I always like to prepare the girls for what they can expect, and what I expect of them.
“We’re going to the grocery store. Mommy has a lot of things to buy today, so you’re going to sit in your stroller.”
“We’re going to the mall. Mommy has one thing to buy, and if you behave well, we’ll ride the escalators.”
My favorite example is when they got their flu shots this fall. I told them they would get a shot, and that it would hurt – but only for a second. And I told them that after their shots, I was quite sure they’d get a really cool sticker. It worked! No tears! (And they reenact that scene with their doctor kit all the time, telling their baby dolls, “This will hurt, but only for a second!” and then they award their babies bracelets, like they get from the pediatrician.)
When the girls were a year and a half old or so, I remember a few ugly scenes, usually as we were leaving the park, or after a fun trip to the orchard. The girls had been having such a great time, and they did not want to leave…and they let us – along with anyone in the surrounding parking lot and greater metro area – know of their displeasure.
I don’t know how much of the change is due to them being older, or how much is my approach, but our departures have been so much less stressful over the past year.
“Girls, you have about five more minutes to play.”
I don’t mean to suggest that the girls have a true sense of “five minutes”, but they know that means we’ll be leaving soon.
“Girls, about three more minutes.”
“Girls, would you like to go down the slide one more time before we go to the car?”
And it doesn’t seem to hurt that I usually mention our cat Sasha is waiting on us to come home.
We tell the park, “Thank you, park! We’ll see you soon!” and we’re off to the car…thankfully, fuss-free.
What’s cracked me up recently is that the girls are using this approach on me. Every morning, after breakfast, I have my “coffee time”. I clean up the kitchen and drink my coffee and work on the computer for about 45 minutes, while the girls have independent play. They’re usually pretty good, but they can start to get a little antsy sometimes.
“Girls, Mommy has about five more minutes with her coffee,” I’ll tell them.
“No! Three minutes, Mommy!”
Maybe they have a better sense for time than I thought!