Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Being Pecked To Death By Ducks (Come, Play Along!)

As I've been emotionally exhausted lately, it has reminded me of another time I felt like this, when Ian was 3 years 8 months and David was nearly 2. That time, it occurred to me that I might be worn out because a certain someone NEVER. STOPPED. TALKING. So, I kept track of his questions for one day, and was surprised to learn that, on average, I was answering 106 questions each day from one little boy.

I've noticed for a while now that I find myself, in the latter half of the day, feeling agitated and snapping whenever a child wants my attention, so, today, for about 12 hours, I kept track of all of the times a person demanded my attention, usually when I was doing something else already, and often when I was in the middle of talking to another person who had just barely demanded my attention. (I did not write down every question or request; only the instances of wanting my attention for something different than the last time they wanted my attention. I also did not count the times I demanded the other person's attention for something first.) Every time someone wanted me for something, I looked at a clock and recorded the time and the person. I noted a few instances of pets wanting my attention, but didn't record most of those, and I know I automatically responded to the children a few times without remembering to write it down.

(If you aren't interested in the details, scroll down to the end.)


*6:45 A.M. Get up. Only one child is awake. Head downstairs to workout. Cat follows me down, sits on a box, and stares at me the entire time I'm working out. Dog comes down once or twice to stare at me and wag his tail hopefully.
7:05 (I)
7:12 (M)
*7:20 Start workout
7:32 (I)
7:33 (I)
7:40 (I)
7:44 (H)
8:04 (Jo)
     8:04:57 (Je)
*8:05 Work out is over. I try to head upstairs to take a shower.
     8:05:30 (Je)
8:12 (H)
*Shower time!
8:40 (I)
8:48 (D)
8:54 (D)
8:57 (D)
8:59 (I)
     8:59:30 (D)
*9:00 Time for morning music and scripture reading
     9:00:02 (D)
     9:00:20 (Je)
     9:00:31 (Jo)
9:02 (Jo)
9:11 (Je)
     9:11:10 (I)
9:15 (Je)
9:16 (Jo)
9:20 (Je)
9:27 (D)
9:28 (I)
*9:30 Time to start spelling lessons
9:31 (M)
9:34 (D)
9:40 (Jo)
10:00 (Jo)
10:09 (M)
*10:15 Time to start stations (Children rotate through 4 different "stations" with 6 different activities.)
10:20 (M)
10:21 (M)
10:32 (M)
10:33 (I)
10:35 (Jo)
     10:35:20 (I)
10:39 (Je)
10:43 (A)
10:45 (Jo)
10:55 (Je)
10:56 (Je)
10:59 (D)
     10:59:30 (D)
11:10 (D)
     11:10:15 (M)
11:17 (I)
11:18 (M)
11:21 (D)
11:23 (I)
     11:23:15 (M)
     11:23:17 (I)
11:28 (Jo)
11:30 (D)
11:33 (I)
*11:35 Time for kids to fix their lunches
11:36 (I)
11:37 (D)
11:41 (D)
11:45 (I)
11:51 (I)
     11:51:09 (D)
11:52 (D)
     11:52:12 (I)
11:55 (I)
12:02 (Je)
     12:02:14 (Jo)
12:03 (Jo)
12:11 (I)
     12:11:18 (Jo)
12:12 (Jo)
     12:12:38 (D)
12:13 (Je)
12:14 (Je)
12:18 (Jo)
12:19 (D)
*12:20-2:00 QUIET TIME
     12:20:30 (M)
     12:20:35 (Je)
     12:20:38 (D)
12:24 (Jo)
     12:24:19 (I)
     12:24:50 (M)
12:25 (D)
*12:26 I close my door
*12:27 When I lie down, the cat joyfully meows at me because she hasn't seen me for DAYS hours, and stares at me intently until I lift the sheet up so she can crawl under and snuggle up next to me.
*1:45 I come out, even though Quiet Time isn't over until yet; nobody is supposed to talk to me until 2:00
1:46 (D)
1:47 (D)
2:13 (Je)
2:18 (M)
2:33 (M&Je)
2:45 (M)
2:50 (M)
2:52 (M)
2:53 (I)
2:55 (Je)
     2:55:20 (I)
2:58 (M)
*3:00 Sent the children outside to play
3:01 (Jo)
3:05 (M)
3:09 (Jo)
3:11 (Jo)
3:15 (Jo)
3:19 (Je)
3:24 (Je)
3:30 (Jo)
3:31 (M)
3:32 (Jo)
     3:32:07 (M)
3:39 (I)
     3:39:12 (Je)
*3:45 I try to do some sewing because a friend wants me to make some nursing pads for her.
4:00 (H) Husband is home long enough to tell me that he forgot something at work and has to go back.
4:04 (M)
4:07 (D)
4:15 (I)
     4:15:03 (M)
     4:15:48 (D)
4:20 (D)
4:21 (Jo)
4:22 (D)
4:23 (D)
4:24 (D)
4:27 (Je)
4:28 (D)
4:32 (D)
4:33 (H) Husband calls to ask me something before he comes back home.
4:34 (D)
     4:34:18 (M)
4:36 (D)
4:41 (D)
4:42 (M)
4:57 (D)
5:00 (H)
5:01 (D)
5:09 (Je)
5:10 (Je)
5:11 (Je)
5:17 (H)
5:19 (H)
5:25 (M)
5:35 (Je)
*5:40-6:00 Dinner
6:10 (D)
     6:10:45 (M)
6:12 (M)
6:14 (D)
6:15 Husband takes the kids to the park. (HALLELUJAH!)


*Number of demands: 142
*Period of time: 690 minutes/582 minutes of people having an opportunity to interrupt me
*Ian: 25
*David: 37
*Marie: 27
*Joseph: 22
*Jeffrey: 23
*Husband: 8

So, subtracting the time from quiet time when I was left alone and the time for dinner when we plan to interact with each other, that leaves 592 minutes of regular day time, which averages out to someone demanding my attention every 4.17 minutes. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Anybody want to play along so we can compare? Keep track of people demanding your attention for about 12 hours. Come back and leave a comment telling us how long you tracked, the number of demands, and what you spend your day doing. (I am home sch00ling 5 kids, if anyone didn't already know that.)


Sarah Anne said...

R!! No flipping wonder you are burning out my friend! Oh my goodness.

Doing My Best said...

You really think so? You don't think everyone has to deal with interruptions like that in one form or another all day long? Part of me wonders if I'm not just being a whiner, so that's one reason I want to compare with other people =).

Kenner said...

Oh my GOODNESS! I'm sure everyone has days that are similar to that, but I mean, even if everyone in my home was asking for my attention at that same rate, I still have three fewer children than you do (so that would definitely have a huge impact!) Granted, the two I DO have are insanely emotional and weird lately (possible teething? Maybe a language breakthrough, by either one of them? WHO KNOWS!) but I don't know that ceaseless crying in the middle of the floor would count as a demand (he wasn't really demanding my attention, but he did end up getting it! So, is it the intent that counts? Or the end result?) :)

In any case, it's not a competition, you have every right to feel exhausted (even if everyone is going through the same thing, it still doesn't make it any easier!) I'm wiped out just looking at that list :)

Anonymous said...

I know you don't, but goodness, this is why people drink. That's enough to drive you batty!!

Emily said...

I only have three, but two of them are "talkers", to say the least. The middle one is mercifully, more quiet. I have been known to tell Oldest to "take a breath".

This is one of the reasons I can't home school. I am an introvert and I need more alone time than that would allow.

I am impressed that you got some quiet time. Right now Oldest is in school and Middle and Baby mostly still nap at the same time so I get a break. As soon as Middle gives up her nap though (and during the summers) I need to institute daily quiet time. You give me hope that it can be done!

Doing My Best said...

Mrs. Irritation-Sad but true: I never really understood what would drive a person to drink...until I had kids. It's a good thing my religious beliefs prohibit drinking because I'm pretty sure I would be a FREQUENT drinker otherwise ;-).

Emily-There is hope! IT CAN BE DONE! Even my older ones still have quiet time. It is a wonderful, WONDERFUL thing, and totally worth the time, bribes and/or threats it takes to train them =)!

Emily said...

First, I love you title. It seems so apt. I'm using that sometime, ok?

Second, I can see why you're exhausted! You don't get any time to reset or take a break! *Hugs*

Elsha said...

This post verifies one big reason I could never homeschool. I need my downtime kiddos!!

Burnout Mum said...


I am a mother of 4 kids (2/4/8/11 years old), the oldest has ADHD and we don't want to give him drugs. I got a very severe burnout in my full time job 1.5 years ago and still trying to get better. My husband had a motorbike accident 6 years ago (he been in a deep coma and was operated twice in the brain), but he survived.
He has some organisatory problems (dont remember where is the place of things) which means he ANY of the kids. I don't have the guts to make a list like you did, sometimes I tell the kids that the next one goes 'mummm' will get grounded because I just cannot take it anymore. My question for you: how do you organise yourself to be able to take a shower when the kids are awake? I just don't arrive when they aren't in the bed! But I am affraid your list is realistic, and you are SO not a winer, I already has problems to handle 4 kids, I have no idea how do you organise yourself (but again, that is my severe burnout also makes me unable to organise good the home and kids homework/football practice/gym class.
Love, Katrien

ps: I workout in the evening after they are to bed if I am not in an half-dead state!

Doing My Best said...

Burnout Mum--It's only been in the past few months that I've been able to work out in the mornings and then shower. Baby is 3 1/2 now, and the older ones (14, 11, 9, 7) are FINALLY mature enough that I can ask one of them to help Baby with breakfast if he wakes up before I'm out of the shower, and the others are busy getting dressed and eating breakfast.

Before I could trust the kids to behave while I was in the shower, and my husband was gone from 4am until 6-7pm, I didn't work out and I showered about twice a week because I was too worn out to do it most evenings, and if I tried to get up in the morning before the kids were awake to do it, they would wake up earlier.

If I was in your situation, I would try asking the 8 year old to read to the 2 year old, and the 11 year old to read to the 4 year old while I was in the shower. Or ask the 8 year old to keep an eye on the 2 year old, and the 11 year old to keep an eye of the 4 year old while they watched television while I was in the shower. I would also offer a treat (food, extra computer time...whatever they find motivating) to whomever behaved well until I came back out.

It sounds like you are in a difficult situation =(! I wish you luck!!