Just when your baby has fallen into a manageable routine and it’s become easier and more fun to stay home with the baby, your maternity leave is over. And now you have to hand your baby to someone else to care for while you rejoin the workforce.
That’s hours and hours away from your baby. You miss the time spent sprawled on a blanket on the park, or strolling with her around the neighborhood.
To make matters worse, you’re miserable at work. You’re in tears and wonder how much longer you can stand being away from your baby while you’re at work.
Those first days back at work after maternity leave are tough. And you wonder… does it get better?
Admit it. You’re wondering where you went wrong that your kid thinks it’s okay to talk back. You’re shocked at some of the phrases coming out of her mouth. Especially when not too long ago, she was the most angelic person in the world.
You’ve tried everything: taking her beloved toys away, time-outs, no television, and maybe even spanking. Nothing is working—Your little girl still talks back, and you don’t know what do.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can try to stop your kid from talking back. We won’t go the route of harsh discipline or reacting in anger—those will backfire, as I’m sure you’ve come to realize.
But first, let’s talk about why your kid might be talking back. You just might see it’s a lot more normal (and forgivable!):
Testing boundaries. Kids don’t know boundaries until they test them. That’s why my toddler will throw a heavy toy because he didn’t know—until I told him—that heavy toys aren’t meant for throwing (while it’s still okay to throw the lighter toys or balls).
Getting your attention. Isn’t it ironic that misbehavior is a near-guarantee our kids will get our attention? When you’re busy or harried, kids resort to talking back because they know you’ll respond (even if negatively).
Masking other emotions. Kids talk back because of a slew of other emotions that may be difficult to articulate. They could feel hurt, isolated or frustrated—and it may have nothing to do with you.
They know you won’t go away. As their parents, we get the worst meltdowns. From tantrums to talking back, they act up most around us. Yes, we’re the ones who discipline, but they also know we’ll still be there for them even if they misbehave.
Knowing all that still doesn’t make your kids talking back any better, nor more excusable. In other words, they should still learn that talking back isn’t okay. How? By understanding their deeper behaviors and developmental stages as well as providing them with other means to express their frustrations:
After all, your coworker won’t stop swooning over her new baby, sleep-deprived and everything. Other friends seem to have “easy” babies who don’t give as much trouble as yours does. And you’re beyond exhausted.
This is the story of your fellow mom who wrote in with her predicament. She has two-month-old twins on top of her three-year-old. Twins she hadn’t “planned” since she was only hoping for two kids (sound familiar?). And this change of plans—along with the challenges of the newborn stage—is making her feel unhappy.
Before I go on, let me preface by saying that while I’m not an expert on post-partum depression, I know it’s real. Just as women develop hemorrhages and diastasis recti after delivering a baby, so too can we suffer from post-partum depression. It’s a big deal that you should talk to your doctor, but not a huge deal that you should be ashamed (any more than you would be ashamed of other post-partum complications).
So in addition to taking your own precautions, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your doctor about your feelings, even if it’s to vent about the hardships of parenthood. Complaining doesn’t mean she’ll slap you with a label and send you off with meds, but she’ll be better able to make a decision.
That said, I have plenty to say about surviving the newborn stage and managing your emotions. Like your fellow mom above, I too had wanted only two kids—I was overwhelmed with the logistics of caring for two, much less providing for them financially.
And like any sleep-deprived mom, I couldn’t function on less than eight hours of sleep—I was short with my family, I complained more than I coddled, and sometimes I was miserable.
So what do you do when you’re pining for your old life instead of feeling overjoyed and blessed? When you find yourself unhappy with parenthood?
Stigmas—They’re hard to break. And when it comes to asking for help, we can’t seem to win.
Take, for instance, a long-ago play date I had with another mom. We had met randomly: I was buying lunch from a food truck and she was there with her son. “We should totally hang out,” we said to one another, exchanging phone numbers (I swear, finding mom friends is so much like dating—”What if she turns me down?”).
And so we did, and as we got to know one another more, we asked the cursory questions: What do you do, whereabouts do you live, how many kids do you have and such. She was a stay-at-home mom, so I was surprised when she said, “My son goes to day care about three days a week.”
I've been obsessing about Amanda Ripley and her book the last several weeks. Seems like the U.S. has lots to catch up on in terms of our educational system. Some big differences between our schools and other countries who do really well?
Teachers are respected, and it's hard to be one. As in, being a teacher is like being a doctor or a lawyer here. There isn't too much focus on sports in other countries. They don't protect or save their kids from disappointment or low self-esteem. And maybe most importantly, school is seen as the only way to get to college and get a good job. Basically, kids take it seriously.
My suggestion: Read this book. It's not so much a parenting book as just something purely eye-opening and thought-provoking.