Thursday, 12 February 2009

The best-laid plans

After a shouting match yesterday morning at getting-dressed-and-out-the-door time, I decided to try a different approach today. I decided that we would make sure R was dressed at least an hour before she had to leave the house.

This was achieved by refusing to play doctors, shops or anything with her until she was dressed. I told she could play on her own in her pyjamas, but that I wouldn't join in, unless she was dressed. She played by herself for about 5 minutes and then came over to me, asking 'Do you want to play Doctors?'. When I said 'No, not until you're dressed,' she said, 'OK.' and got dressed. Wow! I was so pleased and proud of both of us. No shouting, no tears, no door slamming. Hoorah.

Half an hour later, she had an accident and her trousers, tights and knickers had to come off. Would she put a fresh lot on? Nope. She spent the next 15 minutes playing on her own with nothing on her lower half, refusing every time I suggested she get dressed. Grr!

But... I still managed to avoid shouting. She stopped playing and went and sat at the table to finish her breakfast (about 10 minutes before we had to leave). So, I brought the clothes through and said 'Why don't we see if I can manage to put your clothes on you, while you eat your breakfast. Do you think I can manage it?' She was game for the challenge and we did manage it without either of us getting cross.

But can I manage it all the time? Do I have enough imagination to come up with a new game or challenge every time she starts being contrary? We shall see.

Oh, yes, and I was so excited that I was jumping about saying 'Don't you have an ingenious mum? Isn't Mummy ingenius?' and she turned to me, put her head to one side and said 'Yes, Mummy. You are a genius.' Now, if only everyone else would concur!


  1. Ah yes the getting a young child dressed in the morning thing.
    If I was asked to put an octopus in a bag I'd probably have more luck.
    Believe me, it's not just you. I'm there every morning chasing my daughter around the house trying to put something on her. Good exercise though!

  2. And then the preschool goes and has "pyjama day" and that just about ruins any progress you've made, forever.

  3. Tara: I have in my head that it's going to improve once she can do it herself. That it's her asserting her independence, yet not being able to actually do it. I may be deluding myself.

    Iota: Pyjama days?! Surely not. What crazy person would have invented them?

  4. Oh God - I have a similar drama every day with my 3 year old son and got to the point this morning where I just didn't have either the energy or inclination to either be creative or chase him from room to room. I asked him nicely to get dressed. About 5 times. He refused, thinking this was a great game. I left the house with the 5 year old, shouting a cheerful 'bye' over my shoulder as the door shut. That boy has never got dressed so quickly in his life. Of course, I only stood outside and I did feel guilty that he got so panicked and upset. Maybe not one of my best parenting experiences - but this morning it was just a case of 'whatever works'.

  5. Nicola: Wow! That was good thinking. Though it will probably only work one or more times, before he realises you're not actually going to leave him on his own. They're far too clever for us, really, these little ones! It must be doubly difficult when you've got to get an older one to school.

  6. Pyjama days are my best! I love them! Then I don't have to get anyone dressed and nobody looks at me strangely either, they just think that I have lots of school spirit.
    It's rather humiliating to me that Four, who will be five in May doesn't seem to know how to dress herself whereas all of her friends clearly do. Actually she can do the easy bits saves the inconvenience of socks for the staff. One prefers to co-operate during the undressing phase but then make a break for it as soon as he is stark bollock naked and gleefully runs for the nearest outside door. Then he wiggles, shrieks, bites and simultaneously takes off whatever you have just put on at the other end of his body while you attend to the other half. Looking forward to summer when they can just be naked. I don't care.

  7. Tash, you ARE a genius :) I am very impressed with your calm parenting; I, on the other hand, have been a banshee mother today, for no real reason other than I am stressed by the thought of the girls' baptism and birthday (nice combo, I thought...) party tomorrow :(

  8. Mothership: I'm not hugely bothered about running around naked (*), but I'm not sure the nursery school would appreciate it. In fact, last summer I saw a mum being told off by two police officers, because her daughter was naked. I have a feeling they were following up on some busy-body's complaint and that, technically, it would be illegal, but I don't think the police go around telling off toddlers for taking their clothes off as a matter of course, somehow.

    (*) Not me! Certain firey places would have to have an ice age before I exposed my blobbiness to, well, anyone really.

    MTJAM: Thank you. I was not at all calm this evening at bedtime. C had to take over, because I was doing high-pitched, hysterical shouting, instead of calm but firm voice. (Can you tell it was mostly my turn to not work today?!)

    Happy Birthday and Baptism Day to the girls. Hope it goes well and, yes, you are completely nuts combining the two! Though I suppose you get the stress out of the way quicker.