Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Don't Even Have a "Plan A"

It's raining today, the boys aren't cooperating, Pie's month-long tantrum continues, Bug is screaming because he got play dough in his eye. And I'm exhausted. Yes, Pie (aka "The Little Dictator") had me up and down all night, but it's not even that: I'm exhausted on every plane: physically, mentally, spiritually...and any other planes that might exist.

Today's last straw was when I finally found a minute to sit down on the couch. Pie found me immediately and demanded another scrambled egg right now. I started to explain to (read: plead with) him that I needed a minute to sit down; he could eat anything else on his plate while he was waiting...blah, blah, blah. Then it hit me: he doesn't care. He. Wants. His. Egg. All I am to him at the moment is a scrambled-egg dispenser, not a separate individual with her own needs and feelings.

While the second egg was in the microwave, I made notes on the back of an envelope: try to find out how to deal with feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings that it's me against them, and the realization that I'm responsible for what kind of tone I'm setting for myself (and in turn, the kids)--there's no one here to help me.

One of my go-to bloggers, Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom, sums up my current state of mind almost exactly:
In my post a couple of weeks ago about obstacles to happiness as a mom, I listed “being overwhelmed” as one of my top 5. While commenters chimed in with a whole list of other obstacles–things like lack of time for oneself, loss of control, and unrealistic expectations–I reflected about how all of those things can, for me, lead to feeling overwhelmed. So maybe being overwhelmed isn’t so much a single obstacle as it is the end result of many of the things that are part and parcel of a mom’s life: noise, mess, chaos, ever-changing routines, an incredible sense of responsibility, never enough time in the day…etc.
Francis suggests identifying your triggers and getting a plan (at least that was my personal take-away). So now I'm revisiting a concept I've put off again and again for over four years now: getting the boys and myself on a schedule. Another blogger I read today (Mommy Ponders) wrote a post about getting on a schedule and planning an activity (which flopped that day)--and not having a "Plan B." Then something else hit me: I don't even have a freakin' "Plan A!" Could that be the heart of my problem?

I seriously don't think I can conquer these feelings of utter exhaustion unless I do something, and maybe putting a plan or a schedule in place is what that "something" is. That, and coming to terms with my principal role as scrambled-egg provider. Bawk.

(Post-script, September 2012: I hashed these thoughts out with my therapist soon after writing this post, and discovered that things weren't as bleak as they appeared. I will write a more in-depth update on this soon. Eggs to you!)


  1. Thanks so much for the shout-out! I do think a routine is so helpful...though for me that doesn't always mean a "plan", but more like, these are the basic elements that make up our day. Sometimes they might happen in a slightly different order or at different times, but I have these things (whatever they are: dinner, nap, bathtime, Mom-locks-herself-in-bathroom-to-read time, what have you) that I can count on to give my day some moorings and structure.

    I am not a very naturally organized/structured person, so imposing some outside structure on my life is absolutely necessary to my mental health. Otherwise I would literally just float through life bumping into things. It's not pretty :)

    1. Plan A: Find someone to babysit for a couple of hours on a regular basis
      Plan B: Find a back-up babysitter in case the primary one can't make it

    2. Mom, is that you? Guess what: I just found two babysitters this past week! And one is babysitting tomorrow!

  2. Now that summer has begun, I need to pull in the reigns and come up with a summer version of our schedule. Getting ready for school, picking up DS1, having lunch, then free time, quiet time and then dinner, etc. was very soothing for my sanity during the school year. Now that we don't *have* to get up at the crack of dawn, I feel that the calmness will fly out the window if I'm not too careful! The kids seem to give me less of a hard time when they know what's coming (quiet time is coming after this one TV show)instead of springing a lot of new activity.

  3. I live by schedules especially working my days activities around nap time. I find that the kids are much better behaved when they know what to expect, are not hungry, and not tired. Therefore, most of our activities are in the mornings. I usually schedule something fun for them to do with other kids that doesn't cost much. We enjoy a trip to the library which provides lots of interesting things & events, and they have a great summer reading program. Sometimes just a playdate at home is nice with a friend or too.

    For my older child, I tried doing a summer schedule to keep busy, but that failed. We tend to get gung ho on a new idea and type it all out for our family, but we don't follow thru. For instance meal planning. I would love to have pre-made meals ready to heat up during the week, but rarely get to cook a lot on the weekends to do this.

    Any ideas to get out of the house would be great so we don't sit and watch tv. However, my preschooler has gotten trained to fall asleep to tv and therefore, we all get some quiet time at nap time.

  4. Ohhh sheesh Prickly Mom! I thought I replied to this thread right when you posted it and now I see that it's not here! I'm SORRY!

    I'll try to conjure up some of my witty response again here...

    After now doing this mom gig almost 6 years, yeah, we have a schedule... looser some days than others, but definitely, lunch and noon and naps/quiet time from 1-3, do not speak to me between 1 and 3 if you are under the age of like oh I dunno... 21.... It's my time to myself. I don't do dishes, clean, or otherwise. Sometimes I get caught up on work for my part-time job, sometimes I'll start dinner (because I enjoy cooking), sometimes I'll read, mostly I NAP! :-P

    I think having a plan B or at least have that small mental list of options helps me when for instance the rain cancels our park plans, or for when the toddler didn't sleep well and I don't plan on showering let alone getting out of the house...

    I think the key idea you noted in your writing was just the exhaustion of it all... Even just the mind-numbing exhaustion from the daily grind of living with small children. Small children have LARGE demands on your physical self as well as your mental and emotional self. For me, I have to work a little, study a little, craft a little, shop a little, (OK and EAT! a little), to keep me motivated and more enthusiastic for life. Otherwise, I could honestly just conk out in bed for like a week! I'm better when I'm busy...

    Good LUCK and definitely do something to shake things up!

  5. i love your description of Pie having a "month long tantrum" that made me laugh so much because we had a similar "fortnight long tantrum" with Goblin. Turned out he was growing (3cm in two weeks, no wonder he was freakin out). Thanks for sharing this on Sunday Parenting Party. Its post like this that made me want to start the linky. Its so nice to read about other people that don't have all the solutions either, makes me feel a bit more normal.

    1. Hey Monko, now THAT is something to think about--the stress of GROWING! With Pie being my second child, I do have to remind myself that in six months, he's going to be a whole different kid, so I just have to figure out a way to muddle through (at least that's how it went with my older son).

      BTW, his tantrum-palooza seems to have extended into the fall. Ug. :)