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Old 08-04-2016, 01:50 PM   #1
3Munchkins77 Female
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angel Feeling overwhelmed

Hi everyone,

Like many parents I have my good and bad days but it seems like I'm having more bad than good. I made the decision to leave and by doing so I walked away with absolutly nothing 2 years ago and have rebuilt my life the best way I could.

I meet new challanges every day and battle old ones and a day never goes by that I question my abilities as a single parent. I must admit I'm tired of hearing from strangers "How do you do it? You're a super Mom".

I feel exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed and frustrated. I thrive on structure and routine and if I fail to clean my house I get aggitaed. If I let a day go by without tidying the house it looks like a tornado has hit my house .

Their father only wants to see them every other weekend, never calls them, and is so detatched from them. He remarried less than a year after we left and thankfully his new wife wants to do more for our children than their own father.

My youngest son is displaying some bad behavior, very sensitive, frustrated, makes up lies to et his siblings in trouble, screams and yells. This is slowly driving me crazy. He's so different than my other two and I try different approaches but alas they don't seem to work.

I try individul date nights with my children, one gets to stay up later and we spend quality time together. Group activities, but due to the age gaps some are more difficult to do with the attention spans.

Can anyone offer advice/suggestions to help build stronger relationships?

Son 9 - He's incredibly sensitive, tries to rule the roost, wants to make me happy and always seeking approval. The divorse has affected him more than the other two and feels abaondoned by his father. He attaches himself to my male friends seeking male attenion.

Daughter 8 - Independent, good relationship with her older brother, when her older brother isnt around she is very patient with her younger brother and very motherly. She's also a shi* disturber .

Son 5 - He's an emotional wreck, emotions are all over the place, one minute hes happy the next screaming and crying, bad temper. Usually he is a happy boy, loves to cuddle, artistic, creative and independent.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

It sounds like you are doing lots of good things which as yet, have not paid dividends. I bet a lot of this is due the situation and he cannot express his pains and hurts from things. It comes out as bad behaviour but is really frustration for him. Is there a way to get him to counselling? Sometimes they can help unlock ways to let kids vent these feelings.
One thing is that he must be comfortable with you to display these things. He knows you will be there so is "safe" to be less than perfect knowing you will be there for him.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

As an aside, I have found that I can very easily look at the house and not worry if a tornado hit! LOL Our place is definitely lived in!
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

I actually took it upon myself to take them to a psychiatrist and work with him specifically with play therapy. I'm continuously working with something that is called emotional regulation training. I'm definitely noticing a cycle of his behavior change and when he returns from visitation with his father.

When the children are at their fathers they are not allowed to call me as he doesn't think that after spending 2 weeks with me that they need to miss me and feel the need to call. They come home usually happy with their visit but Express feelings of concern about not being able to sleep because they were not allowed to call. They can't even talk about me in front him.

How about you take all of the kids and I can come and clean for you .
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

Cleaning calms me ..
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Old 08-04-2016, 09:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

3Munckins,
Welcome to SFV--and it sounds like you're doing all the right things--keeping your routine stable, getting your baby boy into play therapy (awesome). I agree with Muskie, likely your youngest can't articulate the grief/frustration/upset feelings that come with a divorce, so it's coming out in concerning behavior. Hang in there and keep being the stable force!

As for the kids not being able to call you--that's on dad, that's not on you. I'm sorry he is being that way. If there's no legal language in your decree about having phone access to each other, then I guess the best way to couch it would be--i'm sorry you can't call me, just know that i'm always thinking of you and always love you. When you look up at the sky, know I'm under the same sky loving you. The rules are different at dad's house, and sometimes you might not like them.

etc etc.

it sounds like the dad is very insecure, thinking of himself over the kids. (My ex does the same thing--he thinks the kids shouldn't miss me because they're with me more and message that with the kids all the time. it's very frustrating). Hang in there!!!

Keep being there for your kids--at least they have one stable parent!
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Old 08-05-2016, 07:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

My kids had to get used to different rules or ways of doing things when my ex walked and that transition when they would come back home was hard on them. Time and patience sure helped ease them thru that period. As difficult as it is for us grown ups, it must be 10x as difficult for our kids to adjust, so I do try to keep that in mind.
I love BW's line about looking up at the stars and thinking.....I had to do things like that for the kids so they'd know they were on my mind even when not at home.
I do think you are doing the right things, it just needs time to work.

As for the cleaning......LOL.
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Old 08-05-2016, 07:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

Thank you Bluewave Your comment about the sky brought a big smile to my face.

It's unfortunate that their father does not feel the same for his children as I do nor wants the emotional stability.

My youngest's behavior has turned for the worse since their last visit. I had arranged to meet my ex at 4 p.m. at our old residence. Unfortunately my phone had died whereas he wanted to confirm that he was not going to take the children on the holiday Monday. Being that I was not able to confirm he stayed in the house and refused to come out for an hour and a half until I text him saying that I would take them on the Monday. I went out and bought a a charger for my vehicle so that I was able to communicate with him. The children were banging on the doors trying to gain his attention and they felt abandoned. We left and came back 15 minutes later and the children were able to gain access through the side door. When they found their father hiding in the basement he stated that he was trying to fix the leak in the bathroom. When he finally came outside to gather their things he put the blame on me saying that there was a miscommunication and that it was my fault. I've since dealt with the issue with my children but they still feel like their father didn't want them.

After two years of being separated and him being remarried I would have hoped that the games would stop, apparently not. I indulge in wine it helps LOL
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Old 08-05-2016, 07:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

Muskiedad - I see more now than I did in the beginning of how they are dealing with the separation of their father and I. It comes out in relationships with other adults and even with friends.

I've dated a little but nobody has met my children. Although I do have some male friends that come for visits and it blows my mind how much my children urne for male attention. He breaks my heart that their father doesn't give them enough attention and I feel that in the future this may cease to be an issue.
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Old 08-05-2016, 07:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

One thing I have learned is that we will inevitably measure ourselves and the way we parent against the other.....and sadly, the other usually comes up short. How many times did my guys come back from visiting their mother and I found homework not done? Improper diets ? Or how about I bought them eyeglasses and she bought them Ipods?
Then I realised it doesn't matter.....I would be doing "the right thing" regardless of whether she was still here or not. It does make me cherish the times I do spend with them and know that someday they will see thru all the "stuff" which goes on.
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Old 08-05-2016, 11:35 PM   #11
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

You're right; the only way I keep sane is by doing my best with my children and the rest will eventually fall into place.

I find it difficult to date having them full time. How does anyone find time?
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Old 08-06-2016, 01:14 AM   #12
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

It's a trade off......and when kids are not here, I'm just too tired to do much LOL. Also, since their mother has had live ins, revolving door type relationships, someone has to set a higher standard.
It really hit home when I was out with the kids at a restaurant and they played a game to name all their mothers ex boyfriends...it was pathetic that they were laughing at her.
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Old 08-06-2016, 01:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

Since I've started dating I cannot get over how so many can jump right back in the saddle so quickly. It seems like they're looking to fill a void. I fully understand what it's like to feel lonely albeit I needed time to heal and find myself again.

How old are your children Muskie? From what you've shared thus far; your children are lucky to have you
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Old 08-06-2016, 08:40 AM   #14
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

I have two teenagers and a 10 yr old. At times they act their age (for better or worse!) and at times I just shake my head!
I think we all heal at our own pace but others can't stand being alone and rush right back in there. It can be pretty sad at times to see the latter!
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Old 08-10-2016, 02:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

You have received some very positive, supportive comments!! I hope that you feel more hopeful! Being a single parent of three does require a heroic effort, I think most would agree. The needs of the kids are changing constantly and there is so much juggling. Even on a good day, you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Add in when things get difficult and the kids are in a bad place and you have maximum stress! You are not alone. Most of us single moms feel exactly as you do. We all get to a place where we wonder how we are going to pull it off. I hope I can help just a bit. I, too, like things in order and organized so I try to be really diligent about the house. I have found that a chaotic house causes me to have a chaotic mind!!! But that is not true for the kids and it is not the case for many moms! So I had to let go of some of that. When I can clean and keep things the way I would prefer, I go for it. But if it is interfering with me being a "presence" or becoming "too important" at the expense of other things, I sound the alarm in my mind and let it go. It is sort of like life. Most of the time, Plan A is not happening; in reality, it is Plan B and often Plan C. The house will be there and the cleaning will get done when it gets done.
As far as Dad, I am really sorry that he is not choosing to be more involved. I know this hurts A LOT! I know you are sad for the children and I can only imagine the insecurity and sadness that the kids my hold in their hearts. But you cannot change him! You can only change how you respond to it. For now, do not let your focus be on him. Kids need love and safety and nurturing and security and YOU are providing that. That is how they blossom. Refrain from negative comments about Dad as they will see truth and find their voice with the passage of time. For now, remind them how much you love them and let them see your support. It sounds like you are doing a good job of spending time with them and making them feel special.
Therapy is positive, it will help them express all the emotions they are feeling in a safe place. They are probably worried about you, so the older two are trying to be far braver than they need to be because they feel like they have to protect you. Your oldest son may feel like he needs to be the "man" in the house and that can be a lot of pressure for him. As the oldest, he also understands more. It is good to give him time with other male adults. Perhaps you can look into Big Brother Big Sister. If you belong to a church, it would be positive to reach out to your pastor and find out about a youth group for him. There are also support groups for kids of divorced parents. He wants a relationship with his dad and he is hurting. He is carrying a lot so any tools you can give him will be a tremendous help. If you have male relatives who will spend time, that is also a great option for your sons.
Girls can be tough emotionally. They tend to "mother" siblings even when it is definitely not wanted! They can point out everyone's mistakes and issues and never see their own! This will level out as she gets older; keep expressing your thanks for her help, remind her how special she is and keep loving her as you are. Girls look for their dad as well, so trying to control everything may be the way she is handling what she cannot control and the loss of her dad being around more.
Your youngest son may be acting out because he is FIVE!!! That is a tough age, they have one foot in being a baby still and one foot in wanting to be a big boy! Their emotions are all over the place. He cannot understand the loss of his Dad or the changes in the family. Continue to give him boundaries and remind him that he is loved and treasured. If your son continues to lie and act badly, be sure you give him immediate consequences that are reasonable. He will learn that these behaviors will not be tolerated.
It sounds like you are trying to advocate for your kids with their Dad, I admire your efforts. Keep Dad informed about their events and things that are happening in their life. You can ask him to be a part of things with them. He may refuse or stay distant, but you are reaching out FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR KIDS. They deserve that. You cannot control what happens after that.
If you are dating, I was not clear what "male friends" means, you might want to keep this part of your life private until you are sure that someone is committed and wants to be involved long-term. It is tough when kids attach themselves to someone who later is not around. This is another loss for them. It might be better to pursue the other options mentioned about having a male mentor in their lives.
Take some time for yourself. Call a family member or friend and ask if they will help with the kids. Go for a walk, take an exercise class, go for a cup of coffee or meet a girlfriend. You need adult time and this short break will help you. Be gentle with yourself and focus on your strengths, be forgiving of your weaknesses. Two years is not a long time and you are still trying to figure things out. Wishing you the best. Stay strong! Your kids are learning valuable life lessons because of YOU!!!!
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

Check out the Center for Women and Families as they have a wealth of info on laws in your state that the father of your children may be breaking, i.e. not allowing your children to call. That as far as I know is against the Parenting Time Guidelines. Moreover, the CFWF has a wonderful support group that can change your life (for the better!), just a phone call away. You're being the most amazing parent anyone could ask for and in the end your children will see that, as they always do. That isn't enough to say or hear and it isn't going to end your suffering through sacrifice overnight. But keep reaching out. You are not alone.
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Old 11-14-2016, 01:04 PM   #17
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

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Originally Posted by 3Munchkins77 View Post
Cleaning calms me ..
Me too.. I actually do a LOT of cleaning when I'm angry or resentful. Having the house in order gives me such a mood boost and things feel more in control. I am single mom of 5 myself so I totally get what you're going through.
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Old 11-17-2016, 02:43 AM   #18
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

Nice to meet you momoffive. I'm a mom of 6. I am struggling lately, especially. I wish a could keep my middle two from being so difficult. It's hard to stay on track op of it all when I have them 24/7. Feel like I'm doing a bad job, lonely, stressed, inconsistant, everything out of place. I hate to complain but I'm at a breaking point. My middle absolutely refuses to do his hw and I have meager patience, energy and time to follow through to the end of this battle every night. Something needs to change. The older ones love their sports, so I am always running them around. Then staying on top of the groceries and necessaries... And no financial help from their dad. I'm feeling overwhelmed as well.

Any pointers for me? How are you handling things yourself?
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Old 11-20-2016, 10:58 AM   #19
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

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Nice to meet you momoffive. I'm a mom of 6. I am struggling lately, especially. I wish a could keep my middle two from being so difficult. It's hard to stay on track op of it all when I have them 24/7. Feel like I'm doing a bad job, lonely, stressed, inconsistant, everything out of place. I hate to complain but I'm at a breaking point. My middle absolutely refuses to do his hw and I have meager patience, energy and time to follow through to the end of this battle every night. Something needs to change. The older ones love their sports, so I am always running them around. Then staying on top of the groceries and necessaries... And no financial help from their dad. I'm feeling overwhelmed as well.

Any pointers for me? How are you handling things yourself?

I wish I had a handbook that I could share with you!!!! Let me first start off by saying things here are NOT perfect by far. I liken single-momming-many to carrying a bunch of balls. It's impossible to pick up one without dropping another. You have to decide what things you will let fall and which things you'll choose to carry DAILY. What I'm saying is that if XY and Z are taken care of.. it's likely that AB & C have been neglected (and we're talking about chores and such, not children!).

That said, my biggest friend in all of this has been organization and discipline. We have a very rigid schedule that we keep to. Right now, I work part time for the city and I also run my own business (this part of the year is the slow time for us). I'm lucky to have one-two hours TO MYSELF before they get off the bus in the afternoon when I can catch a shower, do any chores that are pressing, pay bills, run errands etc... the rest of the 24 hour period belongs to them though. I realize that's not fair for now but it is what it is! When my kids get home, they do their chores right away before they are allowed to run free and wreak chaos. At least if today will be a crazy day with attitudes etc, I can usually rest in knowing the chores will be done or their chore-doing will run into their personal play time!

Organization/schedule is vital to this operation. If things are out of whack or chores are piling up... I just go to pieces and am overwhelmed with anxiety. As much as I would like to have things be calm and relaxing around here, the other secret weapon I have is BUSYNESS. If I can keep us DOING something, the kids tend not to be bored and whiney. We don't have a lot of money because I'm sacrificing full time and better pay to be more accessible to the kids... but we do a lot of free or low cost things such as go to the park, walk around the lake, etc. I save up any coupons or free passes (right now we've got 3 passes to the skating rink I haven't used yet).

When I get my tax return, I usually make it a point to pay all the big expenses first (like my property taxes etc, get caught up on any bills or make any major purchases we've needed.... ) once those are out of the way, I buy family passes to things we enjoy like annual family pass to the zoo or amusement park. That way, throughout the year when we are bored and broke, we still can get out and do some fun things that way.

I find it EXTREMELY easy to put a plan together as far as schedules and organizing etc.. I have beautiful charts on the wall... but MY big downfall is my follow through. I suck at staying on top of it most of the time. It gets overwhelming trying to manage 5 kids (6 in your case) and get them all to go in the direction you want them to and deal with the whining and arguing when they put up pressure back to you on things.

One of the charts we have is a reward chart.. not sure the ages of your kiddos but mine are 15, 9, 8, 6 and 3.. so my younger kids are still motivated by rewards. They earn "stickers" for doing the chores they are assigned (each kid has their own clipboard with their name and individual chores for the day written on them). At the end of the day, I give stickers for those things. It has helped remedy even small tasks like: did you hang up your backpack or did you put your shoes away? The reward chart was essentially a poster board I got at the $1 store and I made a grid... I should have put a picture instead of explaining it like this! Basically I asked what rewards they like (going swimming, going to the skating rink, going to a movie at the theater, going to the library etc) and I put them on the chart with little spaces for how many stickers it would take the FAMILY to earn that reward.

I made the more expensive or troublesome trips/rewards much harder to obtain (200 stickers etc) and the more convenient things like going to the library or getting an ice cream more like 50 stickers. My kids each get their own stickers earned from doing their own chores and they can place their stickers in any reward box they want. They work "together" to attain goals... for instance if they only have 5 stickers left to earn goign to the movie, they might all choose to put their stickers on the movie to get it for the family.

For RIGHT NOW that is the system we are using. Staying on top of it, again, is hard.

It's just hard. All of this is SO HARD and I am constantly stressed, emotional, depressed, and above all else.. LONELY. I feel guilty for feeling like my life is passing me by. I love my chidren and I always wanted to be a mom... but I never thought I'd be doing it all alone. I have no social life, no friends (my acquaintances are all married), and my life consists of waking up, going to work, coming home to work on chores, get kids to their activities, cook dinner, go to bed, and the cycle begins again. The last 7 years have been like clockwork.

Finding this forum has been the highlight of my week ...
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Old 11-20-2016, 07:31 PM   #20
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Default Re: Feeling overwhelmed

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Originally Posted by momof5inTX View Post
I wish I had a handbook that I could share with you!!!! Let me first start off by saying things here are NOT perfect by far. I liken single-momming-many to carrying a bunch of balls. It's impossible to pick up one without dropping another. You have to decide what things you will let fall and which things you'll choose to carry DAILY. What I'm saying is that if XY and Z are taken care of.. it's likely that AB & C have been neglected (and we're talking about chores and such, not children!).

That said, my biggest friend in all of this has been organization and discipline. We have a very rigid schedule that we keep to. Right now, I work part time for the city and I also run my own business (this part of the year is the slow time for us). I'm lucky to have one-two hours TO MYSELF before they get off the bus in the afternoon when I can catch a shower, do any chores that are pressing, pay bills, run errands etc... the rest of the 24 hour period belongs to them though. I realize that's not fair for now but it is what it is! When my kids get home, they do their chores right away before they are allowed to run free and wreak chaos. At least if today will be a crazy day with attitudes etc, I can usually rest in knowing the chores will be done or their chore-doing will run into their personal play time!

Organization/schedule is vital to this operation. If things are out of whack or chores are piling up... I just go to pieces and am overwhelmed with anxiety. As much as I would like to have things be calm and relaxing around here, the other secret weapon I have is BUSYNESS. If I can keep us DOING something, the kids tend not to be bored and whiney. We don't have a lot of money because I'm sacrificing full time and better pay to be more accessible to the kids... but we do a lot of free or low cost things such as go to the park, walk around the lake, etc. I save up any coupons or free passes (right now we've got 3 passes to the skating rink I haven't used yet).

When I get my tax return, I usually make it a point to pay all the big expenses first (like my property taxes etc, get caught up on any bills or make any major purchases we've needed.... ) once those are out of the way, I buy family passes to things we enjoy like annual family pass to the zoo or amusement park. That way, throughout the year when we are bored and broke, we still can get out and do some fun things that way.

I find it EXTREMELY easy to put a plan together as far as schedules and organizing etc.. I have beautiful charts on the wall... but MY big downfall is my follow through. I suck at staying on top of it most of the time. It gets overwhelming trying to manage 5 kids (6 in your case) and get them all to go in the direction you want them to and deal with the whining and arguing when they put up pressure back to you on things.

One of the charts we have is a reward chart.. not sure the ages of your kiddos but mine are 15, 9, 8, 6 and 3.. so my younger kids are still motivated by rewards. They earn "stickers" for doing the chores they are assigned (each kid has their own clipboard with their name and individual chores for the day written on them). At the end of the day, I give stickers for those things. It has helped remedy even small tasks like: did you hang up your backpack or did you put your shoes away? The reward chart was essentially a poster board I got at the $1 store and I made a grid... I should have put a picture instead of explaining it like this! Basically I asked what rewards they like (going swimming, going to the skating rink, going to a movie at the theater, going to the library etc) and I put them on the chart with little spaces for how many stickers it would take the FAMILY to earn that reward.

I made the more expensive or troublesome trips/rewards much harder to obtain (200 stickers etc) and the more convenient things like going to the library or getting an ice cream more like 50 stickers. My kids each get their own stickers earned from doing their own chores and they can place their stickers in any reward box they want. They work "together" to attain goals... for instance if they only have 5 stickers left to earn goign to the movie, they might all choose to put their stickers on the movie to get it for the family.

For RIGHT NOW that is the system we are using. Staying on top of it, again, is hard.

It's just hard. All of this is SO HARD and I am constantly stressed, emotional, depressed, and above all else.. LONELY. I feel guilty for feeling like my life is passing me by. I love my children and I always wanted to be a mom... but I never thought I'd be doing it all alone. I have no social life, no friends (my acquaintances are all married), and my life consists of waking up, going to work, coming home to work on chores, get kids to their activities, cook dinner, go to bed, and the cycle begins again. The last 7 years have been like clockwork.

Finding this forum has been the highlight of my week ...
This is SO my house. I just keep telling myself, this too shall pass. As the kids get older, it's becoming more obvious that all that I did for them mattered. My kids are amazing beings and all of my hard work to get here has paid off.
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Old 11-21-2016, 02:49 PM   #21
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GREAT post, Momof5. I understand what you say about holding only so many balls. The difficulty is trying to maintain the prioritized "balls" or tasks with the help of staying organized and on the clock. I often become sidetracked by many shiny things, unfortunately. Lol. I tried to do the online dating thing and that nearly destroyed us! Absolutely no time for romance. And it's terribly impractical. I also worry about child predators. My kids are around the same ages as yours. There is certainly a sad bitterness letting the romantic part of my life go. I also work part time at home, so this is great! But a lot of it is spent frittered away unwinding from the stress of MOMness, as well as doctor appointments and errands.

I really like your idea of a chart with stickers that add up to a family treat. So the whole family is working together. I'm going to try this and report back. I'm not a chart person. Sometimes we make one, but then it blows away in the wind after several days. I was using checkmarks and sometimes the kids would make the check marks on their own when I wasn't looking. )
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Old 11-21-2016, 02:51 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJCOR View Post
This is SO my house. I just keep telling myself, this too shall pass. As the kids get older, it's becoming more obvious that all that I did for them mattered. My kids are amazing beings and all of my hard work to get here has paid off.
This is good to know. Sometimes I just want to give up. It seems insurmountable.
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Old 11-22-2016, 12:05 PM   #23
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Let me rephrase the "frittering away" my work hours...
What I meant was that there are other responsibilities that I get done while my kids are at school that take away from my work. But yes, a portion of my work time is spent drinking coffee in silence and messaging friends. But there is a certain amount of this that keeps me sane. But also drives me to insanity, because I lose out on time where I could be doing other much needed tasks. As a result, my sense of humor has developed with record-breaking pace

Anyhow, drop me a message any time you want or need to chat, mom of 5!
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