It’s not you, it’s me: Sometimes I try so hard to change something about my boys (make them eat more, make them play by themselves more, make them quieter, make them not fight). I get in “I can fix this” mode and go all out. A lot of times after many, many, many failed attempts I end up getting super frustrated and quick to anger when nothing is working. In one of my favorite parenting books, How to Talk so Little Kids Listen, the authors say to “check your expectations.” The past couple days I have realized that some of the things I have been so frustrated about with my kids are simply not going to change in the next few days or even weeks. My expectations are too high in these areas. They are TODDLERS. Once I accepted that and stopped hyper focusing on it, the frustration and anger went away.
I’m just not ready for this kind of relationship: Sometimes a new stage that your child is going through can be really scary. (Remember this post? I mean….SCARY was an understatement of those days.) If you feel like telling your child they are on their own, you’ve tried your hardest up until now, but a girl has got to know when to say no….then this line is for you. Put a show on, throw some treats at them, and go take a nap. You want me to play with you in your current mood? That’s a hard no. You want to keep trying to potty train after crapping your pants for the fifth time? No, no, no, and NO. If this doesn’t work for you, then you can use this line to remind you that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Remember that every stage ends, and go to the library and find a few books to help you manage it while it lasts.
I need to focus on my career: Well, I am a stay at home mom. My boys are literally my career. However, focusing on things that are important to you besides your children can only improve their lives and yours. It teaches them that Mom is a person, and they cannot ALWAYS be the center of her attention. Staying true to who you are as a person outside of a parent will keep you sane.
We need to talk: I have mentioned this before, but sometimes the best tool you can give your toddler is the word “talk.” Let them know that they have a say about their situations. Giving your child a little control in a hard situation can help them not feel so frustrated. An easy way to give them control is talking it through with them and helping them learn about compromises. “We have to go now” can turn into “Mom wants to leave now, but you want to stay forever. Let’s talk about a compromise.” **I recommend practicing this over things that are not important in your own home before trying it in public when it is something really important to you or your toddler. Also, do not use this if there really CANNOT be a compromise. Sometimes it HAS to be Mom’s way. Don’t try to trick them when you really can’t compromise what needs to happen.
We should start seeing other people: Playdates, babysitters, the gym child care, grandparents, friends, husbands, fathers, the librarian, sometimes all you and your kids need is somebody else.
Let’s just be friends: We found this book at the library called When Dads Don’t Grow Up. There is a page that says “Dad’s who never grew up really remember what its like to be little: that mornings start EARLY…that basements can be scary…” Every time I read this page my heart grows a couple sizes. I think it is easy to forget how REAL a child’s emotions and feelings are about things that may seem “silly” to us. If you are having a hard time feeling understanding or empathetic to your child, put yourself in their shoes. Try to remember what it was like to be little. You were still YOU. A REAL person…just smaller and little more scared and hyper and excitable. Let the logical side go for a little bit, and just be a friend to your child. Make a fake sword and go get the monster in the closet they are scared of. Hop RIGHT out of bed one morning when they come to wake you up and have a wrestling match. Yell just as loud as they do when they scream for excitement about an ice cream cone in the middle of the park.
I think we need a break: If you and your kids are having a hard day, grab a chocolate bar or your phone or your favorite book and go into the bathroom or closet for a few minutes. Sometimes all you need is a few minutes alone to reset.
I think we’re moving too fast: Sometimes on the weekends or in the summer I plan too much fun for one day or week. My kids get overstimulated, over sugared, over tired, and we start losing the “fun.” Take a day to stay at home and have a slow morning or afternoon or whole day. Cuddle with your kids on the couch, read books, wrestle, bake some cookies, make a fort. Sometimes kids act out when they are craving loves, and we as parents have been too busy planning fun for them to notice.