So this vacation has been amazingly good for our parenting egos, basically whenever we go out as the whole family we get at least one if not many compliments. Some are just about appearances “Oh look, they are so cute”, some are more surface/conversational “you’ve got your hands full”, but the best are “wow your kids are so well behaved”, “you guys make it look easy, we are struggling with one”, and many more.
It’s interesting because when I look around there are lots of families walking with babies or just one kid and it does look easy. The parent to child ratio is great 2:1 but then I look at our circus and the kids are becoming such great friends, they are learning how to play with each other and more than that they are learning life skills like sharing, compromise and empathy. When I see Grace stop to help Rowen or Row check on Eleanor to give her a bottle and a blanket, there is nothing else like it. It reminds me when the challenging times come that we made the choice to have 3 kids and that despite the challenges there are way more good times than difficult. Plus not all moments are challenging some days we attempt something and the kids are all in the right mood and somehow we have this incredible day that even I want to give ourselves a little pat on the back.
That being said we are really struggling with discipline and follow through, I am looking for any ideas that have worked with your family. I think the hardest thing right now is finding age appropriate discipline, basically we have Rowen (3), Grace (2) and Eleanor (10 months). Oh and the struggle with being outnumbered by our kids. We don’t have enough hands to catch all of our rascals when they start running away! Or have your tried going to the pool with 3 kids 3 and under (it’s terrifying).
We are working hard on being proactive. So for example in anticipation of being near a pool and ocean for a good chunk of time we invested in quality swimming lessons and both kids wear their swim belts while swimming (supervised). We also don’t go certain places or plan around when we will have less kids or even bribe them with food. Like we had to go to Costco to do a big shop but we bought them fries and they ate in the shopping cart while we did all our groceries. May be this is bribery and not teaching them how to behave in a grocery store or maybe its genius. I do not know, but what I do know is it is what works and what has been helping us get by:)
However there are some areas we are struggling.
The one challenge I faced today is Grace learning how to share or learning patience to wait. Eleanor was napping so I took Grace and Rowen with their new balls across the street to the park. Kids have given up naps although we are finding they need them while vacationing (who doesn’t!). They love the swings and both still want to be in a baby swing. Well this particular park only has two baby swings and I let another family use one so my two kids had to share. Rowen was fantastic and patiently waited his turn but Princess Grace lost it when her turn was up. She arched her back, screamed like she was being attacked and let the waterworks fly. At which point I made the decision to follow through with my promise and bring both kids home, no more park or swinging. The same situation had happened last night when all the swings were taken and Grace could not grasp why “her” swings weren’t available.
How do you reason or explain to a two year old about sharing and waiting. My latest attempt is they are told the rules before, ie if you cannot share when we get to the swings and do not listen we will go home. Then usually what ends up happening is we have to pack up and go home. I am hoping after a few consistent times it will help break this behaviour but so far I don’t know if the kids even notice what is happening.
With Rowen it is whole other issue we are dealing with, LISTENING. His example was at the pool yesterday when he was told to stop throwing his toy out of the pool and he didn’t listen. He was given multiple opportunities to stop and many chances to stay but he continued so we just scooped him out and left the pool. This happens all day long in terms of taking toys from people, not keeping our hands to our selves, and just general annoying bickering between siblings.
The things I have learnt that do work include adjusting my expectations and setting us up for success.
Example is if I know they are tired I don’t expect the same out of them. We try to go for a nap or plan activities I know won’t cause arguments. Another example is if I want to go somewhere with them I try to plan it at a good time. Taking them in the morning while they are typically a little happier and more agreeable.
Expectations include things like ordering take out and hitting up the park instead of trying to go to a restaurant and then taking away a park play because they behaved badly.
Sometimes these things are hard to do because they aren’t what I want to do or they are inconvenient. But I know in the long run it will be more than worth it. I do know one thing though. We were in Maui last year at the same time with just Rowen and Grace who were just 2 and 1 at the time. This year we have been able to relax a little more and enjoy the beach and the pool more with them as well as some new activities and even eat out a bit. So, with this in mind I realize as the kids get older some things will hopefully become easier.
Have you had similar struggles with 2 and 3 year olds? Do any of my struggles sound familiar? Did you find anything that worked with your family? Would love to hear from you:)