Wednesday I reached my breaking point. I've been bombarded with stuff almost constantly since my mom passed. Well, since even before then, because watching a parent die is horrific. But it seems like the last year and 3 months has been a constant barrage of upset, change, and drama. Not all of it is mine, and I seem to handle other people's stuff just fine. It's my own stuff that makes the scales tip and I started to feel out of control and helpless.
So, I finally put forth the effort to go see a counselor. I sought one out that deals with parenting issues and also counsels children. I went Friday afternoon and talked for just over 2 hours. We mostly talked about Ben and how he's gleefully pushing my buttons and some things I can try. I was forced to realize we've been too lenient with Ben and his hitting. We weren't being consistent with time outs or any sort of repercussions when he acted undesirably.
Following the lead of another mommy friend, I purchased a little red wash cloth that is now Ben's time out spot. It goes with me every where I go, in case we have to do a time out in public (something I'd not really been doing). Instead of sitting on a dining room chair, facing the wall, Ben now sits on his washcloth, bum on the ground, back to the wall, getting to witness life going on without him for 2 minutes. The moment he hits, kicks, bites, pulls hair or attacks an animal, his bum is on the cloth for 2 minutes. No more warnings - well, I try to warn if I can see he's about to strike out.
Saturday morning, we had probably 10 or so time outs before nap time. Most of them were for hitting Sadie but some of them were for hitting me or Nick. I'm surprised that Ben actually sits there for the time out. He doesn't like it and he lets us know by complaining nearly non stop, but he doesn't attempt to get up or leave.
We're slowly but surely making the transition from diapers to underwear. Yesterday he had one accident in his underwear. He was in them from the time he woke up (which he didn't like and resulted in his first time out of the day for hitting mommy), til nap time and then again when he woke up til he went off with his auntie and cousins so Nick & I could go out. We even went to the park (briefly - we went with the intention of feeding the ducks but the ducks were all gone and it was wicked cold. I think we stayed about 15 minutes) with no accidents. I bought a bag of M&M's and put them in a jar in the bathroom. He gets 1 M&M for every pee and 2 for every poo (which he hasn't actually done yet - that was accident #1 today.... ew...). So far the candy is acting as a bribe. He's not interested in going pee (with underwear on, again, he does so great when he's naked) until we remind him that he gets a candy. Shrug. Whatever works.
Ben has gotten into the habit (that I allowed) of taking a sippy of milk with him to bed. Save your lectures. I know. It's not good for his teeth. Lately he's been demanding refills several times through out the night and would wake up with a sopping diaper and soaked pants (surprise, surprise). So, the last few nights, I've had to be mean mommy and say no milk at bed time. He doesn't really like this....however, I don't have to get up with him any more in the middle of the night and we don't have to change the sheets almost every morning, so I like this.
So that's our little update. I've decided (after I was told by 3 different people that I was making a mistake) that I'll go ahead and keep Ben in Tumble Time for at least one more session. I'm going to try very hard to work with him and keep him on task and behave appropriately. If I can't by the end of the next session, then we'll try something else instead.
Next up is working on me. I need to keep my cool, remain calm and in charge and focus on getting time for myself. I've fallen out of the habit of doing really anything fun. I'm not motivated to sit down and scrapbook, which is something I used to really love doing. I don't read as often as I used to. I don't take time for myself to get haircuts, pedicures or anything just for me. Nick & I seem to spend more and more time existing side by side rather than enjoying each other's company (some of this is his fault - he puts in a lot of extra hours a day at work even while at home, but it's also my fault for not telling him we need more).
Wish me luck!