(This is an amended excerpt from my blog post on tantrums and tiredness - one of my many posts on being a bad mummy...!)
I’m struggling with my son’s behaviour at the moment. He’s not terrible. He’s just three and a half, distracted by anything and everything, and learning to assert his independence. And I’m tired. And distracted by his (now crawling, but not into sleeping through) baby sister. The combination isn’t great…
I try to be clear about our rules and maintain boundaries, but the old techniques aren’t working. I want to be respectful, and to stay calm and explain why he has to take some time out. But when I’m having to physically manhandle him back onto the ‘naughty step’, that perfect parent seems a long long way away.
As I carry him over my shoulder, kicking and screaming back to the stairs, it feels like I’m heading towards the kind of physical punishment I really don’t believe in. I give up on yanking him out from under the kitchen table and create a ‘naughty under the table’. I don’t know what else to do without using force and becoming that parent I don’t want to be. But now I feel I’ve destroyed those carefully created rules, and taken us two steps back. Next time, will he think it's OK to sit under the table instead of on the step? Have I shattered all the precedents I set so carefully with months and months of hard work? I'm too tired to know any more.
What I do know is that his behaviour isn't just about his own tiredness, it's about mine. Strange that his behaviour seems much worse when I’m most tired... Is he the one who's behaving badly? Or am I failing to spot the early signs of meltdown, in both of us? It's obvious that my shouting or yanking when I should be cool, calm and collected only makes the situation worse. It's yet another parenting area where I need to keep trying and loving and doing my best. And hoping that as I get more rest, I will become a better parent.
Well, the good news is - I am getting a bit more sleep, and it has got better. As Tori wrote on her fridge magnet, this too will pass. Remember that, bad mummies everywhere.