laying the groundwork vs. letting the little things go - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
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the last few days i've been feeling a little conflicted about my day to day role in 15 mo dd's life. i feel like i'm constantly "on" her...telling her what to do.....telling her where to put things back....

of course this is in stark contrast to DH who pops in every now and then for pure "fun" time. 

it's not like i'm disciplining her or anything close to it, if anything i try to make picking toys up fun for her and we get really happy and clappy when she does do something i've suggested.

i guess i just think it's important to set the groundwork now for when she's older....now when putting things away is fun and a game.....so that she grows up knowing that when we're done with a toy we put it away. obviously i don;t expect a 15 month old to "clean up", but i can show her somewhat by example and involve her in it. so if she takes her shoes off the shelf and plays with them, that's cool, when she's done i show her where to put them back and show her what a good job she's done.

 

but i feel like that's ALL i do....all day long....

 

and i'm also a big believer in "letting the little things slide." i mean, this is in theory...but how do i make it jive with what i'm trying to show her by example???? is this just an age where i'm going to have to be that type-A person (that i'm not) for her/our later benefit? or is letting her make a mess and then picking it up kind of a combination of "letting it slide".....and then cleaning up after ourselves??? it's not that i don't let her do things...she can pack up her toys and deposit them all over the house as she wishes and she can trample through muddy snow rather than the clean sidewalk because that's obviously more fun.....but then we clean up afterwards. but like i said, i feel like teaching her to clean up is all i do all the time lately....luckily she likes it at the moment but it is exhausting.

 

am i making any sense? 


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#2 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 06:37 PM
 
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I don't know.  My 22mo DS almost always puts things away before he plays with something else. Mostly he started doing it on his own around the time he started walking so we started asking/encouraging/reminding him to pick up after himself occasionally. Sometimes he doesn't want to, so I help him or even do it for him, but most of the time he just puts things away without being asked. So I'm not really sure what to say if you are asking her all day long. Maybe she's not quite ready for it, and you can try just leading by example for now? Just go ahead and put her shoes away or pick up all the blocks and after awhile if she sees that's what you always do when she's done with something, she'll probably start doing it herself, on her own. DS loves to help me & when I start picking up or even putting groceries or laundry away he joins in (even though I haven't asked him to & often would prefer he just let me get it done LOL!!) He knows where his shoes go or where the compost goes or where my keys & cell phone go and he is happy to put them there. We aren't strict about every single thing ALWAYS needing to get put away in the EXACT SAME SPOT (except things like keys) and sometimes if DS & I are tired we do let toys etc. accumulate a bit, so that's where 'letting things slide' comes in for us, but overall he & I are much happier if things are organized & put away (DH, not so much.... lol)

 

I guess I think you are putting too much emphasis/effort into it. I do think you are trying to teach her an important skill but I also think if it's becoming such a constant thing then maybe a different approach would be more effective for her.


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#3 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
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just to add....it's not just the cleaning up....it's everything. it's not playing in the toilet, not throwing shoes in the toilet, not eating the dog food, etc...etc...

so i have this conflict in my head where on one hand....i really don't care all that much if she plays in the toilet...i could happily and peacefully read a book while she splashed away for hours. but on the other hand, i think it's our job to teach her that the toilet is not a water toy. so how do i balance letting things slide with laying the groundwork for the toddler behavior that i want her to have later???


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#4 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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#5 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 07:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tzs View Post
 so how do i balance letting things slide with laying the groundwork for the toddler behavior that i want her to have later???


Honestly?  I've always balanced by deciding how much *I* can handle.  I ask myself if it is something I really want to invest time and energy into, or not.

 

I also cheat by just changing the environment so that the behavior that I don't want my kids to get accustomed to is no longer possible.  If they can't get in the bathroom, they can't play in the toilet.  If the coffee table is stuck on the porch instead of the living room, they can't stand on it.  If they can only reach a reasonable number of toys, they can't strew them absolutely everywhere.  And I don't have to get involved!

 

 

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#6 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Honestly?  I've always balanced by deciding how much *I* can handle.  I ask myself if it is something I really want to invest time and energy into, or not.

 

I also cheat by just changing the environment so that the behavior that I don't want my kids to get accustomed to is no longer possible.  If they can't get in the bathroom, they can't play in the toilet.  If the coffee table is stuck on the porch instead of the living room, they can't stand on it.  If they can only reach a reasonable number of toys, they can't strew them absolutely everywhere.  And I don't have to get involved!

 

 

this is a good point. but will "handling" more now mean less hassle down the road? will laying the groundwork at this age mean that i won't have to be on her constantly as an older kid? will stressing myself out about all these little things pay off? or should i just take the easier route and put her toys away myself? but i don't want a 2 year-old that expects it. should i just set her up with lunch at the coffee table because i want to watch the sunday football game or should i make it harder on myself to teach her that "we eat at the table" (which yeah....i totally want to be the norm at our house.) if it will be worth it, then i think i'm willing to put in the effort. i think i'm also traumatized by teaching a class of 20-24 month-olds this year. it's like fast-forwarding to "what could be" land every day i show up for work.
 


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#7 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 07:50 PM
 
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#8 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 10:37 PM
 
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Edited for clarity, verbosity!

 

I'm shocked to see myself typing what I have just typed below.  I had a very traditional and authoritarian upbringing and I always thought it was one perfectly reasonable way to be a parent.  I assumed that I would do the same. But...

 

1.  I think it might be useful to distinguish between trying to get her to do something and just modeling the behavior and talking about it.  I find that if I am very invested in an outcome, it's just stressful.  Of course I still want outcomes... but if I focus more on modeling the behavior and offering DD 18mo lots of opportunities to participate, without caring too much about whether or how much she does it... our relationship is more harmonious.  I figure as long as she is watching me, she is learning.  My big responsibility is to be a good model of the kind of life we want in our household.  And she does seem to learn.

 

2.  For getting her to not do something, constant redirection is also so normal at this age.  She's trying to find out the boundaries of things.  She's trying to learn not only the physical properties of objects but their social properties.  Redirecting is part of letting her learn both, but it is a lot of work.  And you may feel like you are working tirelessly now, but in a few months you might be surprised at what your DD can do, understand, and cooperate with.

 

Last week we had this conversation: "Oh you are tugging on my shirt because you want to nurse. That is uncomfortable for me.  Look, can you put your hands in your lap and say, "Please?" when you want milk?"  I showed her "hands in lap" and "please?" and she puts her hands in her lap and says, "Pees?  Pees?"  Don't get me wrong, I usually have to remind her nearly every single time she wants to nurse.  But the reminder has gotten shorter and shorter.  First I had to show her.  Now I almost just have to look at her, and into her little lap those hands go.  I just don't think we could have had this kind of communication outcome at 15 months.

 

3. Maybe take the 80/20 rule?  80% of the time, make sure you two pick up her toys together.  By together I mean at least she is watching you and observing you as you explain what you are doing.  The other 20% of the time, do whatever is easiest for you.  80% of the time, eat at the table.  On Sundays, watch the game and set her up at the coffee table.  Do what you have to do to keep yourself sane and cared for.  You're modeling flexibility and good boundaries!

 

4.  I limit the number of toys on her bookshelf.  It should never take more than 5-10 minutes to pick up every single toy or some need to go in the closet because there are too many out.  And we do, "Pick up toys before you get the next one out."   I read in a book someplace that it's good to limit the number of toys out to the number they can reasonably pick up on their own and so I am thinking of paring it down even more so that she can enjoy greater responsibility now that she is getting to the age where she can pick things up.

 

5.  The "honor the impulse" thing has really worked for us, and it's so compassionate and it seems to really inspire their trust.  If she's dumping her water on the table, we get rags and we clean it up and we put her cup away.  If have time right then, we might set up a tub with a towel under it and some little plastic cups so she can play in the water, and I can do something else that needs done.  Or I bring her over to the sink and we do dishes.  Or we just clean the water, put the cup away and talk about how at bath time she'll get to play in the water, etc.


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#9 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 11:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzs View Post

the last few days i've been feeling a little conflicted about my day to day role in 15 mo dd's life. i feel like i'm constantly "on" her...telling her what to do.....telling her where to put things back....

of course this is in stark contrast to DH who pops in every now and then for pure "fun" time. 

 

OP This really stuck out for me.  I think this is a normal thing for many parents, espcially moms to feel.  I hope I also communicated in my PP that when you are showing her what to do with stuff, you can be giving her the information she craves.  So you might not be "on" her as much as you think you are.  You might be meeting a need.

 

I've also felt this way like, DP is the fun parent and I'm not.  I do try to carve out some time with her - sometimes just a few moments of yelling "No no no no no!" at each other and giggling, or 10 minutes building with blocks or dumping them from basket to floor or just following her lead for a few minutes to see what she does.  That seems to help.  I also sometimes stop and watch a moment when I see her doing that may or may not require intervention.  Sometimes I swoop in, and sometimes, I'm surprised to see her doing something I didn't expect.

 

Also, it sounds like you feel your DH might not be participating in doing things like redirecting, teaching, etc, enough?


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#10 of 15 Old 12-27-2010, 08:15 AM
 
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For us, 15 months was too young for us to focus on things like her cleaning up or learning certain habits.  I felt like at 15 months the main focus was teaching her safety and stimulating her learning (and good eating), but beyond that I didn't worry about her learning things like cleaning up after herself because it just seemed too young to stress her and stress myself about it.

 

And now, at 24 months, she gets the concept of cleaning up, can sing the clean up song and knows what it means, and even does some things I didn't even teach her, like if she spills she says "I spill it!  Paper towel please!" and goes and gets teh paper towels, lays it on the floor, and cleans it with her hand or her foot, then throws it in the garbage!  I didn't make an effort to teach her any of that, she just learned it from seeing me handle spills.

 

I think how kids do with this is a combo of their own personality, parents modeling it, and actually trying to teach them to do it.  But for me, 15 months was too young to worry about teaching her things like that.  My advice would be to relax about the behavior stuff that isn't about safety, focus more on the fun and learning stimulation, always explain what you're doing, and even if you can't get her to clean up, keep making clean up fun and showing her it and you'll figure out when she's not doing it to test you vs. she's just not getting that it's something for her to do yet or what it means.

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#11 of 15 Old 12-27-2010, 09:18 AM
 
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 I don't think it's age appropriate to expect a 15 month old to clean up after themselves after every mess. I would just build some natural clean up times into your day (before lunch, before bed, etc.) and have her HELP you pick up at those times. One is a tough age, they are into everything and still babies, redirection and baby proofing is my best advice. :) 

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#12 of 15 Old 12-27-2010, 01:30 PM
 
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Quote:

this is a good point. but will "handling" more now mean less hassle down the road? will laying the groundwork at this age mean that i won't have to be on her constantly as an older kid? will stressing myself out about all these little things pay off? or should i just take the easier route and put her toys away myself? but i don't want a 2 year-old that expects it. should i just set her up with lunch at the coffee table because i want to watch the sunday football game or should i make it harder on myself to teach her that "we eat at the table" (which yeah....i totally want to be the norm at our house.) if it will be worth it, then i think i'm willing to put in the effort. i think i'm also traumatized by teaching a class of 20-24 month-olds this year. it's like fast-forwarding to "what could be" land every day i show up for work.
 


I think that we should start as you meant to go on- not in terms of what we expect our kids to do, but in terms of our general attitude.  There will always be little things for you to stress about- what they are specifically will change, but there is never a point where you'll suddenly not be worried about preparing them for the next stage of their lives (or worried that they'll be impossible monsters because you failed somehow to instill an expectation at an earlier age).  So, if you're thinking that a little investment of stress now will pay off later and you'll get to relax....there will always be more stress and more later waiting for you.

 

Do what you need to do in order to *enjoy* parenting and enjoy your children as much as possible.  If you make that your habit, you can carry it through to the next stage and the next and the next.  If the habit is to be miserable right now because it might make things easier later on, then there will always be a now to be miserable in and a later on that keeps moving further off.

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#13 of 15 Old 12-27-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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I agree with the PP: I think it's too early to "lay the groundwork".  For example, with Lake, I don't expect him to pick up his toys.  Every once in a while, I'll ask him to bring me something or put a toy away but it's not something that I'm constantly working on.  There are so many things that DS would constantly get into and rather than repeatedly redirect or tell him no, we've changed the environment like a PP said.  Our bathroom door stays closed, our dining room chairs stay in the garage when we're not eating, and the dog food/ water bowl stays on the counter out of reach, etc.  It has saved me from so much frustration!

 

I get what you're saying about trying to prevent bad behaviors later but there's no way to really know what issues your DD will have when she's older.  My whole outlook is that I want DS to love and respect me.  Hopefully, when he's older he'll listen to me because of that love and respect.

 

Also, I don't know if I'm going to say this right, but a lot of the frustrating things right now are just baby/toddler things.  Like playing in the toilet... at some point DD is going to realize that the toilet is yucky and won't want to play in it.  When it's an issue like that, where the child will just grow out of it, I don't sweat it.


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#14 of 15 Old 12-27-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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Thank goodness for this thread...  we are right in the thick of this now with DS, 16months....  gotta go... up now!


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#15 of 15 Old 12-27-2010, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks for all the responses. 

i really think now that i might be more stressed out about this because of working everyday with older toddlers. i have this week off work and it's a world of difference. us doing stuff together around the house just feels more...fun! today she helped me clear the dishwasher which she initiated and it was so cute and fun to do it together. but i think if this had been a normal work week i would have over-analyzed the whole situation with whatever craziness had gone on in my class during the day in the back of my head. like....am i doing enough to make sure she doesn't end up like "so-and-so?"

 

i also really do believe in modeling but i think there has to be some participation as well. i mean, SIL models perfect behavior all the time...in the sense that she cleans up constantly after her 5 kids (they see her doing it from birth, so that's modeling, no?) and she has to bribe them to help, the oldest is 9 and doesn't know how to make a bed. i think being around them has also scarred me....those kids are constantly in the back of my head.

 

anyway....i'm finding it alot easier to see the balance this week. 


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