Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9 When Play Gets Tired

April 9
Kids = play.  Almost everything can be turned into a game.  However when the kids at play get tired simple tasks become mountains and traditional techniques don't always work.  The goal is to catch them before they reach this stage and redirect them to a new task or start them to bed.  Sometimes we miss the signs or are out and cannot make it back for bedtime.  Whatever the reason, we see four stages of our overtired children.  They can be subtle or right out there and also often hold true for Nate and Elli if they’re hungry or sick. 

1.  The inability to complete simple tasks like put the crayons in the box or to march the animals into the bag.  At this stage, loss of privileges, like a bedtime story, do not make any difference.  They’re done.

2.  The whine… and repeat.  “Mama, I need your help… Mama, can you help me?”  This request often is related to something that they totally can do on their own, and in fact may have done well by themselves seconds before. This stage really says, “Mama, I’m tired and I need you to be close.”  If we’re lucky, we get this, if not we sit and assure them that they can do it themselves.  Tonight I pretty much chose the latter. 

3.  The sillies!  Everything is so funny… and loud! I’ve heard some of the worst and best jokes at this stage.  Normally our best approach here is to roll with it, be a little silly with them and then try the redirect. 

4.  Iron feet stage.  At this stage they get really clumsy, it’s as if they’ve moved to a new dimension where someone has turned up the gravity.  Footsteps become infinitely slower, pajamas become like lead suits, and that darn toothpaste just will not move out of the tube.  This is where the injuries happen. 

Oh and important to note… these stages do not have any predictable order.      

Why do I mention this?  Tonight I missed all the signs and was “that” adult.  The one who typically drives me nuts.  We were at dinner at a friend’s house.  The kids did well overall; while waiting for dinner they got to play with their food, or rather someone else’s… our friend took one of the live lobsters out of the fridge so the kids could play with it on the coffee table.  Once dinner was ready the kids ate at rapid speed while Jeff and I took a bit longer to savor dinner.  They played for a bit, but then were all over the place on the above map.  Looking back I should have recognized their tiredness and helped them clean up their backpack of fun from the get go instead of repeatedly making requests that they were almost incapable of fulfilling and taking away stories at bedtime.  Duh… Yes, I’m pretty beat too, and they’re not scarred for life, but it bothers me when I see the obvious later. 

Fortunately Jeff did bedtime and the he got creative.  While we had to follow through with the consequences given earlier of no stories, he still told them their chapter story (He has an ongoing pirate, Star Wars, mermaid, princess story that he adds to each night he puts them to bed.).  Also instead of trying the individual snuggles, he pulled a new trick out of his hat and had a "group snuggle," that allowed them to get their sillies out while also getting them to bed quicker.  When they're tired creativity (and understanding) on our part makes everthing go smoother.

The recognition of the day is that our kids get tired and need us to be the guardians of their play; this is especially true when they’re playing with others.  Sometimes they’re not capable of stepping outside the moment to see things slipping downhill.  When we’re alert we can catch them and redirect or help them to see a change is needed before things escalate. 

Nate & Elli's Friend... AKA...Someone Else's Dinner...

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