The Holiday Part 1 – Dramatic Dress Ups

Task this morning: helping my three and a half year old try on his winter clothes from last year for our upcoming holiday in a more temperate climate.

Easy, right?

Of course not.

This is how it played out:

“Alex come here darling, I need you to try on your long pants to see if they fit for our holiday next week. “ He moves away. I reach out. He side-steps.

I’m kneeling on his bedroom floor with all of the many possibilities laid out around me.

“Alex…..Alex…..come here, it won’t take long…”

Yeah, right. He’s smart enough at his age to know this already of his mama. That I will want him to try on every single thing. No matter how long it takes and how annoyed he is. Perfectionism, much?

He bounces into the corner, playfully smirking. Will, my 17 month old, keeps plopping himself on my knees, taking a few steps away, and then bowling himself back into me. Ooof! He knocks me off balance. I grope around him, grasping at Alex.

“Come on Alex, just a few pants to try. “ He runs past me, and out of my reach.

“Alex, now please” I plead. He runs past me again, and I reach out around in-my-face Will, my hands blindly flapping. My hands find a fast figure, and my body jolts.

“Okay Alex, put your foot in here.” He puts his foot in the pants wildly, and trips.

“Owwwww.” He flashes a hurt look.

“Sorry darling. Okay, next one. Foot in here, no, stop moving. Just stand still please!” Alex is teetering about, Will is probing my face, fingers up nostrils, keen for my attention. My arms encircle him as I hold Alex’s pants open.

Will tries the shoulder bite. That seems to work.

“No Will!” I say loudly and place him on his bottom next to me. He starts to cry. Hmmm, maybe not quite the attention he was looking for.

Alex decides to run out of the room.

“Alex…..come back please…Alex….Alex, now…”

Will cries.

“Three, two, one, Alex come here!!” I say loudly. Despite loving rockets, this usually works for him.

Nothing. “Alex COME HERE NOW!” I actually shout at 80% volume. Probably the loudest ever. I briefly think of the neighbours.

Well. It’s probably too late to be considerate of the neighbours. We’ve lived here for a long while now…

He placates.

Thank you Alex. Now, put your foot in here, that’s it. Okay, great. These are fine. Ok now just try this jacket on. Okay, arms in..excellent. Cool. That looks fine. Alright, let’s take it off.” I pull his arm out for him. It is a little tight.

Alex starts to cry. “What? What’s the matter?”

“I want to do the zipper up!”

“Oh Alex, it’s too hot! Not now, come on, we need to get in the car soon. Let’s put your shorts back on so we can go. We’ll do the rest later.”

Screaming. From both of them.

“Will, that’s enough. No biting Mummy. Alex, I didn’t know you wanted to do the zipper, sorry darling..”

More noise.

What do I do?! I can’t think!

I’m frustrated because I can’t get them to do what I want, when I want. And when it comes to clothes and my perfectionistic tendencies, see Note below.

Note: As friends who have shopped with me can attest, I am painfully slow. As I’m trawling through all the clothes I even burn myself out! Cue sore throat.

Add noise from both of them, and whoa, there is the anger trigger.

It’s a good thing to be aware of your triggers. Then you can have an action plan in place to avoid meltdowns (from all of you!) For instance, if both kids are screaming at you (my trigger), you need to realise that you can’t attend to both of their needs simultaneously. Realise that the noise is going to continue from at least one of them while you are helping the other, and move on. Pick the most pressing issue and deal with that first.

Rather than screaming back at them, which doesn’t achieve anything except maybe making yourself look like a bulging eyed monster, I’ve found TV can snap them out mid-scream! I don’t like to advocate TV for much, however, if it is going to help you to actually discern what the problems are rather than trying to decipher intelligible cries for 30 minutes+….and to help yourself calm down, then I think it is helpful! For less headstrong bubs, other distractions like food, toys, and bubbles, could be successful tools.

Maybe I need to let go a bit more, and realise that I can’t expect them to bend to my adult expectations. They are three and one, after all. And what boy likes trying on clothes?

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