First time mum/referee/ sleeve snot wiper to a wild toddler. Designated household bum changer. Blogging about this motherhood malarkey from a refreshingly honest and unfiltered perspective.

Tantrums, Tiredness and Toddlers: An extract

I'm just entering the toddler years and by god, it's a whole new game of challenges. I mean you just can't get it right with a toddler, can you? You can stir up their most favoured dinner in the history of dinners one night and the following, all hell has broken loose because why on earth would you make them their absolute favourite food they normally would demolish when they’ve decided in that split moment they now detest it? 
It doesn’t matter what the situation is, what has triggered tantrum six or your futile attempts to calm the storm, you seem destined to fail at any and all attempts. 

Some days, I’ve successfully, and rather proudly, battled my way through any looming tantrums, on top form as an assertive, in control mum who really lays down the law and keeps her child in check. Other days, I’ve looked at my shrieking, stomping toddler and silently thought to myself, “He has me sussed. There’s no winning this! Where is the emergency snacks ASAP?!” 
There are days I’ve felt defeated. Days I can’t even muster the energy to follow through on my empty, pitiful threats. When I have exhausted my, ‘Mummy said noo!’ and my overused but rarely followed through, “You’ll get a time out. This is your last warning!”  
There are days when I didn’t exercise discipline because I was burned out and with kids, you have to be thorough every single time (even that time you think it’s okay to just let it slip this once, it’s not because they’ll remember that and use it against you!). But, honestly, I just couldn’t be fecking arsed with it.  

So, yeah, I turned a blind eye to the fact he launched his toy cars at the wall when I had given him into trouble for it, seven bloody times already.  I caved and sprinkled his plate with a mini platter of crisps and chocolate buttons after insisting he would be rewarded with no treats unless he ate all his dinner (which he decided to tip on the floor whilst making direct eye contact with me but I ignored that too because I run this house and totally have this under control ha HA.) 
Sure, that’s really not an example of parenting at its best or good parenting at all if we’re being honest, not in any form but sometimes you do get lazy, sometimes you just can’t be bothered with even the thought of another tiring showdown. It can feel like there isn’t an end in sight when you’re faced with a million meltdowns a day. It becomes draining.  
Kids need boundaries but also like to test them and, test them, they do, right down to your last brittle strand of patience.  
I feel like I have experienced an exceptional number of tantrums to have classed them into a set of stages. So many so, you would think I had more than just the one kid. 

Here is how it goes down: 

Phase 1 - This is your first and only warning 

WHATS GOING DOWN: You can’t always predict a tantrum being concocted so when one explodes, it hits you totally unprepared (where’s shouty mum at?) and totally perplexed.  Other times you can just sense the shit storm that is about to erupt like a volcano right out of your toddlers whining little mouth. 

You sometimes know, by the look. We’ve all had that look from a toddler; a subtle caution to make us aware that our next move is one that will domino the next set of events. The look that tells you shit is about to go down. The look that implies you should telepathically already know what’s wrong with them before they even decide something is actually wrong. You are doomed to fail this no matter what you do. Why, you ask? Because they don’t know themselves what’s wrong but they have been programmed to have a meltdown whenever you are feeling short fused, have a mountain of things to get done, or the day is going just too smoothly. They could be howling over the colour of t-shirt they’re wearing, crying over the blandness of the freaking walls, who the fuck actually knows? 
They will begin to let out the sounds of a faint moan, an all too familiar whimper that is the beginning of the shitstorm about to take wind. 

WHAT THE F TO DO: Give them a warning (this is purely to show whose boss and assert your authority, which your toddler has tricked you into believing you hold, but their selective hearing will present strongest at this time), threaten a time out (fail) and muster your will power not to resort to cheesy wotsit bribery (so very tempting to resist but you must).  

Phase 2 - Pre meltdown 

WHAT’S GOING DOWN: Pointing. There shall be a lot of pointing and 'eh' grunts at the thing you're supposed to see. Is it the toy car? Do they want a drink? Is there a demon floating around the house? 
They will begin to stomp their feet stressing their fury and impatience at your blatant incompetence to parent. What is wrong with you mum? How silly are you? WHY CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M CLEARLY TELLING YOU - “Baboguugaga" I mean come, on?! 
Que the trickle of a tear, a quivering lip, the big sad eyes, and BOOM, savage toddler has been activated!  
WHAT THE F TO DO: Pray you survive the next painful hour until bedtime.

Phase 3 - Checkmate (the stand-off) 

WHAT’S GOING DOWN: This is the test. The test that will depict your proper parenting ability. Are they laughing or crying or just taunting? These next few moments can feel (depending on your primary mood of the day, so much less bearable on a short fused one) a breeze to welcome or very, very tense.  
There will be a lot of staring, a lot of avoided eye contact (on both parts, none of you will want to make the first deadly stare) whilst your toddler’s little brain racks up its next move. 

WHAT THE F TO DO: The key is not to faulter. Remain strong. Do not give in (it’s unbearably tempting but that’s what they want!) 

Phase 4 - The Flop 

WHAT’S GOING DOWN: By this point, your toddler has concluded that enough is enough. Why have you not caved with a chocolate biscuit and Hey Duggee marathon? 
They have given you countless chances to decode what they’ve been trying to tell you but you have failed to decrypt the moan/point/grunt lingo. At this point, they have surmised that you are the world's most unfair parent and if they could, they would go get a new Mum who understands them.  
Nevertheless, they give you one final chance. One final shot to telepathically comprehend what they wanted. You fail to pass the test yet again. 

Now, they have no option but to resort to ‘The Flop’. This is the tactic used when all hope is lost. In an overdramatic state of defeat, they will perform the act of flopping to the floor in hysterics; arm over the eyes to portray the hardship of a two-year-old, emphasising just how cruel and unfair everything is in life, so early on. 
However, by this stage, they don’t actually know what they want or even remember why they were stropping in the first place but they have gotten this far, thus they must follow through till the very end. 

WHAT THE F TO DO: Make a mental note to text your partner to pick up a bottle of rum on the way home or don’t come back at all. Step over writhing, screaming toddler, lock self in kitchen with protection of baby gate and pacify self with luke-warm cup of tea until the appropriate allocated bedtime drink arrives. 

Phase 5 - The Wail  

WHAT’S GOING DOWN: They’ve completely lost their shit by now and your blatant resilience to back down from the situation has only enthused their determination (they are not even acutely aware that you’re mentally ripping out chunks of your hair and making a mental note to get your ovaries burned).  
The wail, the almighty ear-piercing shriek devised by the Toddler Secret Order, a creation to break Mums everywhere into biscuit offering and toy top ups. 

This is the moment that could make or break you. The trick is to ride it out, not to give into bribery temptation and the offering it promises of five minutes peace. Continue with the time-out technique even when it appears futile (it’s working, they are registering their misbehaviour equals the naughty step). They are testing to see how far they can push the boundaries.


Phase 6 – The Aftermath 

WHAT’S GOING DOWN: Forty-six minutes and three seconds of screaming, stomping, hitting has reached its end, exhaustion has conquered their overworked little minds. 
You did it! You survived tantrum no. 76393 of the Toddlers Unnecessary Right to Piss Everyone off Act. Bravo supermum! 

WHAT THE F TO DO: Kick your feet up, pour yourself a glass of wine and breath. You have lived through another day.  
Recharge your batteries for the next tantrum that will commence at 0800 hours. BE PREPARED (and enjoy the glass of wine, I mean, bottle). 

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