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Y.
Reply with quote  #1 
I was hoping you mothers might be able to help me out with an issue I've been having.
I'm a SAHM with 3 kids, and 4th on the way (i'm in 9th month). oldest is 4, so they're all pretty young, and in the stage where i pretty much HAVE to be with them and look after them. they don't seem to entertain themselves alone too much yet.
i do have my mornings free, so i get to do my stuff, and clean the house, etc. so when they come home my problem is this: we eat lunch, i quickly clean up the mess, and then i have from about 2:30 pm till 5:30 when we start dinner and bedtime, that i'm JUST SOOO BORED!!!!!!!!!!!
i'm bored with playing legos and blocks and having to "pretend" i'm having a good time doing "retarded, uninteresting stuff" like watch them jump off the couch 236 times in a row, or say "wow" and pretend to be interested in the "crane" they built from the legos that looks more like a giraffe with a missing leg, or say "how pretty" to their drawing that they want me to come and look at every 5 seconds while they're drawing weird scribbles and think every new circle they drew deserves mommy to come look at and be completely amazed at how magnificent it is. I'M GOING CRAZZZZZZZZZYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!
it's just so BORING to me.
i die by the time four o'clock comes around and we can FINALLY go outside to the playground (before that it's way too hot where i live, and also there's no kids, so they get bored easily there too if there's no one around). going to friends before 4 o'clock is NOT the way people do it in this settlement. For some reason, everyone is so busy till four, and they want "family time", while i just go crazy dying for every minute to go by.
i tried doing all these art things with them and baking cookies, etc, but the mess drives me crazy, and it only lasts about 20 minutes max, and makes me too tired to do anything else the rest of the afternoon so i decided it's not worth it.
so i thought i should just stop entertaining them. i feel guilty not "being with them" since i'm not with them in the morning, and they really want me to play with them, etc. but i think i came to a conclusion it's not good for me to entertain them, and it's not good for them to feel like they always need ME to entertain them. so sometimes i send them to their play room and i try to do my stuff. i don't read or study or paint or do anything that's "my alone time stuff" cause there's no chance they won't bother me, and then i'll just get annoyed with them that i can't do my stuff when they're around. so i do some housework, or laundry, but then they still bother every second, and i feel like i do a sink of dishes in an hour and a half instead of in just 10 minutes when they're gone in the morning. so i started cleaning only in the mornings after they're gone cause it's much more efficient and i don't get mad at them for interrupting every second.
so then i thought what else can i do when they're around that won't irritate me that they interrupt me every second (with a diaper, missing the potty, wanting a snack or drink, fighting with each other, needing help with a toy, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc)??? (do i really need to give examples?) and NOTHING comes to mind. i've been trying to figure this one out for about 2 years, and i JUST DON'T KNOW. what do other mothers do? either be with their kids or clean and cook? i can't clean. cooking i can MAAAAAAAAYBE put in a chicken in the oven for dinner, and that's asking for a lot, and it only really takes about 10 minutes, and my only other option is to "be with them", which is what i end up doing. just sitting on the floor with them playing boring boring boring games, and finding myself going crazy. but i don't know what i CAN do. not at this stage when they're so small. but it's making me miserable as a mom! every day almost my husband comes home to a crying wife cause I've had such a stressful time with them. i feel like i'm so bored with them, and then i feel like a bad mother, and then i'm on edge, and every little thing makes me mad at them, so what can i do?
i REALLY need some good ideas here cause i'm just miserable every day when 1:30 comes along...
please help...Anybody have advice for me?
Ahavya
Reply with quote  #2 
Dear Y.

First thing I want to tell you that you are totally totally not alone. Many mothers that I highly respect don't love playing lego with their kids, or watching them jump off chairs, or even reading stories to them.
The second  thing I want to tell you is that very soon your children will be old enough to play by themselves. Your children are very very  young. So just that can give you chizuk. I am just a few years ahead my oldest just turned 10, but it is a whole different experience. You can take a shower or run to a neighbour without worrying about your children being toooooo creative. So know a little hard work now and soon it will be much easier. Keep that light on at the end or the tunnel to give you koach. I noticed that many women with larger families are less overwhelmed then they were with the first three of four. Older kids help out a little and can take care of themselves.

For now a few tips that help me with the younger ones ( I am also home with four little ones - under 5 in the afternoons Baruch Hashem).
I used to think that the best mother is one who plays with their kids all the time when they are at home. Projects, arts and crafts stories etc..I learnt that it is also good for kids to play themselves and that we can teach them to do that.
So after lunch bezrat hashem I do a quick clean up and then i give each kid a few minutes of quality time. A game of checkers, dominoes, working in a workbook, memory, kapla, lego, or quick cookies. This is one one one. At that time my others are playing by themselves. They don't bother us because they know that they will get their time soon. After half an hour all my kids have had one on one time so they are full emotionally and I dont feel guilty that i am not giving them enough time. I find that once kids pick up on guilt then they do annoying things to get attention. but once i am sure of myself they play nicely. Then I have another hour till 4 to fold laundry, make dinner etc. I try not to use that time for me time because they are around. But I find other time for me time for example mornings when I only have the baby at home, this way I am not frustrated that i have no time for myself, and I have more koach to do the boring stuff and housework in the afternoons.
Remember one more thing you are pregnant and even when you are just lying on the sofa doing nothing you are raising a neshama dont expect yourself not to be tired.
May Hashem give you tons of koach, and simcha and an easy birth and recovery.

Ahavya

Sara
Reply with quote  #3 
All I can say is... it gets easier. The older they get, the more THEY decide what to do and they get so involved that they don't really want you just sitting with them. By you being around the house and available for their questions, they still feel like they're having quality time with you.
I have 3 kids - oldest 4 1/2 and i NEVER sit on the floor and play with them. If I do that - I fall asleep, literally every time. What do I do all day? First of all -we're scheduled - we sort of start dinner/baths at 3:30. It takes me so long to make dinner that I really start early. Usually the kids are around me doing their own thing (coloring, playing princesses or doctor...) but if they're just hanging on me, I turn on a video. My kids get ready for bed at 6, so we have to start eating dinner at 4:30 for things to be on time. What if you started everything earlier? Bed at 6pm is supposed to be great for kids - my youngest (11 months) goes to bed at 5:30 sometimes.

annesophie
Reply with quote  #4 
I am very sorry for you but when Iread your post I think you seem exhausted also because you are pregnant and with three babies and a house to take car of! and you don't enjoy playing on the floor but who said you should? what do children need? and what do you need also? and how can you make both request match?
take a piece of paper and answer to these questions! and then have a discussion with your husband
now what helped me a lot and all my friends with young kids is to share good moments with them! so what do you like doing that can be done with small kids; forget about painting or cooking you are not a ganenet and you don't like to play this role which is your right!!! maybe going out and watch the flowers, maybe listening to music and singing together, maybe going for a drive to visit some relatives!
have you got family who could help you?
be careful you seem tired and this is not good for your mental health!
and absolutely use your free time in the morning to do what you like to do, to read or dream a rendez vous with your self!!
these are ideas i just have but most of all you state is normal with so many young children and being pregnant, try to organise more help in the afternoon when your baby is born!
my kids are older and it certainly will change as yours will grow older!!

sara
Reply with quote  #5 

Hey, I totally empathize my dear- I have 5 under 6yrs of age and everything you said iis down pat- but it does get better when they get older- even in just a few months - they'll entertain each other more and free you up from entertaining or taking an active part...honestly today I love stopping myself and joining them while they play pretend- they look at me like what are u doing here??? but i just want to hear them because they are totally playing off what they see hear, etc, and its really funny and entertaining to me sometimes...but just pray right now that when you give birth that you'll keep it together- meaning, just breathe....remember that G-d gives us what we can handle even if we think were going nuts in the process- just remind yourself that this is your mission in ife to stay sane and realize how lucky you are that everyone is healthy and needs you for normal day to day stuff and not something worse...(this thought helps because we take it SO for granted- our health, their health...) Baruch hashem!!! try to sleep for 45 minutes in the morning when they are gone- you'll be more refreshed and probably more alert to come up with creative ways of burning time...we all have those 2 hours or so in the day that we want to go faster...and then one day we'll beg for more.. stay strong jewish mom!!

Yoni Schlussel
Reply with quote  #6 
I can totally relate to your predicament and spent  time there as well. What helped me most was learning a concept called "yeud" from Rabbi Aryeh Nivin. He teaches that G-d created each of us is unique since we are meant to use our abilities and talents (in addition to our job of running our homes and raising our children) to shine our light in the world. 

So the first step is to brainstorm and ask yourself: 
1) If I had 10 million dollars and the dishes, laundry, etc. were all done and I had 4 hours free a day (this will take a lot of imagining:-) ) what would I do with my time? How would I want to contribute to the world?
2) Looking back over my life, what times in my life did I have a lot of vitality and feel great about what I was doing?

Take some time to think about this while you hang out with your kids, and talk about it with friends. See if you can find a  common theme or direction among your answers.

The next step would be to figure out how to add some of that into your life- ex. if you love learning, can you take an hour a week to do it, and that will make your whole day so much more enjoyable. You can also ponder how to bring what you love into what you are doing- see http://jewishmom.com/2011/03/07/dear-chana-jenny-im-happier-at-work-than-with-my-children/ for more on this.

If you get stuck, one of my favorite things to do is help people figure out their personal yeud. I am happy to do a free 15 minute consultation to get you started. Email me at yonischlussel@gmail.com.

I have seen with dozens and dozens of women, that when you find ways to connect with your G-d given talents, your vitality level goes up and you love your life. Wishing you much success on your journey! 
ds
Reply with quote  #7 
You could try making a rough schedule which benefits you and them since you all know what's coming. it doens't have to be anything rigid, just the things you normally do, made more predictable to break up the time into more manageable chunks. For example, come home and have snacks, clear up and do colouring for half hour, next something energetic like running games, dancing, whatever for half an hour, then take out toys like lego, jigsaws, whatever for half hour, tidy up time for ten mins, then perhaps reading time...something so they know, and you know, what's meant to happen next. 

Also, maybe consider training them up to help you. It won't be much actual help but you'll feel like you're (a) getting your work done (slightly) and (b) training them up for the future. I get my 3 and 6 year old girls to sort laundry sometimes - each one recognises their own clothes and piles them up in a basket or their bed. Keeps them busy while I do the actual folding. And even my 2 year old can put the wet clothes in the dryer. There's always something they can do. One holds the potato bag, one passes the potatoes, one throws the peel away...This is how I get by in summer hols when I have no help at home and a lot of jobs HAVE to be done with them around.

One other idea - consider changing the dynamic in your home by rearranging some rooms - move some toys to a bedroom somewhere they weren't before, or start doing crafts in a different place than usual or rearrange some furniture (with your husband's help!) - it's surprising how these things can really change the mood. Even moving different toys to the front of the toy cupboard changes the way they play.

And be reassured that  new baby IY"H will totally change the dynamic of your house anyway and you'll be moving into new terrain soon! Hatzlacha

hm
Reply with quote  #8 

Are you doing anything fullfilling for yourself in the mornings or other times nourishing your own alone time needs?  I find that when I nourish my own needs, I am then able to give some devoted time enjoying playing with my kids and really enjoying their antics.  That being said there is also time that can be allotted to self directed play for your children without you sitting with them.

Sara
Reply with quote  #9 
Someone wrote about giving every child personal time while the others are playing. Is that even possible with a crawling baby who doesn't know the difference. I feel that if I tried that, my 11 month old would just follow me around and want food/drink/holding and it would totally take away from the other childs' one on one.
AR
Reply with quote  #10 
I don't see that anyone has said this yet so - now sounds like the right time for you to join a Moms group!

For example, Merkaz Shefer http://www.merkaz-shefer.org/ has groups all over the country; maybe there is one starting near you some time soon. The more overwhelmed you feel, the stronger a signal that is that a change is needed. Joining a class provides the companionship and support of a group of Moms who are all trying together to be better, more fulfilled and more effective Moms. No matter how busy you are, committing to a group (usually for 20 weekly meetings) can reduce frustration and increase your joy in parenting. It is worth the time and money.

Also, I didn't see (sorry if I missed it) anything about...your husband. Do you discuss these things with him? Have you asked him for advice?

Lastly, to echo something commenter Yoni said, have you asked yourself what your true goals in parenting are? It doesn't say anywhere in any Bible I know that Thou Shalt Love Lego. What deep, meaningful goals are you striving for in your afternoon time with your kids? If you take time to figure that out, it may cast everything else in a new, rosier light.

Bottom line (mine, anyway)  is that all of us Jewish Moms have so much to be thankful for, it's a shame to lose sight of that. Sure there are practical problems you want to solve, messes that need cleaning, maybe you could use a little extra help with housework or babysitting. It sounds to me like really what might help you most is learning to connect your daily challenges to higher goals.

Chana Jenny's short movie "what am I living for" is a good 2 minute way to get started. I also highly recommend the "All Victories" blog - very thoughtful and inspiring.

Behazlacha!!

Michelle
Reply with quote  #11 

I too get those feelings. But I take the time to stop and think that in a blink of an eye they will be grown and I will miss hearing the non stop chatter and the Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom.

yehudit
Reply with quote  #12 
Hi, Firstly, I really admire your honesty. Many mothers (including myself, once) are not brave enough to admit to anyone else, let alone themselves, that motherhood is not what they thought it would be. So good for you, admitting difficulty is half way to getting over it.

You got amazing practical advice from all these mothers: I just have one little simple practical tip to offer:

Try to avoid sugary, and/or carbs-laden snacks during these difficult hours. Very young children easily become hyperactive: couch-jumpers look out! busted!!!

(this simple change in snack habit may make a huge difference. and more importantly, colourings and preservatives also affect hyperactivity. and they are insidiously well-hidden in so many foods so check ingredients....)

one other small bit of advice: try to "catch" your kids being independant. If one of them hears you saying, "wow, I'm so happy/impressed to see you playing with the blocks by yourself, you didn't even ask mommy to help you! " they will not only try to repeat it (Hey mommy, look, i'm doing cars by myself now!) the siblings will try to outdo them.... and if there is a reward... (it pays to have a bag of surprises from the shekel shop to pass around, it's the perfect age) using a star chart for this will help, too. 


On a more "serious" note: sometimes us mothers are so overwhelmed by the sheer proportions of our daily physical reality, we forget to tap into our golden spirital reality: Hashem is right there, and He can help us. He just wants us to stop, look up, and ask. 

I had a moment not long ago during these horrible hours, when I was trying to thank Hashem for the negatives. It was simply impossible: and then it hit me - in my entire day, I really only have about 3 difficult hours. The rest is really quite pleasant and uneventful, even if a little routine and sometimes boring. I was suddenly pretty grateful, and I had my thank you ready, and it was authentic:

Thank You Hashem, so much, for only giving me a few hours of suffering every day for my personal tikkun. It could have been so,so,so much worse. Please, please help me to accept what You give me, please give me the strength to cope with all the things that are difficult for me, and to accept that this is Your Will, really and truly, and maybe even one day, not to see it as difficult but as a personal gift and mercy from You. 

Wishing you the best of both worlds.....

JH
Reply with quote  #13 


Dear Jewish Mama!

All of these points, about finding meaningful activity, nurturing yourself, rearranging your home, scheduling activities, joining a mother's group are all things to do when you are not in the middle of it... Now for something when you are in the middle of it:

Be prepared. With a mantra, or a prayer. Meaning, prepare yourself with a different tape in your head to respond with at those moments.

Instead of "this is crazy" "I hate this" "i can't do this" "this is not normal" (we have all said those things to ourselves...but it is not healthy!!) etc., you need a positive replacement.

Do some research, reading or thinking, and find a brief phrase or prayer you can remember my heart that you can tell yourself when you start to feel like this. It needs to be calming for you, or inspiring to you, or pleading to H' - or all of the above. Or, it can be something that you want to believe even if you don't feel it at the moment.

Just some brainstormed examples:
"I can do this"
"this is the most positive thing I can be doing right now"
"Hashem's yeshuah can come in an instant"
"I am the adult here"
"What a privilege to be here"
"I am building worlds"
"I am holding the pitcher" (see explanation below)
"Hashem hold my hand"
"Hashem give me the strength"
"Help is coming"
"I am changing"
"I am holding onto the rope" (and that rope is connected to all the other jewish moms holding on at their points of contact as H' lifts us out of this Galus!)
"I am not the only one"
"I am more normal than I think!"
"Remember Rochel Imeinu" - think of how she is crying for you to have chizuk
"I am shaping lives"
"B'cha H' hasisi= in you H I have taken refuge' (Tehillim 31;2)
"u'lmaan shimcha tanchaini usnahaleini' = and for the sake of your name guide me and lead me" -(Tehillim 31; 4)
"B'tzur Yeromemeini"= upon a rock He will lift me (Tehillim 27;5)

(just take a few minutes to look at a translated Tehillim and find your own- there are so many posukim filled with chizuk and with crying out)

Practice saying it over and over. Ask H' to help you be calm. Breathe in and exhale and Then say your phrase to yourself in the middle of the mishkababble of activity that is going on and say it over and over and watch yourself melt from your forehead to your shoulders to your tips of your toes! Watch yourself get re-settled in to the place you are now, and be where you need to be. Then get above the situation. See that Hashem lifted you up onto that rock.

Every time you are about to tell yourself 'i'm going crazy'- say this instead.

I also recommend listening to guided imagery.

Mainly I recommend prayer. Ask Hashem to help you change to be able to be positive in the moment, and to help you see the worlds you are building.

Say some Tehllim, ask it in your shemoneh esrei, ask it in your own words when you are about to break.

Rebbetzin Tehila Jaeger said that the antidote to housewife syndrome is to connect us on a much deeper level; it would change our perspectives in our homes as women (as a Rebbe used to say to his students) if we could remember "Olamecha Tireh B'chayecha:" "May you see your olam habah in this world."  She said, the greatest dichotemy is when we fragment the physical and spiritual world- that is when stagnation, frustration and sadness comes in . As jews we do not disconnect the physical and the spiritual. they are intertwined.
She said to think of a pitcher. If we recognize that every action we do from the moment we open our eyes, our action is the yad, the kli, the handle (of the pitcher.) Without which we nor the results of our actions cannot get to olam habaah... and that we are literally shaping and molding by virtue of every activity that we do- She said she challenges anyone to bring her an example of an activity that we do that doesn't fall in to this category. 

The only way to continually see this is to keep learning Torah (I recommend listening on the phone to Kol Haloshon- you can email me for suggested speakers) and to daven.

Get some validation, schedule some breaks, but you gotta be prepared to fight back those negative phrases in your mind because they are the yetzer hara and you are so much better than that!!

You will need to also be ready to teach your children ho to combat negative thinking too, so you will become such a pro, an expert. Yasher koach for reaching out and recognizing your struggles. I just heard Sara Yoheved Rigler say yesterday that the Chazon Ish said the only good middah is to be working on yourself.
And you are already, just by virtue of wanting something to change!

Also she said, to define yourself by your efforts (not your failures, and not your successes.) Look at your efforts right now. You are making an effort to be the best most calm, fulfilled, and giving Jewish mom you can be. You are already half way there.

For more chizuk, you may email me at jewishmotherstomothers@gmail.com or see the book Mothers to Mothers: women across the globe share the joys and challenges of Jewish Motherhood (ArtScroll/Mesorah) by Julie Hauser
 
Hatzlacha rabba,
We have all been there, you will come through even better.
You will be a better mom and individual for it and you will see the challenges were necessary for your growth but it will only be for sweet...you will be the next one offering chizuk. Big hug. (We are all one neshoma/one guf so we all feel the struggle with you)

JH
p.s. hang up the phrase on a cabinet or in the playroom.
Jen
Reply with quote  #14 
Wow, such amazing wisdom from all these awesome mommies. I totally understand your predicament - I too, B"H, have four kids and my oldest just turned 6 a few days ago. I happen to love doing arts and crafts and baking with my kids and the mess doesn't really get to me - but that's me. But that's not me every single day.

When my kids would nap, I would run around like a crazy person and try to fit a day's worth of chores into an hour and a half (if I was lucky) - and then when the kids woke up, I was tired and cranky. So now I dont do that anymore. When the kids go down for a nap, I do stuff I like to do. I read, I have an ice coffee, I check my email, I call a friend, I exercise, I might do my own craft project. Sometimes I take a nap with the kids. And all these things recharge me so when the kids wake up, I am more relaxed.

So when do I do all my chores? I do them with the kids. It took a while, but my kids can sort the dirty laundry into whites and darks. They can make piles of the clean laundry according to who it belongs to so I can fold it. They can pair socks. They wash vegetables for supper and pretend to wash the dishes (yeah, even a two year old can help). Little kids love to help - hand them a broom and they're super happy. Give them a paper towel and a small amount of water in a spray bottle and your kitchen table will be clean. Hand them a garbage bag and have them collect the empty water bottles from the recycling bin. Sometimes we look at the Shoprite circular together and make our grocery list. They tell me which food to buy by looking at the pictures and I write down what I need. They have no idea I am not really writing down chocolate chip cookies. There are tons of chores that kids can do - and they find all of these fun because they are being like mommy.

And like another mommy said, kids need to learn to play alone. It takes a long time and our kids are all still super little, but it will come.

I also have found that kids have certain "attention" needs for the day and if they dont get it, they become clingy and kvetchy and generally annoying - and definitely not a joy to be around. I also do not like to play lego but if I sit down and play for 10 minutes with the kid who asks me to play, then she will generally play alone for another 15 or 20 minutes while I do something else. Tons of laundry can folded in 20 minutes. Playing blocks or whatever for 10 minutes is doable if you know that it's only 10 minutes and not a whole long drawn out thing.

I really wish you much much hatzlacha. Being a mommy is not at all easy, it's actually really really hard, but I truly believe that Hashem matches up the perfect kids for each mommy. Yours are perfect for you and you are perfect for them - and many wonderful children have grown up to be wonderful adults without their mother sitting next to them while they were coloring. Please don't be so hard on yourself, your kids love you for you who you are. They have no idea that anything else even exists. All the kids want is a genuine smile from their mommy. You are doing a fantastic - don't forget that.

Y.
Reply with quote  #15 
(I’m the mom who wrote the original question)
thank you so much to everyone taht took their time and gave me advice on this issue. you helped me greatly just by all your encouragement, and understanding. showing me i’m actually a good mom for caring about this, and not a bad mom taht just can’t handle her kids. cause it just IS a HARD situation. thank you.
i’ll try some of the great ideas.
b’hatzlacha to all us Jewish moms who want so much to do our BEST possible in the world for our beloved kids, just sometimes don’t know how. may we succeed in this big mission.
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