I have been really struggling for quite a few weeks now. I'm a SAHM with two little ones under the age of 5. Most days I end up being so short with them, even yelling, in an attempt to create some sense of peacefulness (or order, although I hesitate to use that word).
I have two amazing kids but they are both strong-willed and spirited since birth.
My DD (almost 5) is fabulous, bright and SO helpful some days and then just plan awful other days, hitting/pinching/pushing her brother, screaming, disrespectful to us, etc. My DS has become such a handful (he is 2) and I fear has learned many negative things from older sis.
DD often rejects any type of new rules (although I try not to use the word rules), structure, etc. I need help with this. I read Dr. Laura Markham's blog/articles often and Hand-in-Hand Parenting too and find that connection does help some, but with a demanding little one also I admittedly don't always have the time or the patience. Sometimes I just want her to listen when I ask something! Examples: "we need to wash hands after using the toilet--that's how we keep ourselves healthy." or "it's not safe to climb up onto the counter to get a dish, please ask for my help." or "it's lunchtime, your body needs healthy food to have energy." Many times she gives me a sassy "Nope, not washing my hands." or "but I'm not eating lunch"!. I let it slide often but...??? maybe I should try to enforce more structure? How?
DS fights his nap often and I think that's normal, but those days end up awful. The whole rest of the afternoon/evening is hellish and little guy is in tears most of the time, as he REALLY still needs naps. They fight amongst each other more often on these days, I end up having a horrible day and DH arrives home to a total mess. AAAGH. All the energy is negative and I'm struggling with how to pull us up out of these "low" days.
Overall I feel that I am a pretty easy going mama; I expose my LOs to lots of new experiences but don't over-book them, play with them, value their independence and their spirited selves, but I've noticed that lately I'm often left feeling overwhelmed and feeling like I'm doing a poor job of raising these two. There are days when I am asking myself, "Are they just two wild, out of control children??" I am also embarassed by their disrepect and/or lack of listening when we're around others (family, friends).
DH keeps telling me that I'm in a bad mood a lot and am much quicker to snap at him and my two (which is true)...I hate that and need some change. Suggestions, please!!! I think I need to learn how to meditate or SOMETHING to chill myself out when I'm overwhelmed, but I also need some perspective on my kiddos' behavior/misbehavior. Many thanks...
I always feel a bit guilty when I share the ugly details about my LO's behaviors!! As I re-read this, I am listening to them playing "school" so sweetly in the other room and it makes my heart happy, but if only I could get a handle on all the other troubling points of the day(s)!!
A couple ideas -
1 - Can you make a FlyLady-type control journal for your daughter (and maybe one for you, as an example)? Make it with pictures and words, and for somethings you can ask "what does your journal say?" so she knows what step is next. You can even make one for your son, as he can choose his clothes, or put laundry in the basket, and pick up his toys after lunch. Both of my boys have one, and it's pretty basic. At this time they get up, get dressed, make their bed, take care of laundry, have breakfast, etc. Basic morning/afternoon/evening routines are in it, play time included, and this has taken away some of the drama from our day.
2 - Are you going to homeschool or public school? If you are going to public school, maybe finding a 2-3 day a week program for your daughter might be a good idea. It gets her out of the house, in a routine, interacting with others, and someone else that's also telling her that washing hands keeps her healthy and healthy food makes her strong. :) Even if you are going to homeschool, it might be a good idea. Even if both of them were in a daycare/childcare thing 2-3 days a week, then that gives you some time to pick up the house and take care of you, which leaves you more rested and ready to take on the evening when husband is home.
3 - Nap time. What if it was rest time instead? After lunch, all children go to their rooms and lay down. Or they lay on the couch and watch a movie. Whatever, it's quiet time for everyone. For 1-2hrs. If they fall asleep, fine. If not, that's fine, too. But it's rest time so Mom can do some things on the computer and figure out dinner. My boys stopped taking regular naps at about 18mo. I have no idea how parents get their kids to take naps when their children are 3/4/5 yrs old. It would never fly in my house. But we did have quiet time for a while, and sometimes I still do that if things look like they are headed to crazy town. Laying down with a movie or some books doesn't harm anyone, and sometimes brings a little sanity back to the house.
I, personally, believe in discipline and would not tolerate the behavior. I'm not mean or rude about it, but if something is important to me, then it's going to get done. And the bottom line is, I expect a respectful tone from the people who are speaking to me. I talk to them respectfully, I deserve the same. My boys are 9 and 6, and if rude tones are spoken, they are asked to try again, because they need to speak nicely to me. I do not yell at them, they do not need to whine or yell at me.
Washing hands is important to you, therefore nothing else should happen until hands get washed after using the potty. In my house, it might go like this:
Mom - Please wash your hands.
Child - Nope, not washing my hands.
Mom - Excuse me. We wash our hands so we know there is no pee/poo on them after we use the potty. We do it to help stay healthy. Let's go. (Turns on water and gets soap ready for her.) Quickly, so we can do XYZ.
If she is not going to eat what you have prepared for her, then fine, she can have that for dinner. I'm assuming you aren't preparing foods she doesn't like, and that she has some decision making ability - as in she can choose this or that fruit, this or that drink, etc. She will not starve herself, and she will figure it out. In my house, it might go like this:
Mom - Time for lunch, please sit down.
Child - But I'm not eating lunch.
Mom - Are you sure? It's been a while since you had breakfast, and I was sure you were getting hungry.
Child - Nope.
Mom - Lunch time is now. If you are not eating, then you will have it for dinner.
I tend to be very matter of fact with my kids. This is the way it is, when they are big, they can do it differently if they would like. But right now, this is how we are doing it.
I hope this helps. :)
Homeschooling Ama to boys (ages 10 and 6) and my SoldierGirl who is serving in the US Army, StepMom to three crazy teens. I'm married to the love of my life.
Love is an action word.
Words have power...use them wisely.
Who you are is just enough.
Luckymamaoftwo, I'm replying to the thread you started back in August. Have you had any luck with these challenges, or have you seen any changes? I logged in to mothering this morning because I'm at my wit's end over the very same issues you posted in this thread - all the behaviors, the almost 5 year old daughter, the almost 2 year old son. Oh, and as I write this, they're outside playing sweetly in the bushes :) The squabbling and defiance actually brought me to tears this morning, though. Sometimes, I feel like I'm doing a terrible job and they'd be better off with anyone but me.
Just wondering if things have gotten any better for you (and if I can hope to see a light at the end of the tunnel). We're planning to homeschool our children, but, if the schoolbus stopped in front of our house by mistake this morning, I might have put both of those kids on it!
Sorry you're having struggles with your two little ones. I totally emphathize although we are still struggling daily and I hate to admit that I see no light at the end of the tunnel! :( What you wrote (below) sounds JUST like our house these days. I seriously wonder too if they'd be better off (behavior wise) if they were at a daycare every day. Just in the past hour, we've had squabbling, fighting over puzzles and personal space, followed by great interactive play and cooperation, followed by screaming and fighting again. Some days my older child (DD) is the really, really difficult one, and other days it's my 2 1/2 year old who is so darn challenging and it sort of alternates. The days when they're BOTH really challenging are the worst.days.ever. Anyway, I hate to sound negative, but this is my reality right now and I work on it every day but all the Aha! Parenting that I try to use isn't doing much. I'll check back to see if you have any progress with your littles. Oh, and to make me feel better, I try my best to focus on their great behavior, good times together and all the happy smiles rather than the struggles, but that's often easier said than done, right?
Well, maybe it is the ages because we have the exact same issues a lot. I too, have a 5-1/2 year old daughter and 2-1/2 year old son. Sometimes they are so sweet together it brings me to tears, sometimes I literally have to walk away and let them yell at each other for a minute so I don't lose my mind. My 2-year-old is, shall we say, energetic and into everything and requires a lot of attention, which I'm sure is the cause of some of dd's sassiness. She is pretty patient with him, but I think we are all worn out by the end of the day when a lot of the attitude comes into play. I have been getting a lot of the "no, I won't" behavior from her too. I used to lose my temper and threaten to take things away (mostly a class she likes to go to), but this didn't really work because I always gave in and took her anyway. The past few days I have been pointing out to her that she likes when mommy is pleasant, nice, and helps her, and that mommy likes it when she is that way too, that mommy likes to play with her and do things for her when she is being helpful too (and vice versa!) This seems to be sinking in a tiny bit.
It is easy to say, just make them wash their hands, don't do anything else until they do, but I find this very hard to enforce! Do I physically make her do it? How? Do I lock her in the bathroom while I chase my 2-year-old away from climbing the fridge until she does it? Ignore him instead and hope for the best? I'm not being sarcastic either, I truly would like to know what people do when a kid just flat out refuses to do something, especially as they get older and "making" them do anything is close to impossible. (i.e. I could pick up my 2-year-old and stick his hands under the faucet, but doing so with a 5+ year old would be pretty close to impossible if they didn't want to.)