Friday, August 26, 2005

The Power of Lazy Mothering

by Anne Zelenka
Two-year-old Laura is mostly potty-trained, even through the night, but that hasn't come without some pain. She's so in tune with her body that she wakes up around 4 or 5 am each morning ready to show off her new toileting skills. Once she's up, five-year-old Anna soon follows. That's fine when Rick's in town--he gets up early to check email or go running, so he mostly takes care of them while I train for the Sleep Olympics. He traveled to LA this week so I'm left handling my early birds.

This morning I was just too groggy to deal at 4:30 am. I made sure Laura had access to a healthy breakfast: a Pop Tart--you know that the human body is especially sensitive to insulin in the morning so that's the optimum time to flood it with sugar, right? I left the box out for any other child that might wander into the kitchen in need of breakfast/sugar/artificial flavors. And then I wrapped myself in a soft blanket and dozed on the couch.

It's amazing to me how independent my kids can be when left alone. Anna and Laura worked together quietly on a Strawberry Shortcake sticker storybook I'd bought at Borders Books yesterday. Laura took a shower by herself and Anna helped her get dressed. Then Anna showered and got dressed. They didn't fight; they didn't disturb me. I got almost two extra hours of sleep. By 6:30 am, I was ready to get up and they were in good moods.

After I was awake here's what happened: Yelling. Pulling hair. Peeing on the chair. "Mom, Laura got pee-pee on my skirt!" Changing clothes. Bickering. "You a baby!" "I'm not a baby! Mom, Laura called me a baby!" Peeing on the couch. "Mom, Laura pee-peed on the couch!" Changing clothes. "More food, mommy!" "My plate's bigger than yours!" "Mom, Laura said her plate is bigger than mine!" "More kineapple, mommy!" "My plate bigger!"

They behaved better when I was asleep. What's up with that? Makes me think I am probably reinforcing their misbehavior somehow.


Blogger Marjorie said...

I hear you. My kids play beautifully at times and fight over toys at others -- I can't imagine them ever working on a sticker book together. For us, it seems they play better when I'm nearby and worse when I'm far away [like up in the computer room].

Sounds like they are competing for your attention. I've no answers but I have a copy of Siblings Without Rivalry on my nightstand. One day I'll read it, but its pretty basic about geting to the root of the behavior and responding to the cause, not the effect. I haven't done that yet, yelling is much quicker and less effective.

4:21 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Wow! I am really impressed that your kids take showers by themselves. I don't think I'd let my 3-yo and 4-yo do that alone yet.

Glad you got some extra sleep--it seems like my kids can play quietly and nicely for hours if they think they're getting away with something (i.e. supposed to be sleeping) but as soon as they aren't trying to hide their activities they don't get along nearly as well. :)

10:04 AM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

Marjorie - I guess sleeping lightly on the couch in the same room with them was perfect. I wasn't totally absent to them (as I am when blogging) but also wasn't available for attention. Will have to explore the napping approach to mothering more extensively. I think you're right--they're competing for attention. Peeing on the couch or chair certainly gets it.

PK - I wouldn't think a two-year-old could shower herself unless I'd witnessed it. They began showering together a couple months ago and pretty soon picked up all the basics. It helps that we have only solar hot water heating so the water can't get scalding hot. They need help with washing hair but don't do that during their morning shower. They like to take two showers per day and definitely need help in the afternoon with the shampoo and conditioner. But I did buy a pump-style bottle of body wash at Wal-Mart that they use to clean up in the morning. It works well and they enjoy it so much.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Mother in Chief said...

I've been feeling especially lazy over in my nest.. but when it works for you, you should embrace it!

4:39 PM  

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