Figuring things out

So I realize that I'm probably tempting fate by posting this at all, but I feel like I've grown as a mommy in the past few months, and I wanted to share that. It's happened gradually, and it relates to getting out the door in the mornings on workdays.

****Pause. I started this post last night after the girls went to bed, but then I got side-tracked. I did, indeed, tempt fate. Natalie's behavior today has been horrible, terrible, awful, no-good. Very bad. I'll still venture to say I've dealt with it better than I used to.****

Sooooo like I was saying I know everything about how to deal with my preschooler now. HA HA HA. What I was actually saying was that I've learned SOME things about how to interact with her. A few months ago, every morning presented something on a scale from REALLY.BAD.TANTRUM to the worst meltdown I've ever seen in my life prior to THAT morning. I was about to lose my mind. Natalie was grumpy when I woke her, didn't want to get out of bed, didn't want me to pick out her clothes, didn't want to pick out her own clothes, didn't want to dress herself, and are-you-serious?-use-the-bathroom-first-thing-in-the-morning-mommy?!-you-have-GOT-to-be-out-of-your-mind. And don't even get me started on the hair. You know, those lovely, thick, beautiful, caramel-y golden waves? Yeahhhhhh try brushing that every morning and attempting to get a clip in it to keep her bangs out of her eyes (the exact reason I'm not cutting bangs for Mollie in the foreseeable future). Goodluckwiththat.

So I enlisted the help of mommy friends. I asked - nay, BEGGED - for advice. I got lots! I was excited to try new things! The common thread in all of the advice that I got was that you just have to keep trying different things to see what works with your kid. Isn't it sad that probably nothing I've learned with work with Mollie? *sigh* EXCEPT! That I did learn THAT - that you just gotta keep trying new things.

The first thing that we tried was the Marble Jar here. It has been a HUGE help. We've slacked off on it a bit, and I know I need to get back on it, but it has definitely served a great purpose. I highly recommend them!

So I tried having her pick out her clothes at night. This didn't make much difference. She was just as apt to change her mind in the morning, so I stopped wasting time on this. The best thing I did regarding picking out clothes was this: Make sure there is NOTHING in her closet (or at least that she can see) that she can't wear. I started a box in the back of Mollie's closet and now I toss anything that doesn't fit or isn't the correct season in there as I come across it. Works like a charm! Out of sight, out of mind. Period.

A friend suggested letting her hold a special doll and count to twenty while we brush her hair in the morning, for distraction. Nat was unimpressed. I asked her if she wanted to sing a song instead. She was game, but it didn't work. Someone suggested to me that we braid her hair at night. That didn't seem to be the perfect solution because I'd still have to brush the day's tangles out at night. So our new solution is that we wash her hair in the bath about every other night. She is well aware that our routine now consists of her watching Curious George while I brush and French braid her wet hair. She sleeps on it, it still looks pretty cute, if a little messy, in the morning, and she wears it in braids on day #1. The braids stay in until the next morning. At that time, we take them out, and I do not brush, I just run my fingers through it gently, and voila! It's all good for day #2. That night: lather, rinse, repeat. There is an occasional tear here and there, but we have an understanding that Mommy doesn't intend to hurt her, and it's ok to say "Ouch!" but tears are really not necessary and they don't help the situation. The bad thing is that I don't routinely get to see her pretty natural waves, but I'll take it over the daily hair fight any day!

I had been getting Natalie up and then letting her play around while I get Mollie ready. That was kind of a hit or miss thing. Some days it worked fine, other days it didn't. So I decided that she needed a little more sleep. We put her to bed earlier, and I let her sleep while I got Mollie up and dressed. Still not really the answer (although the slightly earlier bedtime helps in general). More and more often, she told me that she wanted me to "dress her like a tiny little baby-haha-isn't-that-funny-Mommy?!" I found it (more than) a little annoying, but it did seem to make things go pretty quickly, so most mornings I "gave in." Then I feel like I had the biggest epiphany yet after a friend experienced a similar thing with her three-year-old son. She realized that it wasn't about him being difficult or grumpy or not getting enough sleep or him "winning" and her "giving in." It was simply this: he wanted some extra attention and TIME with her. She related it to the extra attention and time she likes to have from her husband some days. It totally clicked with me. I know that Natalie CAN fully dress herself while I get Mollie dressed. However, if I wake her before Mollie, only FIVE minutes earlier than I used to, spend a little time cuddling with her, and help her get dressed while just the two of us talk, giving as much help as she wants that day - get this: IT.WORKS. We are both happy and the day starts better for both of us!

And here's the final word of advice that I have about this situation. If your kid doesn't want to pee first thing in the morning and you're familiar enough with their habits that you know they can hold it like some kind of freakish camel? Just let them go at school. No harm, no foul. Seriously, the difference that has made in the past few mornings is immeasurable! :)


  1. Loved your post. I was just wondering the other day how on earth you were able to get Natalie's hair braided so often:)