One of the things that has been really valuable to my parenting toolbox this month is being really attentive to what actions or parts of the day cause moments of stress for me and/or Ascher.
For example, there are the basic baby problems of hunger, tiredness, boredom, temperature and diapers. I’ve been working with those for a while now and they’re mostly pretty easy to recognize and act on. Wilona’s needs are in this more simple stage still.
At this point Ascher’s problems are all of the above and frequently in combinations that can’t be fixed with a single action. If Wilona is hungry and tired I can nurse her and she’ll go to sleep. For Ascher, if I realize he’s hungry once I’ve started trying to get him down for his nap all the wishful thinking in the world isn’t going to get him to sleep. Even if we’re both tired I have to get us up and get him a snack and the sooner it happens the less stress we’ll both have.
Along the same lines – if I try to get him to sleep and realize he’s not ready yet I have two choices. I can repeatedly lay him back down over and over and over until we’re both stressing out and frustrated and still not sleeping or we can get up and go have fun until he is ready to sleep.
I’ve also been trying to remember that some actions are just boredom needing redirected and trying to give “yes” alternatives when I find myself saying no repeatedly. No, you can’t throw toys at your sister, but let’s throw these balls into this box. No, you can’t get in the pantry, but here is your drawer of kitchen things, etc.
My most recent realization is that it really matters to him that I do what I say I’m going to do. if I say we’re going to go get a snack then we need to go get a snack. It’s not just if I were to say that we’re going to get a snack and then I do nothing. Obviously that’s straight up lying to the poor kid. I’m talking about if I tell him we’re going to go get a snack and then on the way to the kitchen, I straighten couch pillows, gather laundry, drop it in the laundry room and restart the dryer.
I know it’ll only take a minute and that I’m fully intending to feed the boy, but all Ascher sees is me doing anything but getting him a snack and he has no idea how long it will take. So he starts whining and fussing, reminding me that he’s starving and needs help and in the back of my head I start getting frustrated because “this’ll only take a minute, why are you so worried?” which can lead to unnecessary mama grump.
Right now, when they’re small, I need to be establishing mama trustworthiness. They need to know that I’m going to do what I tell them I will. And right now, they need to see me being exactly honest with what I tell them because I want them to trust me later, when things aren’t so simple seeming. Obviously there is a time and place to be training them for patience and later in their lives task efficiency will be encouraged, but right now, there is less stress for all of us if I focus on doing what I told them I would, without detours.