Forgive me if I’m not as jovial as usual, or as silly as I like to be. I generally take a fairly humorous approach to life – after all I’m the living proof of the old adage, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. It pretty much sums me up: laughing or sobbing. At the moment I could quite easily do the latter all day, if there was no school run to do, nappies to change, life to get on with. And the reason isn’t depression, or illness, or a bereavement – it’s the terrible twos.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking – sort yourself out. A 2 year old having tantrums? Is that it? But actually, the terrible twos can be a dark place for a mother. There’s something about the relentless rage, the endless screaming, the sheer bloody mindedness of it that can really break your spirit. I’ve been here before, with child 1. I vaguely remember a lot of crying – mine. Her role was pretty much just the screaming, the head banging, the hitting, and the throwing. I was left in tears on the phone to husband at work, and my mum – also at work, begging – please, someone come and give me a break for a couple of hours. Let me out of this prison. And of course it passed: child 1 matured a little, the tantrums phased out and I could tentatively leave the house again without fear of a full throttle melt down.
It’s been a long 3 years, though, and I’ve forgotten. I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, as child 2 has always been a good natured, relaxed, happy little boy. The terrible twos started peeking it’s ugly head up above the parapet just after his second birthday, but it was fairly easy to cope with back then, and I thought I’d walk it this time. Easy-peasy. Ha, was I wrong. At 2 ¾, the dial has been turned up, and now it’s almost unbearable. The last 3 months has seen me majorly scale down any socialising, as I try and avoid taking him out unless it’s somewhere fun for him, like playgroup or singing group. That leaves me isolated and, dare I say it, a little lonely – with my only constant companion a whirling dervish of screams, bites and thumps. The terrible twos have the ability to make you feel like a dreadful mother. The internal battle just to not lose your temper is exhausting. Sometimes I just want to close the door and lock it – and you’ll usually find me hiding in the bathroom. Just for a few minutes, breathing deeply and calming down. Not that I get much peace, with child 2 outside, screaming and kicking the door, trying to get to me to land another sticky handed toddler slap in my face. That’s what the terrible twos does to you: it forces a grown woman to hide in the toilet from her 2 year old tyrant.
So, some practical advice for anyone with me in this joy-sapping place: read Dr Christopher Green’s The Toddler Tamer. It’s a genius book, with so much good advice for dealing with this age. I’ve read it four times. (This week.) (Ha ha, not really.) But yes, it’s that good – it makes you briefly feel sane!
I’ve also introduced the time out step to him recently, and while it’s a horrendous battle to get him to sit on it, he’s starting to understand that some behaviour is unacceptable. Things are so bad right now that I do wonder if persevering is worth the emotional pain (to me, not him!),
but I know both logically and from experience that it works, eventually. And he needs a boundary – something he understands he’s crossed when his tantrums get really out of hand. I use the rapid return to the step everytime he gets off, and it’s exhausting and emotionally draining, but I can only hope it will pay off in the end.
Get a Gro clock – if nothing else is going right, he at least loves and understands the difference between the sun and the stars on that little clock, so bedtime and naptime are reasonably easy to deal with. God knows I need the break, and to be fair, he does too. Even little terrors need a rest from the constant fury.
And although I feel dispairing, I do know that it ends, and somewhere inside this angry and violent imposter is my lovely little boy, who should emerge sometime in the next few months…. fingers crossed. As the ubiquitous poster states: Stay calm and carry on. Or, as I prefer, Stay calm and eat chocolate, drink tea (or wine) and wear really good ear plugs. (See, I just about managed to muster up a humorous quip. I’ll be ok!)
Written by guest blogger Treading Water Mum