This is a hard age. I thought I was feeding my children to much sugar since they turned 3 since they spend most of their day manic. I read that if hyperactivity was diagnosed at age 3, 90% of kids would have it. Mine fall in that 90%. Then I began to wonder if my discipline technique needed a make-over. What had worked in the past, didn’t seem to be working any more. I recently received 3 books on preschoolers in the mail. Each one gives tips that makes sense for each of my three children because what they say is so true, each child responds differently to different techniques (I’ll leave you to guess which child each book is geared toward): “Positive Discipline for Preschoolers”, “Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child”, and “How to Behave so your Preschooler will too”.
One of the mom’s in my “mom’s on bikes” groups asked me if the “Terrible 2′s” were really the hardest. Several of us laughed…”just wait till 3″ they said. I was relieved I wasn’t the only one whose three-year olds were completely losing it.
So is 3 the hardest age so far? In some ways, yes. I think parent’s attitudes, behaviors, and reactions play a huge roll during the preschool years; therefore, there is a lot of pressure to keep your cool. I’m realizing how closely preschoolers mirror your behavior and tune into your reactions. ”Mommy, did we make the right turn, are you about to get frustrated?” Yelling doesn’t go very far with preschoolers, so taking lots of really deep breaths is probably the hardest part of this age. With triplets, I’m about ready to hyperventilate.
There is a solution that seems to work. Activities and structure. After I found one of my children sidewalk chalking our mailbox with a naked bottom, I made a “potty” list complete with pictures of children wiping their bottoms, pulling up their pants, flushing the toilet and washing their hands. It seems like flushing the toilet and pulling up our pants are obvious toileting steps but by simply taping the list to the bathroom wall, my kids now wear pants most of the day and the bathroom doesn’t smell like a porta-potty. I did the same thing for our bedtime routine and after two weeks, the kids still go over to check the procedure every night. Surprisingly, by pointing out “water and potty” breaks take place BEFORE getting into bed, bedtime has gotten much smoother and faster.
And of course, camps and childcare are a necessity. The fabulous thing about living in a small town, you don’t have to plan months ahead, places are often not packed, and summer camps have openings! The kids did a “water camp” at the local co-op preschool last week. This week, I have playdates and childcare lined up everyday and next week it’s back to gymnastics camp before preschool starts. It takes a village to raise preschoolers. Luckily, this small town realizes that and offers plenty affordable reprieves! You simply cannot keep your cool without plenty of breaks away from your children.
Then, there is the great outdoors. While we haven’t done a lot of lounging by the pool this summer, we have enjoyed all the recreation. I go mountain biking about twice a week and still haven’t explored a quarter of the trails in this area. Their is a park on every corner here, concerts geared towards families take place almost every evening, and restaurants have outdoor seating complete with huge open areas for children to run and play. Parent’s can have a beer and relax while their child commands the ocean from giant rocks. And although their arent’ a ton of neighborhood pools, there are some spectacular “mini water parks”. You simply can’t beat a $5 price tage for half a day entertainment in the water.
I’m realizing more than ever how important finding outlets for your preschoolers is. The first thing Park City parents say to me after the discussion on how I stay sane with triplets is “Thank goodness they are old enough for ski lessons this winter”. Truly, I can barely stay inside for 2 hours with my children, I have no idea how I’d manage a whole season.