I’ve recently started feeling defeated on more days than I felt like I had any form of control over my kids. It seemed like they were fighting all.the.time, never liked what I cooked, complained about having to clean up a mess they made, and not sleeping well. I’d hear “Maaaaaahhhhhhm. Big hit” come from Middle at least once an hour even if Big was in a completely different room. I was fed up. And I certainly didn’t want to end up on Super Nanny after having been a nanny myself and successfully garnering respect from three children! I would have
flashes nightmares of opening my front door to Jo Frost, hair pulled up like she hasn’t been punched by a few hundred rascals before, with the look on her face that said “you’re a screw up of a mom”.
So, I cracked open a book my mother-in-law gave us when Big was an Only and I had nothing but time to focus my efforts on creating a super human; Love and Logic. I didn’t read it back then because I felt far more equipped to deal with the complaints of one, but have since changed my tune. I knew I needed to gain a little more footing in how I dealt with Big and Middle before Little got here and I was in over my head. I found my attitude towards adding another baby was less-than-awesome because it just felt like fuel to the fire. And I knew, for my baby, for my marriage, and for my sanity, I needed that to change.
I’ve started working from a script and this script doesn’t contain anger or bitterness. I’ve put post-it notes around my kitchen (because I find myself losing it the most in there) that say “Uh-Oh!”, “That’s a bummer!”, and “Thank’s for letting me know.” and I deploy their use many many many times throughout the day. It gives me something empathetic to say without feeling like I am scarring my kids with anger that spits out uncontrollably.
Scenario #1 (today)
Me: I’m making either tuna salad or PB&J sandwiches today for lunch. Which would you like?
Big: I wanted a quesadilla.
Me: That’s a bummer! That’s not what I’m serving today.
Big: I don’t want a sandwich.
Me: Thanks for letting me know that’s your choice. You can wait for dinner. Let me know if you change your mind.
(I plate up a tuna sandwich for me and Middle with honeydew on the side and make a plate of honeydew for Big, but no sandwich)
Big (after she’s finished her 5 pieces of honeydew, the same number as her sister): I’d like a sandwich now, please.
And she eats her tuna sandwich in peace.
No more short-order cook.
Scenario #2 (today)
(Big is happily riding on the Plasma Car in the house, and Middle is happily playing with a set of spare keys. Until Middle decides it’s her turn for the car AND the keys.)
Middle: My car, Big! AHHHHHHEHEEEEEEHHAAAAAAAKKKKKKK (that’s blogspeak for 22-month old screams)
Me: Uh-oh! Looks like Middle needs some quiet time!
(I take Middle to her room with no other words and set a timer. When the timer goes off, I retrieve her, again, without words, and we find something enjoyable to do.)
No more Mommy yelling to get the yelling to stop (hate that). No more screeching for no reason. No more chaos that isn’t contained.
Scenario #3 (last night)
(I’ve blogged about our having to constantly remind Big to EAT at dinnertime so it’s also an area that I’m trying this new technique on)
Big (after having eaten her honeydew and almost finished a whole glass of milk without complaint): I don’t like quiche.
Me: Thanks for letting me know. You still need your two “no thank you” bites.
Big: But my tummy is telling me it’s full!
Me: The dinner on your plate is free. The food that is thrown away will cost you your bedtime story.
Big: *grumble grumble* but eats her 2 bites. I’m finished.
(As bedtime approaches, she asks for her story)
Me: You don’t get a bedtime story tonight.
Big: Oh… that’s right 😦
No crying. No pleading. No attempt to make me see the error of my ways.
No justifying. No heavy sighing in exasperation. No fending off “but Maaaaahhhhhhm!” protests.
Oh, and did I fail to mention I am trying to potty train Middle at the same time as all this? I’ve come to expect an accident during her “Uh Oh Quiet Time” moments. 😦