“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough.

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhoodI don’t usually post this often–3 times in one week–and I don’t usually hit the keyboard furiously the second I finally get all my kids out the door. But today, I can’t help it. My heart is racing, my head is pounding, and I feel like, if I don’t write, I may just hop in the car and head to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed amount of time.


Why is parenting so darn tough?

Today, I lay the “psychologist” aside and speak as “the mom,” and really, just as “me.” Why is parenting so tough?? It shouldn’t always have to be tough, right? We should feel like it’s tough only sometimes?

To me, it feels like it’s always something. Maybe it’s because I have six kids. Maybe it’s because with so many, the needs just keep flowing like a never-ending river. Maybe it’s because my four oldest are all teenagers now, and that means they live in a universe in which they are the center and everyone else must fall into orbit according to their daily gravitational pull (or mood). Maybe it’s because my husband’s been out of town most days the past weeks, with another trip coming up, and I’ve been going solo for too long. Maybe it’s because, try as I may, I never seem to get a full night’s sleep (except a week ago Saturday when my husband “took charge” for a day and I actually slept for 11 hours!) The more tired I am, the more “crazy” I feel (and act). Maybe my hormones are starting to kick in again (let me check the calendar—a little over a week away? Maybe. Maybe not.)


My kids are driving me crazy—again!

Yes, my kids are driving me crazy–again–and it’s a cycle that seems to repeat about every six weeks or so. They get incredibly lax on things like, oh, chores, getting to bed, getting up on time, remembering to do homework or take it to school, personal hygiene, etc, etc, and I get pushed and pushed by the piling of these “little things” until I go on a rant of some sort, which makes them listen and makes me feel guilty (I really do not like getting so frustrated with my kids!). This motivates us all to regain some order in the home, to make apologies, to work a little harder. And this brings peace once again…ahhh…until we start to get too tired and too busy and too lax again, and voila! The cycle repeats. (Read “My Kids are Driving Me Crazy! 10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane)


It just makes me feel better to let it out…

I know I may be facing social media mockery and isolation by writing my true feelings—or rather how I truly feel today

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two "forgot" their lunches this morning, again.

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two “forgot” their lunches this morning, again.

—about my kids and parenting. All I ever seem to see on Facebook are posts about how great other people’s kids are. Yes, I have posted my fair share of “success moments” with my kids, too, so yes, I get it. But most days I really want to post, “I’m so proud of my six little kiddos! They stopped fighting in time to actually listen to me (the fourth time they were asked) and do their chores! How did I get so lucky? What a proud mama I am!”

I know, that’s sarcastic, and so far I’ve refrained, because I don’t believe in shaming my kids. Instead, I believe in encouraging them to do better, and today, I did just that. Instead of going on a rant, yelling about all the things they’re not doing right now, (and by yelling and rant, I mean a very long, intense talking to in which they sit perfectly still because they can see if they push even one bit my head might just explode). Instead of this, today, I tried a new approach. Ok, yes, I did “rant” a little after they left by taking pics of all the things I’d asked them to do a million times–for proof, later, if I need it. But, overall I was very impressed with my non-ranting solution.


“Kids!–Do This!”

Like my “Lame-o-list”—which I made when I reached a similar point of frustration with my husband and myself (yes, I

It's not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my "Kids! Do This!!" list is definitely effective.

It’s not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my “Kids! Do This!!” list is definitely effective.

expect all of us to do what we’re supposed to do—even, and especially, me). Similarly, I grabbed a colored pencil (because of course all my pens are lost—again), and in my building anxiety, began to scribble all the things my kids need to remember to do each day and each week, and all the time.

I wrote at the top, “Kids! Do this!” and underlined it twice. Yes, instead of ranting about all my kids have not done, like I would usually do, today I focused on what my kids should do. This is a great psychological and parenting principle I learned long ago: teach kids what to do instead of telling them what not to do.

So, I did just that. I wrote a list of all they need to do, because, maybe they just can’t remember on their own. Maybe they just need to be reminded. A million times. Yeah, right.

Well, now, they are officially reminded, as you can see, to the right. They are reminded to change their underwear and put away the milk and do their homework before before school the next day. They are reminded to take the lunches I wake up very early each morning to make for them (because I’m nice like that), and to thank me for making them. They are reminded to turn out the lights and pick up the toys and shoes off the floor so the dog won’t chew them to bits while they’re at school (like she did to every one of her leashes and the items pictured below!). They are reminded to remember everything they need for school before they leave or they just won’t have it, and to actually

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning.

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning. This is why we pick things up, kids!

listen when their dad and I are trying to help them or give them important advice. (Seriously, why don’t kids just listen to us? It would make life—theirs and ours—so much easier, wouldn’t it?)

You get the picture.

Writing this list calmed me, and I even saw a few of my kids read the list, and behave extra respectfully to me after they did. Apparently, they can get the picture without me having to say one single ranting word. They can, instead, read my suggestions and do them—or not, but we all know what the end result of that choice will be.


Parenting is tough, by nature, but it makes us grow.

The hard truth is that parenting is tough, and sometimes, it’s really tough. It pushes us in ways we never expected and

This "zone" was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

This “zone” was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

can make us feel things, and act in ways, we never wanted.

Writing this, I feel like both a terrible parent and a great one all at once. Terrible, because I wish I could just handle the stress that is a natural part of parenting (and especially parenting six kids) without getting pushed to the edge of sanity. Great, because I am learning to handle these frustrations in more and more creative and healthy ways. Yes, parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In fact, I am now recalling I posted something similar to this not too long ago. Let me check… Yes, the last time I wrote about this was in my “Parenting Teens” article, 9 ½ weeks ago. So, maybe I am actually improving. If I can last almost 10 weeks in between my parenting meltdowns, I must be. Yippee!


One more time: Parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In my first Skype-in This is How We Grow book club, the other night, the group asked eagerly, “How are all the kids

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

doing now?” It’s the most common question I get after people read my memoir. I told them the truth—that they are great kids, trying to do the right thing and be their best, working hard to excel in life. And, they struggle. They’re going through the regular ups and downs of teen and tween years; they make mistakes, grief still hits at times, and they argue just like normal siblings. “It can be hard for us, as parents, to know how to parent each of them in the individual ways they need and not just treat them as a group whole,” I said. “But, I try to see them as individuals and give them individual attention, even while holding them accountable to the same rules and expectations. It’s tough,” I admitted.

“So, it’s just parenting. Still,” one woman wisely said.

“Yep,” I replied. “It’s just parenting. Still. Forever.” And parenting is just hard sometimes–because it forces us to grow.

There are so many moments of beauty and joy and delight as a parent, and there are all these other moments just trying to keep up and get it as right as possible. Parenting is a tough job, but when we dig in and plant ourselves, it’s the best ground to make us grow.

Here’s to growing as parents! And, may the force be with you; if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna need it!

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Check out Parenting Skills: “My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” 10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane!

Ok, let me have it. Do your kids ever drive you as crazy as mine seem to? How do you handle yourself when they do? What are your thoughts on the tough job of parenting and how it’s designed to make us grow? Leave a comment, below! 

Listen to my episode, “Why am I Frustrated and Yelling at My Kids Even Thought I Promised I Wouldn’t?’ with Dr. Rosina McAlpine, on  “Motherhood” radio! Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe to the show!

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  1. Mary Allen says:

    I think you should give yourself a break! I can’t imagine parenting 6 kids, all different ages, mostly alone during the last few weeks! No wonder you are going crazy! Anyone would! Plus your books you are working on, blogs, articles, cooking meals, and the laundry must be insane! You probably have people emailing you too! (lol). You need to recharge. From what I’ve read, all the kids are old enough to give you some “quiet time” for a much needed nap or sleeping in one day (even if your husband isn’t home). Let them know the day & time. Tell them you need 2 hours of quiet. They can watch a movie, read or listen to music. I always had “quiet times” scheduled with my kids. They can do it! xoxo

    • Hello dear Mary. Look at you giving me such great advice and support. I am listening. You’re definitely right–I’m getting to that “burnout” place again. And you’re right–my kids can help me get a break (after all I just wrote all about how to do that in my Sat post! Lol). I have already booked a “sleep in” day with my husband and kids’ help tomorrow. So, thank you for your support and for reminding me it’s ok to slow down and follow m own advice. xoxo

  2. Funny, I wrote something similar a week or so ago on my blog (http://www.nwschnellfamily.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-labor-of-love-part-2.html) I, too, keep wondering why parenting is so hard. I know I have LOTS to learn. And I always appreciate hearing other parents’ candid remarks about how hard they think it is, so I don’t feel like the only parent who goes crazy when things don’t go so smoothly. Recently I have come to the conclusion that learning how to deal with and parent my children is one of my trials right now, because a lot of how I handle my girls is based on character pieces that I need to improve upon. SO MUCH TO LEARN!

    • I loved reading your post, Sharon! We have a LOT in common (especially the struggle with being a stay-at-home mom and craziness when sleep-deprived!). I also appreciate hearing other parents’ crazy stories. It helps remind me I am not alone in this bunker called parenthood. So true too, we struggle most in the areas we most need to grow. So, if we just learn to look at our struggles as areas for improvement, we are right on track and can give ourselves a break! xo

  3. Hello Christina, only one question that i would like to pose and that is “how high or low are your expectations of your children?
    Thanks Josie

    • Hi Josie. Great question. It’s one I actually ask myself all the time. I know I expect a lot of myself, and so I try to make sure what I expect of my kids and husband is reasonable and not too high. I would say expecting my kids to get up and out the door on time, homework done, and to do their chores and take a shower each day, and to learn to express a little gratitude from time to time is well within “healthy expectation” limits. Would you agree? Thanks for the reminder, though. It made me stop and double check to make sure I’m not expecting too much, and that’s always a good thing.

  4. I like the “Do This” list – very reminiscent of appreciative inquiry!

    • Thank you, Dr. Josh. I definitely appreciate the support–especially on days like today! It seems to be working so far, now that the kids are home. They’ve each taken a few moments to “reflect” by the fridge (where the list is) so far. 🙂

  5. Dawn Lantero says:

    I remember those days. The loneliness of being the only adult among savages, the frustration of repeating myself endlessly and feeling as if no one was listening, the sheer exhaustion of trying to keep all the balls in the air at once and knowing I was NEVER going to get through my to do list. But guess what…you will prevail. Your kids will rise to your expectations. They will continue to grow and leave their self centered, hormonal, teenage selves behind. When I look at my two twenty somethings and their almost 20 sibling away at college I can hardly believe my eyes. The high expectations resulted in self assured, caring, passionate individuals. You already know all of this. You just need a nap. But if that’s not possible, how about a song. Turn on “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and dance in your kitchen. Parenting means long days, and short years!

    • Beautiful, Dawn! I love the reassurance that, eventually, they do resurface from the teenaged mist, and that high expectations can show them how to continue to grow throughout life. And you’re right, I definitely need a nap! First, though, I’ve got to go tell the drummer to stop drumming down in the basement!! I will definitely turn on “Happy” and dance. It will be good for my soul–and my kids’ too. xoxo

  6. For more parenting inspiration from me, please check out my website: splashparenting.com or follow me on twitter @dawnlantero

  7. Laurie Armstrong says:

    Christina; you are so right!! I found myself totally relating and nodding my head to everything you were saying! You are definitely not alone in having your kids not listen to you all the time. One thing I try to do is let my kids see that I’m only human; that I get frustrated and annoyed sometimes. And if I’m in the wrong and need to, I apologize. I think its good to let kids see that its ok to make mistakes and in families we apologize and forgive, and work harder on the things we can control. And in your kids’ case; it may be doing better at listening to Mom. One thing that has helped me recently is acknowledging to myself what I can and can’t control. Because I’m a little crazy; I want to control my life; my kids, my husband and my house, ect. And I’ve found that the more I try to control others, the less control I actually have. It’s a paradox, but when I focus on the things I can control; specifically my own actions; I have way more peace. That’s not to say that I don’t need to be accountable for what I do, or be a slacker as a parent, but I just honestly acknowledge that I truly only have control over my reactions and actions. I may influence others, but in the end; others get to choose. And it really is Satan’s plan; forcing others to do something, even if its the ‘right’ things. So I’ve tried to keep that in perspective. Me getting angry and upset that my kids don’t listen to me doesn’t do that much good except that it makes me frazzled and upset. But if I calmly dish out the consequences that are previously set up, things go so much better. Although all of this is sooo much easier said than done!!

    • Hello Laurie! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a huge fan of letting my kids see the “real me,” too, and apologizing when I lose it with them. It’s so important, as you say, that they see us make mistakes, acknowledge them, and learn from them, so they can do the same. And you are so right–we definitely can’t control much, so it’s best not to try to control too much! As I write in my book, This is How We Grow, “The truth is, most of what we believe is ours to control is really God’s. He makes it His business to take care of the million little pieces that, from our limited perspective, seem so out of control. Once we know this, we can choose to use our self-control to yield control to that Being who loves us most. We can let go of the handle we thought was spinning our world and finally be free. The world truly ors keep spinning without us.” (p. 91) Thank you for reminding me to let go of the handle a little bit. You are right–it’s always so much easier said than done! xoxo

  8. Update: Today has actually turned out pretty positively. The kids took note of their “Kids! Do This!” list (my 10 year-old daughter said she actually took a few notes!), we all went to one son’s basketball game and cheered him on, and I took an hour break after my husband got home, reading on the back deck. I also plan to sleep in tomorrow and let hubby and kids handle things on their own for a day!

    Oh, and venting to my husband actually brought us closer, reminding us we’re on the same page and in this together. At lunch today, as I shared with him the morning’s frustrations (like one son losing his last car key, and another expecting me to call him out late to school because he was lounging around instead of getting dressed–which I did not do), I said to my husband, shaking my head, “It’s like a never-ending stream of retardedness!” He started laughing, which made me laugh, and we both nodded through our laughter. “Yep. That’s exactly what it is,” he agreed. “A never-ending stream of retardedness.” We hugged, and he gave me a much-needed shoulder rub.

    Sometimes, all we need is a little stress to bring us together. That’s one definite benefit of my kids driving me crazy.

  9. Hello Christina, just thought I would send you another comment. Thanks for your previous reply and I do think your expectations are reasonable.

    My question is how much do you actively involve your children in the plan of what needs to be done etc.
    Start with a blank sheet and let them do the thinking re their responsibilities. What do they consider to be reasonable?
    Let them own the plan and let them come up with the remedies.
    The more owning by them, the more they will take it seriously.

    These are just my thoughts and I know it is easier said than done!
    Thanks Josie

    • Hello Josie. Thank you for your thoughts. Again, you have a great question. I think involving our children in the planning of the home, family, etc. is a fabulous parenting strategy. It teaches them leadership and responsibility and also provides better creativity and ideas. I admit I am sometimes good with this and sometimes not. I can definitely do better. I am planning to hold a family meeting tonight and let them pitch in some new ideas. I think you’re absolutely right–it will help them “own” things and feel more pride in what they do, too. Thanks again! 🙂

  10. Hi Christina!
    Oh how I can relate!!! I am raising four kids ages 5 – 11. (Three are not mine.) They are mostly good kids, but oh yes, they do drive me crazy at times. I started following your blog after I lost my sweet brother 2 years ago. Reading your words has helped me more than you know. I thank you for that.

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