31 Days: Knowing Limits

When I was seven months pregnant with Elsie, Amelia and I ventured to Wal*Mart for a grocery trip. Good 'ol Wal*Mart. I knew I was pushing my luck because we left the house thirty minutes before Amelia should have been going down for her nap. But I just really needed to get this trip over with. So there we were.

We walked into the store, hand in hand. All was going well until I told Amelia it was time to get in the cart. She thought that because she had walked into the store that she was going to get to walk through the store. And that definitely was not happening. I lifted Amelia up to put her in the cart and helicopter legs started going. If you're a parent, you know what I mean. This wasn't safe for me and the baby belly so I put Amelia down. I tried a couple more times.

Finally, I sat her down on a bench and told her she was in time-out. She sat there for a minute, crying and making a scene. I was so flushed and frustrated at this point. After her time-out, I said to Amelia, "You can choose to sit in the cart or you can choose to leave with me." She chose the cart but still wouldn't get in. So I scooped her mess of a self up in my arms, next to my rather large belly and we walked briskly to the car. All through the parking lot, she was screaming, "But I wannaaaaa siiiiiit in the CARRRRRT!!!"

But then there was the time more recently when we visited Danny at work. Amelia loves to play on the demo iPads that they have around. So that's just what she did. A few minutes had gone by and I let Amelia know that in two minutes, we would need to go. I set a timer and waited. The timer went off and I reminded Amelia. I knew she was getting hungry because it was close to dinner time. So when she started winding up for a colossal meltdown over leaving the iPad, I reminded myself that she was nearing some limits. This helped me have patience with her. I gently told her that it was time to go. And the winding up continued. 

I started to panic inside of myself because my husband was just five feet away, working with a customer. It's one thing for your toddler to have a meltdown in a public place. It's a whole other ball game when that meltdown happens in your husband's work place. I was not about to endure that kind of embarrassment. So I quickly said, "Amelia! Are you going to race me to the door or am I going to carry you?" The meltdown wind up stopped immediately. She looked at me, smiled, and took off running for the door. I've never felt so much relief in my life. 

Our children are learning from us the art of setting boundaries and knowing our limits. It's hard when I have to say no to things because it might be too much for the kids. But it's worth it to avoid them getting over tired, over stimulated, hungry, or bored! Thankfully, part of being a mom is understanding their warning signs. It's an amazing privilege to help them in that journey.

What are some "limits" of your children that are hard to keep? Do your kids have the tell tale signs that meltdown is about to happen? What are some practical ways we can set and keep limits?

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