Tantrums and Terrible Twos

For those of you who have followed my blog since my Little Bean was in the oven, you’ll know she is 17 months now. One month shy of being a year and a half. So many of you are thinking, well, she has got about 6 months until she gets thrown onto the emotional rollercoaster of her toddler, feels completely overwhelmed, and becomes a patient at a facility to overcome everything that takes place during the Terrible Twos. 

Well,  buckle up people, have I got some terrifying news for you.

The Terrible Twos don’t always happen when they’re two!

Apparently, children don’t give two flying fluffy ducks about milestones and schedules. They do what they want when they want and you just have to deal with it as their parents. All those timelines and studies they’ve done to give you a rough idea of when things with happen? Just chuck those right on out the window, you’re in Crazy Town now and there are no maps. Up is down, and up, and sideways, and backwards, and down is anything is wants to be but always stops at a screaming toddler who bites when they are frustrated despite your best efforts.

I started to notice my daughter had a bit of an attitude to her as soon as she started walking which was around her 1st birthday. I remember sitting there thinking “This is way too much attitude for this tiny little person”. 

Every day she gets a little more and with that, takes a little bit more of my sanity away.

The word ‘No!’ is a bullet in my house, laced with hormones that explode and go all through her body every time I have the audacity to say it. Once those hormones have reached every corner of her body, she screams, turns red, throws herself on the floor and just goes haywire.

In the beginning, I found myself stepping in right away, trying to soothe her and talk her through it. After a bit of time I noticed the more I did this, the more often those tantrums happened. I found myself stepping back, letting the tantrums run their course and telling her I would talk to her again when she was done.

Some days, she just isn’t done.

*SIGH*

I think the most frustrating thing for a parent is trying to figure out if this is right? Am I doing the right thing? In the back of your mind and in the depths of your heart you tell yourself that if you were, it would be easier, and that thought alone plagues you with a pang of guilt that some days is crippling. There are days when the tantrums are constant and as a parent, especially if you are home with your little all by yourself, you just feel like a failure.

Then you go to bed, wake up, and for whatever reason, your child decides to skip the tantrums all together that day and you fond yourself wondering what went wrong the day before.

Children have very little logic. What is fun to them one day may drive them to hysterics the next. What they refuse to eat becomes a favourite food overnight and those moods are just as unpredictable. The lack of communication between you and your toddler never feels too obvious as when they are just flipping their noodle and you are sitting there begging them to give you some sign of what is wrong.

What does this mean for us logical adults trying to parent to the best of our abilities? It means sometimes we have to bend a little for our sanity. I think people try and make parents out to be martyrs. You’re either doing it exactly like all the studies say, to hell with your own health, or you’re a bad parent.

To those people, I have a very special finger on each hand.

Maybe step away from the 100% organic, homegrown, ethical treats and give them a goldfish cracker if it means it gives you the time you need to regroup and catch your breath. Ignore that article about how screen time is no good for our kids (even though every kid from like the 50s was raised in front of the TV and are completely functional), and put on a movie you know will keep them entertained enough for you to wash your face, brush your teeth, and do whatever you need to do. Even if it is just to sit in silence without a clingy baby clawing at you and screaming.

DO IT FOR YOU!

A happy parent, is a happy kid and it is going to take a lot of effort to remain even functional, let alone happy when the waves of tantrums start to roll in… trust me, I have a new patch of grey hairs that will attest to this.

Comparison is a one way street to depression. Please, please, please, don’t look at the woman at the park with the kid the same age who is playing happily, grinning ear-to-ear while yours lashes out and kicks you while you try and load them back into the stroller. They have been there, or they are going to be. Just because they are not going through it right now, in front of your eyes, doesn’t mean they are a better parent than you.

We are all great mothers (and fathers)!

When the junky snacks, mindless programming, and bargaining doesn’t work just remember, THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY! 

However wrong they may have been by calling them Terrible Twos the one thing they did get right was that it isn’t going to last forever. Once your child is better able to communicate their needs with you and understand your responses to their requests (AHEM DEMANDS) it will get easier.

Hang in! Binge-watch shows while you are going to bed while cramming junk food in your mouth for your sanity, and maybe have a little cry every now and then. You just have to run out the clock…

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Filling Up Your Baby’s Day

A lot of people who know I am the mommy of a 4 month old baby think I have all the time in the world during the day to accomplish things for myself. It’s so easy for people who aren’t parents or who haven’t been through it to look at the statistics for what is normal for a 4 month old baby and think “Wow, they are only away for around four or five hours a day, you must have so much time!”

The most important thing to remember is that those are just numbers, ever baby is different. While there are some babies that achieve all their milestones on schedule, stick to the “norm” with weight gain and sleep schedules. My daughter doesn’t sleep as much as I would like during the day.

She tends to be awake now between 3-4 hours in the morning, she takes a nap in the late afternoon/ early evening and will be up from around 5:00pm until 10:30pm where she will take a catnap and be up until 1:00am. What does this mean? It means her sleep schedule is all over the map and those naps take place at times that make it difficult for me to do things I need to get done.

It also means that for a bulk of the day, she is awake and not sleeping.

Having a 4 month old isn’t just naps and feedings. It’s a lot of interaction. Every minute she is awake, her senses crave constant attention. She wants to be in different positions constantly. Lying on her back, on her tummy, sitting while slouching, sitting upright, standing… each position lasting a maximum of 10 minutes before she gets bored and wants another.

When we are not switching up positions we are switching up toys and activities. Although her favourite stuffed chameleon Pascal is constantly nearby, she often wants new textures, new colours, new sounds. It’s a street fair of constant activities, despite the small amount of sleep you got the night before.

Right now, my daughter is obsessed with her new Bright Stars Minnie Mouse themed jumperoo. We got ours from Winners for $79.99 CAD.

She really moves that her bouncing or the spinning of one of the toys activates the music and lights on the Minnie Mouse ears.

It’s also an awesome place to put her so I can take 5-10 minutes to enjoy a coffee or eat something. I am definitely adding it to the list of products that have helped me parent so far.

Our days are filled with story books, activity mats, diaper changes, breastfeeding, walks, jumperoo time. Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of down time. Her naps are usually on my chest, which limits any time for me to do things in that nap window.

When she is awake we are constantly moving, constantly engaging and trying to get her moving independently, stimulating her mind to grow alongside with her body.

Having a 4 month old is not just letting your baby lie around a sleep. It’s time consuming!

There are so many little things to keep your baby moving, and if you’re like me and going into the winter with a small baby, you are probably going to want to load as up the winter weather will restrict how much time you get to spend outside!

Recognizing Your Voice

At 27 weeks, if you have been talking to your baby enough it will recognize the sound of your voice and even react to it. That is what the pregnancy app I have on my phone told me, and I was a little skeptical at first.

Baby hears me all the time. Every time I open my mouth to talk, whether it’s to it’s tiny little ears or to the store clerk that sold me salsa, my little kiwi has to be hearing my voice, right? It’s not like I can press my lips up to my own belly and talk to my child.

Last night I was standing at the sink doing dishes when my husband got home from work. He did the usual thing he does when he comes home, he gave me a kiss, pulled up my shirt and said hello to our baby.

For the first time, our baby went wild! All the skin on my stomach seemed to move around, we could see my belly point and morph as our unborn baby wiggled around, all because my husband said Hello.

I couldn’t help my grin from spreading ear to ear.

Our baby knows him!

I genuinely think it’s the little things that keep up going through pregnancy. When there is a huge lump pressing out against your skin and you push it back only to realize it was the baby’s head, and baby turns and kicks you defiantly for the poking. When you play a song they react to, or eat something that gets them really moving. These are the things we need to hold onto when pregnancy seems a little too much to take.

This morning, when my baby started shadow-boxing my ribcage and I woke up in agony, it was hard for me to remember those moments. Harder still was it to hang onto the magic of being pregnant when I was hit with an overwhelming bout of nausea this morning that had me running to the bathroom every half hour. So between the throwing up, and being kicked by what I can only assume is a baby kangaroo in there at this point, my morning was looking very bleak and my mood was anything but pleasant.

As I spend my second consecutive day on the couch with little to no plans of moving due to the discomfort in my belly and the overly sensitive old belly-button piercing (the old scar tissue is also being stretched ouch!) I try to remind myself that in a few hours my husband will come home, he will give me my usual kiss, and then one for the baby before he says Hi and our little kangaroo kicks with more vigor than I thought it could muster.

No one is here but me and my pup today, and thank goodness I don’t have to pretend to be loving this when it’s just us. I am going to curl up beside him (he likes to be little spoon) and we are going to be couch hobos for the rest of this rainy Sunday.

Serenading My Baby

For the past few weeks my baby has been moving non-stop, but not in any way I could control. We are playing tag with the little kiwi, trying to spot visual movement from the outside, or get some forceful kicks when daddy gets home from work, but just as our baby was endlessly stubborn during our ultrasounds trying to find out the gender, the stubbornness continued.

One day, while lying on the couch with my belly hanging out lounging in my underwear, I thought to myself ‘Maybe if I play baby some music, I can get this little bean moving.’

But what to play?

My husband and his family are HUGE Phil Collins fans, his father played it for them when they were kids, and it stuck with all three boys even now into adulthood. He joked that if there was anything to get our baby moving, it would be Phil Collins.

I have to admit, I tried a few things at first. Some classic lullabies, some of my own favourites.

Nothing.

Still as can be, not even a flutter of movement. With a sigh and a smile, I put on some Phil Collins. You’ll Be In My Heart. It is one of my favourite Phil Collins songs since I was a kid watching Tarzan and thought the lyrics were so appropriate.

The intro played, and baby was still. Then he started singing and my phone flew away from my tummy where it had been pressed. I couldn’t stop laughing. I placed the phone back where it was, holding it in place this time and let the song play through.

There was a dance party going on in my belly. Kicking and rolling, punches. I laughed all the way through the song and then switched to another song, not by Phil Collins to see if it was just a coincidence. Baby went still again.

Eyebrow raised, I played the same song again. There goes the dance party.

It’s become our night-time routine. Playing You’ll Be In My Heart a few times over while I relax on the couch and watching my baby react to the music. My hope is that when the baby is born and having those stubborn nights, when my husband and I are ragged and a moment away from sobbing from exhaustion, we will remember how our little kiwi reacted in my belly to that very song and sing it to our baby together. I hope it will bring our baby some peace, and lull them back to sleep so my husband and I can cry quietly in our room and wonder what the hell we were thinking doing all this in the first place.

Hey, I am not a delusional person. I know it is going to be rough. There will be tears! More from the two of us pretending adults and struggling new parents than from the baby!

Hopefully it works the way I am thinking it will, otherwise it will be the song that plays while I sob and rock myself in the corner of the bedroom when everyone else is asleep. I guess we will find out exactly how things will play out later.

Don’t worry, I will keep everyone updated!