Monday, November 2, 2009


My daughter doesn't listen to me. At all. She runs when I say NO. She continues when I say STOP. I'm doing way too much yelling these days and I am not enjoying it one bit. When I'm out on play dates, my daughter is the only one screaming and running and generally causing trouble.

What am I doing wrong, people?

I know that the toddler years are difficult. I know that they are opinionated, obstinate, mouthy, 25 pound producers of messes of all kinds. But. But.

Knowing this doesn't change how I feel. I feel lost. I feel like I'm doing all the wrong things. Watching too much tv. Not spending enough time working on colors and numbers and letters. Even though I do try to minimize the former and maximize the latter. I don't know what I'm doing here. They don't come with manuals. There is no right and wrong. It's walking blindfolded through a maze. It's reading a book upside down.

Sophie's attention span is about fourteen seconds. Every day I go through the whole range of activities: coloring, puzzles, reading, Mr/Mrs Potatohead, playdoh, singing, wrastlin', tickling, banging on pots, running around, playing outside (if it's nice), trying on mommy's shoes, chasing the cat, being chased by the cat and so on. All of this takes up about a half an hour.

Then we have 11 hours of the day left to kill.

I'm not looking for people to tell me I'm a good mother. I AM a good mother. I have a healthy, happy little girl. What I do want is for you to tell me what the hell to do all day. And how not to go crazy while I'm at it.


  1. I am in your same boat. I have no idea what to do with my kids all day either. I praise God every week for the days that they go to school/daycare.

    As for the days that we are home, this is what I do. We go out. To MacD's for lunch, the mall play area, the library, play world, Target to play in the toy isle, any where. Sometimes it sucks dragging them all over the place and yes, they don't listen to me but at least it takes up time during the day.

    I am already dreading this winter. This fall has been so rainy that I have not been able to let them play outside. I can tell you that its going to be a looooong winter.

    And you know what else, at least once a week (sometimes more) we have a 'lets watch TV all day' day. Because I just need a break.

  2. Sorry that was long. These toddler years are difficult but just think, at least you only have one two year and not three of them. I fear that soon, I am going to lose my mind.

  3. I am with Jen. We needed to escape the house. I lived for preschool days. Both girls started at a year just going twice a week for a few hours. I craved those hours. We spent a lot of time at Mcdonalds on the indoor playground. If I had had a laptop - and if they had had the free wifi back then, I am not sure that we would have left.

    Playdates are always good. And you know that playdates are for you and not for Sophie, right? Find a mom you like. Invite her over. Let Sophie and the other child destroy your house while you have mommy time.

  4. I could have written this post. I was just complaining to a friend that I feel like I've lost control of my kids- they simply DO NOT listen. So, I yell and they laugh. It's horrible and makes me feel totally out of control. When you find the answer, please share.

  5. The temptation is to wisecrack and joke - and there's some really funny stuff I can think of - but somehow I sense that you need to know that every young mother goes through this - you are not alone - and you are right about one thing - there is no right and there is no wrong. There's just the little decisions you make each day - all day long. And they're good decisions.

  6. Sister, I am right there with you. My first is three now and I still wonder what to do with him. Fortunately, he has learned to play well by himself more -- and Sophie probably will too. But I still look for ways to spend time with him. I still wonder what to do with him. I still have this feeling that I've missed something or am not doing something right. Some days I feel I've failed him. He doesn't want to do what I tell him to do, and he does what I tell him not to do and looks right at me while doing it. These high-energy, strong-willed little people ... I tell myself they are smart and will grow up to be leaders who won't take crap from anyone. That's the hope I hold onto!

  7. Hunny!!! we are in the same boat! and it does not get better. and then they get clumsy!! LOL I've been told we just have to wait it out and then we'll miss them when there off at college!! LOL your a great mom! keep up the wonderful work

  8. Library group, playdates (with a mom you love and who won't judge you by your kid's behavior), a padded room in your basement...

    Do you have a YMCA near you? Our Y is incredible, with tons of stuff for kids and parents to do together, and a nursery to care for your heathen child while you pound out your frustration on the elliptical machine. Does you both a world of good.

    Don't stress too much on the attention span yet. It will come. For Gabe it didn't come 'til 5 years old, but girls are more advanced so I'm sure Sophie will be there soon. Like in a year or so.

    (8 more days, you know? Are you still coming down with Lula?)

  9. The great outdoors saved me! The sand box was the greatest...trucks, shovels and have at it.
    And get going places..stores..playgrounds. I'm with Kat on pre-school. Find one, send her 2ce a week, it's the best way to meet other moms like yourself, then you can set playdates with them, lunch or breakfast out while the kids are in school..I still see friends from my 15yr olds pre-school days!
    And my big secret for the older boys when they were little...driving them around in the car until they fell asleep for naptime!

  10. Yes, right there with you. It's not even nine here, and already we've been through books and craft time. I'm actually looking forward to N's breathing treatment because she will HAVE to sit still for ten minutes. We usually leave the house too, but with the illness factor, we've been stuck at home for weeks now, it seems. Naptime is still TV time here for my bigger boy, b/c I cannot occupy him for all that time on my own.
    Sometimes cooking together works. Putting stuff in and out of laundry baskets, going through "new" things in the storage area of the basement, and sitting on the floor to read a whole stack of books sometimes takes up another half hour.

  11. Ok, now don't think I'm crazy when I say this:

    Get another toddler. Really. See if you can find someone who needs part time day care or something or just volunteer yourself a few times a week. The routine of someone coming over will organize not only YOU, but will add purpose to everything you set out for them to do.

  12. I hear ya, sister!!! It's so're a good Mom. You're right to look at the finished product. She's happy...that's all that counts. I'm a huge believer in independent play too.

  13. I feel your pain. How treasure hunts around the house. We also discovered window markers which can be great, but you might have to watch they don't get used on walls, etc. Also, sidewalk chalk and bubbles outside if its nice outside. Have you tried play doh with cookies cutters?

  14. It might help to check some 2 year old books on development out of the library. Reading what's normal for an age is immesely comforting, even if it doesn't change the behavior. I'm currently reading "your five year old" for ways on how to deal with my preschooler who is driving me crazy.

  15. OK, others might disagree with me, but when Libbey was a baby I forced her to learn to play by herself.
    And it was the BEST thing I ever did, because now both of my girls have very vivid imaginations and they're rather clever with inventing new ways to play.

    For instance...
    Caroline knows that when Mommy has to tackle a pile of laundry, she gets to sit in the playroom and play with her Dora house...or Fisher Price Doll House...or with Pet Shops or Polly Pockets. And she's content for an hour or more, while I'm getting stuff done. We play music and I'm standing just a few feet from her, folding clothes on the bed. So we're together...we're enjoying music...we talk back and forth. But she's playing and I'm working.

    last year during November & December I chose one day a week when I'd wrap Christmas gifts for an hour or so. I'd put on a Christmas cartoon or Christmas music and take out a laundry basket of toys that were rarely played with, so they seemed "new." OR...I'd give her scrap pieces of ribbon & paper to play with, or a coloring book to go crazy with. So we were together, but I did my thing and she did hers. We're doing that again this year!

    So yes, that's my advice. Teach her to love playing by herself, if she doesn't already. That way she won't depend upon you to keep her entertained. Plus, you don't have to depend on the TV to capture her attention.

    Don't get me wrong, I use the TV to babysit more often than I care to admit. Any mother who says she doesn't is a big, fat LIAR, and I'll say that to her face. If I have to clean due to company coming over , a Scooby or Looney Tunes movie comes in handy. And it's not going to kill her! :)

    p.s. When she gets a bit older--Play-Doh. My girls are currently building Play-Doh hamburgers and ice cream sundaes. While I'm leaving this War & Peace-length novel. I've visited 3 blogs in the past 15 minutes while they've played. And I'm sitting right next to them. Good times.

  16. I yell too. Scares the crap out of my husband, but my kids barely hear or react to it.

    These days can be LONG, and I can't say for sure what we do. One music class. Swim lessons once a week. Errands. All the stuff you've already thought of -- crafts, books, toys, etc.

    Is there a pre-preschool program anywhere around you or a moms day out -- just something to give you and Sophie a break from each other for a couple of hours a week?

    What about a mother's helper to come over after school one day and play with Sophie while you hide upstairs with your laptop or your pillow.

    More playdates but only with people who you don't have to clean up your house for or apologize to every five minutes if your child is not perfect.

    With the very best intentions, I bought a book called Unplugged Play. Haven't cracked it open yet, but maybe there will be some good stuff in there.

    I have started just letting my kids figure out what to do on their own (i.e, ignore them as much as I can). The results are usually messy, but sometimes it's worth the clean up.

    Okay, that's all I got. Hang in there!

  17. Wow, this is exactly how I often feel and my son is only 13 months. Despite all the activities I try, all he wants is to: splash in the dogs' water bowls, put non-trash items in the trash can, mess with the stereo, go in the pantry and wreak havok, put my clothes in the bathtub and turn the water on. I feel like I spend all day redirecting him. Playing outside keeps him occupied, but he throws a fit when I tell him he has to hold my hand and can't just run out into the street or run up the neighbors' driveways. And after reading this post I can see that it only gets worse. THANKS! hahaha.

  18. Well, it is unanimous, all of our toddlers are doing the same tricks and all of us Mommy’s are getting worn out by it. I don’t have any great answers. Sounds like we are all trying the same things; redirecting, entertaining and some ignoring them and expecting them to figure out how to play on their own.

    One thought is don’t bother yelling at her if it is not helping. I think the more you raise your voice the more they just tune it out. Save the yelling for really big deals…….like running into the road. I know, easier said than done. Sometimes a whisper gets more attention.

    We have played “stop” and “go” with some success. We will be out for a walk and if we say “stop” Alli will stop and we all giggle and praise her. Then we say “go” and she starts walking again………more praising her. Then I say “stop” and “go” and Daddy does it with Alli. The goal is to teach her to listen to the command “stop”. So far it has worked well as a game, and so far, when a car comes up the road, she will listen.

    My daughter does each and every stunt the last mommy mentioned!!

    And we have pretty much quit going out of the house because it is usually just NO FUN. It gets so boring at home too. I know she will grow out of this stage and in many ways I am looking forward to it.

  19. Oh how I feel your pain. I wish I could tell you it gets better at 3 and 4, but I'd be lying. At least that hasn't been the case with my daughter. She's developed a force field for my yelling by now, and it doesn't even phase her.

    Everyday by 5pm, my head is on the verge of explosion.

    By 6pm, if it's still intact, I'm smacking it against the wall.

    We should seriously start a support group.

  20. My kids are 6 & 8 (soon-to-be 7 & 9)... I have no idea what I did with them during their toddler years. I'm not even kidding... right now, I can't even remember what we had for dinner this evening.

    But I will say Lula has the right idea about getting Sophie used to playing alone. Hannah never had any problem going off by herself to her room or playroom. Guess 'cause for awhile she was the only kid or Michalea was too young to play with her. But it took Michaela the longest time to get used to playing by herself. Just because she didn't know any better... Hannah had ALWAYS been here for her to play with, she's never been the "only" child.

    I do think getting out of the house every once and awhile is a good idea... to McD's, play area @ the mall...

  21. Amen and alleluhia - I'm not alone in this struggle! Thank you for this post.

    I have a few suggestions that work for me when the terrible days roll around, and I think I'm going to loose my mind: I find the best thing to do is get out of the house. Like others have suggested - I take Carley to the mall. Because we don't have an endless supply of cash (ha!), we just walk around - window shopping - burning off steam.

    Carley is a "gadget" kind of gal; loves to push buttons, touch things she shouldn't, etc. Recently, we bought the Disney Princess cash register, and it keeps her occupied for minutes (sorry, can't say hours...).

    We have decided to send her to "pre" pre-school 2 days week (but she can't go until she's 3 in March). We don't need it for daycare, but there have been many, many indications that she's ready for more structure / instruction than we have given. Just a thought - if you have that opportunity for Sophie before 3 years of age (I realize she just turned 2).

    Hang in there ~

  22. What we all want to hear is that we've all been there! And, I've been there, plenty of times! I just gave out some, what I think is great advice :), to my yoga teacher that I happened to bump into at Target the other day. When she asked, how do I do it with four kids? I answered, "I try to balance the guilt". Funny, but true. Also, I try to ask this question to myself, Will it matter when I'm 60? I don't know why, but this usually helps. Good luck!! -Chris Ann

  23. We ask for memberships to things for gifts instead of toys whenever possible. We have memberships to the zoo, the aquarium, the art museum, the natural history museum, the children's museum, the Y.... You get the idea.

    Every morning I ask my two year old what he wants to do while his sisters are at school and we head out for a couple of hours and it's nice. We had lovely trip to the zoo the other day where we ate lunch and looked at giraffes. Most days he wants to see the natural history museum. It really does help to get out.


Give me some sugar, baby!