Q I have just returned to work after my maternity leave and I’ve been finding that adjusting back to my workload while looking after my children at home has become very stressful. When I come home the only thing I want to do is get into bed and just have some time to myself, I get emotional most evenings. I want to be there for my family and I don’t want to let my employer down, but I feel like I am losing control trying to manage everything. How can I find a balance of work, home and time to myself and start to feel good again?
Q. I am married to a wonderful man who suffers from depression. I want to be supportive but I feel under incredible pressure as I’m expected to be the one who keeps it together all of the time and I don’t know how much longer I can. I spend my days shielding our children from his mood swings and making excuses for his behaviour. While I understand this is an illness, sometimes I feel that he uses his depression as an excuse to get him off the hook. Some days he takes to the bed as soon as I say something he doesn’t want to hear, which can be something as simple as asking him to put his dirty laundry in the laundry hamper. How do I stay supportive when some days I just want to get into the bed and not deal with life either?
Being the wife to a husband who suffers from depression suffers herself. Suffer is an interesting but apt word and when someone experiences chronic depression, it can become the third unwanted guest in your relationship.
Q. My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the science behind the Mummy Wars’.
Q. My father-in-law is causing huge problems in our family. He doesn’t respect any decisions we make as parents and occasionally has been heard to say to our children, “Ah, don’t mind what Mammy says…” or “Sure, Daddy won’t know…” when it comes to feeding them sweets or buying them toys. My husband says he’ll talk to him, but I think he’d afraid to upset him too much as my husband tends to rely on his Dad a lot and they are very close. I think my father-in-law spoils our children by way of compensating for the tough childhood my husband had. I don’t want to cause any family feuds but I feel it’s up to me to try to sort this out with my father-in-law. What’s the best way to go about it?
This is a really difficult issue. Why do you feel it is up to you to sort out? The main relationship that needs to be addressed here is that of your husband and his dad. From what you have said there seems to be
Q. I have two children aged nine and five. My husband and I manage really well as a team – we both work full time. Life is hectic but we cope well. There is one issue that really gets me down – my mother-in-law. She constantly puts my mothering skills down when we are alone and shows me up in front of other family members. She picks holes in the way I do things and it’s really starting to affect my confidence and I doubt my own mothering skills. I have ended up snapping at her and then she gets upset. I can’t win! My husband is aware of the situation but doesn’t seem to acknowledge just how much of an effect his mother’s words have on me. How can I make my mother-in-law aware of how much she is upsetting me without causing a family rift?
Thanks for sending in your question. This is a situation many women will relate to. Psychodynamics look at how our past relationships impact our relationships now. Why we behave in a certain way, respond either positively or negatively to a situation, and our core belief system is deeply embedded in years of unconscious learning from our family of origin.