Lily is nearly 17 months now, and for all of her life she has had her mood swings. Mostly happy and laughing, but then very angry and shouty when upset. I thought this is just her personality, and we’d joke that she was our little angry bird. I bet looking at all the photos I put up of her, you’d never believe she could be angry. She does have a lovely smile.
When she had just turned 16 months, she seemed to be permanently angry and frustrated, throwing herself on the floor and looking annoyed all the time. October wasn’t a good month anyway as she had a bad cold the whole of that month. But after the illness had gone, she was still angry. At first it was amusing, but after a while I thought this is not good, something has to change. I want my happy girl back. I want her to be as happy as Tyler was at that age. She needs to experience more happiness than anger (yes I know that sounds like something out of the Trolls movie – I have watched it 1000 times in 2 months!).
I took a step back as had a real think about why she was angry all the time. Like being a detective. I thought it might be frustration from not being able to speak yet, and so we had to guess what she wanted and when we got it wrong, it frustrated her more. I’m talking about her standing in front of the cupboard or fridge, looking up and screaming for something. She could vigorously shake her head no. Not the brioche bun. Not that biscuit. Not milk. Not water. Not cheese. Oh cereal! Then she’d be so happy with the biggest smile once we got it right.
A friend suggested it might be sleep-related, she’s not getting enough. And it was something that didn’t even cross my mind because I don’t have a routine with Lily. Her day revolves around Tyler, she wakes when he wakes, eat when he eats, has to come on the school run with us, sleeps in the day whenever she falls asleep in the buggy after playgroups and so on.
Now playgroup was where her anger seemed to escalate. She seemed to tense up when other toddlers came near her, and scream if anyone took the toy she wanted. She just didn’t seem to like other children. And then I thought, the playgroups and the library Rhymetimes start at 10.15, 10.30 – that is when she is tired and ready for a morning nap. But instead I had been making her go when she was tired, and that was the reason she was so angry at other children – it was tiredness.
So I stop taking her to these groups.
And you know what, she was happy. I could not believe the transformation. She was playing and laughing and smiling with me, her mummy, playing with toys at home, watching movies with mummy, having lunch with mummy, having milk and biscuits with mummy, going for a walk around the block with mummy – see the theme here? I put down my phone – no more blogging stuff or instagram stuff while she was awake and I actually concentrated on her and gave her all my attention.
I just kept the one Monday playgroup that starts at 9.15am when she wouldn’t be tired yet. And I thought as soon as she gets cranky, I would take her out so she can go to sleep in the buggy. Guess what happened. She stopped hating the other children. She smiles at them and she even shares toys (I was shocked!). She started shouting and being angry at 10.30, so instead of staying for the singing bit, I took her out and she went to sleep for 2 hours in the buggy.
She’s been having a full 2 hour daytime nap at home too. The time is not set, it’s been 11-1, 12-2 and yesterday 9-11. It doesn’t matter.
We’ve stopped going to Rhymetime at the library as that is at 10.30. Instead we go at 9am when it is empty and she has the children’s section all to herself. She LOVES it, she claps in excitement when we go in, points to the lift as it’s on the 1st floor. She went straight for the “That’s not my…” books – her favourites and then had the best time playing hide and seek with me between all the bookcases – there was so much laughter. She never laughed like that during Rhymetime. When it was time for Rhymetime, she went to the pushchair and pointed to her coat – yep time to get out of there!
At weekends when she got angry and would be fighting with Tyler (she liked to break his tracks on purpose and take his trains to get a reaction out of him), I would take her to their room, lie next to her on the bed and sing Trolls songs to her until she calmed down. She would look in my eyes, like she was really enjoying mummy singing to her. And then we’d go back to the living room and she’d play nicely again.
The other thing I have done is increase her food portion sizes, so I plate up the same size portions as Tyler. When she’s angry I give her food – sometimes it’s hard when she’s so worked up that she won’t eat. She almost needs to calm down to realise she needs to eat so she doesn’t feel hungry and angry.
Anyway, we are getting there. I do feel guilty, as it does seem to be that she just needed ME to actually spend time with her, just me and her, with my FULL attention. I am glad I have realised now, and the best bit is that time has slowed down. You know how people say their kids are growing up to fast and where does the time go? Well, since I’ve taken out the playgroups, we have all this free time, and time HAS slowed down. It has been so much fun. I love her company, her smile, her laugh, her chatting and babbling, her cuddling into me to watch Sing, her dancing and clapping to all the songs.
My happy girl is back, my detective work worked, and yes I’m doing all my blog work late at night, it’s worth it as I look forward to having the next day free to spend with my sweet little girl.