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Last night was BAD. And I mean J, my two and a half-year-old, just would not listen for anything. The day started out pretty rough, so I knew it wasn't going to be the greatest of days, but when I say it was the worst day I've had as a mother, I mean it. Even the newborn stage was not this difficult. He's trying to insert his independence and let me know that he is making decisions for himself even if I don’t agree with those decisions or if they’re dangerous.
So to start out, he woke up at seven, when he normally doesn't wake up for another hour. It was definitely a difficult morning. He wanted oatmeal for breakfast. Then when he saw what I had, eggs, he decided that's what he wanted. (He has NEVER liked eggs. Ever.) As soon as I made him some, he didn’t want them.
Here's the thing about that. I asked him this morning if he wanted eggs for breakfast, and his response was, "I don't like eggs no more." Life with a toddler. *rolls eyes*
So, after breakfast is when I started to not be the best mom I could be. I was getting irritated easily (being six-and-a-half months pregnant chasing a toddler is NOT easy, but also not an excuse). I was constantly telling him "no" to everything, and I wasn't paying enough attention to him like I should have. I need to realize that the reason he tells me “no” all the time is because I do it. There are ways to not let him get everything he wants, but also let him be independent. For example, if he wants candy for a “snack,” instead of telling him he can’t have it, or simply saying no, I can give him an option of what he CAN have.
And here’s the thing: I usually do that, and IT WORKS! Allowing him to be a kid all while making decisions for himself (within reason), I am giving him the confidence to be who he is.
All day went pretty similar, and I think J and I just were not on the same page. We had some disagreements, typical two-year-old. In the evening, I figured out that his two year molars are starting to come through at the top. Obviously, that has something to do with the way he was behaving. I don’t think he understands when he’s in pain and cannot communicate that feeling yet. But let me tell you, today has already been 100 times better. It's only halfway through so we will see what the evening holds, but I’m assuming with no TV and more attention from mom, he will continue behaving.
Continuing through the evening, his dad came home and we realized J’s room was an absolute disaster and we needed to clean. Now, mind you, he had already been acting out and not listening since the moment he woke up. I was already in a mood and irritated. So I was cleaning up his room, and everything I was putting away, he just HAD to have and play with to the point that if we told him to put it away, he would simply say ,“I NEED to play with this,” and he does it constantly. His father and I were both getting irritated and told him if he didn’t put his toys away, he was going in time out. He still would not listen. So we had to follow through. I took him downstairs to his high chair where he has time out. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do, putting him in time out because he was playing with his toys, but we figured it was the only way since he wasn’t listening.
When he got out of time out, he was still throwing temper tantrums because we just would not let him get the toys back out. I realize now that I could have just put them away when he was done and we were ready to put him to bed, but we were just tired of him not listening and not following our rules.
Finally, it was time for bed, but he was in the midst of a tantrum. I didn’t want to make it worse, so I tried to distract him. I’ve come to find out that if I do something he enjoys, I can usually get him to do what I want. We did “This Little Piggy” and guess what? It worked. He was so excited and once I was done, we got a diaper and pajamas on, then sang our nightly songs and he was ready for bed.
So, finally, he was in bed and the guilt set in. The guilt of how I treated him all day and then right before bed... Guilt of how unfair it was of me to expect him to not play with HIS toys just because I was cleaning. How unfair I was to him literally all day because I thought he was being too rowdy or too wild and clingy. But he was just being a normal two-year-old.
I’ve made a promise to him and myself that we will not allow it to continue happening. We’re starting structured and unstructured play, as well as activities that will get him moving. Recently, I’ve just let him sit in front of the TV all day, but that is NOT the mother I want to be. I also think that might be why he’s acting out at times. He doesn’t get enough of our attention; that is stopping. I’m a stay-at-home mom and it’s absolutely heartbreaking knowing I don’t spend enough time with him.
I just want everyone to know that even through our bad days, we are not bad parents. If you’re present in your child's life and always try your hardest to be better for them, you’re doing an amazing job. No matter what, everyone has bad days. Your child has bad days and it’s normal that you will go through tough days together. Stick it out, love them a little extra, and remember, “this too shall pass.”