Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Parenting Without The Village

"It takes a village to raise a child"

I'm sure we're all familiar with that saying, and there are a number of ways it can be read.

I've always assumed it to mean that a child needs the knowledge and guidance of not just their own parents but many people, in order to be raised as a well rounded individual...
But lately I've wondered if perhaps the saying is actually referring to the need for outside support and guidance for the parents themselves, instead of just the child.

Being a parent, while being one of life's biggest blessings, is also extremely tough at times.
No matter how natural you may be at the role, there are always moments when it becomes difficult.

I know that is certainly true for me....particularly recently.

I have 3 children aged 3 and under, they are all lively and spirited children and they are all demanding in their own ways - my 3 year old needs one on one attention a lot of the time, my 22 month old is lively to say the least and has just entered into the wonderful world of epic tantrums, and my youngest is just finding his feet and often trying to get himself into dangerous situations.

And there are many many times throughout each day when they all need my attention at once.

My eldest only goes to nursery a couple of afternoons per week (and even that brings about its own emotional turmoil and tantrums), the younger two children are at home with me all of the time and neither of them nap together...in fact its rare that either of them naps at all for more than 20 minutes.
We can't afford any more childcare.

As much of a blessing as my children are...they are also hard work. Particularly when you work from home and are responsible for meeting deadlines, agreeing contracts and finding paid work...these things are not easily done with a trio of children constantly demanding your attention, constant lunches and snacks needing to be made, constant household chores needing to be done and so on.

There are often times when they are all in grouchy moods, when they are all hungry at once, when they are all tired at once, when they are all sick at once, when they are all running wild at once.

But my work can't stop because its our income...
And the children can't wait because they're children and they need me NOW...

So what are you supposed to do?

And at those times, when your head is pounding and you just NEED a moment of silence to catch your breath and compose yourself and try to figure out exactly how you're going to get through the day... it is HARD.

In the modern world of social media, we spend our days surrounded by images of what everybody else is doing - and so often, during these frazzled moments of my day when I feel like tearing my hair out, I see my peers posting Instagram pictures of their "childfree" date nights or talking of how much housework or other work they're getting through while the kids are off with their grandparents or mother in laws etc.

I read a blog post just this week about Alphabet themed date nights somebody was having with their other half  with such envy, I had initially thought to myself "Oh we could do that, that sounds so fun"...but then I realised that no, we can't... as we're lucky if we can manage a date night once a month (it's rare that it ends up being a date night and not a "do all the things we need to get done while we have a babysitter" night) and even if we do then its always something that's organised last minute leaving no opportunity for planning anything...a date night once a week or a fortnight or every 3 weeks would be an absolute dream.

I hear about friends of mine having weekly pre-arranged days without their children while the grandparents look after them, and I feel almost green with envy...not because I don't love my kids and want them around, but because raising 3 little ones so young and trying to bring in an income to support them all from home at the same time is exhausting - and  having an arrangement like that would make it so much easier and more manageable.

Just having one regular day where I could get on with my work and know that anything that needs to be done could be done on that day would make such a huge difference to me...but it's not possible.

And, as much as it pains me to admit it...because I hate being a jealous person and I hate to sound as though I resent my children in any way, it makes me feel bitter and shortchanged.

I know that it's all about perspective, and that people will be reading this with envy because we are lucky to get that occasional evening out every couple of months ...and they could only dream of that because they have even less help than we do...I know that. But it doesn't make it any easier when I feel like I'm struggling to make ends meet and keep doing the best I can in all of my roles...mother, breadwinner, home maker, etc etc.

It feels like I'm at the bottom of the mountain struggling to climb any higher, while I see those around being given that helping hand to climb a little further. It feels like they are being pulled a little higher up to where the air is clearer and it's easier to breathe...and lagging way behind, and all I can do is keep struggling on, trying to get further up the mountain but never really moving very far.

It's only recently that I've realised how isolated we are where we live, and how little help we have.

We don't really know anybody in the area we live in.
Our nearest friends are a 40 minutes drive away and have children and jobs of their own to worry about.
Our nearest relative is my sister who also lives in another part of the county, and has her own 3 children and a job to worry about.

My children do not have two sets of grandparents.
Jon's parents have both been dead for years.
His only other family member is his brother, who lives a ten hour drive from where we live.
My parents live a 5 hour drive away.

There is nobody else.

No great grandparents left living, no other aunts and uncles, nobody.
If in the middle of the night one of us was to take ill and need to go to hospital, we would all have to go...because there is no available babysitter around.

If I'm struggling to catch up with work (which I always, always am) then there is very rarely anyone to call on to take the boys off my hands for a few hours so that I can get things done.

Of course I am very grateful for the help we do get when my parents are here, and I'm very aware that MANY parents don't even have that much help...that they have NO assistance at all.

So I'm not complaining.

But I am admitting that sometimes I struggle not to feel jealous of all those people whose families are close to them, whose children visit grandparents every single weekend while their parents get some quality time together or time to just do something for themselves.

I'm admitting that sometimes I really wish we lived closer to family.
Sometimes I just wish I had somebody I could just pop around the corner to visit whenever things were getting a bit overwhelming - just to chat to someone else about it.

My sister lives close to her childrens other grandmother, and when I visit and see her popping in with some shopping for them, or arranging times to collect the younger child while my sister takes the older ones to ballet lessons, and just doing grandmotherly things - it makes me a little bit sad, because I think about how much easier our lives would be if we had that kind of regular help and support...if we lived closer to my mum....how much less stressful things would be.

Even on holidays, I can't help but notice how many families like ours are usually travelling with their parents - we met a young family on our last cruise holiday who were travelling with three children, similar ages to ours, and I asked them with interest how they were managing with three young kids on board - but they told us that they were travelling with the childrens grandparents who were helping out at meal times and bed times, giving them some free time for themselves and making things easier.

 They told me how they wouldn't even consider going on holiday without their parents to help.

And again I thought of all the "if onlys"...I saw that couple so many times during that holiday, sitting in the jacuzzi together of an evening without the kids, enjoying a quiet meal for two in the restaurant...things that we won't have again until the kids are grown up, which I don't want to look forward to...I don't want to wish their childhoods away in the hope of some time to relax.

But it's hard sometimes to appreciate the here and now when the here and now is always so stressful.

I don't want to complain...I love my children and I love being their mother, and I wouldn't change it for the world...

But sometimes, when things are so stressful...you really wish there was a "Grandmas House" around the corner to drop in on for some tea and sympathy...or just someone you could ask to watch the kids for an hour while you nip to the shops or do some chores....

 Sometimes I just really miss my "village"....

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  1. Great post, I'm sure so many parents feel like this, and we all feel guilty for thinking it!! Sure we love our kiddies, we couldn't
    Live without them!! But we all need a little break now and again! It gets easier when they start school :-)

  2. It must be terrible to feel so alone :( Have you any friends from your nursery/ local mum groups? I'm really lucky because my parents live 2 streets away so we are always dropping in on each other. I also have friends from the baby music class/preschool/school that I can turn to. I'm VERY shy but that hasn't stopped me making friends, really for the sake of the children so that we can have playdates and now they have the confidence to go to other houses for tea by themselves. I wish you find the same soon. Lx #Sundaybest

  3. This really struck a cord with me! We live in Belgium and our village is a long way away. Like you though I wouldn't change it for the world :) #sundaybest - Louise (onebagtwosugars)

  4. Ah bless you, it is really hard at times and it is totally ok to recognise that. There is a big boom in grandparents going on holiday with families now and I've seen it more and more. When its' all on your shoulders it can seem a bit much. I wish I had some amazing words of wisdom but I guess you have probably looked at a lot of ways to try and free yourselfs up. I went for using a babysitting agency that gave me back alot of freedom, it was a big mental hurdle for me to get over but once I did I was really pleased that I could actually go out for a night without calling in favours. Is there anything like that near you?

  5. I know exactly how you feel, I too feel as though I'm without my 'village'. I long for someone to just pop by to and have a chat with, just to get away when the stress of trying to raise to kids becomes a bit too much. I have no one though and it really saddens me.

  6. Ive been getting super stressed the past few weeks. its 3 months to bens christening and birthday party, we havent even started saving or sent out invites or found a hall. all this on top of full time working, parenting and blogging i dont even get time to tidy the house or spend quality time with Hubby.
    Im mentally and physically tired and wish we could have a holiday but with a baby I know that until he is old enough to go off to kids club or sit still for a while that this will not even happen!
    all of this on top of family drama just makes life so hard. I get you and I get your jealousy and envy of others. Im getting super jealous of those who dont have kids right now hahahahahaaha id totally beable to run off to a hot country today if i didnt have a kid =/ #sundaybest

  7. I felt like I was reading about myself there. I have struggled so much with work for the past few months, especially the past few weeks. Hardly ever will anyone take our kids. It's so hard! Although, My eldest two go to school 9-3 Mon-Fri, so I raise my hands up to you for having them all day!


  8. It's a struggle truly. Now that the older girls are in elementary school we have established an amazing village where we all help eachother survive this hotmess we call parenting.


  9. Oh gosh it's so hard I totally get you! I don't get much help either and its crazy!

  10. Great post and I can relate to every word. xx #Sundaybest

  11. It's never easy to be a super mom, thanks for sharing! I find myself drained too taking care of everyone, but we all need to recharge to be better moms too! #sundaybest - Mae of thegospelofbeauty.org

  12. I know exactly how you feel.. stay strong mama #sundaybest

  13. I am sure so many people feel like you. I soemtimes feel like that myself as my family is abroad but it was my decision not to live in France so I must go with it. And I don't care about what others are great at. My house is pretty much a tip as I am super busy and I am not the dream mummy who bakes and cooks fab meals very night. Fair enough, Grumpy Boyfriend didn't choose me for that! #SundayBest

  14. I so know what this feels like. Motherhood can be so lonely sometimes, which feels crazy because we are surrounded by little ones all the time. But I feel you, girl. Hugs. #sundaybest

  15. Oh Hayley, I hope you're OK and that it helped to get this out, I really do. I only have one child AND my Mum is my rock but I still manage to get completely overwhelmed. My Mum works a lot so we don't have date nights either and I don't have set day to do any work which is hard as, like you, I could really do with the routine and knowing that I can get things done rather than struggling through on a whim and a prayer that I'll catch five minutes to try and meet my deadlines. But, she is there and I can go round and she will help with shopping and goodness knows what else and I think I would go crazy without her. I so wish you were closer, I hate to think of how you must be feeling sometimes and I think you're doing such a good job, I hope you are proud of yourself and I hope you know how amazing you are :) Chin up, you know where I am if you need to vent/talk X X

  16. I feel like I have just read back through part of my life. I've got 2 girls 18 months apart, I work for myself, run a home, and of course am on constant mummy and wife duty.
    God its so friggin hard! So hard!
    My girls are now 3 and 4 and are at school full time and nursary 3 sessions a week. I feel like I have turned a corner, people who had been through the baby years of multiple children said it would happen, I hated them for it! but they were right. You've just got to keep going, its hard to recognise but its important to enjoy them as babies. I'm sure you do, it just gets overwhelming at times doesn't it.
    My nan had 9 children (catholic), her husband died so she was a single mum with no help. She lived to 90 years old. I used to think is Rosie could do this with 9 I can with 2!
    I'm not sure if it helped, what did help was a G and T after kids bedtime.

  17. It really is so hard when it's relentless. I am very lucky that 2nd time round I get some help. I had a month without any and got so behind and miserable, then I got 5 hours child free and I felt so much better for it. I don't take it for granted at all and I realise I am so lucky to get occassional help, but I know how hard it is not to get a break too #SundayBest

  18. Most of our family are far as well but I sort of like it that way. Nobody here to tell me how to raise my daughter. That being said, I just have the one. If I had three I might be singing a different tune. I think it will get easier long before your little ones are grown up. Things get a bit easier day by day. Just very slowly so we don't always notice.

    I believe you when you say you feel the stress of juggling it all. I understand what you are saying when you talk about climbing that mountain as I'm trying to climb it too. But I think you're doing an excellent job and I have no idea how you manage to juggle it all. I don't know what kind of struggle is going on but on the surface you're making it look easy. I'm sure there are many people who look at you with a bit of envy for that. #SundayBest

  19. Reading this actually made me feel really emotional! So well written and read at the perfect time for me as I've just been moping about how my parents can't have the kids tonight as planned because Lily has a tummy ache. Now I just want to slap myself! I'm totally internally *eye roll*ing at myself instead haha. Honestly though, I really take for granted how lucky I am to have a support system around me sometimes. & this post is brilliant because it has just reinforced how much I shouldn't take the fact that I have help so readily available for granted. I know you don't believe it when people say this to you Hayley but you really are incredible. For you and Jon to single handedly raise three young children whilst working from home. It's amazing. It really is. Massive hugs to you, you got this mama! even if it doesn't feel like it a lot of the time, you do!:) x

  20. Late to this post but just wanted to comment to say what an amazing job you're doing. I rely lots on my parents for help and being nearer my parents was a huge reason why we moved to Devon 3 years ago in the first place. It's SO tough doing everything on your own, especially when they're so little and you're trying to juggle work at the same time. xx

  21. Oh Hayley, i know exactly how you feel. My closest family live 2hrs away and hubby's closest family are 5hrs away. We're also quite new to our area so haven't made any strong friendships yet.

    I can't imagine doing it with 3 who are 3 and under, though. I think you must be Superwoman?!

    It's exhausting being on duty 24/7 and never knowing when your next break will be (if it's even coming at all!).

    Keep going, lovely. You can do it. You ARE doing it.


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