Author Topic: Burnout when you have kids  (Read 6383 times)

c-kat

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Burnout when you have kids
« on: July 14, 2021, 01:11:38 PM »
Hello,

I suffered from burn out about 12 years ago when I was in a crappy overworked situation at work. I took three months, focused on rest and self care and improved greatly.

But now, I've got two kids, ages 2.5 and 4.  I have major burnout and last week was put off work for 4 months. This time work isn't the issue, its my kids that are the issue. I can't get a break or extra sleep.  My 4 year old starts school in september so that will help, but my little one wakes 5 times a night and won't sleep on her own- even a sleep trainer was unable to help us. She also has behavior issues we are trying to get help with but is getting worse not better.  I've been off a week and feel worse than I did before going off. But I was also struggling to work because of the lack of sleep.

Has anyone else successfully overcome burnout while caring for their kids?  Any tips you can share? When you can't get a moment to yourself it is hard.


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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2021, 01:31:33 PM »
Can you afford to hire help? A trained and experienced nanny? Not cheap, but it sounds as though you need one.

CNM

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2021, 02:08:48 PM »
The answer is to do less so that you can give yourself a break.

This could include:
1) Hiring someone to babysit.  Depending on your situation and comfort level, hiring a "parent's helper" (I.e. someone who comes over to play and care for the kids while you are also still home) is less expensive and easier to find (like a neighborhood teen) than an experienced adult.

2) If you have a partner, swapping days with him/her so that you have alternating days or times of day rather than all day.

3) Depending on your kids, I sometimes felt that it was easier to invite other kids to play or to the playground.  Yes, it is  more children for me to watch but they would entertain themselves and bother me less.

4) Checking in to local parent groups or babysitting coops where people will trade off watching each other's kids for low/no fee.

5) Get them signed up for day time activities, like camps, swimming lessons, daycare, etc.., ideally where you can drop off.

6) Lower your standards. Let them watch TV, play iPad or whatever "unstimulating" activity to give yourself a break.

7) Ask for help from a relative.  Depending on your family, tell your sibling or parent or whomever the trusted family member is exactly what you've written here and request a short term stay for them to help you.

CNM

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2021, 02:13:18 PM »
Also, your local United Way may have recommendations for you on the child with the behavioral issues-- have testing, can recommend providers, have outreach services, etc.

Mountainbug

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2021, 03:09:43 PM »
You need to sleep. Do you have a partner? Can you alternate nights or maybe take shifts in the night so you are getting large blocks of sleep? As a parent of two about the same age I can tell you everything will seem more hopeful if you start getting some sleep.

As for being burnt out I agree with one of the other posters above- turn the rv on, hire a babysitter, sign up for a class or camp where you don’t have to be involved. Lower your expectations. Once you’ve recuperated you can raise your standards right back up. Right now it sounds like you’re in survival mode.

FrugalFan

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2021, 03:42:29 PM »
You clearly need some rest and sleep! If you can afford it, a babysitter or daycare for part of each day would probably help tremendously. I would consider this money well spent. When my youngest was born, we had our oldest in daycare mornings even though I was home on maternity leave. It made all the difference for me. The school will help a lot, but I would still consider something in the meantime, and something for your 2.5 year old once the oldest is in school. Just a couple of hours a day to nap or get some chores done would make a huge difference. And it does get easier as they get older! Ours our about the same difference in age and are so much more independent now. I feel like things got much easier once the youngest was 4.

gooki

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2021, 02:53:32 PM »
Will your little one sleep well if they're with you? If yes, do that.

Being burnt out, raising kids, and a lack of sleep is fucking rough. Take care of yourself.

c-kat

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2021, 03:12:40 PM »
Will your little one sleep well if they're with you? If yes, do that.

Being burnt out, raising kids, and a lack of sleep is fucking rough. Take care of yourself.

Yes, I just started letting her sleep with me a few days ago.  I've been putting her to bed in her bed at 7pm.  Then when I go to bed, she wakes up, I bring her in with me and it has been working better.  She's been sleeping longer too.  Not sure if this is just setting up another issue to deal with down the road though.

c-kat

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2021, 03:17:27 PM »
Thank you so much for the replies.  We were shut down do to covid19 in my city until this week. So that really limited help we could get.  For example my oldest was supposed to so preschool twice a week and couldn't.  All the play groups etc that gave them some fun and me a break were closed. Things are starting to open up again so I'm hoping getting out more will help.

We're still a little afraid to bring another caregiver into the mix until we see what happens with the variants.

I have a supportive partner, but he's also burnt out.  We were splitting the wake ups 50/50 but with the sleep regression it had gotten to almost every hour, so both of us getting very little sleep. As I posted above, Ive started sleeping with her which has made a huge difference and I hope that will continue. 

I have an appt for myself with a psychologist next week to help work on some coping strategies. I just feel so much mom guilt. I used to do so much with them and now I'm tired and use the TV much more than I should.

joe189man

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2021, 03:17:44 PM »
hard to get a break if you are watching them full time, we can commiserate with you, kids are tough. Can you put them in daycare a few days a week?

ah ok i see the covid lockdown stuff, maybe try some TV breaks, not great for them but if they zone out for 30 mins you get a "break"

BoonDogle

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2021, 03:21:48 PM »
Will your little one sleep well if they're with you? If yes, do that.

Being burnt out, raising kids, and a lack of sleep is fucking rough. Take care of yourself.

Yes, I just started letting her sleep with me a few days ago.  I've been putting her to bed in her bed at 7pm.  Then when I go to bed, she wakes up, I bring her in with me and it has been working better.  She's been sleeping longer too.  Not sure if this is just setting up another issue to deal with down the road though.

I would encourage you to make her learn to sleep in her own bed.  It will pay off later.  As for you, I'd encourage you to enlist the help of others.  Not sure if grandparents or other family can come help out a night or two or on weekends.  You could still be there just let someone else get up and feed or soothe.  My wife also had an older lady from church come over once or twice a week just to leave and get a break (sleep or shop).  We had a 4 year old, 2 year old, and twin newborns at the time.  Don't try to take it all on yourself.  You need help.  Ask for it.

c-kat

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2021, 04:08:36 PM »
Will your little one sleep well if they're with you? If yes, do that.

Being burnt out, raising kids, and a lack of sleep is fucking rough. Take care of yourself.

Yes, I just started letting her sleep with me a few days ago.  I've been putting her to bed in her bed at 7pm.  Then when I go to bed, she wakes up, I bring her in with me and it has been working better.  She's been sleeping longer too.  Not sure if this is just setting up another issue to deal with down the road though.

I would encourage you to make her learn to sleep in her own bed.  It will pay off later.  As for you, I'd encourage you to enlist the help of others.  Not sure if grandparents or other family can come help out a night or two or on weekends.  You could still be there just let someone else get up and feed or soothe.  My wife also had an older lady from church come over once or twice a week just to leave and get a break (sleep or shop).  We had a 4 year old, 2 year old, and twin newborns at the time.  Don't try to take it all on yourself.  You need help.  Ask for it.

She was sleep trained at 9 months and slept on her own straight through the night in her crib until 18 months when she learned to get out of the crib.  She took a few falls from it too.  We had to move her to a bed and she just wasn't ready... this was when the issues started and escalated.  The sleep trainer we used before would only work with us if we put her back in the crib which is pointless since she won't stay in it as she doesn't feel safe. I agree as she is terrified at night. And she bangs against her bedroom door so hard she will eventually knock it down! We didn't have this problem with our oldest because she stayed in a crib until she was 3.  Now with me, she hasn't woken at all which has been good.  I really don't see another solution that will let us sleep. 

JJ-

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2021, 10:33:16 PM »
Kids are hard and pandemic just exacerbates stress for both parents and children. We have two -- 4 and 1.5 so I feel for you.

A couple of thoughts. Have you considered a change of scenery? We recently got out for a week and while it wasn't easy (it was harder in fact), the mental break from spending a year and a half in home was sorely needed.

Another thought is if you are off work for a few months, can your partner adjust work schedule so you can get sleep during the day for a week or so? Naps are incredibly helpful for making up lost time at night for me. Even if it's under an hour I find it helpful even if I feel more tired afterwards sometimes.

If you're like us, there are a couple stretches thought the day (ahem, 5-6 in the evening) where they're terrible. Being outside on walks helps eliminate the mental toil of the witching hours. 1030-1130 is another one that's tough for us that we'll get out, even if it's just a drive to nowhere and back because that's better than here.

gooki

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2021, 02:16:12 PM »
Will your little one sleep well if they're with you? If yes, do that.

Being burnt out, raising kids, and a lack of sleep is fucking rough. Take care of yourself.

Yes, I just started letting her sleep with me a few days ago.  I've been putting her to bed in her bed at 7pm.  Then when I go to bed, she wakes up, I bring her in with me and it has been working better.  She's been sleeping longer too.  Not sure if this is just setting up another issue to deal with down the road though.

Good to hear you've got something that works. As parents, we put way to much pressure on ourselves and our children to get them to sleep in their own beds from very early ages.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2021, 02:30:24 PM »
I hear you - my younger daughter was an abysmal sleeper.  She finally started to sleep through the night sometimes at your younger one's age but until then it was a shitshow.  We both also work fulltime and have no family help.

I was always by myself on weekend mornings as my husband worked weekends from 8 am onwards.  So one thing I did was train the older one how to make a simple breakfast and how to turn on the TV/Ipad (I know - bad!) Then I explained that they were to make their own breakfast and play with the ipad/TV in the living room until I woke up.  I put only kid appropriate games on the ipad and tuned the TV to a kids channel. 

The breakfast was simple - just cereal and milk.  I put plastic bowls, spoons and cups on the kitchen table along with cereal so that all they had to do was add milk.  Our age gap was slightly bigger so the older one was 5 when the younger one was 2.  Anyway it worked about gave me 1-2 hours more sleep on weekend mornings.  This basically saved my sanity.

Another thing is that I put the kids to bed much later than you do - which meant that they slept better and later.  Here in Italy kids normally go to bed at 9 or so maybe 10.  It depends on the kids but the really early bedtimes can lead to night wakeups and early wakeups.  I know this goes against popular opinion in many other countries.  A later bedtime also means that you can eat together as a family.

luchorpan

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2021, 07:04:26 PM »
Will your little one sleep well if they're with you? If yes, do that.

Being burnt out, raising kids, and a lack of sleep is fucking rough. Take care of yourself.

Yes, I just started letting her sleep with me a few days ago.  I've been putting her to bed in her bed at 7pm.  Then when I go to bed, she wakes up, I bring her in with me and it has been working better.  She's been sleeping longer too.  Not sure if this is just setting up another issue to deal with down the road though.

Good to hear you've got something that works. As parents, we put way to much pressure on ourselves and our children to get them to sleep in their own beds from very early ages.

I’m in the same boat. We’ve now got it down to where my son can come in our bed when he wakes up in the night, but we will not go get him. Most nights I don’t even wake when he comes in. Much better than getting up and going to their room and trying to get them back to sleep there!
When I do notice my son come in, I’ve been noticing that he usually seems to have wet his pull-up. So @c-kat, if you’re mid-potty training, that may be part of it. They start to wake themselves up as they’re peeing. This will pass, and you can address the separate bed later, when you are well again!

Morning Glory

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2021, 07:28:31 PM »
I hear you - my younger daughter was an abysmal sleeper.  She finally started to sleep through the night sometimes at your younger one's age but until then it was a shitshow.  We both also work fulltime and have no family help.

I was always by myself on weekend mornings as my husband worked weekends from 8 am onwards.  So one thing I did was train the older one how to make a simple breakfast and how to turn on the TV/Ipad (I know - bad!) Then I explained that they were to make their own breakfast and play with the ipad/TV in the living room until I woke up.  I put only kid appropriate games on the ipad and tuned the TV to a kids channel. 

The breakfast was simple - just cereal and milk.  I put plastic bowls, spoons and cups on the kitchen table along with cereal so that all they had to do was add milk.  Our age gap was slightly bigger so the older one was 5 when the younger one was 2.  Anyway it worked about gave me 1-2 hours more sleep on weekend mornings.  This basically saved my sanity.

Another thing is that I put the kids to bed much later than you do - which meant that they slept better and later.  Here in Italy kids normally go to bed at 9 or so maybe 10.  It depends on the kids but the really early bedtimes can lead to night wakeups and early wakeups.  I know this goes against popular opinion in many other countries.  A later bedtime also means that you can eat together as a family.

I'm with you on this one. Many parents I know put their kids to bed at seven and wonder why they get up so early. We usually do 9-10 pm now that school is out.

Our oldest figured out Netflix on his own at 3. We couldn't keep him in bed but he didn't bother us. Youngest is giving us a few more issues but at least he sleeps at night.

LaineyAZ

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2021, 09:39:45 AM »
I empathize with those trying to raise babies and pre-schoolers in apartments without yards, and especially during the pandemic lockdown. 

One thought:  Years ago people asked me why my son was such a sound sleeper, and I finally realized one big reason was that at day's end he was physically worn out.  He liked being physically active and had lots of outdoor playtime, so that when it was time to go to bed he was ready and stayed asleep.

I knew another family where the dad would take the young ones to the local park where they liked to literally run up and down the hill.  Same result, those kids slept like champs.

So finally, when you do get a babysitter, consider one who will take them on long walks or let them scramble around the playground to their heart's content.  They're all like little puppies, they need as much physical activity as you can provide them.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2021, 12:55:27 PM »
I hear you - my younger daughter was an abysmal sleeper.  She finally started to sleep through the night sometimes at your younger one's age but until then it was a shitshow.  We both also work fulltime and have no family help.

I was always by myself on weekend mornings as my husband worked weekends from 8 am onwards.  So one thing I did was train the older one how to make a simple breakfast and how to turn on the TV/Ipad (I know - bad!) Then I explained that they were to make their own breakfast and play with the ipad/TV in the living room until I woke up.  I put only kid appropriate games on the ipad and tuned the TV to a kids channel. 

The breakfast was simple - just cereal and milk.  I put plastic bowls, spoons and cups on the kitchen table along with cereal so that all they had to do was add milk.  Our age gap was slightly bigger so the older one was 5 when the younger one was 2.  Anyway it worked about gave me 1-2 hours more sleep on weekend mornings.  This basically saved my sanity.

Another thing is that I put the kids to bed much later than you do - which meant that they slept better and later.  Here in Italy kids normally go to bed at 9 or so maybe 10.  It depends on the kids but the really early bedtimes can lead to night wakeups and early wakeups.  I know this goes against popular opinion in many other countries.  A later bedtime also means that you can eat together as a family.

I'm with you on this one. Many parents I know put their kids to bed at seven and wonder why they get up so early. We usually do 9-10 pm now that school is out.

Our oldest figured out Netflix on his own at 3. We couldn't keep him in bed but he didn't bother us. Youngest is giving us a few more issues but at least he sleeps at night.
Kids are all different. Mine wakes earlier the later we put her down. Get her to bed by 7:30? 8:30am wake up. Get her to bed by 9? We’ll see her around 6:30am. Although with the latter she’ll have a longer nap the next day so you pick your poison.

Morning Glory

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2021, 06:52:07 PM »
I empathize with those trying to raise babies and pre-schoolers in apartments without yards, and especially during the pandemic lockdown. 

One thought:  Years ago people asked me why my son was such a sound sleeper, and I finally realized one big reason was that at day's end he was physically worn out.  He liked being physically active and had lots of outdoor playtime, so that when it was time to go to bed he was ready and stayed asleep.

I knew another family where the dad would take the young ones to the local park where they liked to literally run up and down the hill.  Same result, those kids slept like champs.

So finally, when you do get a babysitter, consider one who will take them on long walks or let them scramble around the playground to their heart's content.  They're all like little puppies, they need as much physical activity as you can provide them.

I second this one also. We see better evening behavior and faster sleep if we tire them out with a hike.

20957

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2021, 09:49:44 PM »
Are you splitting the nights with your husband? In my experience, getting up every hour from 10-2 and then switching and sleeping away from kid from 2-6 is at least better than being disturbed all night long. Also, if you can go to bed as soon as they do. It sucks because you could get so much done while they sleep but for me sleep deprivation makes all other adjustments practically impossible.

chemistk

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2021, 06:56:09 AM »
PTF and to commiserate.

My wife is experiencing burnout with our 3 kids - 6, almost 4, and 20mos. A lot of it is lack of sleep (she has mild insomnia) but also just being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of energy the kids have. She goes to the gym daily, during which she gets to take advantage of 2 hours of free gym childcare and at the end of the day when I get home or am done with work, I pretty much take over everything.

One of the things that's surprisingly led to the burnout is the realization that we just don't have much capacity for giving them constant activity and stimulation, but there's this urge to try anyway because we see plenty of other parents posting online all the creative wonderful activities that they're doing with/for their kids. We finally have admitted that those complex and engaging activates just aren't really in our wheelhouse (not for a lack of trying). We still do provide them with plenty to do and do occasionally come up with great interactive things, but we feel like we're lacking which contributes to a negative self image as parents and throws gas on the burnout.

Oh and sleep. I don't think either of us has had a week of good sleep in 7 years. Again, not for a lack of trying.   

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2021, 08:00:23 AM »
PTF and to commiserate.

My wife is experiencing burnout with our 3 kids - 6, almost 4, and 20mos. A lot of it is lack of sleep (she has mild insomnia) but also just being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of energy the kids have. She goes to the gym daily, during which she gets to take advantage of 2 hours of free gym childcare and at the end of the day when I get home or am done with work, I pretty much take over everything.

One of the things that's surprisingly led to the burnout is the realization that we just don't have much capacity for giving them constant activity and stimulation, but there's this urge to try anyway because we see plenty of other parents posting online all the creative wonderful activities that they're doing with/for their kids. We finally have admitted that those complex and engaging activates just aren't really in our wheelhouse (not for a lack of trying). We still do provide them with plenty to do and do occasionally come up with great interactive things, but we feel like we're lacking which contributes to a negative self image as parents and throws gas on the burnout.

Oh and sleep. I don't think either of us has had a week of good sleep in 7 years. Again, not for a lack of trying.

One of the things my wife and I realized, more in her case mentally and emotionally and mine physically, is that neither of us were cut out to be SAHP. We honestly just don't know what to do with them for structured and independent play for more than a few days in a row, and like you we have friends who have no problem doing this full time with multiples, which just makes it hurt so much more.

The reinforcing negative self image is a tough loop to break. I'm not sure if we've broken it. We have gotten better at accepting it and just given on up a few things over the summer, like limiting screen time to less than 20 minutes (up to an hour+ for the four year old sometimes).

This past year DW was sort of forced into a job she did not want (SAHM) and it was very mentally and emotionally draining. It takes time to dig out of these emotional holes, or emotional debt as I like to call it. 2 hours at the gym may be enough to stop digging down, and it may also be a way back up but maybe not much.

Good luck. 4 and 1.5 (same ages here) is haaaaard. For example, you can't even send the young ones to summer camps for a break during the day. But hopefully you two figure out a way to manage your mental health. We decided paying for help, even if we cash flowed negative, would be worth it but couldn't find any body reliable. So we ended up outsourcing other parts of daily life, weekly prepped meals, in home cleaning help, and forced one other the other out of the house during this time.

chemistk

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2021, 10:26:45 AM »
PTF and to commiserate.

My wife is experiencing burnout with our 3 kids - 6, almost 4, and 20mos. A lot of it is lack of sleep (she has mild insomnia) but also just being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of energy the kids have. She goes to the gym daily, during which she gets to take advantage of 2 hours of free gym childcare and at the end of the day when I get home or am done with work, I pretty much take over everything.

One of the things that's surprisingly led to the burnout is the realization that we just don't have much capacity for giving them constant activity and stimulation, but there's this urge to try anyway because we see plenty of other parents posting online all the creative wonderful activities that they're doing with/for their kids. We finally have admitted that those complex and engaging activates just aren't really in our wheelhouse (not for a lack of trying). We still do provide them with plenty to do and do occasionally come up with great interactive things, but we feel like we're lacking which contributes to a negative self image as parents and throws gas on the burnout.

Oh and sleep. I don't think either of us has had a week of good sleep in 7 years. Again, not for a lack of trying.

One of the things my wife and I realized, more in her case mentally and emotionally and mine physically, is that neither of us were cut out to be SAHP. We honestly just don't know what to do with them for structured and independent play for more than a few days in a row, and like you we have friends who have no problem doing this full time with multiples, which just makes it hurt so much more.

The reinforcing negative self image is a tough loop to break. I'm not sure if we've broken it. We have gotten better at accepting it and just given on up a few things over the summer, like limiting screen time to less than 20 minutes (up to an hour+ for the four year old sometimes).

This past year DW was sort of forced into a job she did not want (SAHM) and it was very mentally and emotionally draining. It takes time to dig out of these emotional holes, or emotional debt as I like to call it. 2 hours at the gym may be enough to stop digging down, and it may also be a way back up but maybe not much.

Good luck. 4 and 1.5 (same ages here) is haaaaard. For example, you can't even send the young ones to summer camps for a break during the day. But hopefully you two figure out a way to manage your mental health. We decided paying for help, even if we cash flowed negative, would be worth it but couldn't find any body reliable. So we ended up outsourcing other parts of daily life, weekly prepped meals, in home cleaning help, and forced one other the other out of the house during this time.

This is exactly why it's so difficult to communicate with others, especially those who are not parents, why raising kids can be such a challenge. Although I would never condone abusive behavior in parents, I can see the genesis of those bad behaviors. There's tons of mental health resources now around burnout in the workplace but so very very few for being a parent and you can use almost none of the same techniques because being a parent is a lifetime job - it gets easier when the kids are older but you really can't just up and leave when you're done with it. Those parents who seem to just be able to do it effortlessly, as though that's their life purpose (kudos to them, I would never speak negatively to that effect) end up muddying the waters because everyone observing your struggles will point to the other parents and say "well they can do it so you can too".

In our situation, I would give anything to be a SAHD. When I'm alone with the kids for a night or weekend, after I get my bearings straight I feel like everything comes naturally - meals, activities, routines, etc. (which makes my wife feel shameful, guilty, and resentful) whereas my wife has shared on numerous occasions that the routines and the tasks just don't come naturally. But she dropped out of school after our second was born (no childcare options), and wouldn't even want to necessarily pursue the degree she was going for (special education). It would be years before she could get a job that would bring in even half of what I make.

TheFrenchCat

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2021, 11:06:20 AM »
PTF and to commiserate.

My wife is experiencing burnout with our 3 kids - 6, almost 4, and 20mos. A lot of it is lack of sleep (she has mild insomnia) but also just being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of energy the kids have. She goes to the gym daily, during which she gets to take advantage of 2 hours of free gym childcare and at the end of the day when I get home or am done with work, I pretty much take over everything.

One of the things that's surprisingly led to the burnout is the realization that we just don't have much capacity for giving them constant activity and stimulation, but there's this urge to try anyway because we see plenty of other parents posting online all the creative wonderful activities that they're doing with/for their kids. We finally have admitted that those complex and engaging activates just aren't really in our wheelhouse (not for a lack of trying). We still do provide them with plenty to do and do occasionally come up with great interactive things, but we feel like we're lacking which contributes to a negative self image as parents and throws gas on the burnout.

Oh and sleep. I don't think either of us has had a week of good sleep in 7 years. Again, not for a lack of trying.

One of the things my wife and I realized, more in her case mentally and emotionally and mine physically, is that neither of us were cut out to be SAHP. We honestly just don't know what to do with them for structured and independent play for more than a few days in a row, and like you we have friends who have no problem doing this full time with multiples, which just makes it hurt so much more.

The reinforcing negative self image is a tough loop to break. I'm not sure if we've broken it. We have gotten better at accepting it and just given on up a few things over the summer, like limiting screen time to less than 20 minutes (up to an hour+ for the four year old sometimes).

This past year DW was sort of forced into a job she did not want (SAHM) and it was very mentally and emotionally draining. It takes time to dig out of these emotional holes, or emotional debt as I like to call it. 2 hours at the gym may be enough to stop digging down, and it may also be a way back up but maybe not much.

Good luck. 4 and 1.5 (same ages here) is haaaaard. For example, you can't even send the young ones to summer camps for a break during the day. But hopefully you two figure out a way to manage your mental health. We decided paying for help, even if we cash flowed negative, would be worth it but couldn't find any body reliable. So we ended up outsourcing other parts of daily life, weekly prepped meals, in home cleaning help, and forced one other the other out of the house during this time.

This is exactly why it's so difficult to communicate with others, especially those who are not parents, why raising kids can be such a challenge. Although I would never condone abusive behavior in parents, I can see the genesis of those bad behaviors. There's tons of mental health resources now around burnout in the workplace but so very very few for being a parent and you can use almost none of the same techniques because being a parent is a lifetime job - it gets easier when the kids are older but you really can't just up and leave when you're done with it. Those parents who seem to just be able to do it effortlessly, as though that's their life purpose (kudos to them, I would never speak negatively to that effect) end up muddying the waters because everyone observing your struggles will point to the other parents and say "well they can do it so you can too".

In our situation, I would give anything to be a SAHD. When I'm alone with the kids for a night or weekend, after I get my bearings straight I feel like everything comes naturally - meals, activities, routines, etc. (which makes my wife feel shameful, guilty, and resentful) whereas my wife has shared on numerous occasions that the routines and the tasks just don't come naturally. But she dropped out of school after our second was born (no childcare options), and wouldn't even want to necessarily pursue the degree she was going for (special education). It would be years before she could get a job that would bring in even half of what I make.
I feel like we're in a similar situation.  I don't know if my husband wants to be a SAHD as much as you do, but he's better with our daughter than I am.  But he's an engineer and I can only handle working part-time from home.  I don't know if I'm burnt out per say, since I always associated that with a job, but my mental health is slipping more than usual and the house is a wreck.  I find myself daydreaming of having a normal job and not reading books, playing or constantly needing to clean something.  My daughter is going to school in person at the end of August, after being virtual for a year and change, and I feel like I'm holding on by the skin of my teeth till then. 

CNM

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2021, 12:21:16 PM »
All parents that I know have had challenges to varying frequencies and degrees, myself definitely included.  It *is* hard to be engaged 100% of the time with anything, much less at an A+ level.  Social media and Pintrest be damned I say!

But, another suggestion that might help is to get out of the house. Taking the kids out to a park, playground, library, or museum is a good way to pass the time with them while not necessarily needing to be the primary source of entertainment.  While everyone is out of the house, there aren't messes being generated either. Win - win.  Another bonus is that if I'm out of the house with the kids, then I don't feel compelled to do a million housekeeping chores because I'm not there to do them.

When my spouse is in busy season and I am the sole caregiver on the weekends, I would try to plan one big adventure and one small adventure.  I got this idea from Laura Vanderkam (lauravanderkam.com).  This means that one day of the weekend I would plan some sort of excursion as a big adventure (pool, hike, visit to children's museum) and then plan some sort of activity (like a playdate, art activity, smaller trip like to the neighborhood park) as a small adventure.  With these two things planned, the weekends tended to pass more smoothly and quickly with less whining.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2021, 12:27:54 PM »
This is exactly why it's so difficult to communicate with others, especially those who are not parents, why raising kids can be such a challenge. Although I would never condone abusive behavior in parents, I can see the genesis of those bad behaviors. There's tons of mental health resources now around burnout in the workplace but so very very few for being a parent and you can use almost none of the same techniques because being a parent is a lifetime job - it gets easier when the kids are older but you really can't just up and leave when you're done with it. Those parents who seem to just be able to do it effortlessly, as though that's their life purpose (kudos to them, I would never speak negatively to that effect) end up muddying the waters because everyone observing your struggles will point to the other parents and say "well they can do it so you can too".

In our situation, I would give anything to be a SAHD. When I'm alone with the kids for a night or weekend, after I get my bearings straight I feel like everything comes naturally - meals, activities, routines, etc. (which makes my wife feel shameful, guilty, and resentful) whereas my wife has shared on numerous occasions that the routines and the tasks just don't come naturally. But she dropped out of school after our second was born (no childcare options), and wouldn't even want to necessarily pursue the degree she was going for (special education). It would be years before she could get a job that would bring in even half of what I make.
100% agreed on the first paragraph. The "well they can do it so you can do too" is very insensitive and I immediately stop actively engaging in conversation with the person who says it. Other than that you get a head nod.

Stepping back a bit, one of the things I like most about diving into the FIRE thing almost 10 years ago and saving as much as we can for something someday, which we're still doing, is to provide us with a bit of financial flexibility. I know a lot of parents just drop out of the workforce, sometimes the higher earner sometimes the lower earner, and I wonder about their financial status and whether they can do it. In our financial relationship I am the higher earner but DW enjoys working more than I do, so one of the bonuses of having saved so much is that I know I can drop to a lower schedule for her to spend her time where she wants rather than where we "need" her to be be (i.e., working at home while I work at work). It delays this FIRE thing for us, but we never had a target for anything, other than learning to live below our means to save for the future. I don't know much about your financial status and work flexibility, but maybe this can provide you some perspective on things you may be able to do.

I feel like we're in a similar situation.  I don't know if my husband wants to be a SAHD as much as you do, but he's better with our daughter than I am.  But he's an engineer and I can only handle working part-time from home.  I don't know if I'm burnt out per say, since I always associated that with a job, but my mental health is slipping more than usual and the house is a wreck.  I find myself daydreaming of having a normal job and not reading books, playing or constantly needing to clean something.  My daughter is going to school in person at the end of August, after being virtual for a year and change, and I feel like I'm holding on by the skin of my teeth till then. 

You are burnt out and it's OK to admit it. Some folks are drained by work or parenting, others recharged. It's an incredibly unfair thing to expect, but everybody generally expects WFH or SAH parents to do also the housework and cooking because they're not "at work" and that can also be a drain. I will again mention that this is a time period where it's temporary and outsourcing some of your "work" at home or with kids can be beneficial so that you don't mentally suffer.

Our kids are going back to school in August and we're SOOOO looking forward to it. In the meantime yes it's juts like oh my god I don't think we can make it.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2021, 12:46:26 PM »
All parents that I know have had challenges to varying frequencies and degrees, myself definitely included.  It *is* hard to be engaged 100% of the time with anything, much less at an A+ level.  Social media and Pintrest be damned I say!

But, another suggestion that might help is to get out of the house. Taking the kids out to a park, playground, library, or museum is a good way to pass the time with them while not necessarily needing to be the primary source of entertainment.  While everyone is out of the house, there aren't messes being generated either. Win - win.  Another bonus is that if I'm out of the house with the kids, then I don't feel compelled to do a million housekeeping chores because I'm not there to do them.

When my spouse is in busy season and I am the sole caregiver on the weekends, I would try to plan one big adventure and one small adventure.  I got this idea from Laura Vanderkam (lauravanderkam.com).  This means that one day of the weekend I would plan some sort of excursion as a big adventure (pool, hike, visit to children's museum) and then plan some sort of activity (like a playdate, art activity, smaller trip like to the neighborhood park) as a small adventure.  With these two things planned, the weekends tended to pass more smoothly and quickly with less whining.

Please don't take this as writing off your comments - these are excellent suggestions! I would like to reiterate an observation that my wife and I have made to each other, and Jim Gaffigan would probably more eloquently express than I ever could. Similar to his vacation bit from one of his shows that's probably close to a decade old now: "...really that's all a vacation is, just us eating in a place we've never been...", taking kids out to the pool or the park or a hike or the museum is just taking many of the attitudes, behaviors, and struggles, and superimposing them on a different landscape.

Now, that's a particularly pessimistic and grumpy view on things I will fully admit, but it's the observation that my wife and I make. The museum or the pool might provide an activity for the kids and it's moderately distracting, but ultimately it's just me/us, with the kids, somewhere else.

In the context of this discussion, going to the train museum for 2 hours does nothing to alleviate burnout. As a parent, I love to see the imagination and awe when my son stands next to a train's drive wheel that's 3x his height, but also as a parent (only this time, burned out), I just want to have him be entertained and to take a mental break myself. I want to spend time perusing the exhibits at my leisure. I want to lounge by the pool while my kids are off doing their own thing. I don't want to have to worry about whether my almost 4 year old is going to poop in the pool. I don't want to have to wonder whether they're going to get ticks or poison ivy on a hike.

When burnout is talked about, it sounds really selfish, and as a parent I then look at myself and get upset with myself because I am being selfish for wanting to disengage that part of my brain for more than a couple hours a day.

CNM - I want you to know I'm not specifically addressing you in much of this response, rather I'm using it as a jumping off point for another tangent on the topic because you provided a good one. Those same people who tell you that you can do it because someone else can would look at this post and declare that I'm being selfish, that activities would take my mind off things, that my kids are only young once - and that's all great but what they fail to realize is that some people aren't as great at being a model parent as others would expect them to be and that those expectations are doing more harm than good.

When we go on vacation, one of the first things we looks to see is whether there's a kids' museum - you know the type: water table, model plane, play stores, etc - because in those places I can check out mentally while my kid is somewhere upstairs pretending to be a short order cook and I can sit and stare blankly at the 'exhibits' and for just a moment not have to think about whether my children are acting properly.

I don't have any good answers, and truth be told even when experiencing burnout, activities are still a nice distraction - but they aren't the magic cureall that some make them out to be.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2021, 01:03:01 PM »
All parents that I know have had challenges to varying frequencies and degrees, myself definitely included.  It *is* hard to be engaged 100% of the time with anything, much less at an A+ level.  Social media and Pintrest be damned I say!

But, another suggestion that might help is to get out of the house. Taking the kids out to a park, playground, library, or museum is a good way to pass the time with them while not necessarily needing to be the primary source of entertainment.  While everyone is out of the house, there aren't messes being generated either. Win - win.  Another bonus is that if I'm out of the house with the kids, then I don't feel compelled to do a million housekeeping chores because I'm not there to do them.

When my spouse is in busy season and I am the sole caregiver on the weekends, I would try to plan one big adventure and one small adventure.  I got this idea from Laura Vanderkam (lauravanderkam.com).  This means that one day of the weekend I would plan some sort of excursion as a big adventure (pool, hike, visit to children's museum) and then plan some sort of activity (like a playdate, art activity, smaller trip like to the neighborhood park) as a small adventure.  With these two things planned, the weekends tended to pass more smoothly and quickly with less whining.

Please don't take this as writing off your comments - these are excellent suggestions! I would like to reiterate an observation that my wife and I have made to each other, and Jim Gaffigan would probably more eloquently express than I ever could. Similar to his vacation bit from one of his shows that's probably close to a decade old now: "...really that's all a vacation is, just us eating in a place we've never been...", taking kids out to the pool or the park or a hike or the museum is just taking many of the attitudes, behaviors, and struggles, and superimposing them on a different landscape.

Now, that's a particularly pessimistic and grumpy view on things I will fully admit, but it's the observation that my wife and I make. The museum or the pool might provide an activity for the kids and it's moderately distracting, but ultimately it's just me/us, with the kids, somewhere else.

In the context of this discussion, going to the train museum for 2 hours does nothing to alleviate burnout. As a parent, I love to see the imagination and awe when my son stands next to a train's drive wheel that's 3x his height, but also as a parent (only this time, burned out), I just want to have him be entertained and to take a mental break myself. I want to spend time perusing the exhibits at my leisure. I want to lounge by the pool while my kids are off doing their own thing. I don't want to have to worry about whether my almost 4 year old is going to poop in the pool. I don't want to have to wonder whether they're going to get ticks or poison ivy on a hike.

When burnout is talked about, it sounds really selfish, and as a parent I then look at myself and get upset with myself because I am being selfish for wanting to disengage that part of my brain for more than a couple hours a day.

CNM - I want you to know I'm not specifically addressing you in much of this response, rather I'm using it as a jumping off point for another tangent on the topic because you provided a good one. Those same people who tell you that you can do it because someone else can would look at this post and declare that I'm being selfish, that activities would take my mind off things, that my kids are only young once - and that's all great but what they fail to realize is that some people aren't as great at being a model parent as others would expect them to be and that those expectations are doing more harm than good.

When we go on vacation, one of the first things we looks to see is whether there's a kids' museum - you know the type: water table, model plane, play stores, etc - because in those places I can check out mentally while my kid is somewhere upstairs pretending to be a short order cook and I can sit and stare blankly at the 'exhibits' and for just a moment not have to think about whether my children are acting properly.

I don't have any good answers, and truth be told even when experiencing burnout, activities are still a nice distraction - but they aren't the magic cureall that some make them out to be.
That all sounds entirely reasonable to me, and I don't even have kids.

If you have the money to get someone in to help, then that is the answer.  If they and you are fully vaccinated and taking reasonable precautions then the chances of there being a health problem as a result are fairly remote, and the benefits to you and your family of having a reset will be incalculable.

It's entirely acceptable on this forum, and almost required, to tell people that they can pull back from overwork and impose boundaries.  I don't see why it should be any different to say that parents should be able to pull back from over-parenting and impose boundaries by bringing in help.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2021, 01:52:00 PM »
All parents that I know have had challenges to varying frequencies and degrees, myself definitely included.  It *is* hard to be engaged 100% of the time with anything, much less at an A+ level.  Social media and Pintrest be damned I say!

But, another suggestion that might help is to get out of the house. Taking the kids out to a park, playground, library, or museum is a good way to pass the time with them while not necessarily needing to be the primary source of entertainment.  While everyone is out of the house, there aren't messes being generated either. Win - win.  Another bonus is that if I'm out of the house with the kids, then I don't feel compelled to do a million housekeeping chores because I'm not there to do them.

When my spouse is in busy season and I am the sole caregiver on the weekends, I would try to plan one big adventure and one small adventure.  I got this idea from Laura Vanderkam (lauravanderkam.com).  This means that one day of the weekend I would plan some sort of excursion as a big adventure (pool, hike, visit to children's museum) and then plan some sort of activity (like a playdate, art activity, smaller trip like to the neighborhood park) as a small adventure.  With these two things planned, the weekends tended to pass more smoothly and quickly with less whining.

Please don't take this as writing off your comments - these are excellent suggestions! I would like to reiterate an observation that my wife and I have made to each other, and Jim Gaffigan would probably more eloquently express than I ever could. Similar to his vacation bit from one of his shows that's probably close to a decade old now: "...really that's all a vacation is, just us eating in a place we've never been...", taking kids out to the pool or the park or a hike or the museum is just taking many of the attitudes, behaviors, and struggles, and superimposing them on a different landscape.

Now, that's a particularly pessimistic and grumpy view on things I will fully admit, but it's the observation that my wife and I make. The museum or the pool might provide an activity for the kids and it's moderately distracting, but ultimately it's just me/us, with the kids, somewhere else.

In the context of this discussion, going to the train museum for 2 hours does nothing to alleviate burnout. As a parent, I love to see the imagination and awe when my son stands next to a train's drive wheel that's 3x his height, but also as a parent (only this time, burned out), I just want to have him be entertained and to take a mental break myself. I want to spend time perusing the exhibits at my leisure. I want to lounge by the pool while my kids are off doing their own thing. I don't want to have to worry about whether my almost 4 year old is going to poop in the pool. I don't want to have to wonder whether they're going to get ticks or poison ivy on a hike.

When burnout is talked about, it sounds really selfish, and as a parent I then look at myself and get upset with myself because I am being selfish for wanting to disengage that part of my brain for more than a couple hours a day.

CNM - I want you to know I'm not specifically addressing you in much of this response, rather I'm using it as a jumping off point for another tangent on the topic because you provided a good one. Those same people who tell you that you can do it because someone else can would look at this post and declare that I'm being selfish, that activities would take my mind off things, that my kids are only young once - and that's all great but what they fail to realize is that some people aren't as great at being a model parent as others would expect them to be and that those expectations are doing more harm than good.

When we go on vacation, one of the first things we looks to see is whether there's a kids' museum - you know the type: water table, model plane, play stores, etc - because in those places I can check out mentally while my kid is somewhere upstairs pretending to be a short order cook and I can sit and stare blankly at the 'exhibits' and for just a moment not have to think about whether my children are acting properly.

I don't have any good answers, and truth be told even when experiencing burnout, activities are still a nice distraction - but they aren't the magic cureall that some make them out to be.

Agreed again with all of this.

Burnout requires drastic changes and unfortunately for us at least major changes for childcare and distraction is just not an option. We also don't have a huge social support network in here, no immediate family or other families with kids that we can do kid sharing for weekends/afternoons while one set of parents do something else, so it's very isolating and very draining. It's also tough ages even when you do have support....

chemistk

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #30 on: July 22, 2021, 05:42:45 AM »
All parents that I know have had challenges to varying frequencies and degrees, myself definitely included.  It *is* hard to be engaged 100% of the time with anything, much less at an A+ level.  Social media and Pintrest be damned I say!

But, another suggestion that might help is to get out of the house. Taking the kids out to a park, playground, library, or museum is a good way to pass the time with them while not necessarily needing to be the primary source of entertainment.  While everyone is out of the house, there aren't messes being generated either. Win - win.  Another bonus is that if I'm out of the house with the kids, then I don't feel compelled to do a million housekeeping chores because I'm not there to do them.

When my spouse is in busy season and I am the sole caregiver on the weekends, I would try to plan one big adventure and one small adventure.  I got this idea from Laura Vanderkam (lauravanderkam.com).  This means that one day of the weekend I would plan some sort of excursion as a big adventure (pool, hike, visit to children's museum) and then plan some sort of activity (like a playdate, art activity, smaller trip like to the neighborhood park) as a small adventure.  With these two things planned, the weekends tended to pass more smoothly and quickly with less whining.

Please don't take this as writing off your comments - these are excellent suggestions! I would like to reiterate an observation that my wife and I have made to each other, and Jim Gaffigan would probably more eloquently express than I ever could. Similar to his vacation bit from one of his shows that's probably close to a decade old now: "...really that's all a vacation is, just us eating in a place we've never been...", taking kids out to the pool or the park or a hike or the museum is just taking many of the attitudes, behaviors, and struggles, and superimposing them on a different landscape.

Now, that's a particularly pessimistic and grumpy view on things I will fully admit, but it's the observation that my wife and I make. The museum or the pool might provide an activity for the kids and it's moderately distracting, but ultimately it's just me/us, with the kids, somewhere else.

In the context of this discussion, going to the train museum for 2 hours does nothing to alleviate burnout. As a parent, I love to see the imagination and awe when my son stands next to a train's drive wheel that's 3x his height, but also as a parent (only this time, burned out), I just want to have him be entertained and to take a mental break myself. I want to spend time perusing the exhibits at my leisure. I want to lounge by the pool while my kids are off doing their own thing. I don't want to have to worry about whether my almost 4 year old is going to poop in the pool. I don't want to have to wonder whether they're going to get ticks or poison ivy on a hike.

When burnout is talked about, it sounds really selfish, and as a parent I then look at myself and get upset with myself because I am being selfish for wanting to disengage that part of my brain for more than a couple hours a day.

CNM - I want you to know I'm not specifically addressing you in much of this response, rather I'm using it as a jumping off point for another tangent on the topic because you provided a good one. Those same people who tell you that you can do it because someone else can would look at this post and declare that I'm being selfish, that activities would take my mind off things, that my kids are only young once - and that's all great but what they fail to realize is that some people aren't as great at being a model parent as others would expect them to be and that those expectations are doing more harm than good.

When we go on vacation, one of the first things we looks to see is whether there's a kids' museum - you know the type: water table, model plane, play stores, etc - because in those places I can check out mentally while my kid is somewhere upstairs pretending to be a short order cook and I can sit and stare blankly at the 'exhibits' and for just a moment not have to think about whether my children are acting properly.

I don't have any good answers, and truth be told even when experiencing burnout, activities are still a nice distraction - but they aren't the magic cureall that some make them out to be.
That all sounds entirely reasonable to me, and I don't even have kids.

If you have the money to get someone in to help, then that is the answer.  If they and you are fully vaccinated and taking reasonable precautions then the chances of there being a health problem as a result are fairly remote, and the benefits to you and your family of having a reset will be incalculable.

It's entirely acceptable on this forum, and almost required, to tell people that they can pull back from overwork and impose boundaries.  I don't see why it should be any different to say that parents should be able to pull back from over-parenting and impose boundaries by bringing in help.

Agreed, and we will probably be leveraging a lot more support once our youngest is past the point where his world shatters if my wife or I leave his sight.

But this brings up yet another latent-simmering tangent that I've dwelled on before and that my wife and I have talked about. When you take a mental break from work, and set your OOO, and turn off your phone, you're 'free'. Free to go hike in some remote wilderness, to get rip-roaring drunk, or to read a book on a beach all day. But when you hand over control of your kids to someone else, be it a babysitter, other parent, grandparent, etc., you're not 'free'.

You spend a small part of each hour wondering how the kids are doing. Wondering if their routines are okay. Wondering if your support person struggling with them. There might not be a single issue but you can't ever shake that idea from your head. You make sure you are in an area with good cell coverage, that one of you is able to drive, that you're not going to put yourself in a position where tomorrow you're regretting your choices from today because you're back at it in the game.

Perhaps that's the specific aspect of parental burnout that is so unique. When you check out of work because of burnout, you can extinguish that candle and let yourself cool off. As a parent, that flame never dies, it just varies in intensity for the rest of your life (unless you've essentially neglected or abandoned your kids).

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #31 on: July 22, 2021, 06:32:57 AM »
You've just articulated one of the reasons I've chosen not to have kids.

I'm past the age where it is relevant, but expressing such views when I was younger was highly likely to get the "selfish" response.

Fuck that.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #32 on: July 22, 2021, 06:55:48 AM »
You've just articulated one of the reasons I've chosen not to have kids.

I'm past the age where it is relevant, but expressing such views when I was younger was highly likely to get the "selfish" response.

Fuck that.

I always wondered why people chose to not have kids until we had them and slightly judged them just because "that's what people do" even though I told them that's great. Now that we have them ........ I get it now and am sorry for all of my judgments. For the record we wanted kids and do not want to go back. They are a lot of mental and physical work.

I read a study that said people with kids are happier than those with kids but only after the kids leave the house. That's a long time to realize a happiness investment, so to speak, if you're on the fence.  I'll have to dig it up.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #33 on: July 22, 2021, 08:50:31 AM »
I get that scheduling things with your kids doesn't cure burn out.  I did not mean to suggest that it does.  But I find that it does help getting through the day and can, sometimes, provide for those brief moments of respite.  This of course depends on the kid and the activity.  I can take my 8 year old and 2.5 year old to the playground and they will entertain themselves very well.  Going to the pool with a 2.5 year old less so, but it does kill time.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2021, 07:37:09 AM »
Those are tough ages (Its "grit your teeth" time of parenting, just like there are grit your teeth time for jobs, school, and many other things).  The lockdowns hitting when you had those ages is something I can't imagine.

There's probably a lot better advice here as to what to do to take care of yourself thru it than I can give.  What I do want to add is, that though of course parenting will have challenges at any age (just ask my mother ;-),  my current kids at 19,15,11 yos give me so much more life than they suck out of it, and have for quite a while now.  I love it that the oldest still wants to spend his summers here, I volunteer to drive my 15yo places just to be around her, I am thankful we made that decision to have a third child, 'cause I wont be an empty nester until late(r) in life, which I'm not ready to be yet, esp given work is finally not an overwhelming time suck as it was in the past.  Though my wife was a SAHM and so did much more than 50% of the child-raising, esp during that hardest part, she's the one that REALLY wishes we had a fourth (or more).  We've past the ages of having more of our own, and I'm not really eager to raise a little one again, so i fully expect we'll try fostering teenagers in the future just to see if its a good fit for everyone when that time comes.

I'd of called having even more kids crazy when my kids were the ages of yours, but now.... Just throwing this out there that things will change dramatically and sooner than you imagine.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2021, 07:39:05 AM by Much Fishing to Do »

ender

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2021, 08:48:11 AM »
Having young kids with a SAH spouse is the quickest way to make you realize the absolute hell/chaos single parents go through.

What I struggle with is finding joy in the monotony that is raising a young child. Maybe it's just the last few years with covid but it's just boring. So much of the same repetitive things.

I'm encouraged to read folks finding it more fulfilling as kids get older though.

Dutch Comfort

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #36 on: July 29, 2021, 06:18:21 AM »
As a mother of 2 adoptive children with abondonment trauma, I say: SLEEP is underrated in this society.

After trying to get them to sleep in their own room, their own bed for 6 months, I was so sleep deprived that I changed my mantra to:
I do not care WHERE they sleep, as long as they sleep.

So...... they slept in our room, they slept in each others room, we have a spare mattress under our bed, which we take out when they cannot sleep in their own room. But having the opportunity to sleep in our room, changed the world for both of them (and therefore me....).
I figured that they would not be willing to sleep in our room when they're teenagers (because..... ugh..... parents.....(*enter rolling eyes*)).

Do not feel guilty letting your kids sleep in your room when this makes them feel save and secured. You will deal with the "sleep in your own bed" later.

Take care!
« Last Edit: July 29, 2021, 06:20:13 AM by Dutch Comfort »

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2021, 06:09:50 AM »
Great thread with lots of good advice and empathy!

Personally, our daughter was a lousy sleeper (and still at 6.5 isn't amazing).  We totally co-slept once she was big enough to not get squished, and that was very helpful.  DW also nursed her to sleep until she was almost 4.  We absolutely worried that we were setting up all these bad behaviors, but then DW went to a conference shortly before our daughter's 4th birthday and I was able to get her to sleep w/o nursing no problem.  And, at that point, she had no trouble transitioning to her own bed.  We still have a pretty involved "go to sleep routine" (1 parent story time, then independent reading, then 1 parent back again to snuggle and do a guided meditation) but I enjoy it.  The story time is fun, when she does independent reading I typically go to my office and meditate, and then during the guided meditation (using an app) I read a book.  And she sleeps through the night no problem, most of the time (and has been for a couple of years).  My wife or I will say "shouldn't we get her to go to sleep independently" but whatever -- it will happen.  I'm confident that I won't be sitting on the side of her bed in her college dorm doing a guided meditation with her. :)

I also totally support outsourcing things -- when DW was a SAHM (from age 0 to 2.5), we had a housekeeper come every couple of weeks.  And this summer, when DW wasn't working much, we still put DD in daycamp most weeks.  And we are talking up overnight camp (as something to do in a couple of years) to inspire some interest in sleeping independently. :)

As others have said -- I don't think DW loves being the activity determiner full-time.  I seem to have an easier time with it (I think it comes naturally to me) but it could just be that I do it less.  I'm definitely worse with meal planning and prep, but I think I do well with activity time.  Maybe part of it is that DW likes to plan and schedule activities, and I'm much more go with the flow (which means it doesn't really stress me out because I don't have a particular plan in mind).

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2021, 11:54:50 PM »
She was sleep trained at 9 months and slept on her own straight through the night in her crib until 18 months when she learned to get out of the crib.  She took a few falls from it too.  We had to move her to a bed and she just wasn't ready... this was when the issues started and escalated.  The sleep trainer we used before would only work with us if we put her back in the crib which is pointless since she won't stay in it as she doesn't feel safe. I agree as she is terrified at night. And she bangs against her bedroom door so hard she will eventually knock it down! We didn't have this problem with our oldest because she stayed in a crib until she was 3.  Now with me, she hasn't woken at all which has been good.  I really don't see another solution that will let us sleep.
We had some sleep issues with our kid, but nothing this severe. One suggestion I haven't seen mentioned that I think we learned in "Precious little sleep" (we liked that book, btw) is to make the change very gradual. If she won't sleep in her room without you in it, put a mattress on the floor next to her bed and sleep there. Once she doesn't get out of bed like that, move 3 feet away from her bed, once that works move to lie by the door, then with the door open and you on the floor outside it. etc. IF she gets up, comfort her and put her back in her bed. Repeat until she doesn't get up and

We never had to do this, and I'm very happy about that because it sounds like a recipe for an extended time of crappy sleep for the parent. But the idea sounds perfectly sound (and is the same way you treat phobias etc, by gradual adaptation.) We did have many nights of getting up, comforting him and telling him to go back to sleep, every 15 minutes for hours, but now at 3.5y he only gets up in the night if he feels crappy or he hears a mosquito flying around.

(Incidentally, he slept in our bedroom, in his own crib and then his own little bed, until he was almost 3. We were prepared for a rough transition when we had finally renovated the room that would become his and he was going to move into it, but we talked about it a few weeks in advance, had him help assemble his furniture and move his bed into the room and when we put him to bed he just went to sleep and slept through the night in there the first night. I could hardly believe it.)

shelivesthedream

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #39 on: August 16, 2021, 01:48:37 PM »
This was a hard thread for me to read, because I am struggling with life at the moment and it's true that when you're a burnt out parent you have no true respite. Our 18mo fell down the stairs the other day and thank goodness I was there to literally catch her and she was completely unharmed and unbothered, but it just reinforced to me how I can't even take my eye off her for thirty seconds while I take my shoes off because she is FAST and SILENT and not remotely cautious the way our older one was at that age.

A few things I am working on for myself at the moment:

1. My personal sleep is the most important thing. If I don't get enough uninterrupted sleep, I am simply not available as a good parent. Once I have gone to bed, I put earplugs in and that is IT. I have zero tolerance for anything that disturbs my sleep. When I put our 3yo to bed, I am pretty sure he turns his light on and plays in his room for a while. I pretend I don't know because really, it's no skin off my nose and at some point he gets himself back into bed and turns the light off again and goes to sleep. But he's recently gone through a phase of coming out of his room calling for us and I came down on that like a ton of bricks. I. Need. Sleep. And I am open minded about how I get it. If going back to cosleeping meant I actually personally slept (as opposed to spending the entire night being kicked and elbowed and breathed on) I would absolutely do it.

2. Different people find different things stressful when it comes to raising children and being a full time parent/homemaker in particular. It's helpful to identify your particular triggers. My husband can't stand screaming, even fun screaming. Doesn't bother me, but asking the 3yo to do something and getting a smirking "I don't want to" sends me into paroxysms of rage, whereas Mr SLTD is able to just calmly and firmly deal with it. I'm not that great at random imaginary games, but I like doing a little project with a beginning and middle and end. I've been seeing a counsellor and she asked me the other week what makes me feel like a good mum. I figured out that it's when my children ask me, "Mum, can we...?" and I can say "Yes!" and make it happen for them. So one day soon we are going to open up the manhole cover on our drive with the stopcock underneath it so our 3yo can look on, because he asked me to. Mr SLTD thinks I'm crazy, but that sounds like a fun and satisfying time to me.

3. I agree that doing the same shit in different places isn't a break, but I do still think getting out is helpful. I notice a difference in behaviour with my two (3yo and 18mo) when we have been somewhere new. They squabble and gripe less and sleep better. For me, it is not a break, but it makes them more pleasant to be around and that helps me not use up all my fucks by 11am.

4. You know, I really see how parents abuse their children. I know it's an awful thing to say and some people will take it the wrong way, but parental (and particularly maternal) anger is such a taboo topic and it's something we all feel. Sometimes I do look at my smirking 3yo on a night of interrupted sleep and when I have been listening to "She shall not get at [toy]! I am using it!" every few minutes since breakfast and think "Ooh, I could really hit you right now" or "If I hear one more word about what you don't want for breakfast I simply will not feed you again today." Of course I haven't, don't and won't, but it frightens me sometimes to think how powerful parents are and how vulnerable children are. And therefore quite how important parental burnout is.

JJ-

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #40 on: August 16, 2021, 03:06:22 PM »
This was a hard thread for me to read, because I am struggling with life at the moment and it's true that when you're a burnt out parent you have no true respite. Our 18mo fell down the stairs the other day and thank goodness I was there to literally catch her and she was completely unharmed and unbothered, but it just reinforced to me how I can't even take my eye off her for thirty seconds while I take my shoes off because she is FAST and SILENT and not remotely cautious the way our older one was at that age.
Similar for us. Our first was cautious and risk aware. Our second....... not so much. He's like what's this couch or playground ledge let me go barreling toward it just when you look away for a half second.

2. Different people find different things stressful when it comes to raising children and being a full time parent/homemaker in particular. It's helpful to identify your particular triggers. My husband can't stand screaming, even fun screaming. Doesn't bother me, but asking the 3yo to do something and getting a smirking "I don't want to" sends me into paroxysms of rage, whereas Mr SLTD is able to just calmly and firmly deal with it. I'm not that great at random imaginary games, but I like doing a little project with a beginning and middle and end. I've been seeing a counsellor and she asked me the other week what makes me feel like a good mum. I figured out that it's when my children ask me, "Mum, can we...?" and I can say "Yes!" and make it happen for them. So one day soon we are going to open up the manhole cover on our drive with the stopcock underneath it so our 3yo can look on, because he asked me to. Mr SLTD thinks I'm crazy, but that sounds like a fun and satisfying time to me.
I never thought about it this way, but our older (3.5-4yo) drives both of us up the wall. At first I thought we had similar triggers because it seems during the same time frames (bed time routine rebellion for example) we both lose it depending on the day. Maybe though there's certain points or behavioral triggers through it that sets us off, though neither of us like outright defiance .... :) It also ties to sleep and our patience, as well as how exhausting they were that day and who had to deal with the brunt of it.

LightTripper

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #41 on: August 16, 2021, 04:06:54 PM »
I'm not sure anything I have to say is novel, but I just wanted to reiterate (as parent of a 7 and 4 year old - so a few years on from you) that those are HARD ages and things will get MUCH BETTER quite quickly.  For us it wasn't so much the nappies and things (not that I'm sad to be rid of them), but just the fact that until about a year ago they really couldn't play together without supervision or one of them getting upset or bored pretty quickly.  Now suddenly they can make something together out of Lego or a cardboard box, or disappear upstairs and play together for a good chunk of time making a den or creating a treasure chest, and they have the patience to listen to an audio-book or watch a movie (and can both be interested in the same thing).  Of course at this age you are still watching them and need to be available, and 4yo attention spans are still not fabulous: but it's much much much better.

Sleep is also much better.  My eldest was a pretty good sleeper once she got through babyhood, but my little boy came into my bed a lot at various points of his life and woke up a lot in his own bed.  Now he probably only does it once every couple of weeks, but for quite a long time it was every night.  It wasn't ideal of course (I'm sure we both had more interrupted sleep that way), and I do agree in principle with teaching children to self-soothe, but I was just too tired to do anything else, and it worked OK.  We probably largely co-slept from 1or 2am (when he'd wake up and come into my bed) for most of a year.  And then when I had some more energy and mental band-width OH and I worked together to get him gently out of the habit, which wasn't so bad (probably took a couple of weeks).

One way we handled sleep before that when we were still trying to deal with him in his own bed was to tag team the night basically.  So OH gets up earlier for work and is naturally a lark more than an owl - whereas I'm very much the latter and my work started later.  So e.g. we'd try to go to bed pretty early (or often I'd go back to my laptop for a bit), but then I'd cover the wake ups until say 2am, and then OH would do it from then.  That means each of you can get 5-6 hours uninterrupted, plus some interrupted sleep on your "shift".  But even a reliable 5h solid sleep (plus a few interrupted hours) is something worth having when you're in that bit of life.  It definitely keeps you sane when there are constant wake ups to know there is an end in sight I think.

For us getting outside a lot always helped (and still does).  Particularly large open spaces like big parks or woods where the kids could build dens and jump over streams and hunt for bugs or whatever.  But ours were never runners or crazily adventurous, so I get that this might not be relaxing with all kids.  The right kind of museum (hands on, kid friendly, nothing too interesting for me to feel I'm missing out on) is good too - although as SLTD says, more because it makes the rest of the day go better and creates a fun memory than because it's particularly relaxing at the time.  Swimming also tires them out, but I find it such hard work myself that I struggle to get enthusiastic about it, and do it more out of duty than to tire them out!

Other than that I would encourage throwing money at the problem if you can (help with childcare, house cleaning - whatever helps you).  It's only for another year or so and then things should be much easier all round.  If your funds go in the wrong direction for a year, it's not the end of the world: this is precisely the kind of thing that savings and financial flexibility and living below your means most of the time are for.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #42 on: August 17, 2021, 01:54:36 AM »
We have two people who will occasionally take the 3yo for a day out, and it's so restful just having the one child at home. A lot of our issues at the moment are around sibling dynamics with a hugely dramatic 3yo who is territorial over "his" (er, no, the shared) cars and trains and an 18mo who knows what she wants and screams when she doesn't get it and who the 3yo can't actually talk to because she can't talk.

Removing one child from the equation cuts out 100% of the squabbling and griping and demands for us to referee and so on. Bliss.

TheFrenchCat

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #43 on: August 17, 2021, 12:37:03 PM »
We have two people who will occasionally take the 3yo for a day out, and it's so restful just having the one child at home. A lot of our issues at the moment are around sibling dynamics with a hugely dramatic 3yo who is territorial over "his" (er, no, the shared) cars and trains and an 18mo who knows what she wants and screams when she doesn't get it and who the 3yo can't actually talk to because she can't talk.

Removing one child from the equation cuts out 100% of the squabbling and griping and demands for us to referee and so on. Bliss.

You're making me glad I could only have one kid.  I'm burnt out enough as it is.  I'm counting down the days till school starts. 

Hopefully they'll age out of some of the conflict.  But I'm glad you can get a bit of a break now.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #44 on: August 18, 2021, 09:37:07 AM »
We have two people who will occasionally take the 3yo for a day out, and it's so restful just having the one child at home. A lot of our issues at the moment are around sibling dynamics with a hugely dramatic 3yo who is territorial over "his" (er, no, the shared) cars and trains and an 18mo who knows what she wants and screams when she doesn't get it and who the 3yo can't actually talk to because she can't talk.

Removing one child from the equation cuts out 100% of the squabbling and griping and demands for us to referee and so on. Bliss.

You're making me glad I could only have one kid.  I'm burnt out enough as it is.  I'm counting down the days till school starts. 

Hopefully they'll age out of some of the conflict.  But I'm glad you can get a bit of a break now.

We're already seeing some improvement that the little one can say some words so the big one talks to her sometimes rather than talking at us about her. But she lets out a high pitched scream of protest whenever she doesn't like anything which he copies. So I guess it's getting better for me (less griping) but worse for Mr SLTD (more screaming). Swings and roundabouts!

Chris Pascale

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #45 on: August 30, 2021, 02:11:55 PM »
This is a game of survival, and your kids need you to make it through to the end.

I say this because if there's any guilt about any decisions, the main thing to remember is that they need you alive and healthy (in mind and body).

I remember being a SAHD and kid no. 3 was crying and my back was killing me from holding her so much. I put her in her chair, strapped her in, and thought I'm going to just eat this yogurt, then pick her up again but when the yogurt was done, I couldn't. I then folded a load of laundry (so I could justify being so horrible!), and then I sat another minute in the glider and she stopped crying. She'd fallen asleep.

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #46 on: September 01, 2021, 07:25:15 AM »
I didn't read all the responses, but would share that our kids needed (and still need, even as teenagers) a rediculous amount of exercise to remain sane.  We know where ALL the parks are.   Even on vacation, parks were one of the first things we located.  That said, when we did finally wear them out, they'd go from crazy to grouchy in about three seconds.  I know Covid has made things difficult, but try wearing them slap out for several days on end and see how they manage.

Chris Pascale

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #47 on: September 03, 2021, 11:49:10 PM »
I didn't read all the responses, but would share that our kids needed (and still need, even as teenagers) a rediculous amount of exercise to remain sane.  We know where ALL the parks are.   Even on vacation, parks were one of the first things we located.  That said, when we did finally wear them out, they'd go from crazy to grouchy in about three seconds.  I know Covid has made things difficult, but try wearing them slap out for several days on end and see how they manage.

Just got back from a terrific camping trip. Long hikes do wonders for the body and mind.

c-kat

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #48 on: October 13, 2021, 10:57:11 AM »
I just wanted to post an update.  Thank you everyone for the support and suggestions on this thread.

Sadly I am back to work in 10 days  (3 days a week) and things are not where I wanted them to be.  Unfortunately, my EI sick leave is up then so I have to find a way to make it work.

My daughter sleeping with me was a game changer but sadly three weeks ago she decided she didn't want to anymore.  The first few nights back in her own bed were okay but now she's waking twice a night again.

Her behaviour has not improved - constant biting and hiting and breaking things. She bit her sister so bad there was a lot of blood. And she just digs her heels in on things. Like yesterday, grandma watched her at her place for three hours so I could have a break.  She pooped but wouldn't let grandma changed her. She tried but but got attacked so texted me saying you'll have to do it when you pick her up.  When I showed up she refused to let me change her, so I put her in the car seat.  Right before buckling up she pushed back and said I had to bring her inside and change her and squirmed in such a way that I couldn't get the car seat buckled, so I had to take her in and change her which which was another battle (we were 5 minutes from home - its just about control, but its ALL THE TIME.  We finally got a spot with a behavioural psychologist starting next week.  She specializes in this exact behaviour and says generally it only takes a few sessions to fix, so fingers crossed, as I'm worried about working like this.


4. You know, I really see how parents abuse their children. I know it's an awful thing to say and some people will take it the wrong way, but parental (and particularly maternal) anger is such a taboo topic and it's something we all feel. Sometimes I do look at my smirking 3yo on a night of interrupted sleep and when I have been listening to "She shall not get at [toy]! I am using it!" every few minutes since breakfast and think "Ooh, I could really hit you right now" or "If I hear one more word about what you don't want for breakfast I simply will not feed you again today." Of course I haven't, don't and won't, but it frightens me sometimes to think how powerful parents are and how vulnerable children are. And therefore quite how important parental burnout is.

Thank you so much for posting this.  I struggle with this too.  I always saw myself as a kind easy going person, but  since dealing with these behavioural issues feel angry all the time and it makes me dislike myself. Like you I would never hurt my child, but OMG do I sometimes think it and my self worth it taken a real hit because of it.

I chose to work part time so I could be more involved and it was great with my first child. She started school 4 weeks ago (part time) and is a joy to spend time with, but honestly, my other child is just a horror. I feel bad saying it but it is true.  I love her but don't enjoy spending time her. DH and Grandma feel the same. She's starting a two morning a week preschool in January. if we can get her behaviour under control then I may even do full time daycare and go back to work full time but I can't send her right now as I don't think it would be safe for other kids. 

I just hope I can perform well at work.  I will do my best and try to take breaks... being part time is hard as I end up doing extra but my psychologist says I need to stick to the hours I'm being paid for and I plan to talk to my boss about when I go back to work.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2021, 10:59:27 AM by c-kat »

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Re: Burnout when you have kids
« Reply #49 on: October 13, 2021, 11:57:57 AM »
All of the hugs to you. This sounds like such a challenging situation. I do think what you've described needs a behavioral psychologist, so I'm really happy you have time with someone in the next week or so. Sending good thoughts that professional support helps you turn this around. You are doing great. Don't be hard on yourself. You are working through such a difficult time, and you are doing your best.