Following through


I had this great afternoon planned.  After Sophia took a nap (She didn’t have one, yesterday), I planned for us to do painting projects together.  I had some wooden letters to paint for Abby’s room and a canvas to get started on, and I had a wooden birdhouse for Sophia.  She was so excited. She had her “princess pink” picked out and everything.  I told her, “After you wake up from your nap, we can paint your birdhouse.” She’d been talking about it all day.

Five minutes into her nap, “I can’t sleep.  I don’t need to paint my birdhouse.”

We’ve gone through this before: television as a reward for naptime.  She figured out that if she tells me that she doesn’t want to watch T.V., then she can get up.  Miss Princess has figured out how to exert control and get what she wants… sort of… I always follow through, no big deal, just no T.V.

Well, today I had plans.  Fun, exciting, painting plans.  I didn’t mean for the birdhouse to become a reward for her to nap, it just sort of happened that way, and now we’re both punished.  It didn’t keep me from painting, but it kept me from getting to share the experience with her.  I wanted us to be able to do this activity together. While I painted, I facilitated her potty trips and taking her back to bed… and back to bed.  I was essentially watching her make a choice that would hurt both her and me, and it was so painful.

I just wanna take it all back and say, “Screw naptime.  Let’s paint!”

But, I know that I must follow through.  An hour later with a second poop trip, she’s in the bathtub, and my head hurts.  I’ve got to step back and think again.  The rewards aren’t working.  We removed all the books from her room a few days ago because we thought that the stimulation of the books was keeping her up… apparently not. The removal of toys and stimulation isn’t working.  I can’t lock her in her room because she always has to poop at naptime if she’s not asleep–sometimes multiple times.  I’ve thought about instilling “quiet time.”  So far, that’s really what it has been most every day with an occasional nap when she’s freaking exhausted.  She does a good job of being quiet, she knows that waking up Abby would send Mommy into a HOLY TERROR! She sleeps fine at night…

Oh, the battles of the will have begun.

This overtiredness is, no doubt, contributing to a new phase that we’ve entered: Tantrums on a whole new level–a more sophisticated and verbal level.  A verbal tantrum at an embarrassingly loud volume.  I can see the manipulation in her eyes.  They’re no tears in her cries.  She screams “No, I don’t want to!” and the like.  We’ve started having time-outs in the corner with no Cowboy.  I give her opportunities to leave time-out.  I tell her, “When you are done crying, we will talk.”  Yesterday, this lasted nearly a half-hour.  I kept asking her, “Are you ready to talk? When you stop crying, I’d love to talk to you.”  She’d scream at me, “NO! I’M NOT READY!”  This whole time-out in the corner sends Abby into HOLY CONFUSION!  OH, it’s not pretty.  Finally yesterday, during said time-out event, after 30 minutes of an exhausting tantrum in the corner she stops crying, falls into my arms, hugs me so tight and says, “I can’t believe myself.”  That’s either some strange self-awareness… or she heard that somewhere.

I’m so freaking exhausted at the end of the day.  It’s no wonder.

So, all of this is to say: Let’s hold our glasses up to the moms who follow through.  Cause it SUCKS.

8 Responses

  1. 😦 “I can’t believe myself…” How pitiful! I imagine being a healthy, consistent disciplinarian (?) is the hardest part of being a parent. It’s so crucial to raising a decent and well-balanced human being yet SO frustrating, hard, and time-consuming. I’m glad you keep your notes down in blog format so I can have a reference down the road! We love and miss you all.

  2. I had a very similar experience yesterday. It was a gorgeous day! I had packed a picnic and we were headed to city park where we were going to meet a friend. I had to make a quick stop at the grocery store first. In the store, Hannah was “that” child…whining and throwing a fit (loudly) about everything. After several times of trying to talk through her whining, I told her “if you continue to talk to mommy like that we aren’t going to go the park.” What was I thinking!?! I wanted to go to the park SO BADLY! Of course, she kept acting the same way, so I had to follow through. Once she realized I was serious about not going to the park, she turned into little miss sweetie-pie, saying, “but I’m not whining, mommy. Can we please go to the park?” I considered caving and changing my mind, but decided that I had to stick to my word. We called our friend and canceled our picnic/playdate. We went home and ate our lunch indoors…BOOOOO!

    • What were you thinking!? Exactly. Wow. It makes me feel good to know that you followed through, too, even though it totally sucked. That is a very sad story, though. I feel ya. I think maybe we should “think before we threaten” next time! ;o

  3. So, I guess I was saying, I hear ya! And way to go on following through. 🙂

    P.S. I think the “quiet room time” idea could be great for you. I had another friend do that at one point, and it worked well…and her daughter actually ended up napping a bit more because she seemed to feel like she had more freedom in the decision.

    • yes, I think we’ll try that. I fear that she’s getting too much sleep at night… but, I like how it coincides with Abby’s nighttime sleep. She prob would feel good knowing that she could have some control.

  4. Angela, friend, you’re encouraging. Thanks for letting us in on this mommy-daughter power struggle. I can see these dynamics starting to happen with Kate and it would be soooo easy just to give in, but what message would that be sending her, right? More power to you for following through, and rightly so 🙂 We miss you guys. Ben and I were just talking about that the other day. Say hello to the mountains for me, haha. 🙂

    • Oh Maris, I’m glad it was encouraging, but I fear that we’re going to have to start something different around here. Parenting this first child is like a daily experiment. I know you know what I’m talking about. 😉 We miss y’all, too. By the way, can you hear the mountains? They’re whispering, come and visit me!

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