Fourth P: Parents

When The Toddler Hits the New Baby

Dear Holly,My son is now almost 2 years old and we have a darling 1-month-old daughter. Things are going pretty well as far as settling into a new routine with two children, but I am really worried and concerned about my son’s behavior over the past several weeks since his sister was born. As a one-year-old he has generally been a very sweet child, very talkative and funny, pleasant to be around and obedient. But what absolutely has shocked me the past several weeks is seeing my son act out in these horrible ways that I have no idea how to respond to. He is whining, complaining, throwing mini “fits” (not all-out toddler “tantrums”…yet…but annoying enough in their way), but the awful thing is that he has hit his poor baby sister four times. None of these times were hard enough to hurt her–she didn’t cry, and it is really more like a tap or light slap–he seems to be doing this not really out of a desire to hurt her, but just out of sheer perverseness and to upset me. Actually, I have thought and thought and prayed and I still don’t understand WHY he is doing this. I have been very carefully keeping them apart. It makes my blood boil to think of him hitting this poor, defenseless baby. I am now worried and really insecure about disciplining without corporal punishment because I am afraid we don’t have anything in our discipline “arsenal” that is powerful enough to show him that this absolutely CANNOT happen. So far, I have reacted naturally with total shock and disappointment, put... read more

A Little Child who Hates Her Chores…

I wanted to ask you a question about chores for young kids. I have two daughters who will be four and two in February. My older daughter is pretty capable. She can fold and put away her own clothes and things like washcloths. She can do simple dishes that don’t require much scrubbing (like bowls that have had just cereal). Of course she can pick up her things (little sis helps) and make her bed. When she first learned to fold and wash dishes she was begging me to let her do it. That lasted about a week. Now she hates it and dawdles and complains and finds all sorts of excuses. (She is in charge of folding her own clothes and the hand towels and wash cloths, and washing the easy breakfast dishes). I’ve tried the natural consquence thing “We’re not going to do anything else until this is done, so finish it quick so we can get out the paints!” If she says she’s too tired or doesn’t feel well I say, well, you can go lie down in your bed but if you get up again the only thing you’re allowed to do is come back and finish this. (This is of course only if I know she is faking, if I really think she could be sick I don’t make her do chores.) But neither of these seem to really motivate her. She’d rather lay in her bed or sit in the corner for half an hour than do her ten minutes worth of chores. I really don’t get it. And then when she does... read more

A Lot on Her Plate

Dear Holly,When I first purchased your book about four years ago, I had 3 children under 5 years old. Compared to now, things were pretty managable. Now I have six children under the age of nine and things are so out of hand I am seriously thinking about sending them to school. I’m trying the rule again. I can relate to it much more now that I have more children. The problem I’m having is trying to order my day, when I have unpredictable unruly 2 year old twins and an infant and I’m trying to homeschool 3 other children. I feel it’s almost impossible. We never cover all that I want. My oldest, aged nine, is behind in his “school” work at least a year, because of distractions, pregnancies, & whatnot. I tried coloring, playdoh, and other activities for the twins to do, but it only last for a few minutes. I rely on the TV to occupy them, and it works only sometimes. Then with the 3 children to school, I can’t help everybody at the same time. We only cover the essentials (math, language, spelling, phonics, writing) and we still don’t have the time. How do you juggle the children? Today’s gospel reading is the story of feeding the multitude and I was about to call the school to get info, which made me think of you and my rule. I know I was called to have a large family and homeschool, but I don’t know how to make it... read more

Should a Mom Feel Guilty?

Dear Holly,I have read a lot of books on parenting and I think the end result over the years has just been confusion mostly. Now this is not new to me, I have 4 boys-14, 10, 4, and 2. But I feel sometimes like I’m a new parent. I just don’t know what to do in some instances. What I notice a lot when I read your book is often times your children are good at doing a task by themselves, or playing alone, or just getting along good enough that you are able to accomplish things. When my children are little it seems they are very needy. Now in a lot of books they talk about little ones having crib time and room time-mine want to be with me all the time. The only time they aren’t is if they are old enough to like TV and then they will watch a program and I get some time to do that chore they just SHOULDN’T help with or just some quiet time. I just can’t seem to teach them to play on their own-were yours like this at all? Maybe I shouldn’t think this way. Also, because I can’t seem to get anything done unless the little ones are at nap or watching TV, when I get home from (my part time) work at night, I put my 14 year old in charge of the 2 and 4 year old. At this time I expect him to cheerfully take care of his siblings and entertain them so the 10yr old can do homework, I can get dinner out,... read more

Struggling with the 4th P…

Dear Holly,I have been attempting to implement some kind of schedule or rule in my life since my oldest child was a baby, and she is now 5 years old. I’m revisiting MROL as part of a moms’ discussion group, and this has made the priority I give my “P”s weigh on my mind. It seems like a lot of moms, both in the group and on your website, struggle most with the 5th P. This is the one that comes easiest to me. The one that comes hardest is the 4th P: giving time and attention to my kids. To be perfectly honest, I would be content to set them in front of a TV or computer all day so I could get the house cleaned, the budget balanced, etc. I am wondering if there are any other moms who struggle with this issue — who feel like, unfortunately, they have to force themselves to sit down and play with their kids. I feel so guilty about my lack of enthusiasm for doing that. I’d be interested if you could post this message on your website so any other moms who struggle with the 4th P can share their tips for making it the priority it should... read more

Anxious About a Second Baby….

Dear Holly,I give birth in 3 months, and feel extremely blessed but also so worried. I am worried that everything will fall apart. I must have another C-section for medical reasons, and I’ll be practically immobilized for a few weeks. I’m worried about postpartum depression, as I usually experience some degree of SAD and I’ll give birth in the middle of winter. How will I entertain my toddler in a tiny house– will I feasibly be able to get out and about with a newborn and toddler? How on earth am I going to get dinner prepared every day? Or clean up after meals? I understand that many have done this, and done it gracefully. The mothers I’ve spoken to with two under two years apart have very little advice to offer, beyond “It’s really very hard.” For a while I was driving myself crazy trying to declutter and organize every room in my house (I’m in a small house, but it seems impossible) and I had a laundry list of 20 or so things I would like to get done before the new baby. I guess I’ve realized now that this is impossible, and I will be lucky to achieve 5 things, and I should prioritize what is most important. Basically, my question is this: I have not created a Rule, but I feel blessed to have returned to prayer and spiritual reading. My house is a mess but I keep the important things done (dinner, laundry, dishes, sweeping). My husband and I have a great relationship, though it suffers when we are tired or sick. My son... read more

Discerning Homeschooling Through High School

Dear Holly,I want to homeschool all my children through high school- especially because of the climate of today’s culture and all of the temptations and trials that beset teenagers. We have 2 issues though: the first is that I have no aptitude in science or math and I can’t see how I can teach what I don’t know. These 2 subjects are especially critical in high school & I will be of no help. What about all the labs, chemistry experiments, probability and statistics and the like- I break out in a sweat just thinking about it! Don’t you need classroom settings for some of this stuff (esp. the science labs) and how can we handle that? Once again, we have no networking support so I’m on my own. I am so torn in my heart and soul because I know homeschooling is the best choice for moral, psychological and spiritual development, but academically I’m apprehensive about these 2 areas. Our second concern is that my oldest son, presently in his last year pre-high-school, isn’t especially enthused about the homeschool plan due to what I call the “weirdo factor”. Hardly anyone homeschools where we live & it is exceptionally difficult to find any Catholic homeschoolers near us. It is my belief that he is quite content with his homeschool life, (which he openly states) but is rather embarrassed by it and would rather stick needles in his eyes than admit to his friends that he is homeschooling through high school. It’s just not cool and there’s no one out there- not a one, to support him let alone defend... read more

Nursing Baby And Schedules

Dear Holly,I found your book a few months back. My husband and I read it together, and very much want to attempt to incorporate it into our lives. However, we have one child, a baby, who needs nursing at periodic points throughout the day, and I never know when those points will be. How do you account for such a constant unknown factor as this, now and with future children, when we have to balance the older ones,... read more

Toddler Won't Stop Yelling

Dear Holly,My 15 month old son usually keeps himself pretty busy during the 2-3 hours of housework I do, spread out over the day, but sometimes he doesn’t. When he doesn’t want to play next to me in the kitchen or wherever, he sometimes will just start yelling and yelling, grab onto my leg and stand in between me and the sink if I’m washing dishes (and yell). I try to head this off by taking a break to play with him or read to him, but it doesn’t seem to help–he is only happy as long as I am playing with him, then when I try to go back to cooking dinner, he starts yelling again. He is quite verbal for his age and sometimes instead of nonverbal yelling he yells “BOOK! BOOK!” or whatever it is that he wants me to do. I have tried explaining that I need to finish whatever it is, or chatting with him or singing to him while I work, or including him in what I’m doing sometimes, and I’ve tried ignoring the yelling. None of those things have seemed to work! Toddlers are really a mystery to me. I have asked people for advice about the yelling/whining and looked in a number of books, but all of the advice seemed either too young or too old for my son. (Too young=just ignore the housework and enjoy bonding with your baby and doing whatever he wants–that was great in the first few months, but I want to create an orderly life for his benefit as well as mine and my husband’s.) I... read more

Another Exhausted Mummy…

Dear Holly,My question is…How do you establish a rule when you feel as if you have no energy to stick to the rule? I desperately feel like I need order to my day, but my baby (8 months old) wakes every 1-2 hours per night leaving me feeling extremely sluggish, and unorganized the next day, and I literally feel as if I’m running on fumes. I would like to think that this will pass soon, but his sister who is three now was the same way and still gets up often throughout the night. Besides this, he is extremely demanding during the day, and so is his sister. This leaves me having to take my day as it comes in bits and pieces. My 9 yr old daughter is left homeschooling herself at times, but that hasn’t been working out the best either as she tends to start cutting corners. I don’t feel like a good Mother doing things this way, but don’t seem to have a choice. Your book is wonderful, and it has the schedules that I dream of. I really want to try something, but don’t know what that... read more
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