It was the ump-tenth time I’d fought my son to take a nap, after a long day at school in the heat and running around with his friends, he just didn’t want to sleep; he wanted to play and jump and dance. As I headed up the stairs for the last time, I was slightly upset that he didn’t want to just sleep – it wasn’t really just for him. For the love of everything holy, it was for my sanity too and I was not ready to give up that two hours a day. I’ll say it – it was selfish.
I’d taken his binky away for the third time (our tactic when he gets out of bed) and I was heading up to give it back. He was lying there in his bed with his puppy stuffed animal, covered in a quilt and playing with his hair.
“Mommy, I want my binky.”
“Now, do you want to sleep?”
He bashfully shakes his head. So, I handed him his binky and told him it was finally bedtime. I didn’t care that it was not dark outside, he was tired and needed to rest.
“I want to go see nana and papa.”
“You need to sleep before we get on the plane.”
“Okay….” and he takes his binky.
After five minutes, he was out like a light.
It was then I realized, one of us will always have to give in. As he’s the child, who doesn’t really understand the “giving in” concept, it’s most likely going to be me. As a Type-A, organized planner with control issues, this has been so hard! Some of the ways I’ve done this below are even great tactics to teach children when they are little. All in due time.
All in all – it’s been a battle, but somehow I know that being strong-willed it a good trait to teach G.
1. Give Myself a Timeout
I’m an introvert. Sometimes the timeout is not just for my son, but for me to regroup, recharge and come to grips with how his behavior is making me feel. I know, this sounds selfish. It’s meant to – I know that if I am wrapped up with how his actions are making me feel, I cannot help him understand those actions and provide him with good alternatives.
I take myself to another room, outside or anywhere that he is not, and take no more than two minutes to accomplish this. We’ve both gotten better at understanding each other and how we need to do things.
The control-freak inside of me wants to take over and make him do what I need him to do…in the time I need him to do it. Why? I don’t know. But, this overwhelming need to have him operating at that level takes over and I turn into a hard-ass. When this happens, it takes a lot of energy for me to “let it go” as it were and provide him the space to learn. That’s what we all want for our children, right?
I stop thinking about my next move, stop planning into the future and enjoy the moment. It’s fleeting and why would I not want to be present. I redirect my thoughts to him, and enjoy watching him learn.
This is a given, but in my line of work, I tend to get wrapped up in the project so much so that when interrupted, I have to find a stopping point to come back to. My son has been so good to date (let’s not go jinxing this…) in having serious patience, but I know that when he comes to his door and tells me he has to go potty, I cannot take five minutes and find a stopping point. This drives me nuts sometimes, but I remember that his needs at the moment are to him very important and it’s my job as mommy to let him know which are indeed important enough to interrupt me. Potty is one of those. Dropping his binky on the floor and he can’t find it, is not.
It’s a tug-of-war daily, really hourly between G and I, that as we each develop our own compromises and have patience, we are learning together how to live, love and enjoy our lives. Even as he enters into the land of no naps, we have a conversation daily about “quiet time” that allows everyone in the house to work through their feelings and have some downtime from each other.