This post originally appeared at The Journey of Parenthood.
Have you had any big life changes recently? Moving? New baby? Death in the family? Just a lot going on? Those things all can take up your time. They can make you stressed.
They can impact your day to day life. The end result impacts your child as well.
Your child gets less attention when these big moments steal your time and your focus. Your child feels the mood changes if you are stressed.
Your child then begs for attention and starts acting out. You suddenly feel overwhelmed.
Not only are you dealing with huge things in your life right now, your child has chosen this time- this of all times, to start acting out. Well it’s no coincidence.
This is what is currently happening in our house right now. We are moving. It’s a big change. It is taking up tons of my time.
Selling a house, while trying to buy a new one is beyond stressful. I have pretty much hated everything about the process.
From the staging of our house and de-cluttering, to the getting kicked out of our house for showings and having to deal with inspections, etc.
It’s hard to say the least and it’s not something I ever want to do again if we can avoid it.
It’s catching up to our daughter.
The multiple showings caused us to lose all sense of our routine. We didn’t get to be home for naps.
We didn’t get to do our “normal” that our 3 year old is so used to. She was patient. She was understanding. She was even excited.
But those moments are gone. It has caught up to her and we are in the throws of emotion now with our passionate, strong willed little girl.
In my free moments I sit and give her my attention as much as I can. Then, something pulls me away.
My fabulous independent player is now turning to screaming and throwing fits if I have to stop playing with her. Why?
She wants more of my time. She wants things back to normal. Things will get there, but now is not that time. Not yet. So we are in putting out fire mode around here.
I can’t stop the tasks, the phone calls, the interruptions of our time. I can’t change that we have places to be and that our “normal” is very disrupted right now.
And I also can’t take any more of the screaming fits from our toddler.
So, here is what we are doing to combat the big life changes with our strong willed child:
1. Having special time
I am trying to have special play time with our daughter throughout the day. The times are short, but they are there.
My phone is put away and I am all attention on her. She misses me. That’s the root of the problem. So, the more I can give her (even if in small chunks), the less she’ll act out.
2. Staying consistent with our routine as much as we can
As we can, we are sticking to our routine. There are times we just can’t do it. But if we can, we plan to do our normal nap time, and all of our usual daily routines.
3. Staying consistent with our expectations and discipline
Just because there is a reason, and a good one at that, for her acting out- doesn’t mean we can go soft. We can give her a few more chances perhaps. We can be understanding.
But she can’t get away with screaming at me all day. She can’t get away with throwing her spoon across the room when she doesn’t like something.
Our expectations are the same. Our discipline is the same.
4. Reviving Independent Playtime
EVERY single time we run into road blocks like this with behavior, this is my go to. I am horrible at keeping up with strict and consistent independent play.
We are much more casual about our independent play on normal days. Our daughter does a lot of independent play. I just don’t physically make an effort to put her in her room and call it “independent play”.
But, when we get out of whack like this, making a formal effort helps to refocus her. This one tiny step helps tremendously.
So, we are back to daily independent play– and have gone back to formalizing it using her my tot clock and everything.
5. Ignoring the fits
As a mom, I have learned I am extremely patient at times, and then others I have little to no patience. I have no idea why the changes, but this is something I work on getting better at- consistency in my behavior.
Sometimes our daughter’s screaming fits get to me. They get to me and I yell back. I get upset and I take it personal.
Other times I ignore them and they don’t seem to affect me at all. I am always making an effort to not let them get to me, not lose my cool, and focus on ignoring.
Somehow, when I am the most stressed and the most busy, I can accomplish this better.
So, I’ve been managing this one pretty well right now. It is key that she doesn’t get attention (even negative attention) for her poor behavior.
6. Explaining as much as we can
Our three year old responds insanely well to understanding what is going on and why things are happening. We keep her in the loop. We update her.
We take the time (after she’s calm) to explain what behavior was unacceptable, what behavior is ok, etc.
We explain why our life is suddenly busy and our daily routines aren’t always perfect.
We explain that we are moving and will have a new house soon. We explain, explain, explain.
7. Taking time to myself
I am waking up early and having my coffee in peace. I am preparing for the long day ahead. I am taking the time to have my nice quite, warm shower in the evenings.
I am taking my me time so I can de-stress. The more I can let go, the happier I am, and the happier my family is as a result.
Tough times are just that- tough. Tough on everyone.
The process and event may be stressful and challenging, and on top of that family life gets hard as well.
It’s a domino effect. It’s to be expected.
But it can be handled, and it will be short lived. All will get back to normal. There is a new normal on the other side of this chapter.
We may not be through the door yet, but we can see it. It is right there and I know, in time, we will be on the other side.