Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Day in the Life, Part 1

Ashley of TwentySixCats suggested the idea for this blog post.  Thanks Ashley!

The idea is just a no-holds-barred play-by-play of my day attempting to parent gently and non-violently using positive discipline tools.  Like most days, on August 10, 2011 there were shining moments where I was the parent I want to be and struggling moments where I    fumbled for the best way to respond.

Here we go! 

Waking and Breakfast
7:15 C wakes up in bed between DH and me.  Says she is hungry.  DH and I hold still and hope she goes back to sleep.  She does.

7:45 C wakes up again.  Says she is hungry and asks for breakfast.  She and DH get out of bed.  I stay in bed for another 10 minutes.  I overhear DH ask C if she wants the yellow bowl or the blue bowl this morning*  C takes off her pajamas to go potty and eats breakfast naked.

*C wasn't responding well to being presented with a choice at that point in her morning.  I think if I had been there I would have just picked a bowl for her and if she protested, then let her pick a different bowl.

8:00 I put away dishes from the dishwasher while C eats her cereal and DH checks email.  When I’m done with the dishwasher, I pour myself a bowl and join C at the table.  As I’m finishing up, she asks for a second bowl.  When we’re done, DH scrambles some eggs for himself.  I clean off the top of the refrigerator and find a mini-kite we had bought for C a few weeks ago.  She wants to put it together but the instructions have been lost.  She and DH try to figure it out while his eggs cook.  When she unravels the string and runs away, DH asks her to bring it back and I come from the kitchen to help her comply.  She wants to fly the kite now.  It’s not windy today.  We promise her we’ll take it to the beach with us on Saturday and put the kite away.

9:00 C and I discuss what we will do today. C wants to go roller skating (even though she’s never been) because she remembers we got passes for a local rink as part of a Groupon deal.  I look up their hours online.  They are open 1 to 4 today but open at 10 tomorrow, so we decide to go roller skating tomorrow and go to the library today.  We look for the library book that needs to be returned.  When we find it, C wants me to read it.  I say I will read once and then we will go get dressed so we can go to the library.

*Reading this, I wonder if maybe C and I would both benefit from more structure/routine to our days and weeks.  But then again, I resist that time and time again and prefer flexibility, spontaneity and go with the flow.

9:15 When I finish reading the story she asks me to read it again.  I remind her that it’s time to go get dressed.  We go to her room and I pick out panties and a dress for her.  When I start to put the dress over her head she pushes it away and protests that she doesn’t want to wear a dress today.  I pick out pants and a shirt instead. 

*With hindsight, I should have offered her a choice up front.  She is getting more particular about what she wears and having a say in it.

A Setback 
9:20 I prepare to take a shower and ask DH if he’d rather go first.  He tells me to go ahead.  While I’m in the shower, C gets a cup from the kitchen, climbs up on the bathroom counter and starts to play with water, getting her pants soaking wet in the process. 

*Aaargh!  I felt frustrated that DH let this happen while he was right there.

9:25 I get out of the shower and put on a towel. I say calmly that I am frustrated at having to get C dressed twice (both C and DH can hear me), then, still in my towel, take her to her room to get new panties and pants.  When I put her down, she runs away to the living room.  I go find her and put a pair of panties on her, then tell her that after I get dressed I will be back to help her put on the pants.  

*At this point I was starting to feel angry at her for "making a production out of" (a phrase from my family of origin, yikes) getting dressed, and told I'd be back to give myself some time to calm down and approach the situation with a fresh attitude.

9:30 I get dressed and sit down to start writing this day in the life report while DH is in the shower.  I still need to put pants on C, and at this point I'm procrastinating. I look up the hours of the library while I’m at the computer.  They don’t open until 11.

9:40 I still need to put pants on C.  DH is in his towel, playing puppets and dressups with C and going on an imaginary trip to Disneyland.  I suggest to C that if she gets dressed quickly she can go outside with me to tend the chickens, but she seems more interested in playing. I let her stay with DH and go outside and tend the chickens.

I Finally Get C Some Pants
9:50 When I get back inside, DH goes to get dressed and C continues playing pretend in her room alone.  I tidy up the kitchen and wipe down the outside of the refrigerator, then go find C and tell her it is time to put on some pants.  “Do you want to wear this blue skirt or these Dora pants?” I ask.

“Not yet,” she says.

“Now is a good time so you will be ready to go outside and wave to Daddy after he gets dressed.”

“Hold on*,” she says.  She is in the middle of playing with a set of makeup brushes.

*She says this in exactly the tone of voice DH and I use on her when we want her to give us a minute to respond to her requests.  Hmmm...

“OK, you can finish with the brushes and then it will be time to pick out pants.”

She finishes with the brushes and starts to move to pick out a new toy.  I gently touch her arm and guide her back to where I’m sitting with the two choices.  “You can choose this blue skirt or the Dora pants,” I say again.

“The pants fall down,” she says.

“That’s right, they were loose last time we wore them.  You can use the pants with a belt, or the skirt.  Which do you choose?”

“I want a belt,” she says.

“OK, let’s put the pants on first and then I’ll find the belt for you.”

She cooperates with getting the pants on.  I find the belt and then ask her to help hold her shirt and the long sparkly bead necklaces and fabric lei she is wearing out of the way while I thread the belt through the loops on her pants.  When we finish, I pull the belt tight and ask her if the pants feel like they will stay up now.  She says yes. 

“We got dressed.  Give me five.  Thanks for working together!” I say. 

Whew!  We got through our morning routine.  Coming up in Part Two ... getting out the door and running a few errands.

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