Sometimes you just have bad days. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has them.
For me, it’s usually because Eli is upset and I can’t figure out why. That is the worst kind of bad day. I can tell he is hurting or in need of something but he can’t talk yet to tell me what it is and I’m left to guessing. Other days, it’s because he keeps going for the no-no’s and no matter how many times or different ways I try to get him not to, he keeps going for it.
In the first case, I make a mental checklist of everything I know that soothes Eli and start going down that list until something sticks. The last resort is putting him the car and driving around. Or, if he is sick, the last resort is Tylenol. Most often we have these kinds of days it is because he is teething. At this age, he’s pretty much always teething.
(For the record, I tried to find a picture of Eli crying but it seems I do not have one.)
For the second scenario, when Eli is pushing his boundaries, I have to have a good attitude. I also have to be firm. Children know and remember when you let it slide one time. A mom of 4 boys told me: “distract and redirect”. I use this method often. I take him away from the no-no, by cheerily offering up another thing to play with. When not even the most enticing toy works, I remove him from the situation. There is no point in keeping up the same cycle if we are both just getting frustrated. It’s not that I’m giving up on teaching him the lesson, it’s that doing it over and over again until we’re both crying isn’t going to drive that lesson home.
The hardest part is keeping my calm through these moments. He will feel me get upset, and it will add fuel to his fire. So I step back, take a deep breath, and start fresh. What method have I not tried yet? What could he be needing at this moment? How can I redirect him? What is Eli feeling at this moment? That is the most important question. Once I take my emotions out of it and focus on his, it makes it much easier.
At the end of these days, when I am holding Eli before bed telling him all the things about him that I love, I add in, “Today was a bad day. That is okay. Sometimes we have bad days. We are both learning. Tomorrow is a new day.” I swear, he understands what I mean. Because after this mantra, he and I both seem to come back to each other. The frustration is gone. We are mommy and son again. We are both learning. Each day isn’t a contest to win or lose at, it’s a lesson. What did we learn today? How can we apply that to tomorrow?
Tomorrow is always a new day. Remember that.