me for water throughout the night. I’m at my wit’s end. I can’t do it all & feel that I’m messing up so much with/for my girls. I don’t have any real support other than my parents who already care for my girls all weekend while I work plus fix things around my house as able. They are also close to 70. Since I’m divorced & work weekends, it has been difficult to find church based support. I’m hoping to get involved with a good homeschool group but that seems to be difficult as well in that they tend to do mom things on weekends when they have husbands home to care for the kids. I’m saying I need support & a break but see no real hope for this…other people can’t help raise my children. I wish I had a Super Nanny without having to be on TV. I thought about getting Laying Down The Rails but 1) not sure it is specific enough with training ideas to help me & 2) it probably wouldn’t help b/c the problem is me…I’m stressed, hurt, angry & drained so don’t handle things well. I have plenty of knowledge & understanding of these things but am unable to carry them out well. Anyone been here, done this & have ideas so that next year of school (well life) can go better? I’m beginning to think my most reasonable choice (the one I least want) is to put them in school, preschool next year or go an anti-depressant to see if that improves my mood so I’m less inclined to feel angry. Anyone want to be my personal Super Nanny for a few weeks ; )
((HUGS)) Sounds like a tough situation. I would do 3 things.
Pray. I’m sure you are.
Drop everything for your 6yo school-wise but absolute basics. Then find a wonderful read-aloud and read together. She’s going through every bit as many changes as you are and so she needs school to seem almost too easy and fun while she works through it.
SuperNanny has a book, believe it or not. I saw it at my library, so check yours… you never know, it may help!
Betsy, my first piece of advice would be to remember that you can’t fix everything at once. If you are anything like me, you want to do everything NOW and then get discouraged because you can’t. Make a list of a few things that you need to work on. Prioritize the list and start with number one. Don’t move on to number two until you feel confident with number one. Yes, it will take a long time and a lot of effort, but think about where you will be in six months versus where you will be if you do nothing. Number one thing to work on, in my opinion, they need to sleep in their beds so that you can get some downtime to unwind and be by yourself. I adore my children, but I MUST have an hour of quiet every afternoon when no one is speaking to me. And at night, after 8:30 they are in bed and that’s when I unwind and think. If I am tense and stressed, the whole house is tense and stressed. Know what I mean? You need to get to a place where you and your children can enjoy each other. I know this situation is really hard. My parents were divorced and my mom worked full time and took care of us. We went to school, but I know it was still a lot of work for her, especially with no help from my dad. I wish I could offer you more help. If there is some specific piece of child training that you need help with, perhaps someone here can give you more specific advice. And I totally agree with Tristan about the 6 year old’s school, BTW. There is so little “schooling” that they really need at that age.
Thanks for the feedback! My girls go to sleep in their own beds most nights (sometimes I choose to put them to bed with me for various reasons) but come to my room during the night. Though not consistently, I have tried putting them back in their room but wind up giving up b/c my youngest melts down like nobody’s business, & I’m so tired I’m extremely irritable about it so just give up rather than fighting out the battle. She was fine from birth to about 4 months then all went downhill until 10 months then ok until she moved to big girl bed at around 2yo b/c she had a taste of a big girl bed at my parents & started being resistant the crib so moved her & my oldest together…not exactly sure when the nightly visits started b/c think I still was able to get some nights by myself but my ex was also still in the home so sometimes my oldest would go in the room with him. I am curious as well…how do you go about developing the habits in a “gentle” way? I saw another post about starting with attention then obedience then truthfulness. This sounds reasonable for us, but I’m really unsure on how to do this practically & in a way that doesn’t come across negatively b/c I get so frustrated with these things. I think I could just read a literature book to them each day, do a science project some days (DD6 loves this), complete chores, bake/cook some days & work on developing these 3 habits one at a time while doing these things. I can’t let the house go b/c, while I’ve generally not been the type to be very bothered by a little messiness, my stress level is so significant now I can’t deal with the messes very well (not so much messes made while doing activities/projects but just messes, clutter being around). My 2yo fancies herself very self-sufficient so will grab food out of the pantry, off counter & bite through the package even if I’m in the middle of getting her something to eat, climbs to get what she wants, changes outfits all day long like she’s in a fashion show (including knocking down clothes I’ve hung up or unfolding what I’ve folded) etc. My 6yo can do things on her own like this but doesn’t usually make the messes…though makes her own type messes (usually dirt & bug related lol). So, taking those things into consideration…any ideas? Anyway…rambling some…sometimes just need to vent to process through things : )
Besty, I am sorry things are so hard right now. I agree with pslivey – I think it would help to work first on getting more sleep. Remember being a mother of a newborn and how constant sleep deprivation made everything worse? There’s something about not getting enough sleep that magnifes everything in almost everyone! I imagine your girls are probably not sleeping real well either. I have yet to encounter a person who is not negativly affected by lack of sleep, (some might be able to tolerate lack of sleep better than others, but I think it still hurts them). I’m not trying to make light of your suituation at all. There’s nothing worse than asking for help and feeling like you’re misunderstood! I am not a single parent myself, so I can’t say I relate directly, but my parents divorced when I was in grade school.This might sound a bit odd, but I’m going to say it anyway. Tell your girls you love them. (While you know you do – and they know you do – there are times they need to hear it out loud. Frequently!) Sometimes children just don’t FEEL loved, even when they are. Especially when things are hard and they are hurting. If nothing else good happens today, let them know they are loved by God and by their mother. You could add in their grandparents or any other family members who care for you and your family. Try a verbal reminder of who loves and cherishes them daily. My parents did this with my siblings and I (for years actually). While their separation hurt, I knew they still loved me.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest something else, your relationship with your daughters is much more important than anything else. Especially right now. They may not remember what books they read, or the house being picked up or eating cereal for dinner (we did that yesterday) but they will remember YOU! Your relationship is important much more than school (Tristan’s suggestion in that area is excellent) and even more than habit training – here’s the limb I’m climbing onto… It is entirely possible to train a child to obey and end up with one is obdient and has a fine character to boot, but ultimaltey have an individual who has no desire for a realtionship with their parent or worse still a relationship with God. I guess where I’m going is that of course you shouldn’t allow them to misbehave, but at the same time guard your relationship so you have the abilty to train them effectivly so they are willing to recieve your guidence. It sounds like you already know what you want to do in this area, but need help carrying it out which of course would be ten times easier with more sleep, and less stress etc. etc. etc.)I hope that you get some more good suggestions from the other wonderful ladies on the forum. Summer is coming, so if you are not doing school year-round you could try focusing more on getting life back together. Habits, routines etc. Another thought is to find or start doing something together with your girls you all enjoy, those kinds of things, no matter what they are (books, cookie baking, camping etc) are relationship balm. Give yourself some time and grace and patience.
You can do it. Your family will make it. You are a good mother. They will be okay and so will you!
I must have just posted at the same time you were! Your plan for school and habits sounds good. I recall that attention is one of the first habits because a child must be able to listen first in order to obey. (Sorry for my spelling errors in the previous post)
Betsy, I agree with the sleep issue morgrace mentioned. A good night’s sleep makes a WORLD of difference. When you put your girls to bed and tuck them in, try praising them for at least one thing they did well during the day. This will help both you and them – you will *have* to focus on the good stuff, and they will feel like you notice them so the poor behavior will eventually become less and less necessary (use that loosely) for them to get attention. In our house the praise time looks like this: I tuck in and say, “A, I am very proud of how well you held your tongue today when you were angry with your sister. You talked to her and worked it out in a very grown-up manner. I’m proud of the choice you made.” Your girls are younger, so perhaps your wording might be a bit different, but hopefully that gives you the idea of what I’m talking about.
Also, if they want to join you in your room, is there enough room in your bedroom to get one of those futon chairs – the ones that are all fabric and unfold to make a bed? I have seen them at Walmart and other places from time to time, and had one when I was younger. Anyway, they may come into your room to be close to you at the moment while they adjust, but they must sleep on the futon or cushions or whatever you ultimately can find to make a space for them.
Also, how about a bedtime water bottle for each child? There are some that have the sip feature that don’t spill. The water bottles can sit next to them in their room, and if they need a drink, it’s right there.
And finally, if you can get a few minutes in the morning and evening by yourself to breathe deeply – before the girls wake and after bed, as well as get some sleep, you may feel like a whole different mommy. I know that you probably know that. I don’t know if you are able to get up before them or not, but do try. For instance, if they wake before 7:00 am, teach them to recognize the number 7 (cover the other #’s on a digital clock) and place it in their room. If they are in your bed and wake when you do, tell them they need to go play quietly in their rooms until the number reaches 7. If they do this without your constant intervention/ redirection, you should have a special treat for them on the mornings that they do as you have asked – like perhaps reading from a favorite book or reciting some of their favorite nursery rhymes and songs at breakfast. Anything that will give them immediate feedback for desirable behavior.
And finally, though I can’t be there to help you, you and your daughters are in my prayers, Betsy. Early childhood rearing can be very draining upon occasion. It is even moreso when you are the sole provider for them. (((Betsy)))
May God bless the desires of your mommy heart,
Hugs! I wish I could give you one in real life!
My first thoughts were similar to the others. Quality sleep has a huge impact! I really loved the idea of ‘co-sleeping’ when my oldest DD was a baby, but I quickly learned that I simply don’t sleep well without my own space. My compromise was to allow a child to sleep in the room with me, if they needed that closeness, but they couldn’t spend the night in my bed. If you have space you could put a small mattress (the crib mattress would work if you still have it) on the floor beside your bed for when your girls come to your room. I have often just set up a little nest with a few fleece blankets to make a soft space for my DD to sleep beside me. A special sleeping bag could work to make it exciting. Then train your girls to use it. Explain that Mommy needs to have her own bed to sleep, but that they are welcome to sleep beside you. Then you can all get more sleep and feel better and have more fun the next day.
Then, make sure that your girls get as much time as possible to snuggle with you. My kids all wake up at different times, so I often spend a good chunk of time cuddling in our rocking chair in the morning, as each child wakes up and comes out to find me. If that doesn’t work in the morning, perhaps an afternoon quiet time where they each get a turn to sit with you. With the upheavals in your family, young children will have an even greater need for that physical contact to help them feel secure. If you can find ways to fill that need, hopefully you can get your bed back and get the sleep you need. I bet it will make a huge difference.
I also agree that school doesn’t need to be the priority right now. Just taking good care of yourself and your girls is what’s important. You have years and year to worry about science and history! If you are all in the mood for some good living books, read them. If not, just get outside and enjoy being together. The closer you are all feeling as a family, the easier it will be to work on habits of obedience. This is one I have to remember. I often get wrapped up in my own thoughts and work, and don’t take time to just be with my kids and connect with them. That’s when we start having trouble.
Finally, if you are not able to make connections at church or other activities on the weekends, can you set up some time during the week to be with other adults? I regularly arrange trips to the playground with other homeschooling families (or families from church who have preschoolers) or invite people to my house for playdates. It’s fun for the kids, but it’s mostly for me. I need that time to build friendships and just chat with other moms. I’ve learned to accept that my house may not be perfect for ‘guests’, but that most moms understand and really don’t care whether my floor has been vacuumed in the past 24 hours. I just invite them over anyway. I’ve also learned that most people don’t make the effort to arrange activities, but will usually come if I do. At first I was discouraged that I always had to be the one to take the initiative and do the inviting, but now I just accept that people are busy. I need that time to be social, so I’m going to make it happen!
I hope you find some solutions that work for you and lower some of the stress.
Fortunately, your oldest is still young enough so that a slower start with school won’t adversely affect her. I think it was the Moore’s (early proponents of home education) who recommended waiting until age 8 or so to really begin serious educational pursuits in most areas. At your daughter’s age, kids seem to discover so many wonderful things on their own or with very little guidance from parents.
I have been functioning as a single parent for 5.5 years now. (I say “functioning as” because my husband and I are still married, but we live apart and he has chosen to create another “family” by living with another woman.) We live with my 85-year old father, my middle child (ds 12) has mild autism–which makes for a lot of stress, aggressive behavior from him, sometimes destroying our things or walls, furniture, you name it–and all of the nonsense that goes along with not having a traditional, intact two-parent family. I feel for you. It is a lot of work and responsibility for one woman to bear.
I agree with previous posters that you need to prioritize, and I think getting them to sleep in their own beds at night is high on the list. You need your sleep, and so do they. I have watched SuperNanny (yeah, it was great to watch it and think, “Well, at least my kids don’t do THAT!” LOL!), and I recall her technique for getting them to stay in their own beds. I believe it started by telling them in a firm but pleasant and calm voice, “Tonight, you are sleeping in your own beds.” Then she had the mom go through their bedtime routine (story, prayers, etc.) put them in bed, turn out the lights, then go out of the room. When the kids got out of bed (even if the parents were in bed themselves), she said to them, “It’s bedtime, darling” and put them back in bed. The second time, she only says, “It’s bedtime” and puts them to bed again. Any further times out of bed, she puts them back without saying ANYTHING AT ALL.
I remember seeing shows where this took maybe 20+ trips back to bed and maybe 90 minutes or more…..but eventually, they fell asleep…..in their own beds. Exhausting? Oh, yes, indeed! But I would rather spend a couple of hours draining my reserves knowing that this will allow for many, many hours of necessary, blessed sleep in the future. And, of course, that bedtime scenario was probably challenged a few times down the road, but if it was met with the same determination as the first time, the kids will get the message. They’ll also get a better night’s sleep and a more relaxed, well-rested Mommy.
I find that the less time I spend thinking about the things I don’t have or that aren’t readily available (like time out with friends, husband support, everything running smoothly at once), the more joy I have over what is in my life right now. I cherish what I have, enjoying a good laugh with my children, sharing a good movie with them (who cares if it’s not at the theater but a dvd in the living room….who cares if it’s a children’s movie instead of the latest Hollywood box office hit?), even our simple nature walks in the park where we can all breathe in deeply the fresh air.
This is a tough time for you. I would also suggest that one good thing you can do for your entire family is to find a way to appropriately deal with your anger. It’s not a sin to feel angry, but the Bible tells us to be angry and do not sin (Ephesians 4:26-27), so we need to be careful how we act upon those angry feelings. For you, help may come through counseling, talking regularly to a friend who will hold you accountable for things, or maybe reading a good book that touches on these issues. If you can awaken joy within yourself through a period of healing, your children will notice and respond to it. Don’t be too hard on yourself; everyone makes mistakes (especially when under a lot of stress or lacking proper sleep), but you are still a terrific mom who loves her children dearly. Allow time for healing, work on what you can, and things will improve over time.
I’d like to say that after more than 5 years as a single parent, things are just peachy. A few things are still horrible, maybe something is even worse, but many things are at least on their way to better, and we’ve conquered enough to rejoice about. Most of all, I am still very sure that God has called me to homeschool my children, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
Blessings to you, I will pray for your situation.
I only have a minute…but I re-stumbled across this article this morning and it made me think of you and your situation…hope it might be of some help and encouragement. Hugs and prayers, Betsy.
I couldn’t read through all the posts so if I have mentioned the same thing please forgive. I understand completely what you are going through. I will keep you in my prayers because right now it a very difficult, emotional time. It willl get better but you must suffer through it and ask G-d for guidance daily, ok hourly, or by the minute!
I have also had some similar problems with my son getting into things. He would change his clothes often. He would destroy a clean room in a matter of seconds I am talking “Ground Zero”.
I know that if you can get the clothes in a locked cabinet that may help. Just let the princess have a few pretty dresses to change into for dress up. Then she won’t be trying to get into the cabinet. We put ours in the laundry room. I would only let them put their clothes on in the morning and at night. I had to put a lock on it at first until they realized it wasn’t for play.
I also think if they get into food you may have to lock that up too. My son would get into anything with sugar and eat everything in site. This may not be your child but in case it is that would be another thing I would lock up.
I would also have a lock installed on my bedroom door. If you have one use it. Tell the girls you will be locking it at night because you need a good night sleep. If they get up in the middle of the night Don’t let them in. Snore Louder if you have too. 😉 This way they will get the hint. If you let them in once they WILL come back and bug you until you let them in. Even if they are keeping you up all night Don’t open the door! I would suggest trying this technique on days where you can sleep in the next morning. Just in case they do keep you up all night. 😉
As for schooling. If you think this is to much you may want to go to another curriculm before sending them to public school. I might suggest ACE Paces. I know this isn’t a the ideal thing and others may not agree with me but if it keeps you sane then maybe it is for you. Just incase you are having issues that you feel are to overwhelming. Know that you can always come back to it. We all go threw different changes threw out our lives. Only you know what you can handle. Look for ways to lighten your load and ask G-d for wisdom, patiences, and knowledge on every situation you run across. He promises you that he will give you if you just ask.
Blessings! and I will keep you in my prayers……..
Great ideas y’all! Sue, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I too have been going through this for a long time (6 years in June so most of my oldest DD’s life) & the situation is not all that dissimilar to yours except it has been woman after woman. I just told him he could no longer live with us last November. It is nice to know that there are others who homeschool & face similar things (though yours sounds more challenging than mine) & are navigating these challenges well. Not that I like that anyone has to face such difficulties, but it can feel like most others have lives that are what they want (within reason) & mine fell apart for no reason other than my ex-husband’s issues…yet my children & I SEEM to be paying all the price. I understand & agree with the anger & have tried to move forward with this…it’s ultimately hurt, trauma & grief…but to no consistent avail as of yet.
To all of you, thank you so much for your prayers! I have actually been much calmer with my children the last day (hey, anything is progress lol) & perhaps that is your prayers helping. This group seems to have the kindest, most compassionate, godly hearts & offers feedback in such a graceful way. Thank you!
Chocodog (I was trying my best this morn to figure out what that name might stand for lol), I actually haven’t started CM methods yet. My DD has been in online public school but is basically done with all her K work so not putting much effort into the 1st grade work b/c I get too crazy with it & push too hard. This is one of the reasons for moving to traditional homeschool (not a real problem with the school but my personality is a problem with it lol), & my hope is that CM will be an approach that doesn’t trigger these negative parts of my personality : )
I do have a few questions in how y’all handle (or would if had this situation) things in a gentle, CM manner…DD6 is great at pushing my buttons (not that it takes much these days) so sometimes I don’t know if she’s doing things to aggravate or truly doesn’t know the answer. A few examples: 1) we were doing $ the other day. She knows the names & values of the coins & has been consistently relating these for a fair amount of time. So, she goes through a few questions that have adding up different coins which includes a nickel…she does great…then suddenly tells me she doesn’t know the name or value of a nickel. She calls it all the other names, even says it is worth .02 (as if there’s ever been a coin worth that…arrrggghh!). 2) I’ll be having her read out loud (reads probably at a 2nd to 3rd grade level), & she’ll come to a word (oftentimes a very simple word compared to many she easily reads) then say she doesn’t know it. I tell her to sound it out, look at picture clues, etc. She just won’t. She’ll either do nothing or keeping making random guesses (ex. word the other day was ‘ended’. She had just read ‘end’ the page before so I covered up the ‘ed’ & asked her to read it but still wouldn’t put forth what I felt was genuine effort.) I get frustrated b/c I see the refusal to sound it out or use the skills she has learned as disobedience since she knows how to do these things, & I’m telling her to. I don’t know what to do when she starts this stuff. I tell myself I’ll back off next time but wind up getting caught up in it & seeing it as her being disobedient or trying to get out of something. I’m wondering if I had a specific plan for how to move on yet come back to this that would address any potential issue that she is doing this to get out of the work to do something else then maybe I could let go at that time (my yucky personality stuff popping up). Does that make sense? I guess what I’m saying is that she doesn’t do something well for whatever reason (not understanding, truly lacking the knowledge, not having solidified the knowledge or just being challenging b/c wants to do something else), & I wind up pushing to get it to that ‘perfectly executed’ place when maybe it’s better to stop, move on & come back to it later…I just don’t know how this looks practically. Could you give me examples using math, reading, etc., what you say to stop the lesson & let them know it will be brought back at a later point then when you bring it back? Sorry, this is just how my brain thinks…I can take clear ideas then create my own from that but can’t do much with ‘just come back to it later’ lol. I’m going to try to just completely back off right now (i.e. have her read to me then just tell her any word she doesn’t know or acts like she doesn’t) in order to improve our relationship first but am asking about this for when we re-start school (maybe July).
Betsy, how long are you “doing” each lesson with her? Could she just be getting tired of having to work too long? It does take time to get the habit of attention. CM recommended very short lessons (about 15 min depending on the child) for the kids in the early grades. When she starts that and you have been having good results until then, maybe that is her signal that she needs to do something else. If you just stop when she does it and go to the next thing, it might avoid some of the scenes/behaviors you both need to avoid.
In the beginning of the year, I was pushing lessons too long b/c I didn’t know any better, & her lessons in the online public school were 45min + (no explanation to divide those up into smaller chunks of time). Since reading on CM, I’ve tried to keep to the 15-20 min rule. She can start this at the beginning of doing something with her. I’m sure some of that has to do with how I’ve made things stressful prior to trying to change my approach.
I’m not much help on getting through your school situations. I would love to hear others advice on that as well ’cause it seems we’re in the same boat daily!!
As for the sleep, my DD’s used to come and get in bed with us almost every night and I didn’t get any sleep. I guess I wasn’t as nice as everyone else. I didn’t set up a special bed for them. I just told them that I couldn’t get any sleep if they were in my bed and Mommy needed her sleep too. If they wanted to lay down with a blanket beside my bed they could do that. I usually had an extra blanket on the end of the bed so they wouldn’t be cold. If they didn’t want to, then I told them they could get back in their own bed. After a while they quit waking me up and I’d get up in the morning to find them sleeping on the floor. If I woke up during the night and found them on my floor I’d carry them back to their bed. Eventually thay have started staying in their own beds.
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