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ripping my hair out and losing my sanity

6 answers
my 3 year old is autistic, and my 9 month old is EXTREMELY clingy. every single time i put her down, she cries, and begins to crawl after me, screaming, "mama! mama!" i know it's normal for the separation anxiety to spike at this age, but she has always been a super clingy baby. after my c-section, she was rushed to the nursery because her lungs were underdeveloped, and i was unable to hold her until she was about 5 hours old. i'm a sahm, so she gets a lot of attention from me. meanwhile, my sanity has flown out the window, while i desperately try to give each child the attention they need and crave. my house often suffers, and it looks like a tornado has whipped through it. every time i try to do something, someone cries, throws a fit, or one of my 3 dogs decides to scamper around my feet looking at me like i haven't loved them in weeks. i'm at my wit's end here, and what makes it worse is, i don't have a support system. i'm doing it all on my own. i have no friends close by, or a friendly neighbor to call on when i need them. all of my family members live out of state, and my husband works long hours. i yell a lot more than i probably should, but i guarantee if you were in my shoes, you would do the same, so don't judge, and tell me to take a breather. with one car, and my husband gone all day, getting out of the house to play at the park/library, etc. is not an option for us. thank god for my fenced in back yard and swing set, or i would be bald by now. any tips for helping my 9 month old to learn some independence. i don't think it's too much to ask for me to leave her playing on the floor while i wash dishes, or wash a few loads of laundry. my 3 year old was nothing like this. she was perfectly happy as long as i was visible. i tried to get my 3 year old into head-start, but she ended up being number 17 on the waiting list, so she didn't get in this year. i can't afford pre-school for her at $130 a week. the only school that would even consider accepting her is the Montessori school, and it would cost us upwards of $800 a month. to top it all, my husband is the king of ass holes, only lending a helping hand when absolutely necessary. my 3 year old is the queen of not listening, and no matter what i do, i can't get her to behave. she thrives on rigid routines, which was easy when it was just her and me, but now that her sister is in the picture, that's very difficult. help me, please! vforventure, i especially want to hear from you, since you often have the most insightful answers.

answers (6)

I'm always here for you! Believe me, I feel you. I've got three under 4 years old, a cat, and a dog. I am so, so thankful now that my husband plays stay at home dad two days a week while I'm at school. He finally understands just how hard it is to get things done. Our house is often a disaster and we've resigned ourselves to doing what we can, when we can. We also have no family in the state and only one set of close friends who we don't want to impose on very often. So I know how hard it can be. As far as your husband goes, I suggest you give him a couple of chores to do on a routine basis. I know that my husband won't do much unless I specifically ask him (which drives me crazy).We have a chore chart for Audrey and Harrison and that has helped them to be more productive. They don't fight picking up their toys/clothes/whatever (as much) because they love getting stickers for doing a good job. And they especially love getting a prize for being good at the end of every week.As far as your baby goes, I've been there. Our girls have the same birthday, and Vivienne is the same way a lot of the time. If I have to get dishes done, I'll put her in her high chair with a snack so that she's occupied and can see me. But, there are plenty of times where I'm standing at the stove cooking with one hand because I'm holding her with the other. When she was a little younger I would sometimes have to put her in the Baby K'tan wrap so that she could be held and I could get things done. The high chair has always been the easiest way for my kids to understand that independence is an ok thing. The preschool thing is a bummer. We really want to get Audrey into something because she's so smart and she wants to go. But, we can't afford it either. We just try to work with our kids on basic things like counting, the alphabet, etc. Audrey is beginning to learn to read and do math, and her drawing skills are improving a lot. My husband is better about sitting them down with markers and paper for art time and stuff like that. I feel more pressure to keep the house clean. The big thing we're trying to work on is writing, which is hard for her right now. For you, maybe adding in an activity like art time for Paisley while your baby is in her high chair can give you a little time to get more housework done (or have a minute to yourself)? 
i have a baby k'tan wrap, which was a lifesaver when anabelle was younger. she hates it now. i homeschool paisley daily, while including art time with that. every day, we learn about a new letter, and we make something begining with the letter. my kitchen walls look like a pre-school with all the posterboards i have created. letters, numbers, shapes, weather, a calender, colors, etc. we even do monthly themes. the only me time that i get is when i grocery shop. paisley is a nightmare at the grocery store, and come sunday morning, i'm running away from my house screaming. the last time that i took her to the store with me, she dumped an entire carton of eggs upsidedown. all over the food. a full basket of food was covered in raw egg, while she giggled hysterically. she's that kid that we all look at and think, "oh. my. god. i feel sorry for the parent!" she waits until i'm in the middle of something to act up, or get into something she's not supposed to. if i'm feeding anabelle, she believes it's the perfect opportunity to go in the kitchen, and pull a chair up to the counter tops so she can rummage through the cabinets. my little monkey is super strong, and brilliant, which fosters her ability to climb over every single baby gate in the house. i don't have the typical store-bought baby gates. we took her drop side crib and turned it into one, because we knew it would be more sturdy, and a good bit taller than the normal ones. for god's sakes, this child was climbing out of her crib at 6 months! from a very early age, i knew that she was going to be a difficult child, and i made peace with it. she is a high-functioning autistic savant. she's been writing her letters, numbers, and name since before her second birthday, reciting the alphabet backwards for months, as well as counting to 30. i hate being the mom that always yells. i do the best i can to keep my patience tank full, but she is the first to empty it with her antics. the extreme temper tantrums have me silently sobbing most days. i have honestly dealt with fits that last up to 2 hours. it's all i can do just to pick her up, put her on the edge of her bed, and say, "i know you're angry right now, but you cannot act like that. when you are ready to talk to mommy and tell me what's wrong, i'm ready to listen. her doctor told me to just ignore the tantrums, because time-outs are not the way to go. he explained it like this: "in a child's mind, you are withdrawing your love because she can't behave at that time, and it sends the message that you will only love her when she's good." i think that's a load of bullshit, and i'm on the hunt for a new ped. i'd much rather institute a time-out instead of spanking. anabelle despises the exersaucer and bouncer, and will only tolerate the high chair for about 15 minutes. i, too, have adopted the mindset of cleaning what i can, when i can. i gave up my dream of a june cleaver looking home a long time ago. 
I'm sorry it's all so difficult for you. I can't imagine dealing with all of that on a daily basis. It sounds like you are doing a GREAT job with your girls. You do a lot more educational stuff than we do! Definitely find a new pediatrician. I know it can be hard to find a good doctor. (We drive 45-60 minutes to see ours because we love her.) But once you do, you should be able to get referrals to all kinds of specialists that can help you learn new ways of dealing with difficult situations. You should also look for Autism support groups. Even if you can nly talk to other parents online, they can probably help as well. 
i have a friend that lives out of state who has a severly autistic son. he's 14, but she has been there and done that, so she is able to offer me a little support, if nothing more than a happy phone call that says, "hey, i know what you're going through! just take a breath!" i was shocked to hear my ped say that time-outs are'nt ok. he said he's certainly not advocating a spanking, but the best thing to do is ignore a tantrum. well, i can't just walk away in public, acting like she doesn't exist! if at home, i will walk away for a few minutes and ignore her, but when she begins to throw herself on the floor, kicking and screaming, headbanging, etc. i put her in her room. i don't see anything wrong with that!
I don't understand how ignoring a tantrum is any different than a time out in a bedroom. That just doesn't make sense to me at all.
I feel for you as I was a single mom when my kids were young. I found that first ROUTINE was so important. We had our routine for everything from getting up, naps, appts, playground time, shopping, etc.I also had a sticker chart where if they did their best and were good during various times of the day, they would get stickers. If they achieved say 5-7 stickers for the day they would get a prize from the prize bucket. These were small tokens that kids like. When they got a little older they could bypass the prize bucket and save it.....they would get a play 1.00 bill and that could be used to pay for extra tv time, extra playground time, or an extra book at bedtime.My daughter, being the eldest would choose from a choice list for their snacks, their book, the type of bubble bath, etc. She would also help me with small things as well. She would get an extra sticker if she helped without being asked.Then, I had made a VCR tape of 2 of my daughters fave movies and some fave shows. This tape would be used ONLY when I needed "ME TIME or MOMMY TIME". This was it was not overwatched and she would enjoy it and she did not interrupt me. She sat nicely and watched, usually while my son was napping and she was out of the nap phase.Both my kids have ADHD and my son was very sickly with asthma as a young child and so there were times when things would be different but returned to normal ASAP. I tried to make things like the bedtime routine a quiet, comforting one, dinner, a warm bath and a book being read all cuddley in my big bed. I would do major cleaning after they were sleeping, I would shower then as well, I would prepare anything like gravy for pasta too after bedtime......etc.As they got older rewards got more age appropriate. They helped more because they were part of a family. They got allowances, not for work they did but to learn about handling money. Their chores were something they had to do because they were part of a family and now they are grown. My daughter has given me my first 2 grandchildren, 2 girls 1 and 3 and she uses some of my methods and some of her own. She wants to know how I stayed calm as much as I did.......mainly because some things can wait until later, but watching them grow up into beautiful people was more important. The house got clean, was not always spotless, the laundry always got done and they always had a nice hot meal for dinner and b-fast......lunch may have been simple but it was good because little hands made it. Cherish your kids, always tell them how much you love them and like them and how important they are to you. I can vouch for the clingy child that was my son, but he also could occupy himself from a young age. My daughter was more independent but at the same time always needed help in getting started in doing something. Sometimes I wish I could have them back little again just for a week.......but I love who they have become and now I have a new job.....NANA I need not parent because that is their parents job, but I can spoil, love, play and cherish and make more memories in an already full heart of memories....but one that has room for one more.

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