As a parent I have basically three cards in my parenting tip arsenal.
- Make if Fun
- Don’t Rush
- Quick and Painful (Q&P)
Although number 3, Q & P, has its place, and don’t get me wrong I use it often, I much prefer the use of 1 and 2. And it is hard to use 1 without using 2.
Sometimes the smallest task can be the most time consuming with a toddler. Especially a toddler in the “do it myself” stage. This stage is made exponentially difficult when combined with a tendency to become easily distracted.
– Putting on shoes
– Getting dressed
– Changing out of dirty clothes
– Getting out of the house
Each of these simple and routine tasks can take especially long with a toddler in “do it myself” stage.
Has the following ever happened to you?
Event: Going outside to blow bubbles
Applying sunscreen (lots of squirming, laughing, rubbing and comments on temperature) – 5 minutes
Put on Shoes – 3 minutes
Looking for hat and sunglasses – 2 minutes
Taking shoes off to find a snack – 1 minute
Picking out a snack – 3 minutes
Filling the sippy cup – 1 minute
Distracted by new activity and talked into original activity (blowing bubbles) – 6 minutes
Putting shoes back on – 3 minutes
Total time before exiting the home: 24 minutes
Actually playing with bubbles outside – 7 minutes!
PATIENCE – KIDS WERE CREATED TO TEACH PATIENCE
The times estimated above were under the assumption that a parent is not in a rush. If you are in a hurry a toddler can sense that. Let’s say the event is leaving the home for daycare or a playdate or anything else with a definite time….you must add one minute to each task. (New Total: 32 minutes)
God forbid we ever have an emergency and must get to the hospital. (I of course would use Q & P – no time to be giving choices on refreshments)
So with dozens of these routine tasks in a day how do the parent and toddler stay sane?
#1 Make it fun & #2 Don’t rush. I really find the key is to make it fun – joke, make up words, distract and make them laugh.
I was reminded of this last night.
I was in our bedroom closet laying out my work clothes for the next day. That’s when I heard it. No it couldn’t be. Was it? No. She never wakes up. Just then Justin appears in the room. “Do you want me to go in? Do you want to go in? Should we both go in? I bet she pooped.”
So we both went in. (Sometimes this doesn’t work because three becomes a middle of the night party) She had pooped. She was mortified. How can she be upset by this she has been pooping once a day for the last 116 weeks (who is counting?). But her exhaustion and middle of the night wake up has caused hysteria. She is wailing, but it is more like a mid-yawn scream. As I change the diaper Justin and I pepper her with questions. “Are you scared? Did you have a bad dream? Do you want some milk? Is there more poop in you? Does your tummy hurt? Do you want a goodnight cookie?”
Justin leaves to get more milk disregarding her response of “No”. Soon the wailing has increased and she has inserted in “DaaaaaaaaaaaaDaaaaaaaa”. Once he returns she removes this verse and continues her mid yawn wails with snot, tears and drool streaming down her massive cheeks. As these streams trickle down her massive cheeks and meet at her chin we look at each other and wonder what…besides the exhaustion….could be wrong?
Then it happens. 10 seconds of silence. And a snort/hiccup sound which breaks into a million pieces and becomes laughter. Hysterical laughter. She is now so tired she is laughing and soon all three of us are giggling. She wants to lay on dad and soon she has coerced both of us to lay on the floor as she lays between us. We are all smiling. She brushes the hair out of my eyes and then traces Justin’s eyebrows with her fingers.
Somehow I realize the dread I felt in the closet earlier is replaced with joy and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than laying on the floor with Justin and Ellie between us. E isn’t a cuddler and has never laid with us for longer than 27 seconds. So this is a first and even though we are laying on the floor it is the best feeling in the world.
As we lay there all happy but very obviously not sleeping the dread returns and it becomes clear that I am going to have to get her back in her crib for bed. If I do Q & P I’m going to be the one that turns this happy memory into the screaming and kicking disaster. Then….I remember 1. Make it fun and 2. Don’t’ rush.
“Ellie, Do you want to read a book?” “No.”
“Ellie, Let’s read a book?” “No.”
Long pause…. “Read Book?”
(Wow, I’m good, somehow this has now become her idea.)
We read two books laying on the floor. Then we put on her hat, pretended to throw her into the crib and read two more books. I get up to get one last kiss.
“Gank you, Moma”
“No, Thank you Ellie”
I walk out, closed the door and returned to my closet….and it is almost like the whole thing never happened.
On this night, making it fun and not rushing made for a wonderful memory.