Me and toddler P have had a great day. It’s been a long week or couple of weeks for us both. We’ve gone back to almost normality with some added restrictions still in place after 6 months together. 6 months. Just me and my sidekick bestie mini me (and Granny T thrown in for good measure). Now suddenly we’re not spending all day, everyday together. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad of the opportunity to pee alone, drink coffee that’s hot and not have Bruno Mars, the Five Little Ducks and Paw Patrol running constantly in the background, but I am also missing the time we’ve been having together. And so is she.
Lately her behaviour has been challenging, I was hoping her turning two would end the terrible ones which it has but in return has left me with a threenager and a whole new level of tantrum meltdowns! It’s as if overnight she’s suddenly found this ability to scream and paddy like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. And quite frankly I’m not going to tolerate it, what mother would? We had a short phase of these awhile back where she was defiant but it seemed to go as fast as it came. Now it’s back again, with a vengeance.
So, like all of us mum kinds, I’ve turned to good old Supernanny, my mum circles and of course the legend that is Granny T. No one really suggested anything different than what I was already doing, naughty step, tactically ignore, getting down on her level, clear consequences and rewards for getting right (cue star chart and pound shop prizes). I guess really this post isn’t actually about strategies because just like all of us mum’s I’m just winging it and flying by the seat of my pants and I’ve thrown two kittens into the mix so goodness know how I’m managing and I’m in no position to advise. What this post is about is how I managed to just reframe it in my mind. How I managed a new perspective. Hers.
Like I said, today was a great day. Probably the best in a couple of weeks. Her birthday falls at the start of term so the first week back always feels hectic and a bit of a whirlwind as everything starts back again, work, dancing and the organisation of some sort of birthday shindig. This year it was intensified due to the lockdown shizzle, then last week was the first full week of teaching after 6months of working from home and remote learning, with a night in with a friend and a bad hangover thrown in for good measure (you know when one or two glasses turn onto bottles…) which was just the hair let down that I needed. None of this meant toddler P missed out on time with me, or giggles with me or anything like that but it did leave me mentally and physically drained. So today after an early night last night, we had a ball, her second ballet class, another trip to watch the planes take off and a picnic in the sunshine, bee house building and our tea time tradition of a kitchen party. Not actually anything different to most of our weekends together but it just felt nice and refreshing today, some quality time we both needed where I wasn’t distracted by thoughts of work, covid news press releases or the nagging need to get that bloody garden project finished (that being done has been a game changer). Just me and her living in the moment. So why then did we have a sudden, sprung out of nowhere, Tasmanian Devil style meltdown at bedtime.
It was as though someone had flicked a switch and she went from my beautiful little sassy girl with a gorgeous smile to the Incredible Hulk within seconds (seriously, I was hoping the Avengers were going swoop in and save me). Now, I know that she’s going through a funny nap phase where she’s getting ready to drop it, but she’d had a car cat nap on the way home from our mini adventures so shouldn’t have been that overtired. Thing is, toddler tantrums are nonsensical at the best of times but tonight’s was extra confusing. Whilst doing my usual, tactically ignoring and firm, no, counting and consequences, then pulling her in for that “only mummy can calm me down” now cuddle point that she reached, I sort of had an epiphany.
You see yesterday I too was overtired and drained. Everything’s just been a lot to take in recently, work’s strange, as much as it’s nice to be back to see that staff and students, it’s strange. It’s a big adjustment and it’s taking its toll on us all (not trying time cry the poor tale, I know it’s a lot worse for some, I’m just adding some explanation and context). So I just needed some rest, some me time and to be a bit kind to myself. And that’s what she needs. Her world has been turned on it’s head several times this year what with all the different restrictions in place. She too has missed her friends, her childminder who to her (and me) is like family, she’s missed her days where she has Granny T to herself, her trips to tiddly tots dancing and lots of things. For long enough she was desperate to go to park and sit on a swing to the point where she still asks now if Dr Ranj is going open them again (it’s a CBeebies reference for the non parents). So actually, as much as her tantrums are naughty and not behaviour to tolerate, it’s understandable. She’s once again had things abruptly change and suddenly mummy is trotting off to work all the time and leaving her behind. Three times today she’s asked if I’m going to work or said she’s missed me whilst I was at work. She too is adjusting to the change and I for a moment forgot to mentally allow her that time to get used to it.
My heart melted this evening, as I cuddled my sobbing little bundle that couldn’t get her words out. I fell soft, and although she didn’t get out of brushing her teeth (another blog post will be penned on how I got round that one) nor did she get to go back downstairs and watch Iggle Piggle, she did get to sleep in mummy’s bed, with mummy snuggled up next to her stroking her nose and singing her to sleep like the old days when she was a tiny baby. It was a relief for me too, I almost sighed with her as she did that big final exhale babies do when they finally fall into proper sleep. I’d viewed things from her perspective and it was just what we both needed.
It’s not meant I’ve any more bags of tricks to sort out the issue of her being a madam, patience and perseverance is all that needs, but it did calm me and make me mentally approach it differently, more calm, more loving and less stressed and frustrated, which in turn actually probably helped calm the situation.
I’ve said it before in different posts. I’ve got to try view things from her perspective, it always helps me tackle issues in a better way and bring her round to my way of thinking or teaching. Her perspective, not her wants. She can’t articulate her perspective right now, she can only demand what she thinks she wants. I need to view it from her perspective for her.