Thursday, July 14, 2011

Deep Breaths

Leo's new found mobility has led to quite a few spills and tears.  That moment immediately after a fall when he is still processing what just happened and he looks up at me deciding whether or not to cry is an opportunity for damage control.  I used to say: "Whoa, you fell!  Oops!  I think you are ok."  But lately I've been saying: "Whoa, you fell!  Let's take a deep breath."  And the kid does - holy cow is it cute.  It has a much higher success rate than the "I think you are ok" strategy.  In fact, sometimes he will fall and without any prompting say "Whoa!" and take deep breaths on his own.  Of course, some falls require more than deep breaths and that's when I break out the "Sana, Sana, Colita de Rana."

On the topic of taking deep breaths, my patience has been tried a lot lately.  Up until now I've actually been quite surprised by the amount of patience I've had with Leo.  I suppose there are some people that think only a monster could snap at a baby - but I have a short fuse sometimes, and I worried I'd be battling it from day one.  Apparently it's more like day 400.

My "mom" voice has been coming out more often than I'd like and I've just felt myself being irritable.  That's not how I want to sound.  That's not how I want to feel.  I think this change has come on because of several factors:

1.  His new found mobility/curiosity means he gets into a lot more mischief a lot more quickly.  I feel like I just follow him half the day saying no, no, no, no, no, no.  (My feelings on the word "no" and the number of times it comes out of my mouth is a-whole-nother post.)

2.  He is showing understanding, following basic directions and getting better at communicating his needs and wants - therefore my expectations of him skyrocketed as quickly as his development has.

3.  I'm still new to having him all alone all day.  Even though jb was working while at home before, I could always count on five minutes to pee alone.  That makes a BIG difference in one's day.

4.  The nap transition means he is almost ALWAYS tired and cranky.  When he's tired and cranky he is more likely to kick, bite, hit, pull on my clothes, try to climb me like a tree, or insist that I not put him down for even a moment. 

All these factors combined make it a challenge to keep my cool all the time. It's not like I'm yelling all day - I just feel like it's a slippery slope and I'm trying to be really mindful of my temper before it gets to a point where it's hard to come back.  So how to manage these feelings?  Well, I don't have that totally figured out yet, but here are a few things that I'm trying.  I'd love to hear any tips you might have on how to stay centered, calm and loving.

1.  Do my best to create a "yes" environment.  If everything in his reach is ok for him to play with then I can just play with him or let him play on his own while I get some chores done. Of course that's easier said than done.

2.  Remember he's still a baby.  It's unrealistic to expect him to sit quietly through an hour meal without throwing any food on the floor.  I actually like having high expectations of him - as long as I can be gentle and understanding when he doesn't always meet them.

3.  Be deliberate about having some time to myself.  jb and I went to lunch and a movie while Uncle Julian babysat last weekend and it was SO NICE.  jb is a true partner in parenting, which is also a big help - so in the evenings jb takes the lead with Leo and I can get a little breather.

4.  Remind myself that all I have to do in this world is keep him safe and ideally happy.  I know the dishes and laundry do need to get done but when it comes down to it, I know I can count on jb to help me catch up if chores fall behind and we can always order a pizza for dinner.  I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be able to be home with Leo.  It's where I want to be and what I want to be doing.  The other stuff is just noise - so if Leo needs my full attention, that's what I should give him.  Hard to remember when I'm in the middle of a project or trying to check my email - but true. 

5.  Get out of the house.  This works every time.  Sometimes I think we shouldn't leave the house at all because he is just so cranky and acting out - but the moment we walk through the door he is a changed baby.  Works on me, too.

6.  Make sure I'm explaining things to him and making conversation.  I hate hate hate when I look back on the last hour and I can't think of one thing I've said to him  that doesn't fall into the "No/Put that down/That's not for babies/Don't touch that" category.  To avoid that I do my best to try and explain why I'm saying no - this also makes it less likely that I will raise my voice.  I also try to ensure that I chat with him as much as possible.  Even if I'm just narrating what I'm doing.  The kid hangs on my every word - I would like the majority of them to be loving.

7.  Deep breaths.


  1. I tell my 2 year old to "shake it off" and he does, literally. Cracks me up.

  2. while i think the two sets of breakdowns are spot on, i think you may be being a bit hard on yourself in the patience evaluation department. my two cents.