1. They haven’t taught their little people to sleep unassisted.
So this guy comes in at the top of the list because sleep deprivation is TORTURE. It’s also the root cause of many other issues. Most of the clients I see are having trouble with some aspect of sleeping. Their Little People may be catnapping, waking through the night, demanding seventeen glasses of water at bedtime, not napping, napping too much, getting out of bed over and over and over again (or maybe just once to take up residence in yours).
If sleep is an issue in your house, make it a priority to sort it out. If you’d bitten the bullet a month ago, calculate how many extra hours of sleep you would have gotten. Now add a few more and recognise that this is the amount of sleep you will miss if you don’t fix it for another month. Kids don’t ‘grow out’ of sleep issues. They need you to teach them to manage it on their own.
2. They say more ‘don’ts’ than ‘do’s’.
Now, my Dad is a sailor and I have spent much of my life on boats. Perhaps you have too, but for just a minute I want you to pretend that you have never sailed.
Imagine I have invited you to come on an adventure around the harbour with me. It’s a beautiful day and you’re really excited to cruise around drinking champagne, just like in the movies.
Unfortunately for you, my boat is really big and the crew needs you to help get her around the harbour. You are given the job of ‘trimmer’. You’re a bit startled that so much is expected of you, and have absolutely no idea what you are meant to do. You sit where you are told to sit, and as the boat takes off you start feeling really anxious. ‘Grab that halyard!’ someone yells at you. You’re bewildered and pick up a rope. ‘Not the green one’. Errr, okay. You drop it and pick up another rope curled up nearby. ‘No, don’t touch that and get out of the way the boom is going to knock your block off!’.
Firstly, the people on my boat aren’t very friendly are they!
Secondly, it seem a bit unrealistic that nobody would pipe up and tell you rope is the right rope to pull (the red one, duh).
But as a toddler, who isn’t clear on exactly what you are supposed to be doing, it’s pretty likely you’ll hear a few don’ts. Don’t touch that. Don’t do that. Don’t hit me. Don’t you even think about it. Don’t poke the cat. Don’t make a mess. Don’t stick your finger in my nostril, especially of you’ve just been scratching your bum!
You get the idea. Try some ‘Do’s’. I love it when you draw pictures on the paper. Can you show me how you can make a square with these sticks? Let’s run to that tree! Ready, set, DO!
3. They try to control the uncontrollable.
There are two things you have absolutely no control over.
- When your toddler sleeps
- What your toddler eats.
‘What?’ I hear you gasping. Sure you control nap times and meals to a point. But only your Little Person can control when they actually drift off to dreamland. Same goes for what they will and will not swallow. The best you can do is create an environment that promotes the outcome you would like, and cross your fingers.
Remember: It is your job to provide good, nutritious food. It is their job to eat it. (Rejoice! Disengage from the dinner battle!)
4. They let their toddlers get hungry in supermarkets.
Replace hungry with tired, overstimulated or bored and you get the same outcome. Did you ever play the game ‘The Sims’? It was where you created a world full of characters and then looked after them to make sure their every whim was tended to (Sound familiar?).
I often think of this visual representation of core needs from the game:
If your Little Person hits the red zone in these core needs, they will have a tantrum. So would you.
(P.s. I love the word ‘hangry’. It’s when you are so hungry you get angry.)
5. They forget to look after themselves first.
If you were to choose 10 core needs and draw yourself a ‘Sims personal needs chart’, what would you include? How many would be in the orange or red zone?
I often forget to feed myself until after midday, but I’ve managed to keep Little People’s tummies full since sunrise. Getting deeper than physical needs, what about emotional ones? How is your ‘Personal time out’ bar looking? What about ‘mentally stimulated’ and ‘adult company’?
They say when the oxygen masks fall down on a plane, you must fit your own mask first, before helping babies and children. Why? Because if you manage to fit theirs first, and then pass out from oxygen deprivation, who’s going to save you and your baby then?
If you have a breakdown because you haven’t been to the toilet alone for three years, then what?
Book yourself a babysitter. They are much cheaper than psychologists.