Saturday, November 15, 2008

Take a deep breath and start again.

Having a child really changed me. Not just in the obvious ways, but it changed the way I live and operate. I've always been into plans and been a bit of a control freak, while being completely disorganised physically I've always had a clear direction mentally.

Having a child meant that went out the window. Not without some angst, I never tried a routine but I did desperately worry over Widget's sleep (or lack thereof). I learnt to go with the flow, to enjoy things as they were happening and live not even one day at a time, but in 10 minute segments.

Having a second child and a toddler has changed it all again.

Midget sleeps no better than Widget did, but it doesn't worry me. Up until now I've just put her down when she is tired and not bothered about what time it is. (Although at the moment I'm trying to convince her that 6 months is too young to only have one nap!) We're actually getting a bit of a routine happening though. Not a time based one, but more cutting the day and week into segments. Mornings are outside, when it gets hot we come in for a play, during one of Midget's naps we do some cooking, then in the afternoon we do a bit of craft. Mondays we try to get out to daycare, Tuesday is swimming, Wednesday is a quiet day at home, Thursday daycare again and Friday is playgroup.

Paradoxically, while the overall scheme is becoming more organised, minute to minute is becoming more chaotic. A big part of that is exhaustion. 6 months without time off is taking its toll, especially with the late nights to have five minutes to myself. It's been hard to be consistent with Widget, because I always seem to be reacting to her behaviour. She's actually pretty amazing compared to other toddlers, but when you've put up with an annoying habit what feels like a million times a day for the last 6 months and can't even go to the toilet without refereeing it's pretty easy to snap.

So I've been doing a lot of deep breathing and starting again. Just because I've yelled, or snapped, or said the wrong thing I'm trying not to dwell on it and store it up for guilt, because that makes my next reaction worse. Just apologise and concentrate on doing it better this time. I'm also breaking things down into small bits I can cope with and looking for victories there. For example one of the things I struggle with is her reaction to being told no, the whining yell is so annoying it will flash me over to instant rage. But I feel bad telling her not to do it, because if she is upset I want her to be able to express that. So today we talked about how else she could express being very upset. We practiced her sad face, and saying 'Mummy I'm very very sad.' So now I feel like I have a bit of control, I have something to work on with her. I know it will take a while, but rather than saying "Don't" I can tell her what to do. Then we can work on the next thing.

Another thing I'm working on is to remember there are two of us in this. I heard a great suggestion about using coloured faces that I want to set up, so she knows what mood I'm in. So rather than getting snappier, I can change the face and she can see that the temper is fraying. And it can be linked to her or not - I can use it to warn her, or to say look I'm tired, so be careful.

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