Sarah Bell.. First...a hug
Next- Some tough love. Maybe stop reading now. if you would rather just have a place to vent, I respect that.
It's easy for any and everyone to have parenting and relationship advice for us. When my kids were babies/toddlers, an older woman in my life, (not my mother) gave me some very generic rules to live by. As my family grew and the kids got older, the rules still worked...and as adults dealing in an adult world...yep..they for the most part still have traction! It was the best 1:1 chat I ever had with a woman at that stage of my life. So I speak from experience...and having been the recipient of this same chat myself.
1. If you don't respect yourself and what you need and insist on that for what belongs to you, don't expect anyone else to automatically give it.
2. It 's alright to have personal limits on what you will tolerate.
3. It is alright to let others (kids esp) know they are at or past the tolerance limit when/if it happens.
4. If it is necessary to react somehow to a bad situation esp with your older children, it is important to make the punishment fit the crime. Taking a moment to think about how you will respond or react is often going to work well. They will learn that it is NOT over in the first 5 minutes ...and to expect you to reflect on their bad behavior when they are older. Squirming for older kids is good thing. Very good thing.
5. Your time is more important and worth more than that of your kids.
#4 and 5 were really really important when my kids were teens.
Example of #4..
You forget your gym clothes/lunch /homework...and I have to leave work..go home and get it and bring it to you...and that fiasco costs me 1.5 hrs to fix and did not endear me to my boss, I will do it ! I'm your mom....BUT......you owe me 3 hrs...and I get to pick what and when you will spend the time doing whatever I decide. I did not get too many calls like this because they knew ...I was not their "get outta jail free card..."
One though time when my daughter called about a forgotten gym suit...I could safely deduce she was more afraid of the gym teacher than she was of me...AND darn the garage looked good when she paid me back!!!Example #5..
Other daughter was a door slammer when she was upset with us. We told her calmly
if she slammed another door we would take her bedroom door off the frame and then there would be no door to slam.
Yes..she slammed it again...once.
But never again after that.
There was little discussion of this. My husband just went and got a screwdriver....I think I probably could have done this alone if he had not been home tho'...
Every family is different, but it comes down to #1. Respecting each other and feeling it is OK to expect AND get that respect. Even the 2 year old can begin to learn when he does not meet your expectations. There should be a gentle consistent consequence for that and buzz words he understands. 2 Year olds get it all. They really really do. Straight out Pow-wow time with the older kids though. ASAP- Take them to a burger joint and lay it out calmly.. Key is you must deliver...and be consistent. Once they recognize you have hit the wall and they can figure out there will be consequences for unacceptable or disrespectful behavior.... all bets are off. Spend some time thinking about what gets their attention...and remain calm. Stick to the plan if you need to implement...(which you will).
By the same token...recognizing respect and attempts to function responsibly should be treated, recognized and respected in turn as they approach becoming as an adult. Lunch out with JUST you and daughter...at a nicer place you would never dream of taking the 2 yr old. And hire a babysitter occasionally so you get that 1:1 with the older kids and/or husband. If the babysitter cost blows the budget... there are free things in nearly every community you can spend 2 hrs doing. Fix a nice lunch at home for the two of you...but still have a sitter take the 2 yr old to the park!!! But do it. When they see you taking the time and seeing how positively you benefit from it...they are likely to understand and try as well.
But you DO get to drive the respect bus...they're the passengers. Actually it is probably your job...(You know... the one you're not paid enough for!!!)
I hope you take this in a positive light.
If you can not get mental organization to your day you are going to continue to struggle. Every person has daily challenges. Some days the obstacles are more and bigger than others...but every single person on this forum has "stuff" to deal with Almost every day. The difference over the long haul is how it's done...not that it's easier. Over the long term, we control how we react to stress, food, people and whatever life throws our way. And many days..it is not easy.
We are all rooting for you. You've got the keys though...