Back when Ricky was about ten months old, I was at the local splash pad with my friend Sarah, who has two adorable girls. Her oldest is about a year older than Ricky. I’ll never forget how that day, she told me that the terrible twos kind of take you by surprise. Because suddenly your baby gets a little naughty streak. And they’ll go from good to mischievious in a second. And sometimes, the tantrums are so bad that you actually get mad at your child.
I remember thinking to myself…frustrated, yes. But mad? How could I EVER be mad at this little angelic face?
Ohmigosh you guys. How wrong I was. And how right Sarah was.
At some point after your child turns into a toddler, they start to have tantrums. They’re not all the time. But when they happen, they’re awful. And do you know what’s even worse than tantrums? The whining. Oh sweet lord, the whining. Some days, it’s enough to drive me a little batty.
Some mornings, you go in to see what your little one is up to in their room, only to realize that they just woke up and they’re ALREADY WHINING. And then you tell them to take a minute. And when you come back, they’re still whining. After that, you just hope that the rest of the day goes better. But you know that you’re probably going to be in for it until nap time. Oh mamas. It’s beyond frustrating. I’ve totally been in your shoes. Seriously. It was like, last weekend.
Then there are the times when they spit, or throw things, or just generally misbehave and they wind up in time out. And then refuse to apologize, so you keep coming back into the room another two minutes later, hoping your sweet little angel has returned. And then suddenly you realize that you’ve spent the last HOUR trying to hide out of sight, only to reappear every time the two minute buzzer goes off. And every time you come into the room, you’re totally rejected for an “I’m sorry for not listening” mommy. Which leaves you wondering whether you should just give up on the damn apology or if that’s going to teach your child even WORSE behavior? It’s totally infuriating.
Not like serious anger infuriating, but break your heart, am I doing this right, why do I suck as a mom infuriating.
Because that’s what moms do. We get mad because of our child’s behavior, and then turn it around on ourselves.
I’m learning that I can’t do that. It doesn’t help the situation. I mean, I know that I’m a good mom, and eventually these little lessons (taking ownership and apologizing for making the wrong decision, for example) will really help him go far in life. I’m trying. I just have to be patient.
Patience isn’t something that comes easily to me. I’ve deepened my skills significantly since having children – don’t we all? But it doesn’t mean that I have an endless supply of it.
So, what do you do when you run out of patience?
Well, in our house, this is usually the time that I realize my child needs a nap like no other. And he’s probably not going to TAKE a nap. This is when I pull out my get out of jail free card and put in a movie. And that usually focuses his energy a little bit. Sometimes, I just get down on the floor and play with him. Or we go outside, because a change in scenery can be really amazing.
And if he’s still being naughty, or whining like there’s no tomorrow, then I take whatever toy seems to be causing the issue away. And it goes on top of the fridge for fifteen minutes. And by the time that toy comes back down, he’s usually so excited to have it back that he totally moves on from the tantrum, or the whining, or whatever. At least for a little while. And then we do an early bedtime, because…sanity.
And after bed time, mommy gets a glass of wine. Because making it through a whiny, tantrum filled day with a toddler requires a reward. Again, sanity.
It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it’s what works well enough to get us through those tough points in the day where the extreme toddler emotions seem to take over.
I know you all go through it, too. Heck, I hear it from my friends and even see it on social media all the time. And friends, if you need to know one thing, know this: you’re not alone. All of us, as parents of young kids, go through these periods. It’s normal. Your kid is normal, my kid is normal, it’s all just part of parenthood. Just know that you’re not alone. We’re all in the trenches together on this one.
So tonight, after you put the kiddos to bed, give yourself permission for an extra bowl of ice cream or a nice glass of wine. And then share with me in the comments: how do YOU overcome the crazy days with screaming kids that make you want to throw a mini-tantrum in the middle of the aisle at Target yourself? Inquiring minds, and all that jazz.