I have two daughters, Big Sister and Little Sister. Big Sister is almost four, Little Sister is two. I consider myself to be a relatively flexible and moderate parent.
When my children were babies I was not schedule obsessed, I let my daughters decide when they wanted to eat, sleep and interact. I did, however, always try to stay on top of what was best for their well being and their development. As an eager and highly anxious new parent I did not allow my infant to watch or listen to any TV. After reading several articles about how TV can delay and impair speech and cognitive development I never turned it on. But you know what, then I became more realistic, two year olds want to watch TV, so I started allowing my oldest daughter to watch Dora, Team Umi Zumi, Little Bear…etc. Like I said, I’m reasonable.
The same went for snacks. I made all of my own baby food and only served my daughters organic food. Once again, I realized…two year olds want bunny gummies and they like junk food, so I adapted and moderated my organic-only lifestyle.
So here I am on the verge of being a mother to a four year old, and to be honest, she is taking advantage of me. Over the past several weeks I have started noticing an increase in the time the TV is on, the number of snacks being consumed between meals, and the length of time it takes to go to bed. My smart and albeit manipulative daughters have learned that whining, tantruming, and playing Mommy off Daddy can be very effective. Well, I’ve had it. This Mama doesn’t get pushed around. I decided to set limits for our household.
I sat down Big Sister and explained to her the new, simple rules and limits our household was going to follow:
- One show in the morning,
- One snack between breakfast and lunch,
- One afternoon snack,
- One show before bedtime,
- One snack after dinner (must be a fruit item).
While upholding the household limits Big Sister and I would track the shows and snacks on a white board. Big Sister would be responsible for practicing her letters and helping keep track of the limits. However, as a reasonable person I am fully aware that there will be days we will deviate from our rules, but they are good to have and will hopefully deter some meltdowns and excessive afternoon snacking.
I felt proud of myself for taking charge and implementing these limits before things in our home spiraled out of control. I felt that the conversation that I had with my almost four year old went well and she understood the changes that were going to take place.
So…last night as I was putting Big Sister to bed she turns to me and says, “I wanna talk to you about rules,”
See! I knew this was a great idea, she is totally catching on.
“I have some rules for Little Sister that I think she needs to start following:
- No more taking things out of my room,
- No more touching my special baby,
- Stop biting,
- Work on potty training, cause I’m sick of poopy diapers,
- Inside voice when I’m watching a show.”
She proceeded to explain that she would be tracking the progress of these limits in her own notebook and would be reporting back on the progress of Little Sister.
As quickly as I thought that I had done something positive as a parent…
Wow! Maybe I should have kept the TV on more when Big Sister was an infant that way she wouldn’t be almost four and already out smarting me at my own game.