My Baby Made Me Cry

by Heligirl on November 11, 2010

in Confessions,Daily Ramblings,Parenting Tidbits,Positive Discipline

Hubby was gone two days and nights this week, giving me the “opportunity” to single parent. This time I approached it with a new attitude.

One thing that I did differently than I have in the past when alone with the kids for extended periods is I prepared myself for the worst. At my house that means the kids are fighting, not listening, crying or otherwise driving me to finish off a whole bottle of wine the minute they’re in bed.

In preparation for this eventuality, I cleared my schedule, so to speak. I didn’t check e-mail, I didn’t blog or visit blogs, I didn’t do any freelance work and only did housework that could be done in five minutes (load the washer, turn on the dishwasher, etc.) Everything else (fold clothes, empty dishwasher, check e-mail, etc.) was done when the kids were in bed, and the chores were done in order of importance until I couldn’t take it anymore and needed to pass out. Blogging got behind.

The results of this somewhat negative attitude (prepare for the worst) ended up being a strong brush with positive discipline. Which is kind of sad when you think about it because if I was listening to the stuff I write a little more I could have told me it would happen.

The kids were WONDERFUL. You see, I gave them all my attention. Because I wasn’t trying to do other things, I was focused on them, and that is the secret.

We played a lot together, like discovering this new game where I push cars and such under the door to Mr. Man’s room (we have wooden floors) and they’re on the other side laughing so hard I swear they both peed themselves (good thing they’re in diapers still). I kept track of time and because of that remembered to give them lots of 5- and 2-minute warnings before brushing teeth, washing hands, cleaning up, having a meal, going to preschool, etc. We stayed on routine and went with the flow. When someone cried, I was able to respond right away with a kiss or a distraction and it was over as soon as it started.

And then my Sweetness made me cry.

We were playing a game in the living room after dinner and I mentioned we had two minutes to play before clean up and bath time. Then when it was time, I told them to clean up and I got down on the floor in the living room and started cleaning up. Sweetness helped me pick up the game. Then she disappeared. Once I was done picking up I went to find her. She’d gone into Mr. Man’s room and was singing the clean up song softly to herself as she… All books were back on the shelf, cars and other toys in his toy box, and even his sleep toy (an elephant cuddly toy) that had he pulled out of the crib was back in his crib.

When she turned and saw me in the doorway, I lost it. I just started crying and gave her lots of hugs and thank yous for helping me.

“You cleaned baby brother’s room all by yourself. I didn’t even have to ask. That was so nice. Thank you so much.”

She beamed.

Then she cleaned her room, took off her clothes and came into the bathroom for her bath. I only had to ask once. I called Hubby. And cried.

Everything has been such a terrible battle of wills lately. No matter how many 5- and 2-minute warnings or kind but firm statements that it was time to (fill in the blank here), it was always resisted. I looked back and have to admit that I was also very busy, distracted with other things, and usually running late or out of patience. I was the problem.

By slowing down, giving the kids all my attention, and taking the time to connect with them through play, I discovered they’re very capable of doing what I ask when I ask it, as long as they’re feeling connected. I’m telling you, there really is something to this parenting method, and I can suck at it at times. But when I get it right, WOW!

Hubby got home late last night. He was off today and as I was getting ready to leave, I mentioned to him that the kids needed to brush their teeth once Mr. Man was done with breakfast. I kissed Sweetness and reminded her to help Daddy brush Mr. Man’s teeth. Then I left. I realized I forgot something and when I came back in, Sweetness was in the bathroom putting toothpaste on her toothbrush. No one asked her to brush her teeth. She was taking the initiative.

Needless to say, I had to fix my mascara before I could head back out the door.


Krista November 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Aww.. that’s so great. I can see the difference in my one-year-old on the nights when I’m just “with” her (ie. trying to keep her entertained while I cook dinner or clean up or whatever) and the nights when I’m giving her all my attention, playing with her and having fun. She has far less meltdowns and I feel much less ready for her bedtime when she’s getting all my attention. We have fun together and it’s amazing. I just wish it was easier to do that all the time. Unfortunately, when Craig works late, she has to play with tupperware or in my freezer while I cook. Sigh.

Twitter: Heligirl
November 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Hey Krista! Great to see you. Thanks for stopping by. I so loved the time to play with the kids and am making an effort to do it more. I did find that if I did that for a bit before making dinner, they were more content to play in the dining room, where they can see me, while I make dinner. I cracked up at your play in the freezer part. Sweetness is forever opening and closing the freezer (mine is on the bottom of my fridge too).

Momma Drama November 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

that’s wonderful. it really is. I would be bawling too! It’s easy to get wrapped up in every day things and argue with your kids. Or whatever – I argue with my 3 year old – battle of wills is right. Getting him to put his shoes on in the morning is ridiculous, but if I get a chance to do his mornings “perfectly” for him – he’s wonderful! Bribery with attention, happy sing-songy voices, and breakfast ready before he can ask (which is while he’s walking out of his room) is all it takes…

it just takes the simple things when they’re so little!

Twitter: Heligirl
November 12, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Yup. Sweetness is negotiating what she wants for breakfast before I’ve even changed that morning diaper. Man they’re a trip at this age. I’m glad you have the “bribery with attention” thing down. It sure wears me out some days.

Susan November 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Fabulous! Simply wonderful. You have discovered the magic key. If only we didn’t have a million other things to distract us. Are you familiar with mistaken goals? I think that when our little ones are little, they just want and need a lot of our attention. And when they don’t get it, they act up or act out.

I have found the same thing with my guy- the more attention the little man gets, the more pleasant he is. This past fall, he had a migraine (first ever). When I told him last week that I had a headache, he told me to go get in bed and rest. I was floored! He’s growing up so fast.
Susan recently posted: Jumping in With Both Feet

Twitter: Heligirl
November 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Oh Susan, that is so sweet! They are growing up fast. I can’t believe it. Sweetness also asks me if I’m OK when I hurt myself. They can be just so very sweet when they want to me. 😉

Carol @ Knee Deep November 12, 2010 at 7:45 am

That’s awesome. I wish I could attain similar results with my 4 year old. There’s hope, I know this, but at times I feel like the warnings and the logical consequences aren’t enough…
Carol @ Knee Deep recently posted: Thankful Thursday – Sweet Moments

Twitter: Heligirl
November 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I know exactly what you’re feeling. That was where I was until I stumbled on this. Now that Hubby is home, we’re trying something new. One of us gives total and complete attention to the kids from the time he gets home until bed (I’m doing as much as I can before hubby gets home). So far evening routines have been going a lot better. I’m also getting Sweetness up 5-10 minutes earlier so I can sit by her bed and chat with her, snuggle, and let her take her time, which makes the morning routine a little better (sometimes she is just in a mood and there’s nothing I can do). I hope you find the key that works for you. It’s so refreshing.

Twitter: solarchief
November 12, 2010 at 11:56 am

You’re going to have so many more of these days! Thanks for sharing… Come visit when you can…
SharleneT recently posted: Check Out Hotpantss Eight Answers on Rockin Reflections!

Twitter: Heligirl
November 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Hey Sharlene. I was just thinking about you. Yes, mame, I’ll be right over. What do you have in the oven for me today? 🙂 Thanks for the note. Yes, there are more days like this. For now. 🙂

Gayle November 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Hi there! That was great! I don’t know if it’s fatigue or the fact that I just had it out with my own “sweetness”, but that brought tears to my eyes. She’s growing up! I imagine she was so proud of herself for doing something that made you that happy. That’s a great lesson for her in this – learning just how wonderful it is to do something for someone else – all on your own. Thanks for making me smile. Now I’m off to get the HI trip from the beginning. 🙂

Twitter: Heligirl
November 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Awe, thanks for the note Gayle. Yes, she sure was proud of herself. Giving her lots of thanks and snuggles for her work made her feel extra special too. Here’s hoping she repeats the behavior lots and lots. 🙂

Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) November 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Oh, what a sweetheart! Just when you think you can’t handle anymore…she seems to get it and want to help out mommy. That would have made me cry too 🙂
Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) recently posted: Theta Mom Rocks

Twitter: Heligirl
January 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for visiting Dorothy!!
Heligirl recently posted: Mom Tip Monday- Encouragement Part 2

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