Last Monday night was rough. My husband had been gone since Thursday on a golf trip so I'd been alone with the kids since then. They were on spring break so we were all together at all times. We did go on day outings which helped keep things fun, but also required a bit of planning on my part to make it work.
Monday night, after kids being back at school and my middle daughter taking her usual sweet time getting ready for bed, I lost it. I yelled at her, to get moving, which of course had no effect, then I got in her face and yelled some more, which made her cry.
Finally I started to cry too. I told her I don't like yelling and pre-kids I didn't yell. I told her that she had made me into this mean yelling person by not doing what is asked of her, and I didn't like it. We went back and forth for a while and finally calmed down enough to finish getting ready for bed. My oldest gave me a big hug, cause she could tell I needed it.
Once I calmed down I had a more calm talk with my younger daughter about why I get do upset when she dawdles.
I got them all tucked in and went down to our family room and cried some more. My husband got back a little while later and he could see I'd been crying. I told him why and we talked about how our daughter is basically showing classic middle child behavior when she acts out. The bottom line is yelling is not going to change it, respecting her needs and wishes is.
This past week I've made an effort to be more present with her, and do things that she wants to do. Her behavior has improved dramatically. She showers before dinner with minimal fuss. She gets ready faster. She's not perfect and they have missed the story cutoff a couple of nights, but we're getting there. Everyone's back to school and activities now and I felt bad that on Tuesday my oldest had an hour of dance class followed by an hour of soccer practice and the other two just had to come along. Not much fun for them, so I need to figure out a better way to handle that one. I can't really car pool since no one else we know is in both. The soccer field is pretty close to our house, so I may just drop her off and take the other two home or to a playground until I need to pick her up again.
Her big wish for her birthday is rollerskates, and I think the main reason is that her sister doesn't have a pair so it'll be her own thing. My husband and I talked about how she doesn't have many activities that are just hers. Both my daughters take dance and now play soccer, my oldest takes piano and my younger wants to, and as much as I hate to add an extra activity to an already busy schedule, that may be what she's craving, something that's completely hers.
The school is commemorating National Poetry Month by letting the kids read poems over the PA system as part of the morning announcements. My younger daughter immediately volunteered and has been practicing her poem - Hungry Mungry by Shel Silverstein - for the past few days (without me ever asking her once to do it). So things are definitely improving.
Of course now my older daughter feels like my attention towards her has waned, so she's the one getting upset and starting to give me attitude.
Luckily my little man for the most part still goes with the flow, probably since he's with me all day and gets a lot of attention.
As I said ages ago, all my little trees need to be nurtured and feel loved for our little forest to be happy and prosper.