life

Clean the kitchen

For the second year in a row (and that means we’re batting 100), late winter has brought the very worst of cold and flu season upon our little girl. Ten days ago I was smugly thinking to myself that all in all, this hadn’t been a bad one. Sparks did have the flu (the real thing) over Thanksgiving, and we all had Norwalk virus in October (oh, didn’t I blog about that?), but other than that Mimi hadn’t had much more than stuffy noses and a little blustery coughing. We were going to get through this winter just fine!

Hubris.

She got a very stuffy cold. Then she got roseola with the full set of possible symptoms including fatigue, irritability, lack of appetite, and a truly disconcerting rash. Now she has another cold, a stuffy and runny one, and one that makes her cough all night, night after night after night. You can imagine how rested and refreshed she feels after her night’s slumber, and what a tractable joy of a child she is because of it, right?

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I took this picture in December after a friend told me that when her toddlers got to be too much, she would cover them in post-it notes and gain twenty minutes of peace while the kiddos un-stuck and re-stuck the notes. I was such a cute idea that I had to try it.

Sticking the notes all over her at my own adult pace, without her consent or participation, was curiously therapeutic. She pulled them all off in thirty seconds though. Rats.

Finding ways to blow off steam when your kid is driving you crazy… is important. Very, very important. If you can turn it into something constructive, all the better. I have a few things I turn to when Mimi starts to feel like more than I can handle: sometimes I start a yelling duel with her, which she loves. I yell, then she yells, then I yell louder, then she yells, etc until we’re both giggling. Sometimes if I’m lying on the floor I gather her up in my arms and roll back and forth, loudly singing Rockabye Baby.

Usually, though, I clean the kitchen. In a few editions of his book Dr. Spock recommends that when parents feel their children have become too demanding, they set themselves a program of housework and go about it with great determination, making it seem very very important. So when I feel like Mimi has been played with and paid attention to enough for the present, I retreat to the kitchen, where there is always, always a full-on cleanup to be done. Unload the dishwasher, re-load the dishwasher, put things back in the pantry, hand-wash some things, wipe down the counters, detail cabinets and appliances, and finally if I still have the energy take a wet rag and scrub at some of the spots on the floor.

Every single time, Mimi decides that this is boring, and totters off to play by herself while mom is being boring. If she hasn’t decided by the time I get around to wiping spots off the floor, I offer her a wet rag of her own, and she decides playing by herself would be more fun.

So imagine my delight when I read item #12 in this list. How to be a calm parent? Clean. YES!

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