I am not consistent with my kids. I know my energy and motivation and patience fluctuate widely, so I have to make the most of them when they are optimal. At other times, the girls to know to let me nap or take a bath etc. It's easier now that they are older, for sure. My advice is to pick your battles and focus on your priorities. If the house gets trashed during the day, it can always get picked up at night or the next day when you feel better. The main thing with raising your child is to make him feel loved and to set necessary boundaries. If he and you are connected, it's easier to set boundaries. A child that feels connected is more willing to please and accommodate mom. Instead of putting a toddler in a time out I recommend "distraction" strategies. If i am low on energy, a pile of library books or even an emergency DVD can help. If being in a messy house is driving me crazy, a walk helps. If he is screaming, walking away into another room, putting on calming CD and practicing some breathing techniques...perhaps asking him now and then if he is ready for a soothing hug... Sometimes it helps to have someone come in and help. Many times i had to call my husband to come home. I was lucky that he could switch his schedule since he owns his business, I know. I am trying to say that I am not consistent with chores, schedules, expectations etc. but I try to be consistent with letting them know that I love them, with listening to them, with hugs, with validations... So if the house is messy or projects are not getting finished etc. I try to accept that. I try not to compare myself to other moms. I know I can only handle one outing per day, and not every day. And that's fine. I usually manage to play some cards and read some books. Or at least to sit next to them while they watch DVD of Little House on the Prairie or Little Bear. At least I am there.
About hitting. I would make a huge deal about it but not punish. I would overact with horrified facial expressions and words of extreme concern, not yelling, for the victim: OH, MY GOD, You just hit your sister! Is She OK?? Let's see... Oh, no. Hitting is so bad. Oh that just cannot be! I am so sad you hit her. ETc. I would not yell this but sort of act out this surprise and concern in a big way. I would walk away from the one who hit to spend time with the one who got hit. Lots of loving attention, reading books etc. giving the one who hit a cold shoulder for a moment or two and then offering her a hug and a chat about not hitting and how she needs to apologize etc. That seemed to work. If I was hit I did the same thing. Lots of loud surprise, concern: OH, no. That's horrible. You bit your mom. How sad. This really hurts. I have to get some ice and sit here and hold the ice on it. Oh, oh, this is so sad. Then I would offer a hug and forgiveness.
Well. this seems to work for me. I homeschool my girls and they seem to be very well adjusted. One is doing well in higschool now. And my focus is still to be connected, to validate her, to listen, to express my love for her. I try to ignore the messy room (I don't' always succeed.).
Just think of what are your priorities and how to best accomplish them. I needed to homeschool my girls because otherwise I would not be enough part of their lives. I would obsess about work and never find time or energy or focus to even just see them. I had to make them my priority and to be home so that my limited focus and energy could go to them.
I also had to make my health a priority. Sugar and stress etc. made me more tired, more angry. So I have to work on limiting or avoiding them.
My mother was like this and I want to first off say that's it's very big of you to share this most people deny that something is just not right. Time out doesn't work for every child I'll recommend a book called mothers magic that has all kinds of ways to discipline a child and get them to understand what is going on. For example my mother spanked my sister and I and while it worked for my sister I didn't respond to it so time out for me worked. I've seen parents flick there child's hand followed by a firm no and leave it at that or drop and give me a push up for every hit or harsh word. Or every time he hits he gets a toy put in time out. There are positive reinforcements too like for everyday he doesn't have a tantrum let him have extra play time or a cookie or do something special with him.
After I had my first little one he would scream and cry all night and my mood swings were so intense and I'd get so angry that I felt like I would lose my mind. If I felt like my anger would take over I would just walk away for a minute or two and then come back.
Now for the numbly staring as he trashes something i have no clue for that and if you find out let me know my anxiety gets me like that. :)