meltdowns when dad gets home - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-03-2014, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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meltdowns when dad gets home

Hey mamas. Just wondering your thoughts on what's been going on with my little guy lately. He's 14 months old, and I've been home with him his whole life. He currently goes to his Grammy's house about 4 hours in the afternoons, so I can work from home. His dad works long hours, often leaving before we're up in the morning, and not home till 6:30 (an hour before bedtime), so they see very little of each other during the week.

When LO gets home from Grammy's, I spend some time reconnecting with him before starting dinner. Often he's a little upset around dinner time anyway (tired, hungry, etc.), but lately he's been having some pretty serious meltdowns, and nothing seems to make him happy. I've noticed it gets worse when his dad gets home. And he totally avoids his dad, crying and wanting me to hold him anytime his dad tries to interact with him. Is this just an issue of difficulty reconnecting after being away from each other? Normal "witching hour" stuff? Has anyone else had this experience?
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Old 09-04-2014, 04:13 PM
 
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I don't know if it's normal but my kids do this too. I think it's partly angst and partly the time of day at work here.

Back when I was the working parent coming home to this dynamic, I always took 15 minutes before coming home to decompress from work, THEN I would go home, And immediately either take the kids for a walk, or Sit down in a chair and read to them. That way we were doing something structured right away, So you didn't have all this ambiguity about what to do when mama comes home from work. Unfortunately now I'm on the other side of the coin, And daddy doesn't seem to understand the necessity of doing something like this. Instead he just complains and takes it personally when they act all bizarro.

Reminds me of how dogs totally flip out and act hyper when you come home. I think it must be normal mammalian behavior... Albeit one we'rewere socialized against.
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Old 09-04-2014, 08:22 PM
 
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According to my mom, 14 months is a very bad age for being away. Apparently one of my aunts went away for 3 days when my cousin was about 14-15mo, and when she got back- my cousin wouldn't speak to her for days! I started WOH when kiddo was at 15mo and while it never got that bad (although I wasn't gone as long, either), we started getting some massive meltdowns where he wouldn't accept comfort from either of us.

From what I've read, this age is a perfect storm. Their separation anxiety tends to hit its max, they start getting proper nightmares but don't yet understand they aren't real, it's rough. I don't think kids know how to handle it when they're away from someone who's supposed to be important for so long. Your toddler probably feels like he should be able to rely on daddy, but daddy's only there for an hour a day- so he can't rely on daddy. How often do you talk to him about why you and daddy go away? Maybe it would help him if he understood a little more? I'm not sure how much he'd be capable of understanding yet, though, which probably makes it worse.

I also would make sure that your husband isn't exacerbating it. If he's coming in exhausted and cranky himself, not really in the mood to deal with an upset toddler- then it's going to be even more difficult.

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Old 09-10-2014, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by sageowl View Post
I don't know if it's normal but my kids do this too. I think it's partly angst and partly the time of day at work here.

Back when I was the working parent coming home to this dynamic, I always took 15 minutes before coming home to decompress from work, THEN I would go home, And immediately either take the kids for a walk, or Sit down in a chair and read to them. That way we were doing something structured right away, So you didn't have all this ambiguity about what to do when mama comes home from work. Unfortunately now I'm on the other side of the coin, And daddy doesn't seem to understand the necessity of doing something like this. Instead he just complains and takes it personally when they act all bizarro.

Reminds me of how dogs totally flip out and act hyper when you come home. I think it must be normal mammalian behavior... Albeit one we'rewere socialized against.
Thanks sageowl. It's nice at least to know that we're not alone in this (i.e., not doing something horribly wrong that's causing it, haha). I'm glad that taking the reconnecting time worked for you -- my LO has just recently started going to his grammy's for about 4 hours each day, and I've definitely noticed that if I take some time just for him as soon as he gets home, the evening goes much better for both of us. I suggested this to my husband, but so far it hasn't happened. When he has tried, our son just cries and runs over to me asking to be up. And I know it's hard for my husband because he's feeling rejected by it. Sounds like you've had a similar experience. Sometimes it's hard not to take our LO's feelings personally. For me, at least.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by sillysapling View Post
According to my mom, 14 months is a very bad age for being away. Apparently one of my aunts went away for 3 days when my cousin was about 14-15mo, and when she got back- my cousin wouldn't speak to her for days! I started WOH when kiddo was at 15mo and while it never got that bad (although I wasn't gone as long, either), we started getting some massive meltdowns where he wouldn't accept comfort from either of us.

From what I've read, this age is a perfect storm. Their separation anxiety tends to hit its max, they start getting proper nightmares but don't yet understand they aren't real, it's rough. I don't think kids know how to handle it when they're away from someone who's supposed to be important for so long. Your toddler probably feels like he should be able to rely on daddy, but daddy's only there for an hour a day- so he can't rely on daddy. How often do you talk to him about why you and daddy go away? Maybe it would help him if he understood a little more? I'm not sure how much he'd be capable of understanding yet, though, which probably makes it worse.

I also would make sure that your husband isn't exacerbating it. If he's coming in exhausted and cranky himself, not really in the mood to deal with an upset toddler- then it's going to be even more difficult.
Ha! It's somehow comforting to know that this age is a difficult one, sillysapling. And good suggestion - I should definitely talk to him more about why his dad is away and when he'll back, etc. He understands much more than I realize, I think. And I'm sure he picks up on some of my emotions about my husband being gone for so long during the day. I'm sure you're right - he wants to rely on his dad but thinks that he can't because of the absences. I'll try talking to him about it to see how that goes. And perhaps preparing him for his dad's return a little better -- "dad's coming home soon, and then it will be time for you to read a book together."
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:15 PM
 
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Being a Dad who is gone from the house from 6am - 8pm a couple of nights a week due to work, I can say this is normal. It's mostly the time of day, that time when they are worn out and nothing pleases them. But, it's also a bit of that, haven't-seen-you-for-an-entire-day behaviour, where it takes a bit of time for them to pull away from Mommy and run to Dad kind of thing. I find even the older kids are a bit standoffish when I get home.
Actually, now that I think of it, when I get home from work at 4 (most days) the kids all come running, they hug, wrestle, whatever with me. But, when I've been gone that extra few hours, and it's late, they are not as excited to see me. I can say, for awhile it had me confused (and slightly hurt), but, I've come to realize it's normal and I just have to be patient and slowly work my way back into their day (be present but not force my way into their routine). It usually doesn't take long, a few minutes, a half hour and they are their normal selves.
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Old 09-13-2014, 07:11 PM
 
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Maybe a book with you and dad? So there isn't pressure to be with with dad (like, DS can sit in your lap but next to dad while dad reads). I agree, some structure is key
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Wintergreen. It's nice to have the "Dad perspective" too. I think I'll share your post with my husband - it's good to hear that the reconnecting has been successful you. Gives me hope that we'll figure this out too!

Good idea, Ratchet! We currently do story time before bedtime like that. Our little guy is so mom-focused right now that he will only sit on my lap during story time. I think you're right that doing it in a no pressure way is key.

We've actually had some small successes in the last week. A couple of days ago LO and his dad hung out in the bedroom together wresting and snuggling while I finished dinner! There was a lot of laughter -- it was so nice to hear. I've been talking to him more about why dad's gone during the day, telling him when his dad will be home soon, what we'll do then, etc., so maybe it's helping!!
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:55 AM
 
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Glad to hear the Dad's perspective and really like the idea of 'a book with mom and dad'! Good luck and keep us posted!
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