Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Toddlers, Tantrums & Mummy’s Sanity

We've just got back from a week away visiting family in the Home Counties where we used to live before moving to France and then settling here in the West Country. It’s always lovely to catch up with everyone although recent visits have been tinged with some sadness as Mum is no longer there to give us her wonderful, healing hugs. But this visit seemed easier somehow and didn't feel quite so sad, which has helped my heart heal just a little bit more.

We had planned to pop up in our caravan but the minus 7 temperatures at night put paid to those plans. It’s one thing having 2 adults huddling under a duvet in a rather nippy caravan, but it’s quite another with a 2 & 6 year old in tow. We therefore hired a small converted dairy barn and snuggled in there instead for the duration.

Whenever we are in new surroundings with the girls it always takes time to find the lay of the land; where the accident prone areas are and how much of a free reign we can give the girls. I hate that first half hour. It doesn't help when the first thing you spy is a square “glass” table in the lounge with the sharpest edges you have ever seen. Flash backs to holidaying in France with Belle head butting one similar came to mind far too quickly on arrival at our new destination.

The kids as always are excited, you are tired from the journey, apprehensive, clucking around everyone like a hen with no head, trying to make sure that everyone stays in one piece whilst trying to unpack, make tea, and get everyone to bed safely, fully aware that tonight you won’t be getting much sleep at all. Not that I get much sleep anyway. Sleep deprivation is my middle name and has been for 7 years now! Anyone wish to challenge me for the title?

Toddlers are a loose cannon at the best of times aren't they? Wild, free-spirited and feisty to say the least, and our little lovely is full of herself and pushing boundaries constantly. It can be exhausting trying to keep up (particularly for a 40 year old!) and as she has donned herself the nickname “The Thug”, from targeting her big sister (Belle has actually made the word “thug” a verb! “Mummy, Tink has just thugged me again!” Bless her) we really seem to have our work cut out for us at the moment.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Within 15 minutes of arriving at our new abode for the week, the girls had managed to ruck with each other and Tink came off worse in the scuffle. Just what you need after a 3 hour journey! Oh and the tantrums kept coming during our week away and on our way home. In fact the one in the car driving home topped everything we had witnessed thus far, but when you are confined to a tin box on wheels, stuck in a traffic jam with a toddler who refuses to go to sleep despite the fact that they really do need to, it makes for a rather emotive and eventful 2-3 hours home.

Belle was never really a tantrumer. She had her moments, but I was always able to get down to her level, talk to her, find a compromise, give her choice, alleviate her frustration and we could move forward together, two happy bunnies. Not with Tink ! No, it’s Tink’s way or the highway ! Mmmm not sure this is the ticket I bought but hey, we’ll give it our best shot. Having 2 or more kids with any age gap is never easy. We have 4 ½ years between ours and it causes copious amounts of arguments between the girls as Tink thinks she has a right to everything of Belle’s and Belle, quite rightly at times, disagrees.

Trying to keep the peace at the moment when tantrums ensue seems to have eluded me. I was doing so well with just one, but now having acquired a rather lovely “butter wouldn't melt” minx in our midst I’m lost as to how to cope at times. All the tried and tested techniques we used with Belle have all but failed. If her mind is set on something then she’ll fight to the death to get her way. No amount of reasoning, compromising, suggesting, empowering, you name it-ing works and I’m now beginning to flounder as to where I go with it all. I think an SOS call to “Toddler Calm” is called for as we've exhausted all options here. There are times when little Tink is willing to listen and we find a way through, but if the girls are both together and emotions are running high for both of them and Mum too, it makes for a very messy situation. So what to do?

I’m really stuck for ideas at the moment, so I’m going to ask you, my readers for your input & wise words. Any pearls of wisdom you may like to share? We've tried most of the things we did with Belle which always worked. I know that we have been through a very emotional time over the past 2 years and I’m sure that this hasn't helped our situation. The girls are very spirited individuals who know their own minds and I encourage that passion and energy. But I would just love to be able to keep some level of calm in place at those difficult times when emotions run high, allowing me the chance to address everyone’s wants and needs within our family unit.

So my lovelies, anyone have any suggestions you think may help? I’d love you to share them with this tired Mum of two in need of some peace within her ranks? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts xx Until next time xx


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6 comments:

  1. I completed a really good early years parenting course last year. Really useful strategies for managing tantrums ranging from ignoring behaviour, calm down time, special time and rewards. My two little ones also have rucks and my daughter is the thug of the pair. I feel your pain x

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    1. Thanks Karen xx I did the Incredible Years parenting course whilst pregnant with Tink. It was a great help but I'm struggling past what I have in my toolbox with her. She's so head strong ! Thanks for sharing your pearls xx

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  2. I only have one child but I have witnessed with family members with two children that sometimes the second is like starting again, especially if the second child has a head strong personality as is your case so I really think you are not alone in this.
    My boy was very head strong and I had to often time him out or completely remove him from situations because he was often hell bent on doing dangerous things and wanting to be completely independant at all times!
    All I can say was that we had some tough times but came through it the other side and now he is four and a half and can be reasoned with. Also because of the age gap your children have very different needs so don't be afraid to split them up at times and treat them differently, I think people often feel that the family should be together and be harmonious all the time and that often isn't going to be the case with siblings, so maybe have a designated time where your eldest gets some space to entertain herself or play with friends or family and you can focus a bit more on the youngest who at that age is still struggling to control their emotions and are still very dependant on you. Ana x

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    1. Hello Lovely Ana xx It's so much more straight forward with one. I find the hardest times are when they are together. Tink is fine with me one-on-one and when I'm fully focused on them both it's not too bad, but if I have to make tea, have something that needs doing and I leave them, it's not long before war breaks out and tantrums ensue. I know this can be normal for a lot of people. I find attending to both their needs when emotions run high tough. Belle feels left and misunderstood and Tink just "kicks off" ! Time Outs or ignoring have never worked for me or the kids. I find staying with Tink is best until she has calmed down but then Belle feels abandoned. As a Mum you sometimes feel as if all your efforts still fail don't you? As you say, it will pass. Just a phase. I think having had such a difficult time over the past year or so, some calm would be nice ;0) xx

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  3. I feel your pain, we are the stage where we have all out wars here, it's so exhausting managing behaviour all day and keeping your eyes peeled in case of any major clash. I'm hoping it will calm a little (although it probably won't) or at least not be quite so terrifying once the two little ones catch up to their big brother in size. Congrats on the showcase by the way! #PoCoLo xx

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    1. Hi Xandi - Lovely to meet you xx Toddlers really love to push boundaries don't they? But that shows character and I wouldn't want to suppress that, however, like you I find it all very exhausting ! My hardest time is at the end of the day when emotions are running high, everyone's tired and the girls are re-fuelled after their tea. They then seem to get a new lease of life and are like 2 duracell bunnies running around ! And that's without sugar ;0) I admire your staying power with 3 and twins too ! You are braver than I. I keep telling myself that it is just a phase they have to go through and before we know it they'll all be grown up and no longer our babies. Parenting is the toughest job I reckon and the most challenging. Sending you a huge hug lovely lady xx

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