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Thread: How Do You Balance Life with Kids?

  1. #1
    Bronze Member maritalbliss86's Avatar
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    How Do You Balance Life with Kids?

    So my husband I have been married for over 13 yrs, and we just finally finished growing our family (had the amount of kids we wanted), and now I think (?) it's finally time for me to think about the future, not that I haven't been, it's just that I've been so incredibly sleep deprived or wrapped up in parenting that it's kind of been on the back burner... literally the last thing on my mind.

    I just had our 4th baby almost 8 months ago, and with all the COVID stuff, it's been hard, but not undoable. I don't have any help with the baby or managing my kids, outside of my husband (and he does help!), but he also works and sometimes is required to work overtime... so there were literally days with 15 hours of me being with the kids all alone, not having any break. The sleep deprivation was unlike anything I've experienced before. It's been insanely hard, but thank God we've gotten through it ok. Baby still isn't sleeping through the night, sometimes will wake up as much as 5 times (!!) but it *should* get better, I mean he's our 4th so I know how this goes... it eventually gets a little easier.

    It's so hilarious to us that we wanted 4 so badly, and now that we've added that 4th baby, it actually feels like we suddenly have 10 kids! LOL We have moments where we look at each other and laugh and are like, "What the HELL were we thinking?!?!" It always seems like multiple kids are needing something done - ALL at the same time! And there's only two of us, so even when he IS here, it's just insane!

    I used to have an anxiety problem, and unfortunately even though it was gone for years due to just managing it well, it's come back full force with the post partum hormones plus trying to stay on top of everyone's needs. I don't really take care of myself as well, but it's kind of necessisary right now because kids' needs sometimes need to be met immediately (food/potty issues, diapers).

    I don't want to be put on meds for anxiety ... So it's kind of awful trying to see if I can self-manage again, and yet not having any help with the baby due to the COVID restrictions (even my parents are terrified because my husband is constantly potentially exposed). Self-managing anxiety when you're doing everything constantly is hard. It's hard to even write this journal and I've been interrupted several times LOL!!!

    If anyone has any ideas on trying to find a life balance with kids, after you've maybe lost yourself some (or a lot probably lol) that would be so appreciated. I do feel like I've lost myself a bit. But I barely even have time to go to the restroom (and showers are even harder to come by LOL). How can you find time for hobbies again, when I can barely even use the restroom Maybe I need to accept now just isnt the time?

  2. #2
    Bronze Member maritalbliss86's Avatar
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    Just read on another thread that anxiety and lack of sleep go together - how did I forget that?! It makes sense... and maybe it's the same for people who have insomnia?

    If anyone has something like that, how do you self-manage?

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by maritalbliss86
    Maybe I need to accept now just isnt the time?
    It probably sounds dismal, but this may really not be the time. You have a lot going on!! Maybe take a little pressure off of yourself for a couple of months, and focus strictly on the day-to-day tasks of raising your family. You're overwhelmed, so it's no surprise that you're feeling anxiety.

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    So we have "only one" child and covid (despite us being healthy and not exposed to any real extent despite living in a kind of hot zone!) has done a number on my stress level and sleep issues. I don't have any disorders and I don't have one now - I think it's normal -for months now my child has been home and typically he's at school and often has after school activities (he is 11) and my husband is insanely busy at work and does his utmost to help. We've never really had outside help -family is far away, I was not a fan of sitters, I was home the first 7 years.

    Balance -I don't have "hobbies" - I really never have. When I had my son and got married -both at age 42 - I knew I'd be giving up free time, freedom to come and go, and welcoming more sleep issues, unpredictability, unemployment (by choice!) and so much hard work. It was so worth it to me -I knew i'd won the lottery, being able to fulfil my dream of being a mom without fertility treatments at age 42. So it was worth it to me. And it still is. So for balance I have to be very careful not to get to a point where I feel like I'm going to snap. What I do is: I work out every day for a half hour at sunrise. Pre-covid that was either right after the school bus left or on weekends when I woke up early I'd go down to my building's fitness room (post covid I'm always outdoors now). I drink tons of water and no more soda. I used to be a diet coke freak. Over the last 11 years I've basically given it up -I mean if and when I go out to eat again maybe at some point I'll have a soda again but I drink water - at least 10 glasses a day, some sparkling water (not diet, just plain) and some coffee. The water keeps me centered and hydrated and more relaxed and focused.

    I read for pleasure and even more now. I read magazines (both fluffy and serious), literary novels (and sometimes chick lit) and good non fiction. I do this because I love reading and also to decrease screen time. I do not read these books on screen.

    I make sure I get exercise in addition to my work out -I walk, I do housework with energy - pre-covid I walked every where including most of the way to my office. I mostly telework but still. It's harder now.

    I make sure that I have a lot more to talk about than my kid. I make sure I don't focus on "mom friends" - and in pre-covid times I volunteered a couple of times a year for the last 4-5 years at my local public radio station for their fundraising drive. That also provided balance. I'm a former elementary school teacher but kind of allergic to all the PTA stuff and school stuff -I did volunteer at school some but it's not my preference.

    So these are things I personally do to be balanced. I wouldn't strive for aspiring to all those silly labels- silly to me of "self care" and "work life balance" -get down to the nitty gritty of what you need to feel more peaceful and grounded. I don't want a long bath, a massage or a pedicure or a spa day with my friends. I love my work - it keeps me vital -and I also loved being home full time for 7 years (would have been 5-6 years but took me awhile to find the right part time position).

    So consider what things really do make you feel like..... you. Consider things that are basic and simple. This morning I could not sleep after 5:30am so I spent 45 minutes reading. I was tempted to sneak my phone in but I didn't. And I'm glad. But maybe you feel more balanced if you go on Facebook or social media - avoid cliches and focus on what does it for you.

    Good luck and what you're doing is a lot -and that's an understatement!!!

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  6. #5
    Bronze Member maritalbliss86's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    It probably sounds dismal, but this may really not be the time. You have a lot going on!! Maybe take a little pressure off of yourself for a couple of months, and focus strictly on the day-to-day tasks of raising your family. You're overwhelmed, so it's no surprise that you're feeling anxiety.
    No, it's ok... We did choose this, so it's totally fine if I need to wait longer... We knew it would be hard, just didn't expect the transition from 3 to 4 to feel like it was somehow 10 kids I guess I'm just a little worried maybe I really am, "losing myself," whatever that means(?)

    I also homeschool, so during the week I'm teaching our 10 year old his 5th grade lessons and our 5 yr old just started Kinder with me teaching him.

    Maybe it would help to know their ages... Our oldest is 10 (boy) and gifted... that's why homeschool was better for him, he was making all A's in regular school but bored out of his mind and getting into trouble daydreaming, doodling and talking. He does middle school and high school work, and I actually find SO much pleasure in teaching him and in picking out his curriculum each year and the book list he'll read.

    Kinder is easy to teach, so I'm just working with our 5 year old (another boy) on learning all the basics and trying to help him go at his pace. He's advancing pretty fast, but he's not pressured into advancing if that makes sense. I pretty much let them learn at their own pace, which so far, has ended up with them enjoying school. My goal is that they'll be self-motivated learners and enjoy seeking out information for themselves even into adulthood.

    We have a 3 yr old girl and then the almost 8 month old baby (boy), they're pretty easy during the school day, for the most part.

    But yes, overwhelmed makes sense... hopefully that means that the anxiety will go away (?) once things level out and the baby starts sleeping better.

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    Bronze Member maritalbliss86's Avatar
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    Wow Batya, thank you so much for adding your thoughts and suggestions! Your schedule and planning and everything just sounds so wonderful. And 10-11 is a great age! They're mostly self-sufficient and you can have very deep conversations and connect on such a deep level. We actually spend a lot of time with our oldest in reading books with him at night. He *could* read by himself, and he often does if it's silent reading time, but we like the adventure of reading together (my husband and I) with him. Right now we're reading through the Hobbit at night, and it feels like we're all on the adventure together!

    I really want to get to that place where I can find time to consistently exercise like you (we do have an elliptical machine, but so far I haven't been able to figure out a consistent time to use it).

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    Originally Posted by maritalbliss86
    No, it's ok... We did choose this, so it's totally fine if I need to wait longer... We knew it would be hard, just didn't expect the transition from 3 to 4 to feel like it was somehow 10 kids I guess I'm just a little worried maybe I really am, "losing myself," whatever that means(?)

    I also homeschool, so during the week I'm teaching our 10 year old his 5th grade lessons and our 5 yr old just started Kinder with me teaching him.

    Maybe it would help to know their ages... Our oldest is 10 (boy) and gifted... that's why homeschool was better for him, he was making all A's in regular school but bored out of his mind and getting into trouble daydreaming, doodling and talking. He does middle school and high school work, and I actually find SO much pleasure in teaching him and in picking out his curriculum each year and the book list he'll read.

    Kinder is easy to teach, so I'm just working with our 5 year old (another boy) on learning all the basics and trying to help him go at his pace. He's advancing pretty fast, but he's not pressured into advancing if that makes sense. I pretty much let them learn at their own pace, which so far, has ended up with them enjoying school. My goal is that they'll be self-motivated learners and enjoy seeking out information for themselves even into adulthood.

    We have a 3 yr old girl and then the almost 8 month old baby (boy), they're pretty easy during the school day, for the most part.

    But yes, overwhelmed makes sense... hopefully that means that the anxiety will go away (?) once things level out and the baby starts sleeping better.
    Sleep deprivation can do such a number on your anxiety levels! My dear friend had four kids (and now four grandchildren) - one severe special needs, two special needs, one fairly typical. It's not numbers at all or at least not mostly numbers of kids. My other friend had four kids -3 typical and one who had a severe disorder and rare. 24/7 care/feeding tube, missing parts of his brain. I have one child. He's a handful! Sometimes feels like 3 kids.

    It's your choice to homeschool - I know of many gifted kids who thrive in schools and you know your kid and if his differences would impede him even in a gifted class (meaning maybe he is "twice exceptional") then that's up to you just know it means you are taking on more work and you are sleep deprived and you have a baby. I would take a good hard look at what you consider "musts" as far as housework especially and what you can delegate or outsource to decrease being overwhelmed. Good luck!

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    Bronze Member maritalbliss86's Avatar
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    I love your attitude about feeling like you won the lottery getting to have your baby and stay home! That's a wonderful attitude . I do feel like that most days... in fact I pondered how I probably don't have postpartum depression, even with all the COVID stuff going on, in large part because of how much I truly enjoy our kids and being with them. They are hilarious and are always up to something crazy, and they're really good, kind kids.

    I did get to work in job I considered my dream job for a little while in between our first and second kids, but to really have a great career in what I was doing, the women have to work well over 40 hours (the successful ones put in between 60-80 hours a week), and I just could tell that it wasn't for me and our family. We both knew we wanted to have more kids and with my husband's career being so demanding (and he did make significantly more than mine would) I chose to just stay home and focus on the homefront. We also didn't want the age gap to get too large between our first and second also, but mostly I realized I would have to put my career over my family in order to succeed in that particular field. One time my boss actually said something like that to me, that he knew I would never do that, and basically implied that the divorced moms and single moms were better in that way because they didn't put their husbands/kids first.

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    Bronze Member maritalbliss86's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Batya33
    Sleep deprivation can do such a number on your anxiety levels! My dear friend had four kids (and now four grandchildren) - one severe special needs, two special needs, one fairly typical. It's not numbers at all or at least not mostly numbers of kids. My other friend had four kids -3 typical and one who had a severe disorder and rare. 24/7 care/feeding tube, missing parts of his brain. I have one child. He's a handful! Sometimes feels like 3 kids.

    It's your choice to homeschool - I know of many gifted kids who thrive in schools and you know your kid and if his differences would impede him even in a gifted class (meaning maybe he is "twice exceptional") then that's up to you just know it means you are taking on more work and you are sleep deprived and you have a baby. I would take a good hard look at what you consider "musts" as far as housework especially and what you can delegate or outsource to decrease being overwhelmed. Good luck!
    Oh wow, special needs and severe special needs would be very hard. And your one friend who has the child with the severe disorder, missing parts of his brain, ugh! That would be so heartbreaking

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    Originally Posted by maritalbliss86
    I love your attitude about feeling like you won the lottery getting to have your baby and stay home! That's a wonderful attitude . I do feel like that most days... in fact I pondered how I probably don't have postpartum depression, even with all the COVID stuff going on, in large part because of how much I truly enjoy our kids and being with them. They are hilarious and are always up to something crazy, and they're really good, kind kids.

    I did get to work in job I considered my dream job for a little while in between our first and second kids, but to really have a great career in what I was doing, the women have to work well over 40 hours (the successful ones put in between 60-80 hours a week), and I just could tell that it wasn't for me and our family. We both knew we wanted to have more kids and with my husband's career being so demanding (and he did make significantly more than mine would) I chose to just stay home and focus on the homefront. We also didn't want the age gap to get too large between our first and second also, but mostly I realized I would have to put my career over my family in order to succeed in that particular field. One time my boss actually said something like that to me, that he knew I would never do that, and basically implied that the divorced moms and single moms were better in that way because they didn't put their husbands/kids first.
    So I never ever saw my job as "stay home" -I was rarely at home and rarely stayed in one place! I also didn't see my main or even secondary role as housework - I outsourced some of that (twice monthly cleaning service until last March when I couldn't anymore because of covid) and my main job was being with, taking care of, teaching my child. I was a school teacher many years ago and I don't homeschool and never want to (he is doing virtual learning now).

    A couple of insights about career. I worked very hard for almost 20 years before getting married and being a mom. 15 of those years was the 60-80 hours a week you described and when I did that it was intense and the hours were unpredictable. Before I was married -when I was single - I knew I'd want to be home longer than maternity leave if I ever had the blessing of a child. So I saved my money. That way I had a nest egg if my husband couldn't have me home on one income. Turned out we could BUT I contributed to the household income monthly out of my nest egg because it made me, personally, feel better about not working outside the home. I loved my career - tolerated the crazy backbreaking front line situation and hours - and never want to do that again now that I have a child - not because I disliked it because it wouldn't ever work for me now in my situation. I'm thrilled I did it. Thrilled I am financially independent because I've seen women with no nest egg and no real marketable skills either get divorced or their husband heaven forbid passes away and they have nothing and they struggle.

    I don't think it's about putting our husband/kids first. When I was single I had many responsibilities -I had my parents, my career (and grad school prior to that), I was an aunt, I did volunteer work with homeless children and committed to spending time with them, I had serious boyfriends and devoted myself to them and our relationship -there's this really silly stigma that a single woman who has no kids is free as a bird. Maybe some are. Just like some moms have full time household help and full time nannies and take their kids round the clock to outside activities where other people teach them - that's cool too and it means that those moms have fewer responsibilities - there's not one broad brush way to look at it and since I was single and no kid till age 42 I often was looked at as I had alllll this free time to party and live a crazy single life. Um Nope. It's about whether you want to do a certain career, and being a full time parent at home is a career too. If you want to do a certain career you make it a priority. I work part time in my field now and when I do a project I take it 100% seriously and they know it and my results speak for themselves -even though I'm getting paid a fraction of what i used to be paid -it's my work ethic to put my all into it -nothing to do with being a mom or a wife. I put my child first meaning if he really needs me and my husband is not around he comes first before work but if I were single and my mother needed me or similar I'd put my family first then too.

    So I think you've made a choice that works for you -if you asked me I'd make sure that you have marketable skills and your own nest egg -not just a joint account and not just the money he makes or has. If that is possible. When the kids are older perhaps. My friend who got divorced after 20 years with special needs children had to go back to school and struggled financially. When her marriage wasn't going well I begged her to go back to work and save $. She didn't. I am delighted you are happily married ! - me too! - and I think it's crucial for women to plan on what would happen without their husband's income.

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