In Career, Discussions, Life, Parenting

When your child breaks your spirit. Tell me it gets better please.

It started at 6 a.m. in the morning.

Not only did he refuse to sleep last night, it took him at least an hour to actually fall asleep after wiggling around and whining, which means that I couldn’t sleep until he was asleep.

After the milk, the whining and sobbing began.

“No school no school”

“Stay at home with Mommy”

“Train train train want to go on the train”

There was also a massive amount of dishes to do from the day before because my partner apparently cannot boil a pot of water without dirtying at least 10 dishes and 5 pots.

I already did a massive load of dishes (full countertop and a sink full of it), but by some evil magic, the sink was full again by the end of dinner on the same day.

I started on the dishes because I had time and I didn’t want to come home tired, exhausted and have to ALSO do dishes and let them dry, etc.

I just wanted to come home and put them away. I should have done them the night before but I was so damn tired from fighting with Baby Bun from that morning as well. He had his Train privileges revoked for the day due to bad behaviour, and I took him to the park instead, but the whole day was just one whine after another.

So fast forward to this morning after the milk.

I tried to do the dishes but it is hard with a heavy child clinging to your leg, whining, crying, screaming, refusing to do anything. His father peeled him off me and the screaming grew louder and more insistent as he was without his mother then.


We tried punishing him with the timeouts in the room. Multiple times. Actually, about 45 minutes worth.

I barely choked down my tea, did my makeup, dressed and tried to get this screaming, flailing toddler into the car.

Down the elevator, they must have heard me screaming all the floors down in the elevator.

In the garage, I am sure all the cameras captured me red-faced, about to lose it.

I even had to park the car and lock it, then step away from it as a breather while he screamed in his seat.

I finally got back into the car and started driving.

I barely made it out 2 blocks again, before I pulled over, parked the car and just burst into tears.

Commence full on 10 minutes of crying, my makeup all smeared everywhere, runny nosed..

I just lost it, sobbing in the car this morning.

This is probably one of the worst mornings to date back home. I had MANY of these when we were on vacation.

I have no idea what else to do. I have tried being nice (multiple times before being mean, no one likes being mean), I have tried being firm, mean, nothing seems to work. It just gets worse.

TELL ME IT GETS BETTER PLEASE.

He’s now fine by the way. Playing quietly, happily, independently, not bothering me. I am able to work, but I can’t work from home every day.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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21 Comments

  1. Virginia

    My daughter is 3.5 and I am starting to see glimmers of hope. It’s tough, but you’re doing great. My daughter has been in day care since 1 yo but when she switched classes 6 months ago, she had a hard time with it. I’d say it took her about 3 months to get used to the transition and then it got a little easier. Every morning, I set a timer and play with her exclusively for 10 minutes. She loves this time together and she knows that when the timer goes off, it is time for school. I think the timer makes it a little easier because it is the timer telling her it is time to go, not mommy or daddy.

    Reply
    1. Virginia

      Just a thought, if Baby Bun bakes cookies or draws a picture for one of his teachers the night before, he may be excited to go to school to share it with them. Also, our school does show and share and my daughter love going to school on those days because she can bring a toy in to show everyone. You day care might have something similar…

      Reply
      1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

        !!!!! THANK YOU. I will try this. I’m going to have him draw a picture to bring to school on Monday.. and decorate it.

        Reply
    2. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Timer, check. On the list. Plus that picture idea you said. THANK YOU.

      Reply
      1. Virginia

        You’re welcome!

        Reply
  2. Kandice

    Mine are 12 and 14 and I can definitively say it gets better. And as soon as it gots better, it gets different. Current fun this past week included mediating fights over whose turn it was to take the dogs out, who said something mean to whom, why the money you are currently managing is for your wants AND NEEDS and why you can’t blow it the minute it gets deposited in your account, and so on. I’m looking forward to school starting. At least I’ll be able to work in peace during the day! But, I sure do love them even when they’re stinkers.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      We all do at the end of the day. I miss him, and forgive him instantly when we’re doing some cuddling after the fight.

      Reply
  3. Tim

    Yes, it get better. Like MUCH better. My kids are now 12 & 9 and can basically be safely ignored for hours at a time. Yes HOURS where I can blissful read a book and enjoy a coffee!

    As to advice, well it depends a bit on the kid. Our kids were always fairly good, but then again we have very firm boundaries for behaviour. I literally feel like all I did for a while when they were young was say ‘No.’ So I made an effort to also say yes once in while to something I would enjoy with them as well (ie: let’s go play at the park). Doing that allowed me to say “Sorry, I’m busy right now, but I can do that with you after I’m done’ and not feel so guilty about the all the ‘no’. No you can’t eat a snack 10 minutes after eating your lunch, no you can’t take your teddy bear in the car it is only for sleeping, no you hang your brother out of the window…etc. I tried to always explain why when I said it…even if they didn’t understand at the time. We also tried to keep the consequences for their actions reasonable: you didn’t eat supper, so no snacks until you finish and it isn’t my fault it is now cold from being in the fridge for the last hour. Also I second the point when they have literally lost their mind, just put them somewhere ‘safe’ like their room and let it pass. It might take a while, but you can’t reason with them at that stage.

    Hang in there, it will get better.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thank you. I really needed this. I feel like I am always saying “No” and scolding him and that is not the mother I want to be.

      Reply
  4. Jamie

    My boy is 2 and a bit and we are definitely in this boat! I’ve cried many, many times and know that I will cry many, many more times. So glad to be reading these comments about how other parents have had these problems and dealt with them, makes me feel not so alone or incompetent. Nowadays with social media, everything looks so perfect so its great to be reminded that its not always the case.

    Reply
  5. S

    My advice is also reconsidering the co-sleeping thing, but for a different reason – your own health and sanity! Whenever I read your money diaries, I am frankly IN AWE that you manage you do all you do while constantly exhausted! I would break down and cry EVERY day if I had to parent my toddler running on poor quality, regularly interrupted sleep. I don’t know if you’re like me in this way, but when I’m sleeping with a child in the bed, I feel like I never get into a deep sleep because part of me is always anticipating him waking up or needing me. Having my child sleep in another room is a vital part of me being the best parent I can be, because my health and wellbeing are not something that can be compromised. I’m not saying that this is the reason you co-sleep, but so many moms feel like they need to sacrifice absolutely everything in order to be good moms, and I hate that mentality – taking care of myself when I need it is honestly the only way I can be a good mom and not a fire-breathing dragon 24/7! He may prefer to sleep in our bed in a perfect world, but he doesn’t realize that he also prefers Mommy happy, patient, and well-rested, which is just not possible with him there every night. I remember from your co-sleeping post that you had a lot of issues trying to get him to sleep independently, but I feel like maybe having a period of time of him freaking out every night at bedtime may be worth the trade-off of a lifetime of better sleep for everyone. I know a family that put a childproof handle on their toddler’s door so he couldn’t wander at night, a video baby monitor in their toddler’s room to make sure there was never an actual safety issue, and they let him cry it out (after a thorough, loving, soothing bedtime ritual) until he learned to sleep independently. It’s like school – kids will eventually adapt to something that doesn’t change, regardless of tantrums; they can’t just never sleep again. Again, I’m not judging your decision to co-sleep, and it may have been best for your family up until now, but it does sound like something’s gotta give and this is just my suggestion for what that might be.

    Reply
  6. Maz

    It will get better, eventually. You have to remember that it’s perfectly normal behaviour. He’s not trying to annoy you or be horrible, he just trying to “establish” himself, be his own little person and, more importantly, learn his boundaries. He’s gonna to be testing you and challenging you all the time. He just needs to know where he stands and he will always try to push boundaries. Perfectly normal. Just don’t take it personal. I usually let mine scream and kick ( when I’m at home of course) and just ignore him. Usually he calms down by himself. Sometimes he can be grumpy the whole day and moans that I’m a horrible mummy. That’s fine. Just remember the big picture : whatever you teach him now will be instilled in him ( almost ) forever eg. If you give in and buy him or give him what he wants when he throws a tantrum, he wins. You are teaching him that he if screams loud or long enough, he’ll get what he wants. So just carry on doing what you do. You’re doing fine. Just keep in mind the bigger picture ALL THE TIME ( by bigger picture I mean how you want your child to be when he gets older, how do you picture him ? A little brat with no manners or a nice, well mannered little boy ? I’m simplifying a bit but basically, as long as you keep that picture in your head, you’ll remember it whenever you discipline him and you won’t feel bad for putting him in time out ). Parenting IS hard work, no doubt about that but you’ll get there. You just need to find out what work for YOU ( I myself am not a big fan of time out but I know it works wonder for some people ). Finally don’t feel bad because you cried. I don’t know a single mother who did not cry while raising her kids. It’s just unheard of ! We all got bad ( horrible ) days but truly, as your son will get older, it will get easier, the tantrums will ease ( but probably not before he’s 4 or 5. Sorry ). Just hang on in there and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. You are a good mother.

    Reply
  7. raluca

    You have my sympathy. I don’t have kids, but from what I observed in my family and circle of friends, it does get better when they grow up. This too shall pass.

    Reply
  8. NZ Muse

    Argh so sorry. No toddler advice only sympathy.

    I will say the number one thing I’m saving for in new kitchen is a dishwasher. The amount of dishes T makes while cooking is insane. I can’t even handle it right now hand washing for two and no way would I want to even think about adding a kid into the mix.

    Reply
  9. Tb

    It will get better. I agree with the poster who suggested a dishwasher- anything to lighten your load helps you and your baby. It’s tough to work and take care of a little one. I was a single mother so I know. I don’t want to sound critical at all, please don’t misunderstand, but have you considered having him sleep alone? When I was a kid my younger sister slept with my parents until she was actually 10 or so when my dad said no more. It was awful she cried and screamed nightly and ended up sleeping with me. I know lots of families that sleep altogether and it’s fine but it didn’t work for us. I talked to my daughters pediatrician about it and his opinion was that children learn to be more independent if they have their own bed, i.e. Learning to fall asleep on their own etc. I don’t know but just thought I’d throw that out there. You sound like such a caring person I’m sure you will get through this and it will get better as he gets older.

    Reply
  10. Jen

    I have two boys. My oldest is about to turn 9. It does get better. Still dealing with it occasionally with my just turned 4-year-old, but the tantrums are farther and fewer between. I have learned that NOTHING will break through a tantrum. Best bet is to leave them alone if possible until they are done. Once my youngest had a horrible meltdown, I gave up and let him cry it out, then a few minutes later came downstairs happily playing a toy accordion and singing. When not pitching a fit, my 4-year-old is just very physical and always has been. Some days it really drives me up a wall (especially as an introvert). He always needs to be pushing, nudging, climbing, clinging, whatever.

    I have not found a way to effectively discipline a younger child. My boys would not stay in time out. They would just keep getting up and coming back, which meant me having to pick them up and put them back, which was physically exhausting. No amount of shouting will make a difference. My youngest does understand having toys taken away now, and that works to some extent. Overall, though, my boys are good boys. We receive compliments often. But it is very, very hard during the day when one or both is really testing me, and nobody is around to see or feel how hard it is, and there are occasionally times even now when I definitely want to sob.

    Reply
  11. ST

    I like Extreme Parenting by the lady who was formerly Nanny 911 (Jo Price), she deals with all kinds of behavioural issues, and this is definitely one of them. I watch her old episodes on Youtube. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. ST

      EDIT: Because I have baby brain currently, it’s called Extreme Parental Guidance, not Extreme Parenting!

      Reply
  12. Kim

    My daughter has a minor sensory issue – and I say minor, but quite frankly when she’s in the middle of a fit, it seems anything but small. Some mornings she gets herself washed and dressed no problem; other days, she screams red faced for over an hour in the morning because her socks (or her panties, or whatever) “feel weird”. The bad days still come, but they seem to come less frequently – and when they do come, you’re more used to them – exposure therapy I guess.
    She’s almost 6 now, and when they’re older they can identify their feelings and express them better, so there is more communication not just screaming.

    It. Does. Get. Better. (I Promise) 🙂

    Reply
  13. sammy

    Sherry, why don’t you buy a dishwasher? It’s a time saver.
    Even when you think you’ve got only a few dishes to wash, dishes pile up quickly and take a lot of time to wash if you add up all the time spent cleaning them.

    Regarding child rearing, I am surprisingly calm, but I do get tired. I think children change from 4-5 years old, but perhaps boys are and will still be more physically active than girls. (Nevertheless, I do like boys, and girls, too.) We’ll wait and see.

    In their first years of life, children undergo tremendous brain development so they are difficult and have temper tantrums.
    They are wonderful, but like every big and important endeavour, they do require quite a lot of effort and endurance.

    Hang in there! I believe it will get better.

    Reply
  14. Charlee Sterling

    My boys both did this at this age — by 4 1/2 they’d grown out of it, but until then the tantrums were awful! Best advice: show no emotion around him when he’s screaming etc. you might have to leave the room a few times, but it’s better if you ignore him once he’s in his time out. Set a timer, no bargaining, no wavering. Be consistent and try not to let him see he’s getting to you! Your frustration reads to him like, mom’s about to cave to my demands. This too shall pass — really! Mine are now 20 and 14, so there really is hope!

    Reply

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