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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How quickly am I "supposed to" respond to the cries/whines of my 19 month old? Can't she wait a little longer now if I'm in the middle of something?

Can I cook dinner or take a shower without feeling like I'm neglecting her? I'm try to get her to stay interested in something else, instead of playing with me, being held or nursing but it is a constant challenge.

I've been feeling a bit resentful lately about her neediness. I keep waiting to turn a corner and see some more independence, but no go. She is very clingy and cries for mommy even when daddy is holding her and I'm two feet away. She wakes up every 1-2 hours at night and nurses A LOT, day and night.

I love her more than anything. She really has brought an unmeasurable amount of joy and meaning to my life, but I'm feeling so smothered lately. I've always responded to her cries right away, but now I'm thinking that making her wait a little bit if I'm in the middle of something isn't such a bad thing.

I've always thought she was a high needs kid, but I keep wondering if I helped make her this way with too much nervous "hovering." I guess I didn't think you could give a baby too much attention, but maybe a toddler? I try to stay engaged with her most of the time, talking with her and acknowledging everything she says or signs. She is the center of my world. How do I foster independence but still let her know I am always there for her? I'm confused, tired and a bit burnt out. I've been losing my patience a bit lately and I hate feeling like that with her.

One of the big reasons we've decided to have only one child is b/c we can't picture dealing with 2 that need this much... ESPECIALLY with the sleep issues. This makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong or am somehow a failure.

Do you struggle with feeling like a martyr... like you've totally lost yourself to your child? How do you deal with it? How do you stay "AP" and still take care of yourself?

I just read the other AP post on this page. I'm sorry that mine is so similar.
 

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At 19 months, you can tell the difference between the "I need you this instant" cry and the "I'm mad/bored/frustrated/upset" cry. The first need to be responded to immediately, regardless of age. The latter can be more of a negotiation between the 2 of you -- sometimes her needs will take precedence, sometimes yours.

It sounds to me like you need some space right now. She's still in the separation anxiety stage, so it's hard. But it's perfectly acceptable for you to take a break. You may have to leave the house or have dad take her somewhere to get that break, but for your mental health and ability to parent, you need this if you're feeling smothered.

Your job is also shifting from responding to every need to helping her work through her emotions when things don't go her way. In some ways, that second task is much harder. You can't fix everything for her - not now as a toddler and definitely not as she gets older. All you can do is support her and teach her skills for coping.

As she gets older and more verbal (even the most verbal 19 month old has a hard time using words when they're upset), her neediness will decrease.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Your job is also shifting from responding to every need to helping her work through her emotions when things don't go her way. In some ways, that second task is much harder. You can't fix everything for her - not now as a toddler and definitely not as she gets older. All you can do is support her and teach her skills for coping.


This is one of the key issues IMHO with a growing child -- recognizing these incremental shifts in your job is as a parent.

IME, AP with a baby can be overwhelming, but it's incredibly simple. As they grow, it should become more complex, but also less overwhelming and urgent.

One of the best things I ever did for my sanity and confidence as a parent was to consciously make the decision that it was not my job to make sure that DS was completely happy at every moment. Not only would that be futile, but it would actually be harmful to him.

Instead, I see my job as helping him navigate life and acquire the skills and emotional responses to be a kind and centered adult in a world that isn't always easy and smooth sailing. Of course I still respond quickly to urgent needs, but more often, that job means telling him that I will be with him as soon as I finish XYZ task.

In practical terms, that often sounded something like, "I see that you want me to come separate those pieces of Duplo for you. I will do that as soon as I finish chopping these vegetables for supper. If you want, you can try to get them apart by yourself while you wait." (To be honest, I can't quite recall if that's the level at which we were functioning when he was 19 mo. That might have been more like age 2.)
 

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Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
One of the best things I ever did for my sanity and confidence as a parent was to consciously make the decision that it was not my job to make sure that DS was completely happy at every moment. Not only would that be futile, but it would actually be harmful to him.


This is where I am with my almost 2 year old.

Although I still get confused between comforting as an attempt to shelter him from the reality of other kids trying to take his stuff or shouting at him etc, and just letting it be and be there for him, but not smother him emotionally.

I find it easier to keep him waiting if I am physically doing something like cooking, cleaning, gardening etc. Being on the computer or the phone and expecting him to wait usually does not work for me. I'll tell him that as soon as I have finished 'insert whatever it is' and I'll be with him. But it is clear that I am not immediately available

Interestingly, my husband does a lot more stuff with our son, like teaching him new games and dances. However, DS demands far more of him. I think that is often due to the games being a little too challenging for DS to do on his own, and he needs the support. When he is home alone with me, I can easily have half to one hour of peace while he plays by himself. If I do not intervene, he has enough skills to figure out how to make a game out of pretty much anything.

OP - I do not think AP is about you resenting your child. If you are, you need to change something and find a solution that works for you. Ditch the theory if you need to.
 

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In my opinion up to 2 years or so is pretty much a baby. They don't have the verbal skills to tell you what they need. Yes you can tell the difference between frustration/whingy cries and the desperation cries but don't think about it too much because your heart will tell you the difference. If you feel upset if you don't respond immediately to her then you should go and respond. You are not spoiling her in ANY way by doing this. Trust her to grow up and know for herself when she no longer needs you.

Children are all different. My first dd was seriously high need and at 19 months was still intensely demanding, waking hourly and nursing all the time. Couldn't be left alone for even a moment without going into meltdown. It was completely exhausting but by 2 years we had a gradual improvement beginning and now at 5 years old she is very self sufficient, plays on her own, uses her imagination, started school recently and said goodbye to me without the slightest hint of upset. I was SO SO worried just like you when she was a small toddler, everyone around me said they couldn't stand to have a child like her and that I'd created this for myself by always being there.

Stand your ground, do what your child needs and don't worry about it. In a few years everyone will be telling you how incredibly secure and self assured your child is compared to the others.
 

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If you are really feeling like a martyr, something needs to change. Yes, your babe can wait a minute if you're busy, but responding will not spoil her. As they get older it will be important for them to understand that you are a person with needs too. But I would consider finding a way to fill her need pre-emptively.(sp) Is she getting whiney because she's bored? Can you build a safe place for her to play where she can see you? Is she getting hungry before you are done cooking? Maybe a snack or sippy cup before you start. Depending on what you are doing, consider wearing her on your back, so that she can see what you are doing and your hands are free.
You cannot be your best, most attached mom when you are resentful and burnt out. It is hard dealing with a very clingy child. It is not selfish to carve out a little space for yourself. It is your job to make sure she feels loved, and grows up as well adjusted as possible. Part of that is showing her the example of a happy mom. It's not your job to make sure she's never upset.
 

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Yes to all the PP said

Just wanted to say though, that make sure you do something for YOU! You are not just a momma, but a friend, wife,woman, etc. Take the time and get out: get coffee, hit a bookstore, have dinner with a friend, etc. Your life doesn't revolve around being just a mom!
 

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You are not spoiling her and you didn't cause this. It's normal for this age. But please feel free to take a shower, leave her with dad for a while, or whatever else you're needing to do. She's plenty old enough to handle it.
 

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Yeah-- this is one of those ages where you can respond immediately every single time without spoiling her, if that's what you prefer, but you also can tell her she needs to wait a few minutes here and there when you're busy or tired, and that will do no harm (except possibly to your hearing, if she throws a loud tantrum about it). Assuming everything is babyproof.... When we started telling DS to wait for a few minutes, he would sometimes pass the time by making a spectacular mess (such as dumping the cats' water all over the floor).
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
Assuming everything is babyproof.... When we started telling DS to wait for a few minutes, he would sometimes pass the time by making a spectacular mess (such as dumping the cats' water all over the floor).


I have decided it is worth my sanity when this happens. Or when I find him bringing in spadefuls of sand from his sandpit outside. It's a pain cleaning up, but I get done what I need to and he enjoys himself.
 

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This question about martyrdom was a huge turning point in my parenting/life journey. DS1 is 3.5 now, but he was a "high needs" baby/young toddler. I had DS2 when he was 30 months old. DS2 is not high needs so I can now say with confidence that DS1 was born high needs; I did not create him that way through "AP". Having 2 young kiddos and working full-time, I could no longer meet the needs (or what I perceived as meeting their needs) of my children with the same intensity that I had for the first 30 months of DS1's life. I was on the brink of mental/physical disaster. That's when I had some serious introspection and discovered that I was indeed both a martyr and a helicopter parent. Not good for my kids, and not good for my marriage. I googled "martyr syndrome" which was therapeutic in and of itself. The best thing that I did for my family was step back and let people into my sons' lives, including my DH. I didn't rescue them anymore from my DH's parenting style or from their pappy who might say "no" to them, or their nana who might "tease" them. I'm surrounded by healthy, good people and it really was ridiculous how much I sheltered my boys. So now I shower everyday, and if my 14 month old fusses while he's with his loving Dad, it's really ok. No, his Dad might not stand on his head and juggle tennis balls to make him happy, but he doesn't lock him in his room or shame him either. I had to let go a bit, and it has been wonderful. I hope that helps.
 

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I work outside my home. When the kids were toddlers, this was incredibly hard. Really and truly hard. I came to understand that my choice to WOH, which was utterly necessary, good and right, was the source of my overwork, *not* my kids.

They wanted and needed all they could get of me, rightfully so. It involved a fair amount of sucking it up in those days. Trying to make sure I got a least the minimum of what I needed and plugging along. Letting the house get more cluttered than I wanted; reading a magazine article in the shower while hot water pounded my back after the kids fell asleep; packing my lunch so my days were as short as I could manange....

I think this time in parenting is just hard. For me, worrying about whether I was martyring or spoiling would have just made it harder.

If you focus on the amazing steps in devlopment they are taking at that age, it just blows you away.
 

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You don't have to respond immediately to your child's cries for her whole life! She's a walking, talking person now. She won't think you've abandoned her if you tell her, "Just a minute," unlike an infant. She might be angry but she won't be traumatized. Also, your partner is her parent, too, and leaving her with daddy while you go out for a glass of wine with a friend is no more neglectful than him leaving her with you.
Many AP parents choose to night-wean their children once they're toddlers, including myself. I found that a good night's sleep helped me to feel less resentful and more sane, my children adapted and continued to thrive without nursing all night long. I have high sleep needs and could never sleep through nursings.
 

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For me 19 months was really hard, DD was very verbal for that age, potty learning and into everything and anything. She seriously drove me to the brink of all out crazy-ville at times. High needs, ummm yeah, high energy-yep check that too. She was clingy, then busy, then tantrumming all within 10 minutes. I just have to say that is a hard age, toddler years with her were in fact pretty difficult, she didn't STTN until only this past fall at age 3, she'd sleep some nights and not others. Honestly she slept better as a baby, and I enjoyed her more, I had a love/hate time with her toddler years.

One thing I have to say is that I noticed with DD having a sibling has made her better, as has age. While pregnant with DS was not easy, it was really flippin hard with a very busy 2 y/old who was high needs attention wise, it has been a joy to have a sibling for her to dote on and channel some of that energy onto. She's an extrovert, look at me type, so a baby who laughs at her and thinks she's amazing is a great thing.

Plain and simple toddlers are difficult and totally amazing at the same exact moment.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Roxswood View Post
I
Children are all different. My first dd was seriously high need and at 19 months was still intensely demanding, waking hourly and nursing all the time. Couldn't be left alone for even a moment without going into meltdown. It was completely exhausting but by 2 years we had a gradual improvement beginning and now at 5 years old she is very self sufficient, plays on her own, uses her imagination, started school recently and said goodbye to me without the slightest hint of upset. I was SO SO worried just like you when she was a small toddler, everyone around me said they couldn't stand to have a child like her and that I'd created this for myself by always being there. Stand your ground, do what your child needs and don't worry about it. In a few years everyone will be telling you how incredibly secure and self assured your child is compared to the others.
This was exactly our experience w/ DS1. DS2 is nothing like he was, even though we've raised them exactly the same. But interestingly, while DS1 was a whale of a 24/7 needy baby, he was an easy, peaceful toddler and preschooler. I think he's only had one terrible-two's type temper tantrum his entire life. DS2, OTOH, was an easy, easy baby, but is becoming a terror at 2. Every child is different!
 

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It may help if you find a way to take a few hours to yourself. My dd was very needy when she was this age and I had to find ways to incorporate her into what I was doing, even when going to the bathroom or showering until she was two. I found that I could cope very well if I had a slept when she did and took a few hours for myself every few months. On the plus side she potty trained at two and a half with no problem and she has always loved showering daily, and brushing her teeth frequently. She also became a very outgoing independent child when she was three and a half and stopped wanting me to play with her, or even stand near her, when another child was around.
 

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Chipper - good for you. You are asking the right questions and it is a positive thing that you are considering making changes.

APing toddlers and preschoolers should be different from APing with babies. The families I've seen who fail to get this distinction often end up with really burned out parents and unhappy kids that other people don't enjoy spending time with because kids who are the center the universe can be really unpleasant.

And, I'm strongly dittoing the suggestion to look at your life and your needs. Get out with a friend. Go see a movie. Take time to exercise. Model for your daughter what it means to be a happy person.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you for all of the insightful and thoughtful replies. They have helped tremendously and I feel a bit better. I've got some research and some soul searching to do as to how to proceed.

For the most part I am happy with how I've been parenting. I feel like I've been meeting her needs but I'm getting to the point where I'm wondering where the line between needs and wants is for a child this age. I get differing opinions from family about how much I respond to her, but for the most part, it feels right to me.

I know she has made progress and I need to think of that, instead of what I think it SHOULD be at this point, or how I want it to be.

I am thrilled to be home with my dd and usually enjoy it, but just get overwhelmed at times... especially at night or after a few days with no breaks (my dh works long hours during the week.)

I just want her to feel loved and respected, and in no way abandoned by me. Hence why I've never used CIO or any other method that would cause isolation from me or needless crying. But with toddlers, the crying comes with not always getting what you want, and as one poster said, "It's not my job to keep her happy all of the time."

Unfortunately, I believe there will be a good amount of crying on the horizon when I choose to nightwean her, which will probably be soon. I know she won't be happy about it, but it needs to be done by the summer (I'm going back to work at the end of the summer.)

Thanks again.
 

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Chipper...if it's any help. I didn't nightwean and I only got a 3 month maternity leave.

The end of the summer is a long way off in baby growth time! So, if it doesn't happen easily, it might still be okay even when you go back to work.
 
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