I am ashamed to admit that over the last few weeks we have been doing far from the best for our little girl. She’s been a bit under the weather at times, full on ill at others and just plain terrible-two and fussy the rest of the time and we have all given in to the temptation to shower her with ‘nice stuff’.
Oh, she won’t eat her dinner? We’ll give her a biscuit.
Oh, she’s not feeling very well? Let’s give her some chocolate to feel better.
You know how it goes. Until suddenly what we had on our hands was a generally hyperactive toddler with an unpredictable temper depending on her sugar highs and crashes who wasn’t sleeping well and wasn’t eating properly. And wasn’t particularly much fun to be around either if I’m honest. Giving her treats when she felt down was like a rollercoaster – first you felt good giving her something nice to cheer her up, then you felt guilty for pumping her full of rubbish.
We have all felt the effects of it and this week I decided enough was enough and when we got back from our holiday (which involved Tori having a feverish temperature for 3 out of 4 days in not-so-warm-and-sunny Wales) I went out and stocked up on some toddler-friendly foods and snacks and decided it was time to get into a new routine and build some new family habits.
So instead of giving Tori a bowl of dry crunchy nut cornflakes or similar for breakfast because it is hassle-free and easy when we’re not quite awake, she now has a slice of toast, a bowl of Cow & Gate toddler cereal and some form of fruit – a banana or a pot of fruit puree or some stewed apple. After which she is generally less moody and full of get-up-and-go like she used to be.
She then used to snack a lot because her breakfast hadn’t filled her and then refuse lunch 7 times out of 10. Now she has a snack-pot tub full of raisins, sultanas and dried fruit handy in the front room to curb her snacking desires without filling her up or pumping her full of sugar. She eats her lunch nicely almost every day now and follows it with a toddler-friendly biscuit or cake for pudding as a treat (usually from the Organix range or similar).
After lunch I now try and do some kind of activity with her (and Arthur, if he’s awake at the time) such as yesterday we did some painting and today we went out for a walk to post a letter. Then, when that’s finished, I put her down for a nap and she goes no problem. No tantrums or wailing or shouting or bouncing around and refusing to sleep. She just lies down, asks for her audio cd of the 3 Little Pigs to be put on and settles herself for a nap.
After that she runs riot around the house ’til tea-time when she eats much better than before and, after watching In The Night Garden on CBeebies she is usually more than happy to go to bed for a story with Mummy or Daddy, amuse herself in her cot for a while and then go to sleep.
I feel better for having a bit of a routine and we are all feeling better now she is less bolshy and unpredictable. We also feel better knowing we are doing the best for our daughter and not spoiling her with good intentions instead. It’s not a strict routine – there’s no set time for anything, there’s no definite rules. Some days we’ll do things differently, some days we’ll all have a lazy day and eat chocolate and watch TV whilst other days Tori won’t have a nap or she’ll go to bed later because we’ve been out or busy doing something and that’s fine. But having a basic routine to follow has certainly made a difference over the last few days.
Now all we need to do is persuade Arthur that he wants to sleep through the night and doesn’t want to get up and play between 5 and 5.30 every morning and everything will be fine and dandy…sort of.