Having a lot of trouble with logical consequences - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 4yo daughter has been having so much trouble with lying, getting into things she shouldn't, doing things she knows are wrong and being sneaky. I am having a huge problem with logical consequences. I don't really know where to start. It seems like almost all of the things she does have no logical consequence except to me, not to her.

 

For example, she took crayons and colored all over the walls one day. I gave her a rag and told her to clean off the walls. (The crayons are the washable type, they come off with water.) She rubbed a little bit and then sobbed and threw a fit because it was too hard. Then she refused to do it. So the consequence is that mom has to do it.

 

She tore up my contact lenses. Consequence? I no longer have contact lenses.

 

She dumped a pot of soil into the dog's water dish, then used the broom to paint the walls with the resulting mud. Consequence? I have to clean it up because she's not tall enough to reach up high on the walls where she was painting.

 

She keeps using markers on the couch when I have no idea she even has them and my brand-new couch keeps getting marked on. Consequence? My couch is ruined. Consequence for her? Absolutely none - which is why she keeps doing it.

 

Every single meal, she refuses to eat. I never used to force her to eat. I've always believed in not forcing children to eat their food, but it has gotten really bad. It's every single meal now. She would rather get up and play. I can't even get her to snack. She will only eat candy and junk, so I've stopped bringing it home altogether. During the day, the logical consequence that occurs is that her behavior worsens to the point of no return because she's so miserable from being hungry. Yay for me, especially having to deal with her psychotic behavior while also having to care for a new baby. At dinner, the consequence is she wakes up in the middle of the night hungry and then begins to cry and shriek horribly because I won't wake up and fix her a new meal. We cosleep, so this is especially horrible. It's not like she can sit in her room and scream by herself.

 

She keeps stuffing the toilet full of toilet paper and then flushing it. Consequence? I have a bathroom flooded with poop.

 

There are so many more that occur on a daily basis. I could type all day.

 

I can't think of anything but punishment for the things she has been doing, but I don't believe in punishing. It just makes children resentful and even more angry, lessens her trust in me and causes her to lie more to avoid being caught. This sort of behavior is SO INCREDIBLY not like her. It's like someone replaced my child with a different one altogether. I know everyone will say it's because of the new baby, but this started long before the baby got here.

 

Help me see what consequences can come of these actions that don't involve me punishing her. I'm tired of all of the consequences being on me.


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#2 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 04:50 AM
 
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I think she needs more supervision. No access to markers or junk food. Or your contact lenses.

 

I get that you have a new baby, but your dd clearly needs more of your presence (or an adult's presence). She seems not to be able to control her behaviour, so if you let her alone for longer stretches of time, you are setting her up to fail.

 

When dd was born, I used to stay for hours on the couch while breastfeeding her and looking at ds play (he was also 4 y/o). I took both dk in the back yard, while ds was playing dd was napping. You can also try babywearing.


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#3 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 08:37 AM
 
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Yeah it sounds like she needs more supervision, so I guess if you want to phrase that as a consequence, she has to stay in the same room as you.
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#4 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do watch her the whole time, the problem is that she has gotten sneaky. When she tore my contact lenses, we were reading a book together at the time. She jumped up and said "hang on, I have to potty!" She ran in there and wasn't in there two minutes. When I came in later, I saw the contacts. I guess she can't even use the toilet alone now. :(

 

She's super clingy and won't really be by herself, but she's been sneaking off. When she painted the walls with dog water mud (TWICE!) I was asleep. She woke up in the morning without waking me, got out of bed and did it. It makes me feel so helpless. I can't lock her in the bedroom with me. Yesterday when she got into trouble, we were supposed to be taking a nap together. She asked if she could get a book to look at and I said yes. She dashed off to get it but instead of going into the living room, she went into a room she isn't allowed into and knocked something over.

 

I let her play in the yard while I watch her from the screened porch (our yard is fenced and we live in the country) but she still manages to get into trouble by pulling things out from under the house. She doesn't listen when I tell her not to do something. She just does it anyway.

 

I do babywear and DD is almost always with me. I can do my best to make sure she's always in the same room, but I'm not sure what to do yet about her waking earlier than me in the morning.


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#5 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 01:19 PM
 
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Oh boy, she really sounds like a determinate and inventive little girl! You have your hands full!

 

I agree with PP, a good consequence is that you can't trust her to be by herself. She needs to stay in the same room as you, and you need to follow her to the bathroom.

 

My ds used to be purposefully defiant when dd was just born. I used to ask him to watch TV for 15 min, while I was putting dd down for her nap, and he used to burst into the room, kicking the door and calling me as loud as he could, just to get my attention.

 

I think I have a couple of posts very similar to yours on MDC from two years ago lol.

 

Try to look at her behaviour like she's doing her best with the tools she has; she must be really overwhelmed by the changes in her family. Hopefully other people here have more suggestions.

 

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#6 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. :) You make me feel hopeful! Yes, DD also does the thing where I ask her to be quiet because I'm trying to get the baby to sleep and she'll start saying my name loudly or she'll run over and purposely puck up something that makes a loud noise like a drum or a whistle and start trying to do exactly what I told her not to. I hope this passes soon!


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#7 of 15 Old 04-09-2012, 09:44 PM
 
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Another idea is to catch her doing something good and acknowledge it. Sometimes when a child's behaviour changes so dramatically like that it is a cry for attention as I am sure you have already figured out.

 

But she is also able to sense your frustration with her but instead of calming down when she has to face the consequences she sees it as you are mad and so she is going to get even with you. Try acknowledging her feelings. Say something like "I can see that you are very angry. It is not always easy being 4 and a new big sister is it? If we could do something that you would like to do what would it be?"

 

At 4 she should be able to express some of her desires. As she does, really listen to what she is saying. Not just the words but the feelings behind the words. Maybe that will give you a little insight as to what is really going on inside her.

 

During her calm moments talk to her about how she has the amazing power to choose her own destiny. Let her know that she and she alone can choose to have a good day or a bad day; it is totally up to her.  That being said it is absolutely paramount that you be consistent and follow through on the consequences while reminding her that she has the power to choose how she behaves. She is choosing this behaviour not you. Be careful not to own her stuff.

 

Here are a couple of resources that you may find helpful. The first is my tip of the week where I address consistency and following through:

http://www.littleleadersassociation.com/3/custom_form_3.htm

 

The second is an amazing book that we have incorporated into our home daycare and it has made an very positive impact not only for the children but for the parents and providers as well.: http://www.shop.bucketfillers101.com/product.sc?productId=1&categoryId=2

 

I hope you find this helpful.

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#8 of 15 Old 04-10-2012, 01:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I'm reading through them now. :)


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#9 of 15 Old 04-10-2012, 08:11 AM
 
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Warning:  I don't know much about what "Gentle Discipline" is supposed to mean, aside from not spanking or screaming at your kids.  I read about (and know some) parents who think it's bad to tell kids "no", to give them any concrete directions to follow, or to "punish" them for anything.  I suspect that the way many kids would respond to such parenting might make it hard not to scream at them.  But I don't know whether that's a required part of GD, or not.  In other words, my comments are only from my personal experience, not any established theory.

 

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Originally Posted by amberskyfire View Post

My 4yo daughter has been having so much trouble with lying, getting into things she shouldn't, doing things she knows are wrong and being sneaky.

I don't know your daughter.  She may have out-of-the-ordinary character issues.  But normal 4-year-olds need a lot of stimulation and direct interaction and can be endlessly mischievous if they don't get enough of it.  I am not saying this to make you feel guilty!!  Mary Poppins herself was not saddled with a baby while she was trying to entertain her charges and model proper behavior for them.  That would have been too much to ask of her.  Accept that you are not Mary Poppins, nor are any of the rest of us.  Within your imperfect abilities, try to find ways to give your daughter more stimulation and direction.  Give her less time to find ways to entertain herself and more activities that you have structured for her.  If she is especially bright (as especially-mischievous 4-year-old girls often are), seek challenging activities.

 

I won't lengthen my response by listing ideas.  They're all over the internet.  I'll just say two things:

 

- Obviously, you need to get things done, not just play with her 24/7.  So make sure you find ways to involve her in what you do.  She can chop food to make a salad (buy a serrated, plastic "lettuce knife".  They will cut most raw veggies, but not fingers), mix, stir pots on the stove over low heat (if you're standing near her), set the table, help load the dishwasher, move clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, load the washer, fold towels, pair socks, wash windows, vacuum...

 

- Even if you're an at-home parent, or you plan to home school, a good preschool (not full-day, five-day-a-week daycare, but actual preschool, 2-3 mornings/week) can be absolutely wonderful for kids this age, especially girls, who are ripe for socializing.  She would be stimulated, challenged and tired-out, have other kids to play with, and see models of what behavior is expected from kids her age.  And you would have a little break.  Co-op preschools are wonderful.  They require a volunteer commitment from the parents, but it's a great way for you to build a support network of other moms with kids your age.  Co-op moms all get to know each other better than the moms at drop-off preschools.  Rather than finding a friend or two you click with, you truly gain a large support network, throughout the school.  And they have a firm academic philosophy of "learning through play", which is very age-appropriate, compared to what you find at many preschools or day-care centers, which focus more on containment and control until parents come back for their kids.

 

...she took crayons and colored all over the walls one day. I gave her a rag and told her to clean off the walls. (The crayons are the washable type, they come off with water.) She rubbed a little bit and then sobbed and threw a fit because it was too hard. Then she refused to do it...

 

My first choice would be to "out-stubborn" her.  Calmly and firmly repeat that you know she's big, smart and capable enough to clean up her mess...and she won't be doing anything else, until she does.  "Yes, honey, I know you don't want to wash the walls.  But that's what you have to do, when you decide to disobey Mommy by drawing on them.  I love you and it's important to me that you grow up to be the kind of person who will clean up her own messes.  If you take a long time throwing your fit, it will be a long time before you finish and can go play with something else.  If you stop crying and get it done, you could be doing something fun in just a few minutes.  It's too bad you're wasting all this time with your fit."

 

If I just couldn't wait her out, I would definitely make her sit in a chair and watch, while I cleaned the walls.  And I would drag it out a little and say out loud to myself, "It's too bad we're in here having to clean these walls, when we could be ______________, instead." 

 

She tore up my contact lenses. Consequence? I no longer have contact lenses.

 

On this one, I'd definitely talk to her about how hard it is for you, not being able to see.  But I'd place most of the blame on myself, for leaving something vulnerable - that I needed so much - where she could reach it.  I'd make it a teaching moment for myself.  

 

For the next few days or a week, you might (calmly, kindly, regretfully) tell her you can't read to her:  "Remember?  I can't see well enough to do that."  (Of course, reading to kids is important, so hopefully there's someone else who can read to her, instead of you, for the next few days?)  Or tell her you can't buy her little things you might normally buy (like a treat at the grocery store):  "Remember?  I have to save up for my new contacts."... Or whatever seems to motivate her.  If you were going to take her to the movies, or watch a special movie together at home, you might tell her it will have to wait until your new contacts come in, so you can see it.  

 

She dumped a pot of soil into the dog's water dish, then used the broom to paint the walls with the resulting mud. Consequence? I have to clean it up because she's not tall enough to reach up high on the walls where she was painting.

 

Again, I would make her sit in a chair near me, while I cleaned it up.  She should not be playing and having fun while you're washing her mud off the walls.

 

She keeps using markers on the couch when I have no idea she even has them and my brand-new couch keeps getting marked on. Consequence? My couch is ruined. Consequence for her? Absolutely none - which is why she keeps doing it.

 

I'd put the markers somewhere she can't reach...but she can see them.  And if she seems to forget about them, I'd point them out periodically.  "Won't it be fun when you start being more respectful of our walls and furniture and we can get out those markers again?  Until then, you'll have to use only chalk, for your artwork."  (It cleans up more easily.)

 

Every single meal, she refuses to eat. I never used to force her to eat. I've always believed in not forcing children to eat their food, but it has gotten really bad. It's every single meal now. She would rather get up and play. I can't even get her to snack. She will only eat candy and junk, so I've stopped bringing it home altogether.  Yes.  There can be no junk food - at home or anywhere else - until she regularly eats "real" food.  During the day, the logical consequence that occurs is that her behavior worsens to the point of no return because she's so miserable from being hungry. Yay for me, especially having to deal with her psychotic behavior while also having to care for a new baby. At dinner, the consequence is she wakes up in the middle of the night hungry and then begins to cry and shriek horribly because I won't wake up and fix her a new meal. We cosleep, so this is especially horrible. It's not like she can sit in her room and scream by herself.

 

I sympathize with what you're going through at night - especially since you have a new baby!  But I agree that you can't feed her in the middle of the night if she refuses to eat during the day.  The vast majority of children will not actually let themselves starve.  In this, too, you need to "out-stubborn" her.

 

Meanwhile, try some creative ways to get her more interested in healthy food.  

- Letting her help prepare it is a good idea.  Not just the chopping and stirring, but preparing her own food at the table.  Making her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich; giving her coconut flakes or shredded cheese in a small bowl, that she can sprinkle on her food, by herself, etc.

- Try arranging her food to look like a picture...or a half-finished one, then give her some ingredients to finish it with.  PerpetualKid.com sells a fairly affordable plate with a big face in the center, so you can arrange food like hair, ears, necktie, etc.  Put a drop of food coloring in her milk and let her watch how it spreads out.  Call it Magic Milk.

- Gardening is great, if you have the time.  I have a 4-year-old who regularly asks for junk food first thing in the morning, then screams, "NO!  I HATE food!" when I tell him he needs to eat something healthy instead.  He has an extremely limited repertoire of vegetables he's willing to eat...unless he picks them himself, out of our garden.  We caught him sitting on the edge of the garden the other day, chowing down on a huge leaf of raw collard greens!  Yuck!

- Try these things without too much overt pressure about eating.  Emphasize the playing.  Or, if she makes the salad at dinner, make a big deal to everyone at the table, about the fact that SHE made it.  When everyone else digs in, she may want to, also.

 

She keeps stuffing the toilet full of toilet paper and then flushing it. Consequence? I have a bathroom flooded with poop.

 

Keep the toilet paper where she can't reach it.  Leave a reasonable amount where she can, and replace it only hours after she has pooped, so she can't go back in every 10 minutes and keep putting it in the toilet.

 

I can't think of anything but punishment for the things she has been doing, but I don't believe in punishing. It just makes children resentful and even more angry, lessens her trust in me and causes her to lie more to avoid being caught. This sort of behavior is SO INCREDIBLY not like her. It's like someone replaced my child with a different one altogether. I know everyone will say it's because of the new baby, but this started long before the baby got here.

 

I think it's because she is 4.  Compared to younger toddlers, who are still in many ways babies, four-year-olds are smart, creative, capable...but still poor on impulse control.  There's a difference between "punishing" her and putting her in situations where she has to deal with disappointment, frustration and anger...brought on by her own behavior.  It's hard to watch your kid be upset by a consequence you've given.  You'd rather they just do what you said in the first place and avoid the consequence!  But in the long run, I think it's more loving to give them some consequences and have them learn that frustration and disappointment stink - so it's best to avoid them, if you can...by behaving appropriately - but they are survivable.  If you give in and draw on the walls, you can get through the frustration of being forced to clean them!

 

Help me see what consequences can come of these actions that don't involve me punishing her. I'm tired of all of the consequences being on me.



 


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#10 of 15 Old 04-11-2012, 10:26 AM
 
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Jeannine has taken the time to write exactly what I would have written.  So, Jeannine, thank you for sharing with angelskyfire the wisdom that comes through experience.  For the sake of all, I pray that her thoughts and suggestions will speak to your heart and mind.  When you're the new mother of a new baby, it is easy for resentment to build towards an ingenious four year old whose "misbehavior" is robbing you of sleep, peace, and time with your new baby.  However, shake off resentment and don the mantle of mothering two. It is a new challenge, but also a new opportunity.  You certainly have at least the same intelligence and inventiveness of your four-year-old dd.  

 

Jeannine's words can guide you, but you'll have to do the work.  So, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, to which we all fall prey at times - just remind yourself that love means "extending yourself for the growth of another."  "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."  Your four-year-old needs you too.   I would say that Jeannine's suggestions are the epitome of "gentle discipline."  And discipline is part of love.  The more love you give, the more you'll have to give, and the more you'll be filled with love.

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#11 of 15 Old 04-11-2012, 11:17 AM
 
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Quote:

My first choice would be to "out-stubborn" her.  Calmly and firmly repeat that you know she's big, smart and capable enough to clean up her mess...and she won't be doing anything else, until she does.  "Yes, honey, I know you don't want to wash the walls.  But that's what you have to do, when you decide to disobey Mommy by drawing on them.  I love you and it's important to me that you grow up to be the kind of person who will clean up her own messes.  If you take a long time throwing your fit, it will be a long time before you finish and can go play with something else.  If you stop crying and get it done, you could be doing something fun in just a few minutes.  It's too bad you're wasting all this time with your fit."

 

If I just couldn't wait her out, I would definitely make her sit in a chair and watch, while I cleaned the walls.  And I would drag it out a little and say out loud to myself, "It's too bad we're in here having to clean these walls, when we could be ______________, instead."

 

Ahh Jeannine, THANK YOU for posting this!!! I got to use it last night. DS decided that instead of dumping his food on the floor, he would dump the cats. Well, I told him he needed to clean it up. He said no. So, he went into the time-out chair and I told him that when he was ready to clean up the kitty food he could get down and do just that. We repeated that step about 3-4times, but he finally did it! And, to throw in a little positive reinforcement I cleaned up about 5 kernels of kitty food to "help". He was very pleasant after that!

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#12 of 15 Old 04-11-2012, 03:28 PM
 
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Quote:
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Ahh Jeannine, THANK YOU for posting this!!! I got to use it last night. DS decided that instead of dumping his food on the floor, he would dump the cats. Well, I told him he needed to clean it up. He said no. So, he went into the time-out chair and I told him that when he was ready to clean up the kitty food he could get down and do just that. We repeated that step about 3-4times, but he finally did it! And, to throw in a little positive reinforcement I cleaned up about 5 kernels of kitty food to "help". He was very pleasant after that!



I want to say thank you too!  Jeanine, your post inspired me.  Sometimes I feel like the "mean mom" but today I reminded myself that I am there to guide DD and help her grow up.  And that sometimes there will be frustration.  Don't have time to type out the details, but I, too, was pleasantly surprised by how readily DD took to me setting some boundaries.  :)

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#13 of 15 Old 04-11-2012, 05:18 PM
 
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I haven't read all the responses so I'm sorry if I am repeating something.

I think you need to take a more proactive approach, both the creating a safe space and towards discipline. Relying on logical consequences as the primary approach to discipline is going to be challenging to pull off - especially with a kid who pushes limits.

 

As for consequences, they can also be proactive.

 

If she can't manage using a reasonable amount of toilet paper, then put out a few strips of tp in a basket each day for her use and put the rolls up out of her reach.

If she can't manage markers, they only come out when you can supervise them and then they go away.

If she draws on the wall, she can have the crayons back when she cleans the wall.  If the job is too big for her, then give her a time - say 10 minutes that she has to clean. Set the timer and she cleans it for that time. If she fusses, the crayons stay away and she can try again the next day first thing, until she gets her 10 minutes of cleaning done.

 

You need to create the kind of family you want to have.

Develop a rhythm for your days so that she knows what is coming - breakfast, chores, art, walk, lunch, stories and quiet time, friend/play/out time, help with dinner, dinner, bath, bed.
Make dinner a family event rather than a battle. Lower the lights, light a dinner candle, say your blessing or do you glads and sads, and then talk about your day. Blow out the candle when she can get down from the table. (10 minutes or so is an age appropriate amount).

Give her some responsibilities.  She's old enough for chores so she can start to grasp that there is household work to be done and if we make a mess we need to clean it up. She can help with making meals, setting the table, dusting or sweeping, matching socks etc.  She may respond well to responsibility.

Make talking about your family values a regular thing as you move through your day. They will have more impact than if they are done as part of a "discipline talk." Start talking to her about respecting other people's property, about valuing your possessions and caring for them as you clean up, about helping, about spending time together, about eating healthy foods, about considering others as natural opportunities come up.

 

Have a family meeting and work together to create some simple family rules which can help her make better choices or at least understand poor ones.

So you might have a family rule that says something like "We care for our things" which can help her understand why flooding the toilet or marking the couch isn't a good thing for her to do.

 

hth!

 

 

 

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#14 of 15 Old 04-12-2012, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You have inspired me! When you have a new baby, you're just too tired to think of logical ways to deal with problems. :(

 

Gonna try and have a great day with the kiddo today!

 


Mama to a bright 5 y/o girl dust.gif and a beautiful boy born 03/10/12 fly-by-nursing1.gif Loving unschooling, 2xuc.jpgfamilybed2.gif ecbaby2.gifand natural living in Hawaii.rainbow1284.gif
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#15 of 15 Old 04-13-2012, 07:05 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that I feel for you! My now 4 year old acted out similarly when the baby was born (he was almost 3 at the time), and I was at my wits end. I felt like there was something no one told you about how hard it was with a new baby -- suddenly, you start disliking your first child! Luckily, it was all just a phase, and we got through it. I can't imagine how much harder it would have been now, with him at an age that is much more ingenious! I'm sure he would be doing many of the things you mentioned (and yeah, we did have an incident like that with the toilet, once, just a month or so ago, with no new baby involved! LOL)

 

Hang in there. It will get better!! I'm glad you got some great ideas!


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