Toddlers: 24 Months+

Help making DH understand...

(sorry this is so long)

I'm feeling very overwhelmed right now and am hoping for a little advice.

DH & I have an almost 3yo DS and a 3 mo DS. DH was recently promoted at work which means we are moving from NY to Orlando at the end of this month. Due to this, DH has been traveling to FL M-F since the first of the year so he's only home on the weekends. I'm beyond exhausted from having to work full time, take care of the kids and try to pack up the house. Our weekends are full with fitting in things like the babies baptism, visiting with family/friends, packing etc.. so we really have no time to spend relaxing and when we do have downtime, all I want to do is sleep which I still can't do b/c the kids need me.

My issue is that with DH being away so much, he's not around for the day to day stuff with either kid and he's not understanding how to handle DS1 and his typical 3yo behavior. The 2 of them end up in a yelling match and I just can't take it. DH just doesn't seem to get that he's 3, not 13 and that he isn't going to 'get it' all the time. I find myself not wanting to leave them alone together for fear that DH will get frustrated and start yelling at him which I feel is counter productive. I don't think that DH would ever hit DS but I don't like how he yells at him, he has a short temper and has a very hard time controlling it when frustrated. For example, DH was able to fly home last night so he took the kids to daycare this morning. We have a routine where DS1 likes to help me open the van doors and if you do it w/o him he gets upset. DH didn't get this and got frustrated when DS started crying when the door was opened w/o him. DH then had a fit and was yelling/slamming doors b/c he thinks I'm letting the 3yo run our household.

Maybe I am letting him run it, I don't know, this is all new to me. What I do know is that for me, every day I'm in survival mode. I'm on my own during the week and I just want each day to go smoothly. While I don't give in to every request from DS I also don't like to rock the boat either. If it's reasonable (opening the car door) I'm going to find the patience and let him do it, the alternative temper tantrum just isn't worth it. I also don't see the harm in this or in letting DS sleep with me when he is scared at night (the past 2 nights have been very windy so he's come into my bed which DH is very against)

How do I get DH  to understand that DS is a toddler and that this is normal behavior (assuming it is!)? Is there a book you can recommend he read? I'm thinking I get him something to take back to FL this week to read on the plane so that maybe he'll understand a little more what we are dealing with. I'm the one that has always searched online, come to the bump, read the parenting magazines etc... he just goes with the flow and then wonders why our kids respond so much better to me than him. As it is he's barely spending time with the baby b/c as he puts it, the baby only cries for him but as soon as I pick him up he stops. I'm at the end of my rope and feel like I'm going to lose it due to the stress of our move, my lack of sleep and my DH's attitude, it's horrible but I'd rather he be in FL right now, it's easier with him gone!  I'm so scared that this is going to lead to problems in our marriage down the road.

Thanks so much for any advice or even just any sympathy you can give me.. I'm really not sure what I'm looking for... 

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Re: Help making DH understand...

  • I have two girls about the same exact ages of your boys.  :-)  My husband has also been on two week long trips in the past month for work that have left me caring for the girls on my own while also working (I don't know how you are managing to pack on top of everything, kudos to you girl!).  

    Anyway, I think for now, you should sit your husband down and tell him that right now during all of this transition and change for your family and with you being the #1 caregiver during this time, he needs to take a deep breath and cut you some slack. Maybe discuss with him a plan on what you both want to see happen once you're moved to Orlando and settled, but let him know that right now, because you're with the boys the majority of the time, you're going to do things your way and you really need him to try to be patient and work with you.  It may not be ideal for him all the time, but it's temporary and when you get settled, then you can work on ways to raise your boys that you both agree/compromise on.  You've got a lot on your plate and you gotta do what you gotta do to get through this.  I'm sure he's probably a little stressed too with all of the changes, so it sounds like everybody in the family just needs to take a deep breath and try to be patient with each other.  Toddlers will drive you crazy and tire you out on a good day, when you throw everything else you've got going on into the mix there's bound to be some hiccups!  Ask him to cut you some slack and know this won't be forever.  :-) 

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  • First, hugs!!  You have a LOT going on - I would be exhausted and overwhelmed too if I were you.

    My DS#1 is very much like your 3 year old.  He has his little "routines" - he needs to "help" pour his milk every morning, or he doesn't want it (even though he really does).  I am exactly like you in that I don't like to rock the boat either, because if we can if we have time, and can avoid tantrums, I'm all for it!  in the times I can't accomodate the little rituals, I just try to be reassuring for a minute to DS, but ultimatlely let him work it out, as yes, they can't always have things go thier way.  I think all of this is completely normal for the age.

    I don't see anything wrong with what your doing, but as you see with your DH, we all have our own styles and ideas. 

    It sounds like you are BOTH under a lot of stress and pressure right now, and rightfully so.  Can you carve out a night for you two to sit down after the kids are in bed, and have a calm, reasonable talk about all this?  Let him know what's been working for you with the kids, and for what reasons.  Try to find some readin material for him (sorry, I don't have a specific suggestion) for a plane ride.  Bottom line, let him know you want to get on the same page for a smoother, happier household that's consistent when he's around and when he's not.

    Good luck!

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  • Not much advice here- just wanted to say hang in there! I have only one DS he is 2.5 and driving me bat-sh*t crazy. He HAS to do everything like closing doors, picking out his fork, cleaning up the bath toys a certain way, etc.

    My DH does not travel, but works very odd hours so is not around for all of the day to day. And I'm aslo the one reading up on toddler behavior getting new tricks and advice.  He doesn't understand all of DS little quirks and will push back.

    I feel your pain because you have a more on your plate with the baby. Ask him to try to be more patient and this phase will pass evenutally.

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  • Is there anyway you guys could get a babysitter for a day?  I think it would help you guys a ton if you could get away from the house and kids and reconnect for a little bit, and then talk about house rules.  I like the super nanny books and 321 Magic (?) is supposed to be good too.  Maybe pick a book, both of you read it, and then take some time to talk together about what your realistic expectations for your kids are going to be, what the house rules are going to be, and what the consequences are.  Since you're about to move, it might help the 3yr old adjust if he sees that there are rules in place and mom and dad are both on the same page.

    The super nanny books do talk about realistic expectations for age groups, and it doesn't sound like you're letting your 3 yr old run the house.  I think it's good to give them simple choices, tasks they can help with, and have routines...they're not little robots that are just going to follow you around.  I think your husband does need to work on understanding that, and maybe he would feel better if there are house ground rules (no hitting, no screaming, eating at the table, etc.) so he knows there is a baseline and that the kids aren't going to just get away with anything, but there are some areas where you'll pick your battles. 

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  • Thanks ladies... It helps knowing that other kids this age act the same way (what you all have described with your kids fits DS to a T!) I think DH has always seen the 'good' side of our nieces/nephews/friends kids and never really witnessed the day to day stuff so he doesn't 'get' what normal behavior is and that it's not always going to be easy. 

    We obviously need some alone time where we can focus on us and actually talking without a crying baby or a toddler wanting attention. I'm thinking that maybe we can get someone to come over tomorrow night after the kids go to bed so we can go out for a drink and to talk. I think that if we can get out of the house and away from the situation we might be able to have a civilized conversation about all of this.

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  • We are going through a very similar situation.  DH was in a job that required a lot of international travel and was gone for weeks at a time.  This went on for many years, but after baby #2 I was at my breaking point because it was too much with two little kids, a demanding FT job, a long commute, and a 2.5 (now 3.5) year old who was flipping out all the time about every.little.thing....

    He got a new job and doesn't travel any more.  Yay...except that he has not been around to be part of the whole family scene and he does not deal well with DD.  Your post sounds exactly like our house, and it bothers me a lot.  I have tried to get him to read books but he won't even read an article.  I found an online Positive Discipline class that he agreed to watch with me so I signed us up for that and am hoping it will help.  Maybe a workshop or class would help you guys?  I couldn't find an in-person one that worked with both our schedules (hence the online thing).

    In terms of books, if he will read one I would suggest a few (I have read gobs of them trying to find better ways to deal with DD and the crazy threes):

    *   Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey - reading this one now and it really is my favorite so far

    *  Your Three-Year-Old:  Friend or Foe by Louise Bates Ames

    *  Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay

    *  Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen

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  • You have a lot on  your plate if you are working full time and taking care of a toddler and a baby solo through the week!!  So much!  Can you get help from anyone?  Maybe a sitter one evening during the week for some time out or some time to sleep?

     As for your DH...my opinion might differ from some.  I think you need to let DH parent in his own style.  A little yelling isn't going to hurt your little one.  It might be interesting to see how he reacts!?  Truthfully, I rarely lose my cool, but my DH is quick to yell.  My LO actually responds to DH much better than me :)  Unless you fear for the safety of your son (which it doesn't seem like you do) I wouldn't worry over this too too much.  In life your son will have to learn to work with various personality types.  It might be a good thing that you and your DH are different in that aspect :)

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  • Your DH needs to read a couple of child development books to understand that a 3 y/o is learning to be more independent and they thrive on routine.  It's not about letting your kid "run the show."  It's about providing opportunities for him to learn how to be independent, feel like he has some control over his life, be proud of his successes while creating boundaries.

    You also need to keep in mind that your DH is out of the loop for the majority of the time.  He probably feels like he's entering unknown territory every weekend he comes home.  He probably also feels pressured to do things your way because you're the mom and the parent that has been around the kids a lot more than he has.  That may be true but in the end he's still daddy.  Let him do certain things his way (minus the yelling, of course!) so he can feel successful and hold steadfast to the important issues.  Also, if his temper is a normal thing then he needs to find a way to learn how to deal with it.  This isn't going to get any easier and he needs to learn how to control his anger.

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  • You have far more going on in your life than I'd want to deal with, but you're definitely not the only one facing those types of struggles. My DH doesn't seem to get that our DS is only 3 and they frequently get into arguments over little things. For example if DS wants to pick out his underwear I let him, this morning DH wouldn't let him and it started a fight. I had to intervene and explain to hubby to choose battles and underwear does not need to be one of them. It's so frustrating. I don't think letting our kids help means their running the show, it's teaching them skills. Although I only have one child I am also in survival mode just trying to get by day to day. I can't figure out how to explain it to DH. I've tried and it gets better temporarily. Try not to worry about things that haven't happened yet like marriage effects down the road you have enough that is currently going on to deal with. I wish I had advice but I don't : just want you to know you're not alone.
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  • I'll tag onto this a little also..

    I was alone Sun night-Fri night w/ my kids for 4 months when MH moved somehwere ahead of us and I was working f/t (thought a relatively flexible job) and had the house on the market, dealt w/ all the stuff related to selling it (including discovering bats in the attic...AHHH!) when my twins were just over 2 yrs old.  MH & I did not have exactly the same dynamic, I actually got frustrated on the weekends b/c we had a good routine during the week & he'd come home 7& throw it off, let them get away w/ stuff b/c he missed them, etc. I had to just let it go. The other thing was that MH didn't want to do anything around the house on the weekends b/c he was tired from the new job, the travel, missing us, etc. He worked long hours when he was there since he was able to without us there and trying to learn new things & prove himself so I totally got that but it was still a little frustrating. 

    It doesnt sound like it is much longer for you, but one thing that helped me was athat I hired a sitter/helper on Tuesdays & Thursdays every week- she helped me feed them, bathed them & got them ready for bed while I cleaned up & made sure the house was ready to show the next day, and we put them down together. She was in her 20s and it also gave me someone to talk to at the end of the day. I really looked forward to those two days. I also scheduled a girls get together at my house every Wednesday & had maybe 7 girlfriends on my email list that I invited every week to come over for like 2 hrs to have a glass of wine & an app & hang out. I usually had 2-3 of them show up and it was something to look forward to each week also. 

    I think once you're in the same place you can deal w/ your parenting differences but expect quite a bit of transition in that process too- maybe if your H realizes what change you're all in for and how changing things in this short term only to likely have to adjust yet again when you move is really not very productive, he'll let up. And maybe you need to let us a little too and realize that this situation isnt ideal for him either. 

    GL!!!!! 

  • OP, my husband is the same as yours with our 3yo DD - Except he's home with us all week.

    I don't have much advice for you as this has become a regular struggle for us as well. Like you said, my H just doesn't seem to realize DD is 3 years old and not 13. I am curious to read everyone's answer... 

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  • This does not sound fun. Hopefully after the move everything will settle down. I understand the H frustrations though. Our 23 month old and H have screaming matched all the time. He wants her to just listen and argued with her. Distraction is my tool with her, redirecting her to something else whenever she is doing something i dont want her to do or have. Timeouts work great with her but H refuses. He thinks she should just listen. Sometimes I feel I have two toddlers!!!!
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  • Hi everyone, sorry I haven't been on here sooner to thank all of you - we had a very busy weekend!

    Thank you to all of you for your suggestions, words of encouragement/sympathy etc... first and foremost it helps to hear from other moms that you too have experienced some of what I have and also that you can sympathize with what I'm dealing with regarding the move and taking care of 2 kids on my own during the week. Sometimes I think I'm just complaining too much and that I should be able to handle all of this with more ease. 

    This weekend, aside from that first morning on Friday, went well. DH and I were able to have a short conversation regarding all of this (unfortunately we were so busy that we didn't have much one on one time) and he seemed to get it, at least for now. The weekend ended up going pretty well and we avoided any major arguments/tantrums. 

    I keep telling myself that I only have (roughly) 3 more weeks until we finally move and then things will start to improve!

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