Yesterday while I was out with a close friend spending money, we had to stop for nourishment. We have been friends for...a really, really long time. For me at least. Plus we've stayed friends through my periods of being a very bad friend in return. So she can basically tell me I have my head up my ass and I don't take offense like I may if it were anyone else.
Lately I've been feeling like a really shitty parent and it felt like the hole was getting deeper and deeper. I was yelling more than I wanted to yell, and the urge to swat my kid when he was acting up was sounding more appealing. Now, I've given him a swat on the butt when he's losing his shit and can't bring it back around. It basically shocks him out of the black hole tantrum he's in. Except those tantrums were getting more frequent and there's no way I'm swatting my kid everyday just because he's losing control & I was losing patience with it. That's just me being lazy by swatting him in that scenario. So a new option had to be found. I got the 123 Magic book and got the jist of it, but waiting for three 'bad behaviors' to put him in time out...not working here. As soon as I get up to put him in time out, he does what I ask, then goes ballistic when I follow through with time outs. So I was losing my temper and patience going back and forth with a 2.5 yr old in a battle for control. You can only ignore tantrums to a point and then it's just ridiculous. It all had to stop and I didn't know how to get us back on track.
So the good friend and I were discussing this issue at lunch. How letting certain behaviors slide turn him into 'that kid' and then 'that adult' who acts the fool and can't control himself in situations. That is completely unacceptable to me. How am I going to have a kid with good manners but acts like a brat? Right. Then again, I did think that having a kid would morph me into some organized, social type person! LOL Yeah, no, it didn't.
One of the major factors I struggle with is keeping us on a schedule. I don't particularly care for them as I like to up and go, and now it's a little more work to get out the door. We have things like, oh...nap time and eating meals that get in the way. So my friend reminded me that setting a schedule and consistency would really make a difference for Noah. Which I know this in theory, but hearing how she had things organized and Noah's response to it while he was with her really hit home. I've been letting things get out of control and completely disorganized and it was showing through my kid's behavior and my reactions to his behavior.
So while the ex-husband had our son for a while longer, I went home and thought about how to start fresh. First was reorganizing the living room so I eliminated things that set me off and annoy me when he would get into them. Like moving the couch where he couldn't climb over the back of it, but so he could see out the window, which eliminated him trying to stand on the table to see out. Making one area for his toys and put it far from the TV and my working area. I also had gotten a small table and chair for my workspace, since my friend also reminded me that Noah doesn't know where my boundaries are for work, and climbing on me while I work was driving me insane, but I couldn't ban him from the couch. So now I have a work area that's off limits, a play area far from my work area, and a new schedule for eating/naps/bedtime. I'm forcing myself to have a routine. I also started turning the TV off while we eat & what a difference that made. All these little things that were causing problems were changed by just a little bit, and I am amazed.
I cracked down on the time outs as well. I let them slide for a while and now it's a struggle. So now we have a chair in his time out spot. One of the struggles I had was him rolling around on the floor in time out and rolling himself down the hall before his time was up. This drove me crazy that he wouldn't stay put and I couldn't keep standing over him as I'm usually working. Well today, I sat there with him since I'm reinstituting the time out plan and had to reinforce that I mean business. Sure enough, we had time with him crying and telling me he wasn't talking to me and turning to the wall away from me. But I was firm and didn't yell and it was all okay.
The proof that this was going to work was not only that I didn't yell at him today at all, but when he completely lost it after nap time. I got his snack of granola and he started smashing it into bits and it was getting on the floor. When he wouldn't pick it up, I threw it away. He lost it completely and threw MY bowl on the floor. More like flung it across the living room. This is where I normally snap and start yelling and feel the urge to swat him. Except this time I stayed calm and vacuumed the granola and put him in time out. He was crying and freaking out this whole time. It continued when I gave him a string cheese after time out and saying sorry. But then the cheese was on the floor since I opened the package for him! God forbid he be able to actually get to the cheese and eat it. So instead of losing it, I toss the cheese, put the boy in time out and made sure he stayed there and understood why he was there. The only hitch was after he said sorry, he was so worked up from crying that he puked on himself. That was my 'reward' for keeping calm! But I felt so much better about how I handled it.
Tomorrow is a new day, and I feel positive about being able to handle this parenting thing. This toddler thing. This whole being on a schedule thing! I really was starting to think I couldn't do this myself, and that I was screwing up my kid since I was such a grump. Thankfully, I have people around me to kick me in the ass when I need it, and know how to do it with tact.