Last Thursday we had a nightmare day.
Scarlett was whinging and grizzling all day and wouldn’t go for a sleep, no matter how much I tried to put her to bed. By afternoon, she had progressed to screaming. So, I am ashamed to say, had I. Finally, at around 4:30 pm, after a desperate phone call to Daddy C and some deep breaths, I sat her on my lap with a muesli bar and she fell asleep almost instantly in my arms, exhausted.
The next day I went away for the weekend and I work Monday to Wednesday, so today was my first full day with her since then. She had been difficult for Dad over the weekend also, so I was afraid I was in for another day of tearing my hair out.
Well, it’s currently 3 pm and she has been wonderful all day. But the thing I’m sitting here trying to figure out is – has she been a happier baby today… or have I just been a better mum?
You see, I changed my approach today. I read a lot about gentle parenting. I completely agree with the idea that grumpy toddlers need you to recognise their needs with compassion, not to be disciplined for having emotions. I know that me getting stressed out only adds to the problem and will never solve anything.
So today I decided I wasn’t going to worry about getting anything done. If she got grumpy, instead of getting annoyed with her, I would get down on the floor and give her the attention she was asking for. And that is pretty much what I’ve done. There are toys all over the lounge room. The kitchen bench is covered in dishes. Anytime she was grizzling, I picked her up and read her a book, or sat on the floor and played with some toys.
Funnily enough, she has also been happier to go off and play on her own for short periods. Is that just because she is feeling happier today? Or is it because, with her need for love and attention met, she is satisfied and more able to spend some time on her own?
I tried to put her down for a morning sleep and she wasn’t having a bar of it. So instead of getting annoyed and stressed out and trying over and over again (a la last Thursday), I just accepted that she wasn’t ready to have a sleep, and got her up and read her a book instead, and then she wiggled off for another play. Finally, half an hour ago at about 2:30 pm, she became quiet on my lap and with little effort from me, fell asleep.
Last Thursday, when I was trying so hard to get her down for a nap – was it really because she needed a sleep? Or was it because I needed that cup of tea and half hour of silence? Was I really thinking about her needs – or about my own?
Today, when she wouldn’t go for a morning sleep – I just had my cup of tea anyway (sans silence :-P). I checked my Facebook while I gave her lunch. I gave up on the idea of a quiet cup of tea alone and accepted that I could fill my own desires while still putting her first and being present to her.
So have we had a better day today because she woke up feeling happier? Or has she been happier because I let go of how I wanted the day to go and instead focused on going with her flow?
I think it’s a combination of the two, to be honest. She definitely had woken up on the wrong side of the cot last Thursday, from the moment she got up. But I also handled it badly, and went to bed ashamed of the mother I had been that day.
Hopefully I will be going to bed a little happier tonight 🙂 And a little wiser, for having seen in action what I had long believed – that so often, it is not her that needs to learn the lesson, but me.