Julia has been the queen of fits in the mornings. It's been exhausting for all of us including her. I talked with Ed (my forever counselor friend whom I couldn't do life without) and her main conclusion was that Julia needed more sleep. Once we tried that, then we could try a few other tactics in helping with coping.
Sure enough - she was right. As always!
We have been getting Jules to bed much earlier. 9:30 - 10:00pm was much too late. Lest you judge... I used to judge parents who couldn't get their kids to sleep early and make bedtime a priority. Until we had two kids along with juggling full-time, part-time and other-time jobs. And Grad School and kid activities after school. We're honestly doing the best we can. But we had to start making bedtime a larger priority for her sanity and ours.
(As I'm writing this, the girls are getting ready for bed, Jeremy's cleaning the kitchen, we just finished eating dinner and I finished six piano lessons at 7:30pm... so we're a little late tonight.)
Each morning consisted of waking her up and immediate screams of "I don't want to go to school!" followed by floppy bodies, yelling that every piece of clothing is uncomfortable while ripping off every item that was put on as calmly as possible while holding her in various positions that wouldn't hurt her. It came to a huge conflict last week when she was finally all dressed and put into the car while we got the rest of the things loaded.
I went in to get bags and came back out to find a five-year old who was completely and totally naked sitting in her carseat with clothing and shoes strewn about the back of the car. I looked at her and buckled her in. Butt naked. I'd already fought long and hard to get her dressed several times. It wasn't worth the fight and we were twenty minutes late. If naked is how she wanted it, then naked it would be.
We drove about two streets down in our sub when Riley said something which wasn't mean or hateful and Julia lashed out at her with scratching, screaming, hitting. I turned the car around and brought her back to the house as Riley was crying and I wanted to make it clear that she would not treat her sister in this way. No matter how mad she was.
Julia was angry to say the least. I carried her inside. Wooden spoon became her least favorite friend - gently on the bum but enough for her to understand that her reaction was not appropriate. Chose to dress her as she wasn't fighting us anymore and was more sad than revengeful.
Got in the car. Immediately shoes came off again. And socks.
Made it to her school. Put back on the shoes and walked into the school. As soon as we hit the hallway, she took off her shoes and threw them at me - hitting me with them. I calmly picked them up and told her that her behavior was not appropriate. I handed the shoes to her teacher and apologized while letting her know that we'd had a rough morning, but that Julia was going to have a wonderful rest of the day.
Julia clung to me as I had to let her go while hearing her yell "Mommmmyyyyyyy! Mommmmmmmyyyy!" repeatedly. There is nothing more that will rip your entire heart out of your chest than choosing to walk away from your child who is completely and utterly heartbroken. Yet you know that she will be fine within minutes of you leaving.
When I picked her up that day, she was happy, tired and clingy. We had some sweet cuddles.
Sleep was an obvious fix, but so difficult to implement in our busy scheduled lives. But vital. It's our biggest priority at the moment - even if we don't get it right every night.
This morning was the first time in weeks that Julia didn't throw even a hint of a fit. She was pleasant, kind and well-rested. After she dressed herself, she told me "I felt a fit in my tummy coming up because my shirt was hurting but I told the fit 'NO! You are not coming up!' And then it was fine."
Other tips that were recommended via Ed for helping Julia with calming her when she's in a state of difficulty:
Deep Breathing Video with Elmo