Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do you ever suspect you aren't doing too well at this parenting lark?

We just had another contretemps with my toddler.

We seem to always be having contretemps with my toddler.

He is three years old, wilful as a colt, sensitive as an eyelash and, at times, demonic. This morning it was about switching off the TV, as usual. They had been watching it for a blissful hour, allowing us to lounge in bed a little longer. I warned of the great TV shut off, I executed the great TV shut off. Queue a toddler nuclear explosion.

He lashed out at me in fury, his tiny fists really wanting to do harm. So, in great Supernanny tradition, I time-outed him. Lately, when he gets a time out he has taken to spitting or peeing on the floor. He had done both this time, so more time out (not sure if that is the right way to do things, but hey, advice gratefully accepted.) Then we cleaned up the mess together.

So my husband is going to the gym and taking them to the soft play there, and I get a morning of peace. Toddler realises we aren't going to the same place and screams and shrieks that he needs me. Husband now loses cool as we have now been engaged in battle for about half and hour. He doesn't understand how a tiny chap can make life so unpleasant for everyone. My daughter is the biggest casualty. While we are all focused on the human air-raid siren, she is quietly ignored in the corner. (yes, we know that is now the way to do things, but in the heat of the moment...)

So I am now having 'my morning' but feel horribly guilty that husband has to put up with screaming toddler, and toddler is potentially going to be traumatised by absent mother.

Sometimes I wish I had Supernanny in the attic, to wheel out at times like this. Or Tanya Byron to advise me when yet again the kids are whining about food, clothes, going somewhere, not going somewhere etc. I just feel as though I have a plan in my mind how to deal with child hot-spots, but when it comes down to the heat of the moment, all these plans become tangled and incoherent.

Does anyone else feel as though they are not only making it up as they go along, but also that they aren't exactly in control of their children and their lives?


  1. Oh yes, all the time:) Lets face it, they don't come with a set of instructions and they can't be switched off while we figure it out so we all do our best and keep going. I know it is really hard sometimes. I hope you get to relax while you have the chance and don't worry youself into a tizzy. Jen.

    PS, I do have a tip that might help with the spitting or peeing while in time out but I don't want to presume that you want to hear it either. Nothing worse that someone giving you 'helpful' advice when all you want is someone to listen! But feel free to email me if you want, and only if you want. I won't be in the slightest bit offended if you don't:)

  2. Best book I ever had was Christopher Greens 'Toddler taming'. Keep it up, you're doing fine. He's 3, he'll have forgotten all about it in a heartbeat. Both of mine were just the same and survived to become charming, well mannered sweeties. I haven't had to use the naughty step these last 10 years!

  3. You're not on your own. Try a touch of sweetie related bribery now and again. I hid just one smartie under a plastic cup and told my daughter that she could have the 'surprise' hidden in the cup if she did what she was told. It worked very well as she was intrigued by the 'surprise'. You can't do it all the time obviously but for times when you feel wrung out it's a life saver.

  4. I have been doing this for 20 years now and yes-all the time.

    Two great must reads for any parents:
    How to talk so kids will listen , how to listen so kids will talk by faber and mayzlish and the five love languages of kids by Gary Chapman.

    Great books with great insights and tips.

  5. Thank you all so much for the book recommendations and support. I am going to go to the bookstore tomorrow for a big money blow-out.

    And Jen - I would absolutely love any tips on the whole peeing in time out thing. So far I have tried not reacting to it, just making him help me clean it up, but that is not working.

  6. Yes, I've suspected it more than once during the two years that Miss L threw tantrums. It is the hardest thing, I found it utterly exhausting, hurtful, depressing. Just know that it'll pass, it will. Then they can spend their grown up life buying you magic pressies to make up for being a little shit when they were younger. Stay strong and try not to take it personally x

  7. Thanks scribblingmum. I feel sad that sometimes I am wishing his life away, until the terrible 1.5-4 years are over, but there it is.
    This morning it was raining buckets and he refused to wear a coat, wellies or get in the pram. He basically got soaked trying to share his sisters umbrella, then had a tantrum.
    I never, ever thought I would be one of these people who said 'But he won't wear a coat.'' In the olden days I would have thought 'BE THE PARENT. MAKE HIM WEAR A COAT.' but really, sometimes that is impossible. SIgh.

  8. I completely wing it.
    I have a 10 yr old daughter who is also overlooked as my autie 6 yr old swallows up loads of attention, and my teenage son can throw a tantrum that would rival Diana Ross. I feel like crap about it sometimes, but there's only one of me. I try to make up for it by having a cuddle with her and watching Hannah Montana when Himself is home. But it doesn't happen often enough.
    Anyone who claims to be perfect is lying!

  9. Your son sounds like my son (who is now approaching 7). He was a willful baby, toddler, pre-schooler and surprise, surprise continues to be just as disruptive. It is so hard. All I can say is that it is a phase, it will pass, and then you'll probably end up in a worse phase. But that too shall pass. And one day, after vast, vast quantities of wine, it will all seem hilariously funny. I'm probably not helping am I?

  10. We didnt have quite these tantrums but similar. And my neighbour is currently going through this with her 3 yo...we can hear it down the lane! I wish I had advice or suggestions. The only thing I know is that it passes, but thats not loads of help, I know.

  11. Yes, feel outnumbered and under the will of the children constantly!! we get snippets of amazing parenting moments, but mostly have no idea what we are doing!! You are not alone, and don't feel guilty - the toddler is probably having a wonderful time!

  12. You are not alone! My eight year old is still at it! I once got a great tip and I still use it - the timer on the cooker. I means that somehow, sometimes we are not the big baddie and helps to diffuse the situation.

    Currently I am using the timer as a homework aid. I use it when my darling has to spend a specific amount of time on her tables or reading.