The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Emerging from fog of fatigue November 17, 2011

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All day today, I have felt very worn out. Like it was a chore to just get up and walk across the room, not to mention actually getting anything accomplished (either physical or mental).

I finally took a nap after lunchtime, when Mark went down for his nap (glory hallelujah), and now I feel totally and completely energized. And almost frenetic thinking about all of the things that I can or should get done.

My big guy, Adam, will be home from school soon. How much will I be able to do once he’s home? We shall see. The real question is how long Mark will nap.

It’s been quite a week, with some very positive emotionally charged things going on, and then an emotional hangover afterwards. Will try to write more about that later.


Why Feeding My Kids Drives Me Crazy, Part II August 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 5:55 pm
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I am typing this post from the comfort of my recliner. I really need a rest after the last five hours, which were filled with laundry, dishes, vacuuming, mopping, about 8 rounds of potty assistance for my 21mo (lots of lifting and bending), and the never-ending food prep, serving, and clean-up.

Yesterday in my post about feeding my kids and why it drives me crazy, I covered the first 20 minutes or so of my day, as it relates to feeding my kids, mainly my older child, who is five years old.

In today’s post, I will cover a little more of my morning.

Before taking care of 5yo Adam’s AB-1 (Adam’s Breakfast # 1), I usually give Mark, 21 months old, a sippy cup of milk. He is very capable of drinking from a regular cup, but there are a few important drawbacks to giving him a regular cup first thing in the morning.

  1. First, he enjoys being wild with his cup of milk, so it is necessary to give him a tablespoon or so at a time. This means that I need to stay right with him and pour him a bit more each time he finishes what I gave him (and also try to keep him from throwing the cup across the room the moment he finishes). And to be perfectly honest (as I should do in order to honor the name of this blog), I don’t find it’s worth the time and attention to do things this way. Heaven knows there are thirty other things that need doing first thing in the morning!
  2. Perhaps more importantly, if Mark doesn’t get a sippy cup of milk, he gets loud. And loud is not what I want when I am doing everything in my power to keep things quiet enough for Big Brother To Sleep Just A Little Bit Longer, Please God Make It Happen. My whole day can stand or fall depending on whether Adam is well rested or not, so I get a leeetle beeeet wound up in the mornings when Mark gets up very early and, being a toddler, has no concept of or interest in being quiet.

So anyway, even though I am not a huge fan of sippy cups unless there is a really good reason to be using one, I do use one first thing in the morning for MB-1 (Mark’s Breakfast # 1).


SAHM Depression vs. SAHM Burnout August 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 6:56 pm
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Over my 5 years as a SAHM, Hubby and I have both wondered if I suffer from depression, and if being a SAHM is the right thing for me and for our family.  A few different times, Hubby has had the courage to suggest that perhaps I should go back to work, just for the sake of my mental health.

Something about these discussions has never really sat right with me. For one thing, I never wondered about whether I had depression before I became a mother. Then and now, some anxiety, yes, but not depression – not the kind that interferes with everyday life and doesn’t respond to “cheering up” sorts of efforts. For another, I do truly want to be a SAHM and I do truly think it is the best thing for our children.

Enter the term: SAHM Burnout. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I think that understanding what burnout is and how it comes about will be very helpful to me and to my family.

I think that burnout involves symptoms of depression, but it is not necessarily the same thing as true clinical depression. I think that burnout, left unaddressed, can be detrimental and even dangerous. It can certainly leave a SAHM feeling isolated and inadequate. I do think that when burnout is properly addressed, its symptoms can be turned around in a relatively short period of time. However, burnout symptoms can rear their ugly head again if things slide back to the way they used to be.

What factors make burnout more likely to be a big issue for me?

  1. When the weather does not allow us to easily spend time outdoors, this can put me in a “danger zone” pretty quickly. Where I live, the winters are long and cold, and it can take 15 minutes of concerted effort to get both of my kiddos (and myself) ready for the great outdoors. And once we’re out there, we may or may not be able to stay there very long. Summer comes with its own set of joys and challenges. Yesterday, for example, was so hot and humid that we spent a little time outdoors in the morning, and that was it for the day.
  2. When the kids or myself are sick.
  3. When I’m not getting enough sleep (this can have a variety of causes).
  4. When we don’t have “enough” things going on, such as preschool, Mommy & Me class, and so on.
  5. When we have TOO MUCH going on, and/or one particular thing starts to become a drain. A sign of this phenomenon is when you start to feel love/hate for a particular thing; for me, going to the pool has fallen into this category. On the one hand, yay! fun! water and smiles! when we go to the pool. On the other hand, all the time spent getting ready (applying sunscreen, packing food); all of the energy expended once we are there (Mark, who is 21 months old, has his own agenda at the pool, and it mainly involves wandering around every square inch of the pool complex — every DRY square inch, that is); and all of the work once we get home (baths, dinner, then bedtime, all at breakneck speed). All of these things can take their toll on me after awhile.
  6. Any time when I feel powerless to Get Things Done — whether those things are of a cooking and cleaning nature, or a rest & relaxation nature — because of so many interruptions and so many people (big and small) needing my time and attention. (For an interesting take on this issue, check out this Dad’s description of his week from hell.)
  7. When I feel like a failure at being a “good mom” (whatever that means) in spite of my efforts to not let anything slide. Today, for example, I spent the morning dashing around the house, doing some laundry and some basic cleaning; also spent a good amount of time preparing/serving/cleaning up after snacks for the kiddos and for myself. I kept glancing outside and thinking how I really “should” get the kids outside. Before I knew it, it was 11 a.m., and both kids were starving (AGAIN), so I hit the ground running in the kitchen (AGAIN) and got some lunch ready. Immediately after lunch, Mark was ready for his nap, so no more chance of a family outing in the morning; the afternoon brings its own set of opportunities (pool? park?) and challenges (me being worn out, figuring out dinner, being prepared for Mark’s post-nap demonic state). The bottom line? It is tough when, day after day, competing goals make you feel torn and unsuccessful; in this case, one goal is to Get The Kids Outside and Have Fun as a Family, while another goal is Keeping My House From Looking and Smelling Like a Pigsty, a Pigsty in Which Healthy Meals and Snacks Are Nowhere to Be Found.
  8. Feeling like “no one” would understand my feelings and frustrations. Over the years, I have realized that my mother, while she is a very dear and wonderful person, is not a good sounding board for me. As a result, I try not to appear too worn out or burnt when she is “watching.” With my husband, we have gone through a long process of figuring out how to make things work between us. On the one hand, it’s not fair for him to constantly listen to complaining and negativity; on the other hand, I can’t realistically put on a happy face for him day after day while I am falling apart on the inside. (I have talked with a number of other SAHMs who struggle with this very same issue.) When it comes to fellow SAHMs, it would seem that they would be perfect soulmates, but over the years I have discovered that this is not always, or even often, the case. Some SAHMs, God bless them, seem to sail through the challenges of SAHM-hood, and adding another kid or two to the brood is no big deal, not to mention the minor issues of getting dinner on the table or heading up yet another fundraiser at church or school. I have developed quite a nose to sniff out other SAHMs who love their families dearly but some days are just holding on by their teeth, and (this is key) aren’t afraid to admit it.

For me, it is therapeutic to simply list the things that contribute to burnout. What about you? What factors contribute to a state of burnout for you?


It’s been a long day already, and it’s only just begun May 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 12:48 pm
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It’s only 7:30 a.m. in my neck of the woods, but already I feel like I’ve put in a full shift. Mark, age 18 months, woke up at 4 a.m. crying. He settled down when I directed him to his favorite blanket, but he did not go back to sleep. And, it follows, neither did I. So I got dressed at 4:45 a.m. and Hubby helped keep Mark quiet so as not to wake up big brother, Adam, age 4 1/2.

At 5:15 I loaded Mark into the van and we drove around for an hour. I got a coffee and a newspaper (so I could plan garage saling without poking around online so much). By being out of the house, I wanted to ensure that Adam could sleep as late as possible. It is so, so difficult to keep Mark quiet, and our house is fairly small so it’s not really possible to close ourselves off somewhere and wait it out, and Adam seems intent on waking up at at the slightest sound.

So anyway, imagine my surprise when we pulled into the driveway at 6:15 a.m. and I found Adam in the backyard in his pajamas, jacket, and Crocs. I knew right away that Hubby was still in bed and that Adam had gone outside without permission. This is something we have come across before and so I believe that Adam is fully aware of the rules.

Soon afterwards I discovered that Adam had changed out of very wet underwear and pajama bottoms, AND that his bedwetting alarm was switched to OFF. The only logical explanation (and I need to come up with my own explanations because for whatever reason it is essentially impossible to get a coherent explanation out of Adam) is that his alarm woke him up and he then turned it off, went back to sleep, and in the process completely evacuated his bladder into his clothes and bedding.

This all  made for a very crabby mommy. We have been using the bedwetting alarm for 2+ months now, and I understand that at times the alarm might  not wake him up. BUT, if it wakes him up enough for him to switch it off, then I expect him to get up out of bed and take care of business.

Hubby and I decided that as a consequence for Adam’s actions, he will spend the entire day in his room with no toys and no books. I credit John Rosemond for this concept and, while it’s certainly not easy to implement and stick with, it does serve as a compelling consequence.

It strikes me that Adam is nearly five years old, and more and more we need to hold him accountable for his decisions.  In doing so, we need to use consequences that will fully get his attention. It strikes me how ineffective it is to engage in what Rosemond calls “yada-yada discipline” in which the parent uses explanations, talking, etc., as the primary means of trying to get a child to change his/her behavior.


It’s all about energy April 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 6:39 pm
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It has been a rough week with regard to getting enough sleep, in part because my 1yo has decided to start getting up at 5 a.m. again, and also because I am taking part in a clinical study that requires me to drink 16 oz of liquid twice per day. The first bottle of the day isn’t too bad, but the evening bottle is really throwing a wrench into my get-to-bed plans. For that reason, I may decide to drop out of the study. It’s only been 3 days, so I’d like to give it a few more days.

Praise God, I was able to sleep for about an hour around lunchtime today. My 1yo was napping, and my 4yo was eating lunch and hanging out on his own. I lay down and my body felt like a bag of sand; I had no desire to fidget around or toss and turn. After 40 minutes I woke up and thought about getting up, but then I closed my eyes and next thing I knew it was 10 minutes later. This happened a few times.

I feel so very much better now. I have a chiropractor appointment later today, and I’m expecting to feel even better after that. I have been dragging so much lately due to lack of sleep and due to my back being out of whack. I want and need to feel better. My kids need me to be at my best, and so does my husband.


Yesterday was rough August 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 3:04 pm
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Yesterday wasn’t my best day ever, any way you look at it. I was crabby with my 4yo son, Adam. I ate junk food all day long. I didn’t do much of anything “fun” for the kids, like take them to a park. Frankly, I didn’t feel like going outside much.

A lot of my problems yesterday stemmed from a poor night’s sleep. Once again, it struck me how my whole day can succeed or fail based on how much sleep I got the night before.

It also struck me that when I eat junk, then I feel “big,” and I don’t feel like putting on clothes that might possibly feel tight, and add a few more steps in the chain reaction… then I feel cruddy about how I look, and therefore don’t feel like going out of the house.

Today is shaping up to be a better day. I got a decent night’s sleep and have a decent amount of energy and patience (so far! it’s only 10 a.m.). I have my GTD Coordinator in use, and have made my daily planning sheet, which includes a place to record Weight Watchers points. (One of these days, I’ll post a photo of my daily planning sheet. It is nothing fancy, but it just provides a touchpoint for me to return to throughout the day.)

My 10-month-old son, Mark, has gotten too tall for his Exersaucer. Bummer! So yesterday I went out and bought a Graco Pack & Play to use on the main floor of our house. This provides a safe place to put him anytime I can’t be right there to watch him. This means it’s time to get the Exersaucer cleaned up and ready for our local consignment shop. Who knows, I might even get to that task today.


Initial Thoughts on “Approval Addiction” July 26, 2009

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Kid_2 is napping at the moment. Kid_1 and Hubby are out of the house for a bit.

The feeling of being able to hear myself think (and pray) without distractions of any kind is amazing. Since I had a good night’s sleep, I feel more “together” than usual and am remembering what it’s like to feel like myself again.

I began reading Joyce Meyer’s Approval Addiction and actually had time to look up Bible verses.

A few things stood out to me during my quiet time

  • For years, but especially since Kid_1 was born, I have looked to my MIL for approval. When I have felt that I have not received approval, it has really thrown me off.
  • I also have a strong need for approval from my own parents.
  • My MIL seems to have a well-honed, subtle way of witholding “something” that I have a hard time putting a name to. I would call it approval, or acknowledgement, perhaps. Sometimes she simply cuts you off in the middle of what you’re saying. Other times she (appears to) listen to what you’re saying, but doesn’t show that she really cares about (or agrees with) what you’re saying. For years, this has thrown me off whenever I’ve run across it. I have responded by feeling hurt and/or trying even harder to gain her approval (sometimes by finding a different way to explain my point).
  • My MIL may have her own “approval addiction” issues, in that whenever I would bring up a concern I had about how she was caring for Kid_1, she would respond with defensiveness and anger.
  • Being a parent has a way of bringing to the forefront my issues with approval addiction. There will always be people who don’t agree with (approve of) the way you’re raising your children. It might be a grandparent, sibling, or stranger at the grocery store who doesn’t agree with your choices, but in any case, these people are everywhere.

The most amazing thing just happened. July 16, 2009

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The most amazing thing just happened.

Kid_2 (9 months old) went down for a nap shortly after 1 p.m. He had been tired and crabby all morning, so I was hoping he would have a nice long nap so he could make it through the rest of the day without too much trouble. To my despair, he woke up crying around 1:45 p.m.

I knew he wasn’t fully rested, but the chances of this kid falling back asleep are like 1 in 10,000. I figured my only hope was to load both kids in the car and go for a drive, hoping that Kid_2 would get a few more minutes of sleep.

At this time I was lying in bed, trying to get some rest so I could stop feeling like I was operating in a dense fog. It had been a long, long day up until that point, due to me being worn out and Kid_2 being worn out. I decided that, since Kid_2 wasn’t screaming bloody murder, it would be all right to leave him in his crib for 5-10 minutes while I got some rest.

I didn’t even dare to hope that he would fall back asleep. I know this kid. I know that once he’s up, he’s up.

But then it got quieter, and quieter, and I realized: HE FELL BACK ASLEEP.

As a result, I got a quick nap. And I no longer feel as if I am going to end up in the looney bin. All because I decided to wait a few minutes before going to get him from his crib.


Primal urges got the better of me July 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 8:07 pm
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The last few days, I have been operating in a fog, it seems. Not quite enough sleep, and feeling hungry a lot. For the first time in my 7-month-long Weight Watchers journey, I have consistently had problems with the feeling that I must reach out, grab, and eat anything that is within reach (my baby’s puff snacks are a frequent target). It’s almost as if a biological urge is taking over!

Soooo…. this afternoon I was able to sneak in a nap (a small miracle). Feeling great after the nap, I had the idea to mix up a batch of brownie batter and enjoy some “me time” while the kids were still sleeping. I’m not proud to say that I did very little to resist this urge. It truly felt that every fiber of my being – mind and body – wanted to seek comfort in the form of food and rest. Not even the knowledge that weigh-in is this afternoon motivated me to stay on the straight and narrow.

I also wanted to avoid dealing with the messy house and some other things that require my attention, such as preparing for Kid_1’s birthday party on Saturday.

What have I learned today?

  1. It’s difficult to make good choices when I’m behind on sleep.
  2. When I wake up from a nap, that is a danger zone for me as far as indulging in sweets or other comfort food.
  3. When I’m low on “healthy treats” such as Skinny Cow ice cream, and low on healthy food that appeals to me and is quick and easy (such as fruit that is washed/cut/pre-portioned), that creates another danger zone for me.
  4. If I keep up with my FlyLady routines, I am less likely to become discouraged by messes around the house (this morning I dilly dallied around, and never really got going on my routines).

Update on the kids’ sleep situations June 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 8:35 pm
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A lot of the nap struggles with my younger son, now 8 months old, that I have written about in the past have lessened. There are still days when I feel I need to pray to the nap gods to get things to work out, and the sleep patterns chart ( still fills up with Xs some days — an X is my way of noting a “failed nap attempt.” Overall, though, I generally can count on the time around lunchtime and late afternoon as being nap-free zones where I can plan a trip to the store or the park.

Our big struggle with Mark nowadays is his tendency to wake up around 4:30 a.m. (for a feeding, I guess) and then not go back to sleep, even though he’s clearly not rested. This makes for a rough ride until 8-9 a.m, when he will actually take a nap; he is wiped out by 7:30 a.m., typically, but will not nap then. We have tried putting him to bed earlier and later than his 6 p.m.-ish bedtime, with no clear success. If you, dear reader, have any suggestions, please let me know!

We are still working to find a schedule/rhythm that works for my almost-4-year-old, Adam. For a time, I was convinced that his afternoon nap was becoming a thing of the past, but my opinion has changed. Lately he has been ripe for a nap at 3 p.m., and my sense is that I should be putting him down earlier (which I have long wanted and tried to do, with virtually no success). It seems he does need his afternoon nap, but the downside is that when he does nap, he isn’t ready to fall asleep for the night until about 9 p.m. — far too late for my tastes.