Moms Who Feel Like “Desperate Housewives.”

April 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Ask Dr. Vicki, Discipline

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Dear Dr. Vicki,

Help! My kids get sick a lot in the winter and I feel trapped. They are bored, whiney, demanding and I just don’t know what to do. I love my kids, but winter is coming and I am dreading being stuck in the house with them. What can I do?
Signed: Desperate housewife!

Dr. Vicki’s response:

You are not alone! There is nothing funny about having to go through a week of dealing with nature’s most common wrath, winter bugs. Especially when your children don’t feel sick enough to sleep 24/7, but not well enough to go to school.

So, how do you combat the boredom of being at home? Actually, there is a lot you can do. It just takes a little creativity to figure it out. You might as well make the time productive and hopefully fun for all concerned. The idea is to change your mind-set. It’s better to make the best of the situation rather than being miserable. You can use it as an opportunity to spend time with your children. It makes it more bearable for all of you.

You might think about doing things with your children that you usually don’t have time to do during the school week:

* Maybe it’s going through some old photo albums. (Albums—who has time to put pictures in albums? you might ask.) Surely there are pictures around that maybe your kids can sort through and put in albums, or pick some they want to frame for their rooms. Kids love to go through old photos, especially pictures of themselves, as well as ‘goofy’ ones of Mom and Dad when you were younger.

* Do fun things with your sick children, such as playing board games, cards, dress up, make up a play, do creative projects with Play-doh, crayons, water colors, etc.

* Pop some popcorn and watch a movie together.

And when you are home with sick children, you are also at risk of getting sick, feeling stressed and trying to keep them busy. I suggest that when a sick child is sleeping, that you take time for yourself. Relax and read, take a bath or do something you consider a hobby. And if you feel run down, hobbies don’t include laundry or household chores that might just wear you out even more!

Dear Dr. Vicki,

I feel like a desperate housewife. I am a mom, who is basically a single parent because my husband travels most of the time. But when he comes home, he tries to take over and it interferes with the schedule and discipline that works for us when he is away. I want him to be home, but not disrupt our family. What can I do?

Dr. Vicki’s response:

Many households face this dilemma, as more jobs require traveling. Usually, it’s the mom who is home with the children, and it is necessary for her to establish her authority and organization in the home. Routines run well, and disruption can cause frustration on the part of both parents, as well as confusion on the part of the children.

If Dad comes home and undoes what Mom has established, then the children may question Mom’s authority. Dad’s efforts to change the disciplinary structure and routine can actually result in inadvertent sabotaging and undermining of what Mom has put into place.

The key to situations like this is to establish clear communication between parents. Generally, many dads feel like an outsider when they have been away, and almost feel unneeded as they watch their family run fairly smoothly without them. I strongly suggest that Dad is made to feel welcome when home, but also realize that he needs to support Mom’s rules and ways of handling discipline.

However, there are many ways for Dad to be a part of the family. When Dad is home, this allows him to spend quality time with his children, and enjoy the time he does have with them. I don’t mean be a Disneyland Dad, but one who takes advantage of time with his children, as well as his wife. I would hope that he would express appreciation for how well Mom is ‘holding down the fort.’ And, Mom needs to appreciate, and show support and understanding about how he may feel regarding the need to be away so often. And of course it is important for Dad to stay in touch with the family on a regular basis when traveling, so he can be kept up to speed regarding the day to day happenings in his family.

© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.

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