Three and a half year olds are, erm, dynamic. They are fast-moving, constantly evolving and intent on having their own way. Well, mine is. I thought the terrible twos were a myth, but I know for a fact that threenagers exist. Ebony is determined, strong-minded and loud. She bulldozes anyone who gets in her way (me), fights with her rivals to the bitter end (me) and doesn’t like to be told no.
And I love all of this about her. I want her to have all of these characteristics when she’s older, and that means I have to find a way to live with them now. It would be lovely to have a child who did everything I said and never argued, but I want a daughter who can hold her own. I don’t ever want anyone to mess her about, stand in her way or dictate her choices for her.
Living with an opinionated, self-assured, argumentative three and a half year old isn’t always easy. It's International Peace Day on the 21st, so I thought I'd share some of the things I do to find (and keep) peace in my home, and in my relationship with her:
- Slowing downIt’s all too easy to rush through life. There are always trains to catch, friends to meet and chores to be done. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and so we end up rushing to try and fit as much in as we can. I’ve noticed though, that on the days we rush, neither of us has as much fun. We simply don’t have the time for connection. I don’t have time to stop and notice her playing, and she doesn’t have time to explore and investigate all of the things she wants to. And so I now make a conscious effort to slow down. We have to rush, of course, to nursery and for the train. But we don’t overfill our days anymore. We leave ourselves time to walk slowly, time to explore and time to talk.
- Keeping things tidyI’m not sure if this is something person to me, but I really struggle to get things done when the house is messy. I can’t sit down to work because I’m distracted by the dirty dishes or the pile of laundry. Our house gets messy really easily, with three people leaving clutter around it only takes a day or two for things to descend into chaos. I find that it really affects my mood when the house is messy, so I’m trying to keep things tidy. I’ve been reorganising rooms recently to try and make sure everything has a place. I’ve also been taking a few moments at the end of the day to just gather up those stray toys that seem to creep into every corner of my home. It doesn’t take long, but it makes me feel so much better.
- Being mindfulMindfulness isn’t something I know much about, but it’s something I’m trying to become more aware of. Mindfulness is about slowing down, appreciating things and being more aware of yourself and others. I think mindfulness is particularly useful for young children, and I think it’s something many people do without realising it. Stopping on the way home to talk about the sky, or pausing before a meal to really appreciate the smells, colours and tastes on offer, are just little ways you can become more mindful. I know that these years will pass quickly, and I try to be mindful of that each passing day.
- Being compassionateContinuing on from mindfulness, I’ve been focusing on becoming more aware of the moods in the house. If I can tell Ebony is tired after a busy day at nursery or frustrated because she couldn’t do something she wanted, I try to be mindful of that. It’s sometimes easy to forget that she’s three, and I can end up expecting too much from her. Being compassionate to her needs, as well as my own, is useful when navigating disagreements between us.
- Picking my battlesThis is an important one. I have always picked my battles with Ebony. Life is too short to be constantly at loggerheads with someone you love. And it’s crap to be told no all the time, so I don’t want that to be the soundtrack to her childhood. I want her to be safe, happy and considerate of others. And I’ll tell her she has to hold my hand to cross the road, but I’m not going to argue with her about what she wears. She is her own person and will probably spend the rest of her life making decisions I wouldn’t make for her, given the chance. As long as she’s safe, happy and isn’t hurting anyone, what does it really matter?
- Prioritising sleepSleep is lovely, and also, a bit of a distant memory. Ebony sleeps well, but she still usually wakes once during the night. She doesn’t wake for long and easily falls asleep again. I’m a night owl and am not great at going to bed at a decent hour. Now that I’ve got to drop Ebony off at nursery before 9am each day, I’m trying to go to bed a little earlier to make this easier. My 7:30am alarm has been a bit of a shock to the system, but it’s definitely easier to cope with when I’ve had a good night’s sleep.
- ConnectingConnection is something we all take for granted. We’re family, therefore we should love each other, right? But that’s not really how it works. You only get out what you put in. To get the most out of people, you have to invest as much as you possibly can. For me and my three year old, that means time to read stories, time to listen to her talk about her day and time to answer her questions. It means giving her my full attention. Leaving my phone in another room and really tuning into what my daughter is saying.
What do you do to find and keep the peace in your home?