After at least 5 kiss attacks, she now goes potty on her own, brushes her teeth and checks on Chompers for me. She will either yell "Mommy he's awake!" or come back and tell me softly that he's still sleeping. Then, I scoop him up and put him in her bed. As I go downstairs, I hear her chatting away with him and if I'm lucky, a coo or a squeal in response. Then, I fix him a bottle, grab myself a zero carb Monster energy drink (I know, I know) and a cup of milk for her. Unprompted, she always has to "cheers" his bottle, and we all cuddle in bed, joined by Trevi, Bonnie and Clyde. Then I brush her hair, pick out her clothes and then she dresses herself.
|Finally, some colder weather!|
Mornings weren't always this smooth. Toward the beginning of the month, I had to ask her several times to go potty after she woke up and sometimes I needed to raise my voice, which I don't like doing. Brushing her hair always elicited tears, and she only brushed her teeth when prompted by me and I dressed her. The idea of returning to work seemed insurmountable with me doing so much for her, and with her requiring so much prompting.
So, we started some layered reinforcements using this chore chart that I purchased on Amazon. When she completes one of these tasks, she gets to put the magnetic star on the board, which she enjoys, and I will sometimes give her an M&M as an immediate reinforcer We review the chart at the end of the day and if she has collected enough stars, she receives a token she can turn in the next day for TV time. When she completes a week's worth, she receives a small toy usually valued at $5. Her first pick? An Elsta Girl doll which we found on sale for $9.
But what about when she doesn't listen? That was mostly just the first day. Right now, Daddy is the enforcer, though I do need to be able to do this when he's not home. On day one, she was fantastic for half the day, until nap time. After nap, she didn't want to take off her pull-ups and use the potty. I gave her several prompts, even going upstairs to get ready for our nightly walk and she was still laying on the bean bag when I came back down. So I told her one more time that she needed to go do it or I would "get Daddy." Her response was "I don't want to" and so, unfortunately, I had to follow through. Daddy was summoned, and he carried her into the bathroom. She started wailing and asking for me. Then she started crying "Mommy! Mooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyy." Separately, we repeated the expectations. Nada.
Now comes the tough part: Waiting it out. The worst thing you can do mid-meltdown is give in, though you probably really want to. I know I did. But this only reinforces the behavior and teaches them to escalate the next time they don't get their way. Dad closed the door and stood in front of it so she couldn't run to me. Inconsolable, she refused to remove her pull-ups and go potty. She started asking me for a hug, which I have asked her in the past when she's upset or having a meltdown because of this article. Calmly, my husband told her she would get one from me as soon as she was finished. More crying. After what felt like an eternity but was really only 10 minutes, he cradled her, lightly wrapping his arms around her. This was so adverse that she started saying "I do it! I do it!" and wriggled free to use the potty.
Within moments, she was in my arms and calming down. On the walk, my husband made it a point to reconnect with her, asking if she wanted to go on his shoulders, sharing an orange and telling her several times that he loves her. Now when I threaten to "get Daddy" she knows it is not an empty threat. Not once did he hit her, but blocking her exit and not allowing her to seek me out was extremely effective.
Prior to this, her behavior was not bad, but it needed a tune-up. She now takes pride in doing these tasks on her own and being rewarded, freeing me from what was starting to sound an awful lot like nagging. Hopefully, it is instilling work-ethic and some independence in her too.
This month we also took a step back from television and screen time, never turning it on before noon. Did I write never? Okay, not usually. I also made a concerted effort to spend more unstructured time outdoors; either at the creek that we walk to, in our backyard, or in the wilderness outside our back gate. Putting TV on for her has always seemed like the easy way out and has never felt good to me. Lately, it started creeping back in with more frequency. I was inspired by this family who blogged about their year outdoors in which they spent at least 3 hours outside every day. She still asks for TV, and I do let her watch at least one movie every week, but my response is now more likely to be "Not right now. Would you like to go make some more mud pies?"
This month was filled with family, our first Thanksgiving in our new home, our 5th wedding anniversary and my husband's birthday. Grandma met Big Man for the first time, and we went to Wolf Hotel with her and the cousins. My husband's father came to stay with us for a bit for knee replacement surgery and will be here with us through the new year.
She is continuing her weekly classes at St. Vincent de Paul, which she attends by herself now, giving me an hour and a half each week to kill with just baby. It's not enough time to drive home, so I usually sit in the parking lot or nearby coffee shop and work on my faith, by reading.
I'm still trying to lose my baby weight, and have at least 15 pounds to go. Since I know these will be the toughest, I signed up for a half marathon in March to hold myself accountable. The farthest I've been post-baby is 4 miles, and I'm planning to bump that up in December to at least 6-8. I usually run with both kids in the double BOB, and have taught A to say "Mush Mommy!" when I slow down. Occasionally, I will sneak out for a three-mile run when hubby, baby and A are all napping and it's a real treat to not push that beast!
Things I don't want to forget:
- Asking her "Why are you such a good girl?" and hearing her say "Because I love you!"
- The feeling of picking him up out of his crib around 4am and kissing his cheeks and his neck.
- How he soothes himself by sucking on his left pointer finger and rubbing his head with his right hand.
- "When I grow up I'm going to have a girl and name her Megan for you!"
- Her asking me "Why do you love Daddy?" followed by "How did you meet?"