Breaking Bad Habits

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Categories Balance, Behavior, Household and Family Management, Lists, Mommy Issues, Perspective, Routines

Husband went back to work last Tuesday. After an extended paternity leave of 3.5 months, during which we decided he would reevaluate his career for better work/life balance, he has now rejoined the working world. I no longer have my comrade in arms, battling the daily fight. It is now solely up to me to keep things running at home– a good chance to break some bad habits that we have negligently allowed to form in these hectic months.


1. Running around like a hooligan.

Nearly 3 means plenty of energy. When she’s gotten her full 11 hrs sleep at night or 2 hr nap, she’s ready to go. In our sleep-deprived haze, we got lazy and started letting her run and shout around the house to expend her energy. No time to take her outside, to the park, or even direct her attention to other activities, she’s gotten a little too used to the house being her playground. The babies didn’t mind when they were infants, but they are getting to be more aware of their surroundings now, so it’s becoming a problem. That, and the hooligan part.

2. Yelling when demands aren’t met.

Somehow, she’s also learned that yelling gets her attention. There are times when her demands for a cup of water, for another sticker, for us to change the channel just can’t be met right away. We are feeding babies or otherwise occupied doing something else. We answer her with “wait” or “no” but lately that’s only gotten us the same request, louder and louder, until we give in or she cries.

3. Watching cartoons while eating.

It was just easier to let her watch Nick Jr while she ate. Kept her from peppering us with random questions or worse to demand our attention. Now, she can’t eat without a cartoon on TV? Bad, bad, bad.


4. Not on a schedule.

Sleeping and eating willy nilly is kind of expected in newborns just home from the hospital, but they’re 3.5 months old now. Time to get on a schedule. Bad habits inhibiting this include: Randomly screaming in the middle of a nap and going back to sleep, Pretending to be hungry and then not eating, or my favorite, I spit my paci out but now want it again. This is priority number one, and I think I’m making a little progress from this previous post about E.A.S.Y.


5. Being anal.

I’m pretty regimented, controlling even. Goal-oriented is what I call it. I tend to see my role at home as the commander of the health and happiness of my children, and I like military precision. Routines are a big deal when you’re a child (I know this from my 9 years of teaching), and they’re a big part of Toddler’s life. In fact, my in-laws have joked that I’m the “sleep Nazi”. These last few days, trying to get all three kids in sync has been driving me crazy. Any two would be a breeze, but throw in the third one and the gears fall off. It’s like they know.

Actually, the daytimes are pretty good. The twins’ schedules are aligned, Toddler is behaving, we’re all enjoying our time together, and then the “witching” hour (or two) hits and all hell breaks loose. Babies want to be fed when it’s time for Toddler’s bath (even if they’ve just been fed and are peacefully sleeping), or they get overtired while I’m still working on putting Toddler to bed (when she is at her worst with the stalling and whining). Add to that the fact that I also need to squeeze in some pump time, during which I cannot tend to anybody, and the great day we might have had becomes a distant memory. I get frazzled and frustrated– the only thought that runs through my head is that it is just plain unmanageable.

And I stress myself out. I have chronic neck and shoulder pain because that’s how my body manifests stress, and lately there have been a few tension headaches too. I’ve always looked with disdain at parents who disregard their kids’ nap and bedtimes, but in a way I really envy them. When it gets bad, all I’m thinking about is when is the next feeding, how long have they slept, have the diapers been changed– so that the day just becomes a series of countdowns. I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy the moments.

My daughter has probably inherited/learned some of this from me (see my post on Toddler Rituals), and I don’t want her to have a life of anxiety and stress, so I’ve just got to quit it.

ALL really much more easily said than done. Toddler’s bad habits are behavior issues. I’m in the process of changing those already. She’s young and malleable so we’re good there. Babies’ bad habits have to do with their maturity. I’m sure as they get older they’ll get better, and I’ll get more experienced with their signs too. HOWEVER, the last one has plagued me my entire life. I am a perfectionist as well as an over-achiever, and throw in some major control issues too. I don’t know how to fix myself.

lunchldyd is mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter and 3 month old b/g twins in Los Angeles, trying very hard to do the scariest thing: lose control.

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lunchldyd is mom to 3 year old boy/girl twins and their 5.5 year old sister. She is now teaches part-time to juggle the needs of her young children. When not at work and the kids are asleep, she is addicted to watching TV and sometimes sacrifices sleep to read in bed. She lives in the Los Angeles suburbs with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

One thought on “Breaking Bad Habits”

  1. I’ve found it very effective with 3-year-olds to respond to yelling with, “I understand that you want X, but I’m saying no.” In my experience, that’s the age at which kids think that parents are only failing to respond because they don’t understand the request.

    I’m with you on learning to let go. The bad part is that when I let go, I LET GO, hence the enormous mess in my house. Good luck to you.

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