Bedtime Wars!

Image result for pillow fight childrenSome of our battles are quite epic! Please tell me I am not alone. My preschooler and my kindergartner share a room and a bunk bed and THEY NEVER WANT TO SLEEP!

We have a routine. We change into our pjs, we brush our teeth, we pray in our beds, most nights I read a story, we snuggle and huggle and cuddle and huddle. I rub their back, I play with their hair, I sing songs and I plead, beg, bribe, reward, remind, count-down, count-up, cry, tickle and threaten but NOTHING WORKS!

These kids just won’t sleep. They refuse to succumb to any strategy I have used thus far. The only thing I can think of is splitting them up which will suck for us because we will lose our extra guest room which I use when family comes over. The other reason I don’t want to split them up is because that would mean one of them sharing the bathroom with my toddler who is not a heavy sleeper which means one toilet flush or one song and he is AWAKE! I cannot have that!

I am beaming with pride during the day. They are good, wholesome, beautiful young ladies. They share, they care and they dress themselves. They tidy up when asked to and we operate within a very strict sticker reward system that sees them closer to their goal of going to a fun “place” once they achieve a certain number of stickers. Positive behaviour is rewarded and negative behaviour is also acknowledged through the loss of stickers. It’s an ongoing delicate balance of telling one daughter “You get 2 stickers for listening right away” and telling her sister that “Whining is not acceptable, you will lose one sticker now”.

I feel like we made progress everywhere in their behaviour. Despite my eldest’s incessant arguing (it is part of her curious nature to be inquisitive even though sometimes it feels like she is questioning my authority- it is usually unintentional). The middle child is cautious and every so sensitive, so I feel like we made great gains in making her more confident to experience the world and know that she will always have our love and support. However, together and after the bewitching hour of 7:15 pm, they become tiny hellions that are more boisterous than a small crowd of protesters in front of city hall. I have tried installing a monitor to yell at them through it but it did nothing but make me irate with the sheer amount of shushing and threatening I had to do while they action ideas, which I can hear,  that are just no no no no no good!

I read forums about this so I decided to stop listening in and I took away the monitor. I decided to just let them play but all I kept hearing downstairs from their room is banging, thumping, stomping and screaming. They would often wake up their baby brother which would send me into a small dark rage and result in them losing the ability to attend events, visits or even go out in public! My husband kept telling me to stop incentivizing them with what we will be doing next that would be fun and I listened even though that was the only thing that worked with them! If we had a wedding, or party or fun event coming up, I would say “Remember, if you listen and go to sleep tonight, we can go to…and have lots of fun”. It worked beautifully but this did not sit well with my husband so he implemented the strike system.

Strike one, they lose their books and flashlight (yes, they each have 3 or 4 books to read in their bed). Strike two, we close the curtains (we keep them open for daylight and until they sleep) then last strike, we turn off their star nightlight since they do not like the dark- that is absolutely the worst one.

It is working except, if I give a strike then it affects both girls and the eldest usually says “But mommy, why are you punishing me? I’m listening!” And she is right. I don’t know if this is a foolproof system, certainly my 5 year-old is no fool!

So I really don’t know what to do or whether to actually do anything at all. I am blogging about it to see if I am the only one in the mamaverse who is struggling with this. My goodness, some days, I just hate bed time. If I wasn’t sure that they need at least 13 hours of sleep, I wouldn’t have even bothered putting them to sleep at all! And even though I start bedtime at 7:15 pm most nights, they are not usually asleep until 9 or 9:30 pm- crazy right?

There is something wrong with these children. Don’t mince words. Just tell me- WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE CHILDREN?

Image result for tired momLOL.

Smartignani

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Judgement and Consequence

I wanted to write this for a while but I don’t think I have enough hours in the day. With three active children under the age of 5, I am like a feather caught in a whirlwind torpedo of activities: potty training, teething, tantrums, tucking in, tickling, travelling and tumultuous transformations.  But I am still holding it together… I think.

I am sure oKasketaldi_haurra_001ther parents can see the wild look in my eyes because I haven’t slept in 6 years or the suspicious glances flicked at me because each of my children including the baby have a bump or scratch (all self-inflicted, I assure you). I am positive that other moms are looking at the way my 5-year-old crosses her arms and stomps and yells “NO! Mommy- I don’t want that!” and thinking that she is spoiled and lacking in discipline. Or shaking their heads when my almost 3-year-old decides to pick her nose and eat it (gross, right?) because we don’t correct her (which we do every time) and that she will forever be a perpetual proboscis picker.

Here is the thing… I don’t really care about what others are thinking or feeling or perceiving or believing. My world is centred on my children whom I know intimately since the moment of their first wail into the world.

I was at the mall the other day and in the little play area and I saw a mother struggling with her toddler while trying to jiggle her baby on her shoulder. She was getting so frustrated and her cheeks were flushed and her baby was getting quite stirred (literally and figuratively) because she was over-jiggling. The two moms next to me were talking about this particular poor soul and saying the following:

Lady 1: “Oh my, that little girl is NOT happy!”

Lady 2: “Mom needs to get a handle on her before X (her own toddler) sees that behaviour and starts to copy it!”

Lady 1: “Some people just don’t know how to control their kids! It’s because she decided to have a baby, the little girl is probably needing attention”

Lady 2: “Exactly! This is why I am spacing mine apart. Exactly for that reason”

At this point, I had enough. I huffed really audibly as I stood up and I spared them one sneer and a quick “You are far from perfect yourselves ladies!” and then I confidently and quickly approached the mom of the melting down toddler and shaken baby and softly said:

“It’s ok, mine do the same thing. My 2-year-old is in there playing happily, for now, can I offer you a hand? I have a baby too but he is sound asleep, would you like me to carry your little angel while you deal with your baby girl?”

The relief that washed over the mother was indescribable. She hesitated for about one second then she gave me her baby. I stood there making googly eyes at the baby and she calmed down and started to give me the sweetest smiles. I was singing her silly songs and dancing with her while her mom was dealing with her sister. The lady told her 2-year-old that she will get some Skittles if she just calms down and tells her what is wrong using her big girl words (we do the same). The toddler stood up and in between bouts of tears and noisy, wet sobs proclaimed, “I pooh”. Profound declaration but adequate explanation of her crappy disposition (pun intended).

Mom told her that it will be ok and that she will change her. Toddler hugged her and looked up and me. I smiled and I handed the baby back to mommy informing her that she will have to change two poopy diapers and that I know exactly what that is like too. She took the baby and the toddler and went to the family washroom. I walked back to the main benches where judgy lady 1 & 2 are sitting and I wedge myself right next to them. My daughter is standing aside as one of their sons shoves another child off the climbing thingy. Lady 2 who was afraid of the toddler’s behaviour affecting her angelic son turns to her friends and says “He is so assertive- isn’t that cute?”

Wow. Perceptions.

I turn to her and gently respond:

“That is not being assertive, that is called being aggressive. Assertive is standing up for yourself and giving your opinion but what he is doing is pushing and shoving other children out of his way. That is being aggressive. So is judging a mom who is in the middle of a toddler meltdown. You should really stop and look at your house made of glass before you start throwing rocks!”

Yup. That happened. True story. I did say all that.

I expected a fight. I expected cursing. I even expected her to punch me in the face.

Instead, I got a teary and ashamed lady who quietly said “You are right. He is a little terror and I don’t know what to do with him? What should I do? He is our only child and I am having a terrible time bearing another child. I am scared that he will be the only child and that he will become a bully. I was bullied in school by a boy. I don’t want my son to be that way.”

Ah, what? What just happened? This, I did not expect.

I proceeded to spend the next hour with this lady and her friend who felt equally ashamed and mom of toddler and baby at the special play place at the mall. After the apologies and the brief discussion about how we should be kind to one another and stop the judging because we ALL need help, we started discussing strategies and parenting tricks that worked for each of us.

My toddler and the baby got tired and hungry and wanted to leave but I certainly did not. We agreed to meet again soon and we even exchanged contact information. We went from being four strangers waiting on their kids to play to four friends who joined the same Mommy Facebook Group.

It was super cool and I even got to hold the little ray of sunshine baby girl again while the lady I helped held my baby boy. All around awesomeness.

Moral of the story:

STOP judging other moms. Get off your butt and help. You are not perfect. Your children are far from perfect as well. The only perfection is founded in our humanity. So like Ellen DeGeneres says “Be kind to one another”.

Love,

SMartignani

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