Yesterday I felt broken by my children, and I feel terrible for it.  As a parent there is nothing worse than the feeling that you are letting them down and that there is more you could do to make the day run smoothly.  I am finding this year really difficult and it breaks my heart that my 4 year old has said to me ‘it will get easier when I go to school’.  This should be a time when we make the most of being together as a family, but instead I feel like I’m constantly playing referee to two very feisty young ladies.


Monday’s are a busy day for us, and we have to leave the house early to get to swimming and gymnastic lessons.  The four year old swims while I try and keep the 2 year old from jumping in the pool.  This went relatively smoothly, but it was when we had to shower that Little Pudding thought she would make things more interesting.  I’ve got a 4 year old in the shower who I’m trying to coax to watch her hair whilst the 2 year old thinks it would be funny to lap the cubicles.  There are all kinds of health and safety issues going on, and getting her to wait for her sister is proving a challenge.  Thank goodness for the kind parents who helped my daughter in the shower while I caught up with the mischievous 2 year old.

sisters running together

Time is pressing on for the next class to begin, but I get a moments reprieve as we are all contained in the changing cubicle.  At least no one can run off in here.  Perhaps we should stay in here until gymnastics.  Hang on, the two year old is seeing if she can fit under the door, oh my word, she can be persistent.

A quick snack stop for both the kids and then it’s time for Little Pudding to burn off some steam in her gymnastics class.  It seemed like such a good idea to sign her up for this.  She had watched her sister go into gymnastics and she so wanted to join her.  I was hopeful that Princess would amuse herself at the side of the class while her sister took part in her lesson.  Sounds like a prefect plan doesn’t it?  Well, whilst these two little monkey’s fight constantly, the other thing they do all the time is copy each other.  So while one is sitting playing with toys, the other wants to be there too.

Instead of joining her Mummy to learn how to forward roll, Little Pudding wants to sit and play with her sister.  No amount of coaxing will get her to join me.  The only way I can get her to take part is if her sister does it.  This is far from ideal as then I have two kids to deal with in the class, and one shouldn’t even be there.

I hope that when the 4 year old goes to school, Little Pudding will be happier to a take part on her own. This is what my daughter heard, and I fear she has taken this statement literally.  I don’t want her to think it means I’m glad she is going to school.  I am on a level, as I know it will be good for her, but not in a ‘packing her off’ kind of way.  Kids don’t really understand these subtleties though do they?

toddler pulling funny face in carseat

Princess then goes into her gymnastics class, but today she was feeling a bit tired.  She had already been swimming, done her sisters class and rightly so was feeling like she had done enough.  Perhaps I should have just taken them home at that point, instead I used some kind of bribery to get her to stay, which meant another 45 minutes with a 2 year old waiting by the pool.  Did I mention the pool is a health and safety nightmare waiting to happen?

For some reason, getting them back to the car proved even more challenging than normal.  They were distracted by a bush full of ladybirds.  It was cute watching them enjoy this moment with nature together, but I also knew that if I didn’t get them home then there would be a complete meltdown.  The bush proved far more interesting than Mummy’s game of ‘where’s the car?’, and they both continued to ignore my directions.

grumpy preschooler

There are the most inconveniently placed hills that provide a great play place for children, with gaps in the hedges that lead straight to the car park.  Did my 4 year old listen when I asked her not to go there?  Not in the slightest.  Did the 2 year old follow her? Of course she did.

I’m already laden down with changing bag, swimming bag and lunch box and now I’ve got a screaming toddler tucked under my arm who has also just pooped.  I just need to get these kids home, no matter how much they scream even though my stress levels are rising dangerously by the minute. I keep myself in relative check and get them strapped in the car, but my voice is getting firmer and firmer by the second.  I’m just focusing on not losing it at this point, as everyone will become a bawling mess, with the worst offender being me crippled by a big fat dose of Mummy guilt.

It’s only a few minutes home, and the toddler pretty much wails all the way.  She’s red faced, snotty and very little will calm her down.  There’s a fight over dolly in the back of the car, and I can here my husbands words of wisdom rattling through my ears, ‘you shouldn’t let them bring their toys’. The problem is, things that you think are sure to help these girls get along better, always end in tears.  It’s not because it was a bad plan, it’s because they are both strong willed, independent young ladies with a touch of the territorial about them.  Nothing like their Mother at all! Throw into the mix the insecurities of a 4 year old and a toddler tantrum and you have something that equates to world war 3 on pretty much a daily basis.

We enter the house.  I need to deal with the poop.  The toddler is not having any of it.  More snot and tears ensue and I give it up as a bad job for the minute.  Perhaps if I distract her with some lunch.  I’m literally in the kitchen for a minute before I hear ‘Mummy, she threw (inserts any toy that can be used as a missile here) at me’.  I re-enter the living room with talk of the naughty step and a reminder that we don’t throw things.

They now have food and they are too engrossed in eating to start screaming at each other so I hide in the kitchen with a packet of Doritos savouring the peace and quiet, but that nappy isn’t going to wait much longer.  Fortunately the toddler is a lot more willing now, and it’s like dealing with a different child.  With everyone fed and watered, it’s time to retreat to the sofa for a dose of CBeebies.  It’s raining outside, so I feel justified.

toddler doing crafts

A 2 and 4 year old try and squeeze their not so little bodies onto my lap, with a little pushing and shoving until they feel they have claimed their rightful space we get ready for an episode of Go Jetters or similar.  I’ve literally got no energy left, but I should be entertaining them, not vegging in front of the TV.  We are surrounded with toys and crafts, ‘what’s wrong with me’, I hear the voice inside my head shout.  I get out some stickers and paper plates and they do some decorating.  Phew, that’s gonna be my Mummy win for today.

I can use this moment to sneak away for a quick wee.  A moments peace in the sanctuary of the toilet.  Is this what my self care has become?  My pee is rudely interrupted by screams.  ‘She’s pulling my hair Mummy!’ When all else fails the 2 year old’s retaliation is to get hold of Princess’s hair and give it a good yank.  She calls this her toddler win, I call it a world of hurt on all kinds of levels.

By the end of the day I felt pretty fragile.  The toddler didn’t nap, and by 4 pm everyone is running around in just a nappy and pants.  The thought of getting them dressed and going to the park is just too much so we watch more CBeebies and wait for poor Daddy to come home from a hard day at work.  Bedtime arrived and the 2 year old was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.  The 4 year old wanted to chat.  I do love our chats, about what school will be like and how excited she is about going camping this weekend, but if there was an off button I would probably press it about now.

How of you cope with days like these?

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I Was Not Prepared For How Much My Children Fight

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  1. It does sound like a tough day but you all made it through! My brother and I are two years apart and we fought almost constantly from when he learnt to talk right through to when I moved out at 18… But we get along great now!I think we were just so similar that being in the same space was a nightmare for us both and our poor Mum. It sounds like your two might be the same! Rest assured you’ll get there and you’re doing a great job as mummy <3 They won't remember the vegging in front of CBeebies in a few years, but they'll certainly remember the swimming and gymnastics lessons!

  2. I only have one little girl, aged 3 1/2, but I can so relate to your story. From the minute we get up until the minute she goes to bed she is constantly on the go – I have never known a child like her. She literally has no off switch and hardly any ‘down time.’ I constantly lose it with her (or at least I feel like I do) although I actually realised last week that I don’t turn into a screaming banshee quite so often these days and wondered if the terrible 2’s and horrendous 3’s was actually starting to pass. I often wonder how many times the word ‘mummy’ is spoken on a daily basis and how many times I say her name over and over and she conveniently doesn’t hear me. I too have the guilt attacks that I’ve stuck her in front of beebies and I chill out for all of 5 minutes by reading the newspaper on my phone – we have a huge craft/ jigsaw/ cards/ dominoes trunk and I sometimes just don’t even have the energy to open it. Then my husband will come home and say ‘what did you do today?’ Me ‘not much’ ‘You didn’t take her out to the park then?’ ‘No.’ Whilst inside I’m saying ‘No because I was that mentally exhausted from choosing what shape we had our sandwiches cut into, or what colour cup we had to have a drink in, or running up and downstairs 15hundred times for a pull up because she needed a poo, no she didn’t, yes she did, oh I now need new knickers Mummy because I’ve dripped the tiniest amount of wee in them. So no I didn’t go to the park!!’ When does school start for her again?? 😉

  3. I am exhausted reading !! But seriously – I had three under 5 at one point – but more to the point I had twins. So I would say going back to my own experience, if the 4 year old is not going to sit at the side then why not do what I did – I advertised and got a lovely lady to come for one hour to the gymnastics class we used to go to. I would pick her up en route and she helped for the house and I paid her £5. It was sort of necessary as they did things like climb up equipment etc so you had to hold their hands – and you could only do that with two adults.
    But also why not enjoy your off time. You certainly dont need to entertain them all the time – sounds like you maybe have set yourself awful high standards. A bit of TV is relaxation time and they can learn stuff too from it. We used to love eg Come Outside – it might still be available – very educational too. So maybe why not just enjoy your summer and the girls sound like they need lots of exercise in the park etc ? Also another thing is to try (if you have any energy left !) positive parenting. This means that you pay attention to the one who is sitting quietly doing what they are told – you might find some surprising results as remember kids just want the mums attention and your girls are probably fighting for your attention. The oldest one more so as her single place has now been displaced. So good luck with all that. Remember high energy kids are great ! much better than low energy ones ! but it does exhaust us !

  4. sounds like my 2 year old but I don’t have a 4 year old to add to my woes, at least you got some quality time at the end of it all. I’ve just had a bed time battle which took an hour as he had a 10 minute sleep in the car at 5.30!

  5. Seems like you had one of those rough days. I’m babysitting my 6 year old and 1 year old nephews and sometimes, I feel guilty for always prioritizing the needs of the youngest one. I would explain, the best I can on why I need to do such and just hopes every time that he truly understands it. To ease my guilt though, I try to spend as much time as possible when the little one is off to have his nap or eating on his chair.

  6. It does sound like a very tough day. I’m encountering a few of these myself lately and I’ll fully admit I am not very good at coping with them. I get so angry and irritable when I’m tired after after battling with them. X

  7. This sounds familiar, my son is 12 and my daughter is 4 and all they do is bicker, I must say I’m not a referee a 100 times a day, I say to my son your the older one so just ignore her but instead he acts her age, I’m dreading it as Mollie gets older, she is only 4 months old now so they love hugging and playing with her but as they get older and share a bedroom I’m dreading her and Megan’s arguments xxx

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