Looking back over the last 5-8 months, I'm really glad that I did not set a goal to reduce my stress levels in 2010. I know I would have failed miserably. It's not that anything major happened. It's just all the little things that kept popping up that pushed me to my limits. The endless colds, the month of hives, Michael's transition into part time daycare, my transition to a new schedule, the new traffic patterns on my ride into work. It was like a never ending stream of chaos being forced on my life, and for someone who thrives on routine, it really wore me down.
So, I let a few things slide here and there. Bathrooms may not have been cleaned as often as normal, I may have missed an oil change or two, it's even possible that my caffiene levels where significantly higher than I'd like to admit. But, you do what you have to do to get by.
I'm a fairly indulgent parent. You can blame it on Michael being an only child, or that I'm older, or that I'm lazy. Personally, I think it's just part of my personality and that I got it from my father - who would be shocked to see me call him indulgent. But, he was. If I had a dime for every time I managed to cry my way out of doing the dishes, I could buy a dishwasher with the money.
Add stress and a sick kid on top of my already indulgent tendencies, and the result is not pretty. I stopped forcing Michael to sit at the table while we ate dinner. I stopped fighting the endless battles over toys and cookies in the grocery store. I gave in to all of the cries to "wait 10 minutes in the hall" while Michael tried to fall asleep. I focused my energy on the things that I really needed to fight, and let the rest slide. I knew I was creating bad habits, but I was OK with that. Bad habits can be broken.
When we got back from Florida, I knew that Michael's sleep would be screwed up, so we decided to bite the bullet and try to correct all of the sleep problems. The endless stalling, the requests for more books, the frequent calls for me to come back into his room. It was time to bring them all to an end. I put my foot down, explained what bedtime was going to be like, and told Michael the consequences of not following the routine.
Then we listened to him cry for close to an hour. He finally settled for having Andy run in to tuck him in and then he was out for the night. The next night was wonderful. He's tried some of the stalling tricks, but now when I tell him he'll go to bed without stories he believes me and doesn't push.
But that's not the only change. Potty training, which had stalled, is back on in full force. He's so close, we just need to be consistent and wrap things up. Also, it's a house rule that we all eat dinner at the table as a family. Oh yeah, and that not listening thing...I don't think so.
It's been interesting watching Michael adjust to the changes we have made. These things aren't new, they just haven't been enforced in a while. He's working very hard at finding ways to stall and resist. It hasn't been pretty at times. But we are making some headway. There were a few nights where I was even able to kiss him good night a walk out of the room without hearing another peep all night.
Yesterday was Michael's first day back at school, and it was also our worst day since returning from Florida last Thursday. He fought every little thing. I offered him dino nuggets for dinner. He wanted a sandwich. I made him the sandwich and he didn't want to eat it. Then, he wanted to watch TV while eating it. Then he didn't want it cut into dinosaur shapes...And then, and then and then up until bedtime. He started pulling all the bedtime stalling crap again to, which resulted in tears and a tantrum. It was like all of the work that we had done for the past five days disappeared.
It pretty much sucked.
We stuck with it, and will keep sticking with it. I think the pediatrician was out of line with a lot of the things she said to me at Michael's appointment, and the manner in which she said them didn't help. But I do agree that things had gone too far, and that we need to be firmer and more consistant with Michael. (To his credit, Andy has been saying for months. I was just too worn down to do it.) So, the vacation is over. For both Michael and myself.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes.