This busyness brings a lot of fun and experiential learning; however, it wrecks havoc on our daily rhythm and sleep schedule. If any of you readers have babies, toddlers or preschoolers you understand all too well the consequences of tossing structure out of your home for a season. Henley has always been a night owl/sleeper in and fares pretty well on late nights, late mornings, and late afternoon naps. She’s also old enough to understand the importance of the farm work and the urgency behind certain jobs. Miss Becca on the other hand likes to go to bed early, wake up early, and have a nap right around noon. She does not go with the flow and is far too little to understand the needs of the cows and crops. This summer has been pretty hard on her needs and it’s starting to manifest in her behaviors. Tantrums, defiance, the word “no” to every suggestions, and night-waking have been regular occurrences at our house for the last month. We’ve all been exhausted from our workload, and we have been frustrated by our little one who won’t–or can’t–get with the program and adjust to the summer hours.
Some things you need to understand about Becca to understand the behavioral issues I’ve been battling:
- She determined. What she wants to do, she is going to do and no amount of persuasion will convince her otherwise.
- She has a very low social tolerance. Ever since she was a baby she has struggled with big groups or very much time away from home. She’s one of those kids who, at eight weeks old, screamed for two hours straight upon returning from a family party with my side of the fam. If I tried to soothe her she screamed harder. If I tried to rock her she screamed harder. Over time I learned that she is totally different from Henley in that she wanted me not to touch her and not to talk to her, but to be there in the room.
- She has a high mom-to-her-in-private need. She needs lots of time with me, alone to feel secure.
- She’s very tall for her age and has no desire to be little. She wants and believes she can do anything Henley can do.
Becca is a difficult child. The demands of the ranch on me have drastically increased and it’s taking a toll on my hard but so loved almost two year old. Mr. Rancher and I have been finding ourselves frustrated and exasperated with Miss Becca and her obstinacy the last two weeks, we just didn’t know how to do the work that must be done and nurture the child who must be nurtured but who seemed so resistant to our efforts.
The ranching had to–has to, it’s still happening–get done. There is no way around that. Becca has to be met where she’s at. There’s no getting around that.
So what have we done about our problem?
We’re actively working on the tantrums and emotional regulation, taking into account that she’s almost two and these struggles are typical for her age. Here are five things that have helped us through the past few weeks.
1. Outside time. Every day no matter hot or how many mosquitos. The pool or sprinklers solve the heat problem. Super strong bug spray solves the mosquito problem until some traps arrive. The space outside allows my socially sensitive kiddo enough room to go at her own pace and to try big-kid things.
2. Sharing a room with Henley. We just moved the girls in together and it’s going so so well. Becca has consistently been waking at 12:30 to cry for a couple hours. The last few nights she’s slept through–my philosophy is that if she’s waking now, she rolls over to see that she’s not alone and is able to drop back to sleep. Plus, Henley has been more of a constant than mama or daddy lately–due to all the farm work. I don’t believe that this situation is ideal for the long-term, but for periods of time it is important and beneficial for siblings to rely on each other and deepen their bond with each other. They learn that even though mom and dad aren’t around all the time, they can be okay if sister or brother is there with them at the sitter’s, Grandma’s, church class, camp, etc.
3. Individual cuddle time in the morning and right before bed. This intentional, quiet time helps to start the day right and end peacefully.
4. Talking through every step of the day, using timers for transitions, and giving warnings before changing activities. This really isn’t very successful yet…but it helps me keep my cool when she’s melting down as I have a set of steps to work through amidst the screams and flailing.
5. Remembering that she’s still little and that her passion will someday be one of her greatest assets. Repeating this as a mantra sometimes.
Summer with all it’s excitement and work, fun and busyness will eventually end and we’ll be back on a slower rhythm. Toddlers grow up and learn to speak their emotions rather than scream or flail them out.
It will all be okay and we’ll be better for this struggle.