Ask Mama Jells: A change in (almost every) routine

Ans getting ready for bed; alt. title: baby on a skateboard.

She’s already rebelling at 21 months. (Alt title: baby on a skateboard)

Things were getting out of control in our house.  One kid wouldn’t settle down and go to sleep until 10:30 pm, the toddler didn’t want to wean from breastfeeding, neither wanted to eat veggies anymore, and everyone – I mean everyone in my house was cranky.  This was going on for months.  No wonder I didn’t want to write about it.  I don’t exactly like documenting when I feel like my brain and house were simultaneously imploding into a black hole.  All I wanted was SLEEP and a tad bit of personal time, to, I don’t know, write and watch a few of my programs (Season 2 of Orange is the New Black!), but it wasn’t happening.  Nothing was happening.  The only thing that was happening was yelling, the losing of our collective temper, and all around tantrums.  Ans was learning about freak-out-over-nothings, when she was once a very reasonable baby.  Hubs and I conferred and decided there must be a change, and we needed to be on the same page about it.

  1. [Source: Amazon]

    [Source: Amazon]

    Weaning.  I was beyond ready; Ans was not pleased about this.  I reduced feedings over the past month-plus by saying, “there’s no more chi chi,” and redirected Ans to another kind of drink or snack.  I hated the idea of giving her something else to wean from, like a bottle, since she technically should’ve been done with those in September at her first birthday.  But that’s how she went to bed if Hubs put her down instead of me, so I tried to rock and feed her with one.  My problem was lack of consistency.  First off, she hated taking one from me, and if the bottle ran out, I ended up giving her my breast anyways to put her over that last bit of wakefulness.  It was so much easier, you know?  I finally saw success when I stuck to my guns and gently reminded her that it was all gone, over and over and over.  She was so mad at me, repeating, “I want chi chi.”  I held her, loved on her, and we were already working on the following item in this list, which helped.  For the next 2 days, she checked back in with me once each day, but I reiterated that they were, oh, so empty.   [Side note: a friend from grad school swears by weaning with neam oil – it tastes like yuck.  You still need to give the warnings that the boob shop is closed for business, but if they’re still just going to try to nurse, this will discourage your Little without having the tantrums like we had.  I never got around to getting any, but I wished I knew about it beforehand.]  It took around 3 months of reduced feedings, and 3 days of straight up weaning.
  2. Sleeping arrangements.  Weaning was only going to work if the whole bed time routine changed.  Ans now sleeps next to her sister, and it’s the cutest thing ever.  The only way EB would agree to going to bed early is if she was in charge of comforting her sister.  The only way Ans would agree to staying in bed, or giving up nursing and the bottle, was if she got to cuddle in the big girl bed.  We had to meet in the middle with bedtime, so lights now go out at 8:30 after reading as a family (instead of 7:30 for Ans and 10:30 for EB).  Once we leave, Hubs and I watch on the video monitor as EB covers Ans up, pats her, and they actually fall asleep pretty quickly.  It took them about a week to adjust to this.
    The first time they snuggled at night - I found them like this and decided the toddler bed was obsolete.  Now Ans sleeps against the wall.

    The first time they snuggled at night – I found them like this and decided the toddler bed was obsolete. Now Ans sleeps against the wall.

    EB and Ans on the video monitor

    EB and Ans on the video monitor

  3. Eating better.  I always made the girls a separate dinner of “kid-friendly” (aka not very healthy) foods that I thought they would eat.  Part of my thinking was it was better that they got something in their stomaches than rejecting the veggies and whatnot.  It was dumb, but I’m sure not the only one who thinks this way.  Having a separate dinner meant it was ready at a slightly different time than ours, so they weren’t watching us eat our meals of non-nugget-shaped meats and veggies.  They wanted to get up and roam instead of sitting in their seats and finishing the meal.  The thing is, Hubs is an excellent chef, and we figured out one day recently that if we serve one plate, there’s no separate portions, we all eat together, and they aren’t overwhelmed by how much they got or have to eat.  The girls feel the competition to keep up and get the bites of their favorite part of the dish or else it will be gone.  We  chant, “Good veggie eater,” when one of the kids tries new veggie for the first time, and for every bite of veggies, we have EB list every veggie she can think of while we count a la The Count from Sesame Street.  Dessert is cut up fruit – absolutely no sweets in the house at all now.  Additionally, we cut out snacks before dinner, and have it ready as soon as they come in the door from school.  Now the kids run to the table and start gobbling away.  This took 2-3 weeks for them to adjust.

    I also made them chalk board placemats to entice them to sit at the table while waiting for dinner to be ready.

    I also made them chalk board placemats to entice them to sit at the table while waiting for dinner to be ready.

  4. Potty training.  This wasn’t really a problem, per se, but Ans is all about it since she sees her big EB sister go.  We’ve got the little potty next to the regular toilet in the bathroom and she just joins in whoever is going.  You just have to be ok with company in the bathroom at our house, and voila!  A self-potty-training toddler.  I’ve already talked to Ans’ teachers and make her go potty as soon as we get to her classroom.  It might seem early, but EB was pretty much potty trained by the time she turned 2.  She wore a night diaper for a while, but day dipes were done-zo.

The rest of the routines fell into place naturally.  The girls now get up effing early, which kind of sucks for me, but I’m an adult and I need to get going for work anyways.  Because they’re up by 7:15, I can finally get them to school by 8 am, where they serve breakfast until 8:30.  That saves me like an hour in the mornings, and I get much more done in the day, rendering me less cranky with landscape design deadlines for client presentations.  Baths stay the same after dinner, and the girls take them together while one of us cleans up the kitchen.  Then, the elusive evening for personal time is upon us.  Hubs is currently doing music on his computer.  I’m blogging for the first time in over a month.  We’ve all become so much more patient during the time we spend together outside of work and school.  It really is a whole new world.  I mean, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’m feeling really good about this change in routine.  Instead of changing one thing, change all of the things that aren’t working, because they are probably related.

Ans wanted to help with the dishes.

Ans wanted to help with the dishes after her bath.

A side benefit is I’m about to gain some real estate in the overcrowded kids’ room!  The crib-turned-toddler-bed is going, the rocking chair is heading back to my MIL’s (I know you’re going to read this; surprise!), and I think we’re going to be done with most of the cloth diaper paraphernalia soon.  Their tiny room in our tiny house might not feel like a star exploding (it’s more like a white dwarf) in the very near future, which will only add to this feeling of albeit-fleeting parental serenity.

Are you going through any of this?  What routine would you like to change in your house?  Do you have tips you’d like to add?  

Mama Jells.

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5 thoughts on “Ask Mama Jells: A change in (almost every) routine

  1. There must be something about kid #2 and weaning. I can’t get the boy to wean and it’s driving me nuts. I’ve thought/heard about painting my nipples with lemon juice or vinegar, but that sounded mean (at first). Now I’m considering it.

    • I tried wasabi powder because that’s all we had that seemed gross and wouldn’t backfire and make my nips sting. She didn’t care AT ALL that it was on there. Neam oil, man! That’s what my friend used. She warned her daughter, saying, “tomorrow the na-nas are going bad.” Then that day, she reminded her, and her daughter tried once or twice, but that was it! Totally not mean.

  2. Love how the girls cuddle up together. We have a 10 and 6-year old. The older one sleep walks into her sister’s room to sleep together. Ha ha. In daytime, they fight like cats and dogs.
    Nice to hear about you and yours. You’re getting there, Jells. You’ve good decision-making on your side.

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