I recognize a bunch of you from the BWing, BFing and CDing forums! For those of you I have not interacted with before, I'm Mel, I have two children 2 1/2 and 15 months. I WOTH three days a week and am a WAHM two days a week.
I feel like I want to be an AP parent, but am having such a hard time with parts of it that I'm just not sure if I do belong here or not. I've been lurking for awhile but finally decided to post. I'm totally on board with the BW, BF and CD stuff. I'm having three issues I need help with, So talk me through it please??
#1 My sleeping issue is with my daughter, 15 months. As an infant she either co-slept or was in our room in her pack n' play. When she reached 12 months we attempted to transition her to her own room. that actually went fairly well. About 4 weeks ago we tried moving her in with her brother into the same room. Ideally we'd like for them to be in the same room for a long time. I think there is a lot of good in children sharing bedrooms. Anyway, we still co-sleep for a couple hours a night when she wakes up between 11 and 1am. I'm just getting to the point where am feeling run down because I'm not getting enough sleep. I might be able to sleep longer if we co-slept longer, but DH is NOT on board. He's really wanting to try CIO when she wakes up at night. I'm looking for some sort of compromise between myself and DH - any advice? I'm not okay with CIO and he's not okay with co-sleeping all night. And what we are doing is not good for any of us.
#2 Second issue is that I'm having major problems with not listening, defiance, hitting, pushing and no's with my 2 1/2 year old son. I'm finding myself losing my patience too often, yelling and I've even spanked a couple times now. I HATE myself when I do these things. My son is what I would call "spirited". One of those kids who is into everything, no fear, extremely independent, almost what you would call "wild". He's a handful. My friends who have kids similar in age kind of look at Ethan and go "whoa!" I really don't have many "rules", no hitting, pushing and safety issues like staying away from the oven, not throwing water on the bathroom floor (slipping hazard) etc. We have created a mostly "yes" atmosphere in the house. Put away all the breakables, even moved some furniture out etc. I try to keep him engaged with art projects, reading, activities outside the home etc. He's a DREAM child when we go to other people's houses or out to the store. He's pretty great when he's at daycare as well. It's at home that he's trouble. Part of the problem is that it's winter here and we can't get out enough to play outside. I can't afford to do one of those gymnastics classes or something like that either. Anyway - how do you handle a spirited child when they are breaking rules that you are adamant about??
#3 Last thing that I'm having trouble with is because of #1 and #2. I'm stretched really thin. I feel like I'm always doing everything for my kids and husband and that I don't get enough sleep or time to myself. Yet, I'm feeling unappreciated and like I'm giving too much lately. At the same time both children are demanding more of ??? no idea what they need more of, but I feel like I'm doing everything wrong? How do you find balance with yourself? The only time I do have to myself is evenings 5 days a week. I work two evenings and during nap times for my work at home job.
I'm sorry this is such a novel! today was one of the worst days of my life. I felt like a total failure as a parent. Please help me to understand AP parenting better! I want to be a better parent for my children, I just don't know how!
First of all, let me say that, it's not like you have to 100% follow some set of rules, or not do any of it at all. Take what fits, and use it, and for everything else, find another solution- even if it isn't wholly AP. Who cares? There are no AP police out there that will come fine you!
Secondly, if you've been reading recent posts on this board, you know that I am having a really hard time right now with a lot of the same issues with my DD (22 mos). I think we could call her a wild child too. I haven't actually found the answers yet, but, I'm working on it. And the fact that you're here asking for help and trying to work on it as well, is the biggest sign of being a good parent. You're not perfect (none of us are), but you're doing your best and trying to make it all work for you and your family- that really IS what counts.
One of my best friends (who by the way just became a mother on 2-2 to a little boy- so I'm dying to see how he handles things eventually) was a preschool/toddler teacher for a long time. Once when I was complaining about DD just destroying everything (and often in a breaking the rules kind of way) she commiserated that she remembers this one year that she worked in a toddler room they literally had to develop a curriculum that was basically called, "Constructive destruction". It's the nature of the beast to some extent... anyway... I don't know that this helps at all.
Yesterday we gave DD a roll of tape- and she pulled and taped and made a whole big mess out of it, but, she had a lot of fun, and I think it gave her a feeling of getting to do something she might not otherwise really be allowed to do...and therefore kept her out of other stuff. Of course, that was only for 30 minutes of a 12 hour day... but... anyway... I obviously don't have any direct answers for you, but, I do know how you feel!
For the sleeping- any chance you and your DH could do separate rooms for a while... if you think you can sleep just fine with DD, and you both get sleep, but he needs her not in the bed... it could work. I know when we were night-weaning our DD, DH went to sleep in another room for a couple week, because he works full time and couldn't be bothered with the many wake ups that were happening at night. It really was ok. And the thing is, of course, you can always remember that it's not permanent, the baby will eventually STTN on her own... but, you really do have to do what actually WORKS right now, instead of sticking to some arbitrary principle of how things "should be".
Oh, one thing I will say that I just read as an alternative to time-outs or naughty steps or corners is to hold a child. Basically, you put them in a bear hug kind of hold so that they are stuck and cannot continue whatever behavior they were doing. You may have to hold them quite hard in the beginning as they resist, but... what this shows the child is, I still love you (I'm not shoving you away to be by yourself), but I need you to stop this behavior. As soon as they calm down, you are already right there, and then you can tell them what happened, and why you needed to stop them. And the end result is that they feel supported/loved even when they are learning about things that they cannot/should not do. This approach appealed to me. Maybe it could work for you too?
Mara & Joel, 2009
Hi Mel! Like Mara said, there's no AP law book. When I first heard of the parenting style I thought there was no way I could do it because I work full time. Turns out I can (or at least I think I can ... the AP police haven't busted down my door yet).
I'm not comfortable with CIO either but for us changing DDs sleep habits did involve a bit of crying. Like I said, I work full time. I was suffering mentally and physically with DD's frequent wake-ups and all night nursing. We had to end co-sleeping in order to improve mine and DH's sleep and to make us happier more willing parents during the day. I've been putting her down in her room since she was about a year but then she'd come into bed with us when she first woke. We did a modified Jay Gordon method to get DD to sleep in her own room through the night. I started by gradually cutting back on the amount of time I was allowing DD to nurse each time she woke up. When her time was up I popped her off and comforted her back to sleep. It took a few nights of whining and a little screaming but she was down to just waking up 1-2 times and nursing quickly. I was there comforting her the whole time so I felt it didn't violate what I despise about CIO. Then, when we were ready, we took the plunge. When she woke, I disappeared into her room and DH took her into our room. He dealt with her the rest of the night. She screamed at him for a good hour the first night. But he was there the whole time for her. The next night, she screamed for less time. The third night, she whined for a few minutes. The fourth night, she STTN in her room! We're on night 4 of STTN!! We're all much happier now. I'm refreshed when I wake up and more than happy to nurse her for 30-40 minutes when she wakes in the morning. I wish we'd been able to do it without any crying but we did it in a way that we're both OK with.
As for balance, I'm still looking for that myself!
Mara, that's interesting about the bear hugs. I think I sort of do that.
Thanks ladies! I feel better about all of it! I ended up re-reading a ton of material about APing and as soon as I re-thought some of the things we were doing I realized we were "rushing" and "not giving choices" and being a little "dictatorship" in our approach. Switched that up the next day and we are on day 3 of DS being GREAT! I love it! He's still having trouble with sharing but that's totally normal and I'm okay with that. It was the hitting and pushing and yelling that was getting to me! I was also forgetting to acknowledge his feelings instead of saying "it's okay" which always backfires! And because DS is doing better I'm feeling less stressed and stretched. Now if DD would sleep like she did last night (only one wakeup at 12:30am)!
Oh, just a quick note - DS is a unique kid, the bear hug when he's tantruming is a TOTAL backfire. Sends him into a worse fit. We've learned to sit next to him, maybe touch his leg, but never restrain him because he's really sensitive to that. I loved that idea but didn't work for us.
Glad you're doing better! And I think your point about the bear hug is a good one, because it so shows how one approach will NOT work for everyone- but your idea of sitting next to him, I think still follows the same idea, because you're not making him go away to another room or corner or whatever by himself.
Also, I have to say, sharing is SO not developmentally appropriate for a 2 year old. I think it's one of the worst myths perpetuated by our society- this whole trying to get toddlers to share. I understand that it can be a tough one, especially when you're with other kids, but...if we all accepted that sharing isn't really normal until kids are a bit older, maybe we wouldn't label kids that don't share as bad kids or whatever, and everyone would get over it. Anyway... that's just my two cents on that... I wouldn't worry about it!
But seriously, glad you're feeling more centered and better about the whole situation!
Mara & Joel, 2009