You’re in your house and everything is relatively ok…until the baby starts crying. As you’re in the process of trying to change and settle the baby, your rambunctious three year old decides that she wants to help, so she goes into the kitchen and tries to make her baby brother a bottle. This leads to her spilling the entire contents of a brand new container of baby formula, yes the entire $40 container, all over the counter, floor, herself…everywhere! The baby has just stopped crying, but you have to set him down to go clean up the mess his big sister just made, which just causes him to start crying again.
You’re now rushing to clean up all of the powdered formula, while listening to the chorus of your baby screaming to be picked up when you realize big sister is no where to be seen. You panic and start to look around. The formula mess is still not completely clean, and the baby is still crying, but where is the three year old? You walk into the bathroom only to find big sister has found your favorite red lipstick. You know… the one you eyed at Sephora for months before taking the plunge to spend that much money on a lipstick. Not only has she managed to open it, but in the short time she was alone with it, she has managed to smear it all over the counter, mirror, her only coat, herself, her hair, the floor, the walls. It looks like a crime scene. Red lipstick smeared everywhere!
At this point you’re not just frustrated but you’re getting angry. The baby is still crying and now you have not just one mess but two to clean up and you have to figure out how to get this red lipstick off of your child. You quickly throw her into a bath and scrub until there’s no more lipstick left, get her dressed as quickly as you can, then send her into her room for a timeout while you tend to the baby. You tell yourself that she was only trying to help with the bottle but that lipstick…that was messed up. She wanted to make a mess with that. She meant to make that mess….but why? Why would she do this?
After a while you tell her to come out of her room and as she does it, she locks her bedroom door and closes it…AGAIN! This is the sixth time this month that she has locked that damned door and closed it. Now you have to call maintenance to come unlock the door which will take them forever to do.
All of that frustration is reaching a boiling point. You’ve gone from being a little mad with this three year old punk to being pissed. What the hell was she thinking? You don’t express any of your anger to her but what are you supposed to do at this point? She talks back all the time, she keeps doing things that cause a mess to be made, she destroys things, she never listens… What are you supposed to do with her? What are you supposed to do with yourself so you don’t lose your shit?
When you signed up for motherhood… you so did not know you were signing up for this…HELP!!!
We’ve all been there at some point, and if your children are still too young to be this kind of little terrorist…well it’s something to look forward to! Yay!
Raising kids is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. As the old saying goes, they don’t come with an instruction manual, so trying to navigate all of the craziness can be extremely difficult at times. So when a friend of mine told me about the above day she had, well I had to try and help her as much as I could.
Three is probably one of the hardest ages, I’ve experienced so far with my kids. It’s a stage where they are really starting to come into their own. They are trying to be more and more independent and want to do everything on their own. They feel like big kids and thus tend to develop attitudes that can only be compared to a teenager… this would be the threenager stage. They are gaining their own voices and have their own likes and dislikes and express them loudly. The caveat to all of this though, they still don’t understand that their actions have consequences…sometimes big ones.
So the little hell raiser on two legs that’s currently trying to pour their own cup of milk while spilling it all over the floor doesn’t realize that she’s creating a huge mess for you. She doesn’t know that the gallon that’s now all over the floor cost you almost $4.00 or that it was the last of the milk in the house, so now you have to go to the store. She just th
inks that she’s a big girl and can do it herself. It’s not an intentional spite against you or a want to make life harder, she may have thought she was helping. Just like my friends daughter thought she was trying to help by making her crying baby brother a bottle.
It’s hard to navigate through that. It’s hard to see, when you’re in the middle of the mess, that they are just trying to do what you do or that they are trying to be helpful. We see a mess, we see extra work, we see the money. But when you look at it from their perspective, well, they just wanted to help.
When your child is in the bathroom attempting to help you remodel it by painting a layer of toothpaste and lipstick everywhere (yeah my 2 year old son enjoyed this little art project a lot) that they were just being creative or were experimenting. They see the pretty colors of the blue toothpaste and purple lipstick, smell the bubble gum sweetness, and feel the gooey texture and it’s just fun. They aren’t being purposely destructive or mean.
So what do we do when we are in the middle of these situations so we don’t lose our shit?
This is tricky. I happen to be one of those people with a really short fuse, so it’s taken me a while to learn how to handle this, not so much with the kids but with myself. And honestly, I still have to work on it daily. The best thing you can do though is step back and take a deep breath.
When you have a big mess in front of you or you’re feeling overwhelmed or there just seems to be one thing right after another happening… you’ve got to let yourself take a breather. If you have to, close the door and walk away from the situation. You know… out of sight out of mind. Send your child to their room or put on a show so that they are quiet and calm , and take a minute for yourself. Go on YouTube and watch a funny cat video, read through your facebook feed, or go color in one of those adult coloring books.. preferably one of the ones with the curse words beautifully written out so you can color you feelings! Just do something for yourself so you can take a second to decompress. That mess will still be there but you’ll feel a little more sane dealing with it.
Once you have calmed down, that panicked overwhelmed feeling has passed, call the child back out or go snuggle with them on the sofa and talk to them. Explain what happened isn’t good. Use terms and phrases that are appropriate for their age and try to walk them through it. So in the situation of the baby formula say something like ” I understand that you wanted to try and help mommy by making a bottle for you’re little brother. Thank you for doing that but from now on let mommy take care of that.” Point out that in the process they did make a big mess and then have them try to help clean it up.
With big messes like lipstick or toothpaste, the best thing you can do is throw on some music, grab a package of baby wipes (always have these on hand for makeup stains, the oils work great to break down the makeup), a scrub brush, and some cleaner and set to work. Again talk to them and let them know that this kind of a mess isn’t acceptable and that they shouldn’t play with things that aren’t theirs and if they can, have them help you clean it.
Trust me when I say that I have been put into these situations on more than one occasion. With 4 kids under one roof, you tend to encounter a lot of these situations actually. My son is by far the worst out of the group when it comes to getting into sticky situations. The lipstick and toothpaste in the bathroom was probably the biggest mess he’s made so far. It took an hour of scrubbing and cleaning to get it all up. I could have chosen to go in so many directions mood wise with it. I could have cried, trust me… I wanted to. I could have gotten mad about it. But instead I laughed. Now it may have been one of those crazy, you pushed me too far kind of laughs, but I laughed all the same. I turned the situation into a joke and in the end it wasn’t as bad as what I originally thought that it was going to be.
You have to figure out what direction you want to take things and go from there. Trust me, there are going to be days that try you. In my house, they come on a regular basis. But if you listen to one piece of parenting advice, let it be this…at those times when you feel overwhelmed, or stressed, or like its just too much take a step back and breath and once the overwhelming issue is situated or you’ve calmed down go hug your child. They are only in this stage once and it really is a short period of time.
I’d love to hear some of your stories! What’s been one of the biggest WTF situations in your house and how do you handle those moments? Head over to the Goldfish and Gin Community Support page on Facebook and tell us… bonus points for pictures!