So. I've had a couple days since that vent session to evaluate the telecommuting situation, as well as my own parenting. I know now that much of Captain Defiance's naughtiness has been a result of feeling neglected by his staring-at-the-computer mom these last few weeks. (I overheard him tell SallyCat the other night, "Sorry, Sal, I can't play with you now because I have a lot of work to do." Zing!) And I know that I have been making poor parenting decisions based on guilt and annoyance and anger. Also, I realized I often forget that this little guy is just 3 years old -- he doesn't understand what I'm trying to accomplish.
I'm happy to report that today we had a delightful day, nary an argument, foot-stomp, or whine. I woke up and decided to regroup and try some of the things I know make life easier on my telecommuting days. We started the day with a quick little chat about the behaviors that make Mommy crazy, and I asked if there was something he really wanted to do today. As usual, he answered "Go to the park!" so we made that our "deal": If we get through the morning without any stomping, whining, throwing, etc., we will go to the park for lunch.
And because he made it brilliantly through the morning, we went for a long bike ride at lunchtime; we ate a picnic lunch at the state park (and got attacked by a really ballsy squirrel, which was memorable, if nothing else). A long lunch outing, of course, meant that I'd have to work at least an extra hour into the evening, but I'm willing to do that if it means a little fresh air and play time. This is true quality time, after all, and priceless. In fact, picnic lunches at the park are the main reason I chose telecommuting!
I've rediscovered this week that it's all about giving him more control, yet setting my own parameters. I know, any parenting book or guru or experienced parent will tell you that's what's needed. But remember, I'm a novice. And I don't read parenting books or listen to gurus. And sometimes I just get stressed and don't think straight.
So I made a conscious decision to take it easy today, speak rationally, listen to my child, give and take. Here are some of the other conversations we had throughout the day:
- You can watch TV, but only one show or kids' movie. You can choose. But you also must choose if you want TV time to be first thing in the morning or later in the day.
- It's OK to stay in your jammies until lunchtime, if that's what you want. We can't go outside the house until you're dressed...but when it's time to get dressed, you choose what you're going to wear.
- When breakfast is over, the kitchen is closed. [I turned off the lights and made an official announcement.] That means no more snacks, no more asking for juice, no more opening cabinet doors until lunchtime.
- Mommy needs a helper. Can you sit here next to me and color a picture? Or how about you make me a poster? Can you put some stickers on my manuscript as I flip the pages?
- I can't play much today, buddy, but if you can play on your own for the next little while, I'll take a break to play a game, do a puzzle, or read a book with you.
- Hey, do you know what's coming up? Lunchtime in about 10 minutes! Then we'll go for our walk...then naptime...
- You must stay in your bed for quiet time in the afternoon; whether you sleep or not is up to you. [Usually he sleeps for 2-3 hours, thank goodness.]
And really, whenever the negotiations with Captain Defiant really break down, even Supermom can take a sick day.