There's no way to know why things were better last night, but I really think that writing that letter to him was a big part of it. My attitude about things was so much different last night after getting all that out of me. I was more patient with him, less rigid about getting things done my way, and just more relaxed in general. We had a great evening of fun, and both kids ate well at dinner. Riley had a minor meltdown before dinner, almost certainly caused by being tired, but instead of just verbally reassuring him that dinner would be ready soon, I got down on the floor and gave him a big hug, then picked him up and let him "help" me unload his backpack from school. Then he was ready to get back down and play with Maddie while I finished up dinner prep. At bedtime, the two of them chatted for about 15 minutes after I turned out the light, but went to sleep peacefully.
What was really different about last night is that my actions felt more genuine, and I think Riley could sense that. When I was consoling him, I was 100% present, not giving him a hug while thinking, "Riley! This is so not worth crying over!" (which I confess I've done in the past). This kids knows the difference between real and "fake it 'til you make it," and I think that by getting to a place where it was real for me, it helped him feel more secure.
Or maybe I'm just overanalyzing things and it was the Motrin and Hyland's Teething Tablets that I gave him before bed. Three o'clock is about when that Motrin would have been wearing off . . .
I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about what my triggers are. What things do the kids do that tend to really set me off? From there, I thought about how I could change my behavior around those things to improve things for all of us. Here are some things I came up with, big and small:
Not listening when I ask them to do something.
FIX: Remind myself that they are 20 months old and that if I cut them a little slack, it's not going to create lifelong bad habits. For example, we spend a few minutes picking up toys each evening between getting PJs on and reading stories. I already know that it's better to say, "Maddie, can you put that truck away?" rather than, "Hey! Let's clean up!" They need specifics. But even with specifics, they sometimes ignore me or get distracted. And you know what? That's OK. I can be really rigid, and I worry that if I don't make sure they are helping, they will not be good helpers as they get older. False! I need to chill out.
Playing with/touching the diaper pails.
FIX: They are fascinated with the diaper pails (one for the disposables we use at night, one for the cloth). They love to just touch them, turn the handle on the diaper champ, lift the lid on the pail for the cloth, etc. Yuck! I get so tired of asking them to leave the diaper pails alone. The easy solution is to get the diaper pails out of the playroom. Easier said than done because our house is so small. So instead I ordered a hanging diaper pail that I can put on a hook over the door to the playroom, right by the changing table. It will be too high for them to mess with, and I can get just rid of the diaper pails. I'm also going to start using cloth at night so we'll only need the one hanging bag for the cloth. Yay! Bag has already shipped and should be here soon.
Pulling cords out of/plugging cords into the electrical outlet by the TV.
FIX: This is the one outlet that is easy for them to get to and interesting because so many things are plugged in there. It's in an awkward spot, but I covered it up with a cardboard shield last night. It's ugly, but serviceable, and neither of them tried to get behind it this morning.
These things seem so obvious, but for whatever reason, I had just not taken the time to change things up so that I could stop wasting my time being irritated over things that I can actually control.
So I'm feeling good today. Amazing what a full night's sleep will do for a woman. And I thought American Idol was pretty good last night. I still like the guys better than the gals, but I thought that Brooke White was the best of the night with her acoustic "Love Is a Battlefield." Looking forward to results tonight . . . I predict that Danny Noriega and Luke Menard are in danger for the guys and Kady Malloy and Syesha Mercado could get the boot among the girls. Bonus: Blake Lewis from last season will be on tonight! I love Blake Lewis.