The boy was particularly frustrated today and, as toddlers do, he decided to release that frustration with as many decibels as his lungs could manage. For most of the morning, half the afternoon, and much of the evening, if he wasn't whining or demanding things, he was crying loudly between unintelligible demands. By 8:30pm, after going back upstairs to put him back in bed, I snapped. Never in the boy's short existence have I considered violence nor did I consider it today. Discipline and whatnot is important, but violent actions tend to be delivered disproportionate to the actual problem when a parent is at their limit. Instead, I put him back into bed, pointed a finger at him and, in no uncertain terms, demanded he "Sit down. Shut up. Go to sleep."
This just made things worse.
One of the many things I've wondered is whether I'm dealing with some sort of cabin fever. I can rarely get out of the house and, when I do, it's even rarer that I'm on my own. There's no time to decompress or meet with friends or even get a haircut. All these outside activities need to be carefully coordinated to take place around the same time otherwise I can expect a series of phone calls and messages demanding I return home immediately because the only other adult to look after the kid is being driven up the wall. Most days he's fine and I can deal with the occasional tantrum while also juggling day job responsibilities, parenthood responsibilities, and — in one case — a performance review meeting with a boss all at the same time. When I'm at my wits end, though, it's very hard to tolerate any dissension whatsoever. As selfish as it sounds, I'd really like to work from the office a day or two a week, as this would get me out of the house long enough to have some distance.
When I go out for my solitary walks to the hill, I generally go to listen to intelligent podcasts and maybe learn a thing or two. It's almost impossible to listen to podcasts at home due to the endless interruptions, even if I'm listening after 9:00pm. As a result, I listen to music podcasts at home, generally while working, and save the spoken-word shows for my walks. There was a time when it was possible to get out for an hour every day, but this is all but impossible now and I'm lucky to get 2 hours a week spread across three days. The inability to unwind or relax with any sort of regularity is nothing short of exacerbating. Bringing the topic up in order to find a solution, however, just makes it worse.
How do single parents manage when they have young children? Is it a network of friends that can help out when things get rough? Is it proximity to family? Is it something else? There must be a way to balance a little bit of sanity time with the unrelenting demands of everyday life.