Parenting is hard, part 312 of 1,290.

I think, honestly, I am good at a lot of things. Unfortunately, I am not sure parenting is one of them. Especially between the hours of 7-8 am and 5-6 pm. Not to mention bedtime…

Any tips from parents who found ways to make these parts of the day a bit easier to manage? How can I improve things for the whole household? I’d prefer to keep my job, if at all possible.

Do I say, “Nope, this the the bowl you’re using for cereal this morning, and I’m not washing the one you just had to use last night.” Or, do I sacrifice a bit of sleep and wash it up the night before? (That’s not foolproof, of course, because who really knows what bowl will be THE bowl for the day? And, obviously, this is one tiny example–the day is filled with similar scenarios.)

And really, the question is, do you work to prevent tantrums during these parts of the day, or do you just suffer through them and hope that they soon realize crying isn’t going to accomplish anything? (Anything other than causing their parents to quietly question their own sanity, I mean.)

I’ve always thought parenting was work, but it usually seems manageable. I am starting to question that, and I worry it will only get worse.

Help us, experienced parents. What can we do better?

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nicky on January 27, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I lean towards “No, I’m not washing your favorite mug right now. You used it yesterday and it’s not clean yet.” If Colin is tired, it can lead to a tantrum. I put him in his bed and tell him he can come out when he feels better. “I can’t hear you when you’re screaming, I don’t understand what you’re saying unless you talk nicely.” Oh, but buy earplugs. Seriously, it helps on the non-stop tantrum days.
    Try to make sure they sleep and eat enough (easy to say, not always to do). Colin is always set off if he’s tired or hungry. (And then when it’s breakfast time, he says he’s not hungry but I know he’ll have a tantrum if he doesn’t eat. So I bribe him with something he really likes, like raisins or pink yogurt.) Dinner time is usually horrible too, if I’m trying to cook and can’t pay attention to them. Dinner-prep was usually Colin’s 2nd 30-minute PBS show, but lately he’s been looking through an old jewelry box of (mostly) costume jewelry. He’ll spend an hour a day doing that lately.
    Bedtime has been better for us lately… Colin isn’t napping most days so he passes out instead of getting out of bed 500 times. We tried many things, most lost effectiveness after a week or so. (Taking away TV, stuffed animals, giving a nightlight, book, taking them away again when he got out…) The past month or so I’ve been giving him lotion on his hands. He likes it cause it’s “grown-up” and he just keeps his hands curled up cause he doesn’t want to touch anything and wipe the lotion off. So, less wiggling in bed and getting out. It might help a little.
    Good luck! Being a parent is hard, but you care so you’re better than many parents out there! Nobody is perfect, there are many days where I yell too much and don’t feel like reading one more kids’ book, but as long as the good outweighs the bad, that’s what they’ll remember. Lmk if you find anything that works for the rough times, I can always use new ideas!

  2. Posted by Nicky on January 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Oh, and I’ve heard that having 15-20 minutes of cuddles, books, or playing right after you get home from work/school can be helpful. A winding-down period before plunging into dinner activity can prevent some tantrums (so say the books, anyway).

  3. Posted by Rebecca's Mom on January 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Having experienced the “choose — and fight over — the favorite bowl (plate, cup)” issue over the holidays at our house, I vote for the disposable paper bowls and plates from your local party store in their current obsession; i.e., princesses, Dora, Sesame, Cars, Tinkerbell, etc. Set them out on the counter and without exchanging words, each chooses her favorite and you go on from there. That worked well here. Slightly expensive, but they go in the trash after breakfast and you don’t have to wash them or load them into the dishwasher.

  4. Posted by Chuck on January 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Sometimes saying “Yes”…but with conditions works pretty well. Leading off w a “yes” sets a more positive tone. While the conditions keep your kids from walking all over you.

    Regarding your bowl example, you could say yes, but tell the child she needs to wash it first. Of course having your child wash it herself will be more work than you washing it for her. But it sends a better message than caving to her demands. And if you say “no” then you have the emotional effort of ignoring tantrums. I would rather help the child wash the bowl.

    Or say “yes, but you will have to eat out of a dirty bowl”. I know that sounds gross, but it sends a powerful message and she will survive.

  5. Posted by Rebecca on January 27, 2011 at 11:04 am

    It is starting to seem like earlier wake-up calls might be part of the solution–these ideas seem to suggest the need for more time in the mornings. Really, though, should it take more than 90 minutes to get everyone out of the house in the morning?

  6. Posted by Karyl on January 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    When I was growing up, if I complained about anything like that, I did not get to eat. There was no bargaining. I had no choices – I ate what I was served, and if I did not like it, I did not get to eat anything else. Go hungry a few times, and you get more cooperative. I did draw the line at oatmeal, liver and onions and canned spinach. I would rather starve. And, I cannot tell you how many times I heard about all the starving kids in China. I used to get spanked though, and the threat of that kept my mouth shut most often. I know this does not help at all – I think our kids grew up on spaghettios, peanut butter and chicken noodle soup, served on plain corelle plates or bowls. Maybe I should send the few remaining ones home with you!

  7. Posted by Laura on January 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Mealtimes can be so frustrating at our house already, I can’t wait to encounter this stage! I hope you find a solution, and then I hope you pass it on to those parents who will be hitting these bumps soon enough : )

  8. Posted by Nicky on January 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Oh, it takes us at least 90 minutes in the morning. Colin’s preschool is 5 minutes away and starts at 8:30, and if he’s not up by 7:00 we’re crunched for time. 6:30 is even better. But he goes to sleep around 7:30 or 8:00, so he’s getting enough sleep.

  9. Posted by Laura on January 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I’m embarrassed to say that unless I wake up 2.25 hours before my baby-sitter comes, I’m not ready to leave when she arrives. Granted, we’re still changing diapers and dressing the girls, and we still have to prepare breakfasts that they can feed themselves (rather than giving them a bowl of cereal), but it still seems like an enormous amount of time just to get everyone ready for the day.

  10. No one added…yes, it does get worse. Enjoy these days when you still have control.

  11. […] course, everyone seems to love posts in which I am a little too honest… Seriously. You guys like those. A […]

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