Friday, June 1, 2012

Good, Bad, Patterns

Yesterday's tantrum was not an isolated incident. Late afternoon is often a time of meltdowns and tantrums and general fussiness. Last summer, I found myself ending each day exhausted and frustrated and thinking what an awful day it had been. Except, like yesterday, it usually wasn't. Usually it just ended badly.

For a few weeks, I made myself write down the good and the bad of the day.

Good: taking a break to sing with Kathleen, lunch in the garden (Kathleen's idea), great run 3 miles+
Bad: Dinner started too late. I was storming around the kitchen fuming at B for making pie late in the day. Up way too late

Good: Elizabeth's morning giggles, taking a break to let Kathleen sit on my lap, knowing what Elizabeth needed to settle tonight (being put down)
Bad: Grumbly this morning about my "plan" for the day and B. sleeping in

Good: Elizabeth crawling!, watching Kathleen interact during our last music class (what a difference from the first class), dinner quick and smooth (yay for my plan of take out on music days!)
Bad: Feeling stressed about getting work done tomorrow

I'm thinking its about time to start doing this again.

Writing these things down over several weeks helped me identify patterns. Those patterns helped me make changes to make my days at least a little smoother. I prepped dinner early in the day when everyone was content. Even when it felt like we had plenty of time until dinner, I cut off all activities after 5—no walks around the block or a quick dip  at the swimming hole. I made myself stop working by 5—even if I was "almost done." When I stuck to the rules it helped, wasn't perfect but it was better.

What I really loved about this practice, though, was that it gave me my days back, much like that massage did yesterday. It helps me remember when the milestones actually happened and those amazing, non-milestone moments that you think you'll remember but you don't, the morning giggles and singing breaks and meals in the garden.

Today's bad: Struggle at bed time, Kathleen kicking on the floor
Today's good: Elizabeth moving her hands and singing "gooly gooly" when I was changing her (she learned part of the song I sing often during her changes!), planting the plants neighbors gave us for Henry's birthday

It got rough toward the end, but it was a pretty good day.


  1. You've given me some great ideas here. We have our fair share of bad moments here and while there are plenty of good moments, it is hard not to let the bad ones spoil them. Toddlers hey!

  2. Finding the patterns so helps, doesn't it? It just makes you feel so much more in control. Thank you for sharing this--I feel a little less alone in the preschooler-tantrum-madness-spiral we seem to be in :)

  3. I love this! It is so true. A seriously fussy afternoon can wipe away the memories of the sweet smiles and quiet moments of the morning. As much as we think the sweet moments will stick in our memory it seems to be the traumatic bath time that etches itself into the books. And while I've toyed with the idea of prepping dinner in the afternoon, I've yet to do this. That would help ... if I can do it. Good ideas, thanks for sharing!

  4. This is a great idea - so much simpler (and more doable!) than trying to log the whole day. We're just at the beginning of some big changes for Dot, and I think trying your idea might help us (me, at least!) get through them without losing too much hair.

    Hope you get some days that end less roughly soon.

  5. What a wonderful idea... I can remember those days of difficult endings and tears. And it's so easy to forget the good in each day. Thank you for the reminder to remember :) Love always xoxo