It’s Not All Mary Poppins

How We Do It (part one?)

I’m told this so often I don’t really even hear it any more. “I don’t know how you do it!” I’m not quite sure what “it” is, exactly, and many times, I suspect that I am not in fact doing the “it” the person thinks I am.

I think sometimes people believe that the good behaviour they see with me is magical. Because everyone knows that kids behave better for other people than their parents, right? (No, I don’t know that. You may think you have seen it, but as a caregiver, I can usually see any number of very clear reasons why this may be happening. It is not unavoidable, it is certainly not just the nature of things.)

My days sometimes have some screaming in them, yes, they do. My days often have tears in them. Rarely mine, but that’s been known to happen. (Really.) My days rarely have tantrums, but they do have temper. (Again, not generally mine, but it’s been known to happen. I am human.) We have power struggles, of course we do! I’m working with 2-year-olds. We have power struggles, which.I.win.

Here’s a good example of a caregiver having a struggle. In this case, she’s bravely changing her patterns for something healthier, so she’s having to re-train several toddlers, who have been used to something different, in the same behaviour at one time. Now that’s courage.

Just so you know that all that sweetness you see when a caregiver goes by with her wee charges is not accomplished without some sweat!

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June 2, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

11 Comments »

  1. Wow, thanks for the link and the kind words! 🙂

    Breakfast was a little easier today. I’ve still got three holdouts, but the other five happily chomped down their orange. I’m happy that it’s working as well as you said, since it was your veggie post that inspired me to begin with.

    Comment by KEP | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  2. I actually have a category on my baby-blog (okay, toddler blog) called “how I do it.” As a single parent, I keep getting asked. I can only imagine what it’s like being outnumbered five-to-one!

    I’m really enjoying having you as a part of my daily reading — thanks for guest-posting at MIM’s place. 🙂

    Comment by Allison | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  3. Just discovered your blog and I really like it.

    I am so guilty of saying the “How do you do it?” comments to mothers of multiples or to my son’s teacher or caregiver. Not because I believe it is magical but because I respect and value the job they have and can imagine it is not easy … and as you pointed out through your link … takes a healthy dose of courage.

    Comment by Sunshine Scribe | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  4. Wow, that is one brave lady. I can attest to the fact that Mary P.’s “get them to eat their veggies” method does work. We have a very challenging kid with lots of eating issues, but we see progress with this every day. (And Mary P., today Bryce ate half of a cheeseburger – in the past he would nibble the bread and say he didn’t like it…I know a cheeseburger isn’t the most healthy thing in the world, but I’m going for anything different at this point…and this is a big step for him!)

    Comment by Kristen | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  5. Ummm…did you read my post today, by any chance?! I really didn’t mean to put you on the spot!

    Comment by AverageMom | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  6. Just came back from visiting Kep. Her system is very close to mine.

    Goood for her. It must be harder with the assortment of kids than with our own.

    Comment by Granny | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  7. oh no doubt. New rules don’t even come easy with adults, never mind young kids!

    Comment by kittenpie | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  8. This is totally unrelated to your post today, but I knew I had to share this cartoon with you when SwingDaddy showed it to me. By the way, Q’s diaper changes are still going ok (as long as I haven’t jinxed it by mentioning them).

    http://cgibin.rcn.com/fillmore.dnai/cgi-bin/sviewer.pl?selectdate=6/2/06

    Comment by Lady M | June 2, 2006 | Reply

  9. When I taught elementary school, parents usually made the same statement, “I don’t know how you do it.” Honestly, I think teaching 30 kids was easier than taking care of my own. Perhaps it was easier because it was a job, you keep schedules, you plan things (activities and discipline). At home, with my own kids, I see myself not as disciplined. I like the flexibility, but sometimes it comes at a price.

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | June 3, 2006 | Reply

  10. kep: It really does work. It’s getting through their fervent objections to the peace beyond that’s the hard part – but, as you’re discovering, it’ll happen, and very often it happens quickly!

    Allison: Welcome, and thanks for commenting! Glad you followed me over.

    I sort of know what they mean when they ask, but I’m also quite sure I don’t always do the “it” they think I do. Not everyone means the same thing by the comment, either.

    SunshineScribe: Hey, I just stumbled over a comment of yours somewhere else, just today! Was it at Susan’s?

    I don’t mind the comment. It’s just hard to respond to, in passing on the sidewalk on a sunny morning!

    Kristen: Hurrah! It’s not like he’s scarfing down a couple of cheeseburgers a day, so celebrate the victory whole-heartedly. I’m so glad he’s still making progress.

    AverageMom: The irony of that is just so funny! I posted before yours went up, so no, I was’t responding, but any of your readers who follow the link will I am, and will think, “God, what a bitchy thing to do when AM was just being nice!” LOL

    Granny: Many would claim it’s harder with your own. I never found it this way, but it’s a commonly held belief. This system will work for pretty nearly anyone, I think, if you stick to your guns.

    Kittenpie: Very few people like change. It’s part of the psyche of the race, I think!

    LadyM: HA! That is so funny. I don’t get the paper daily, but I always enjoy Sherman’s Lagoon when I get a chance. “One-handed diaper change gone badly wrong…” Snort.

    MamacitaTina: It certainly does help to have that little bit of emotional detachment that comes of it being a “job”. I love these kids, but I also have some objectivity on them. That goes a long way.

    To be honest, when I see parents of teeny multiples, six months of age and under, I tend to think the very same thing, but what I’m considering is the lack of sleep! I know how I suffered those early weeks and months through my own sleep deprivation: what would it be like with twins, or, god forbid, triplets, like the set who live a few blocks over? The mind boggles…

    One of the things I like about my job is that I send them home at the end of the day, and get my 8 hours every night! (Well, except on insomnia nights, but that’s a whole different issue.)

    Comment by Mary P. | June 3, 2006 | Reply

  11. Damn straight it isn’t magic. Child care was my part time gig for about 16 years. It takes creativity and consistency and genuine care to be even a half decent care provider. Wore me out some days, but those kids will always be much loved and feel like partly mine.

    Comment by chosha | June 4, 2006 | Reply


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