Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sweep and Repeat

Where was your life three years ago? My friend Dani was half of a DINK (Dual Income No Kids) couple and celebrating her new pregnancy. Today, she is a weary mom of a toddler. She is in that time frame where minutes feel like years. She spends her days dealing with poo, time-outs, food throwing and tantrums. To say the least she is feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated. I asked her if she could believe how fast Baby had grown and she immediately became doe eyed and said, “No! It goes so fast!” I laughed. Not five minutes before she was saying how she didn’t think it would ever end. 

Moms, listen up. The minutes feel like years, but the years go by like seconds. Don’t rush the preschool years. Look at them like your pregnancy. It was a hard nine months, but you got a beautiful baby at the end of it. You are not a weenie. Rise to the challenge. You can do anything for 4 years, right? There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I promise it is not the train coming to get you. Wake up with a sense of purpose and a plan. Tantrums are character building opportunities. Time outs are how you build self-discipline. The proper placement of poo will not always rule your day. 

How do you make this shift? How do you start approaching your day with purpose and joy? The first step is to establish realistic expectations. Your child is not behaving badly; your child is completely unaware of how to behave until you have taught him. Do not feel defeated or shocked when your 2-year old has to be told repeatedly to not throw his food. This is expected. This is normal. Educate yourself on how to change this behavior and dig in. Your child is not trying to make your life miserable and he will not respond well to a parent that seems angry and frustrated.

For example, when your child throws food from the table you can take his hand, squeeze it and in a gentle but authoritative voice say, “No no. Food is not for throwing.” Then, move the food out of his reach. He loses the choice to feed himself if he throws the food. Eventually the child’s desire to feed himself will be greater than his desire to throw the food. This lesson will not be learned in 1, 5, or even 30 meals but I promise you that you will not still be feeding your 1st grader by spoon. 

These are not glamorous life lessons, but they are necessary. Expect it to be tedious. It is OK to admit that it is frustrating to your spouse and friends, but that little darling covered in yogurt should feel as if you have spent your whole life preparing for the moment you would teach him table manners. Your child wants to please you and wants to learn. He can’t help it that he is starting out with zero experience. His resume is blank. 

When you need perspective look ahead three years. In three more short years you will be the mother of a school-age child who is at school more than he is awake at home. Your time is limited. Your time is priceless. Do not wish it away. Now, go sweep up the food under the high chair... again. ;)


  1. I LOVE THIS!!!! I've always enjoyed your insights when we're just chatting away in the driveway, and I'm so glad your writing your nuggets of wisdom down and sharing it! Keep it up! Your #1 follower! ;)

  2. Awe, how awesome! I look forward to reading your posts! :)

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