Tag Archives: handling meltdowns

Happiness Project Update 10: Parenthood … Where Everyone Has a Meltdown

18 Aug

You take a deep breath, grind your teeth, and rub your head in the hopes that the universe sends you a truck-load of patience and some Advil for the rest.

This is the meltdown process.

But all you really do after all that grinding is increase the chances of fracturing, loosening, or losing your teeth and eventually setting yourself up for dentures by the age of fifty. Not to mention adding wrinkles to your already aging forehead from all that rubbing.

This is the life of a parent during the meltdown crisis. It can be caused by anything, but the primary culprits are hunger and sleepiness. Any parent that tells you their kids never do this is just lying and trying to make themselves look Parent magazine-worthy. Those smiley faces on the cover of magazines … yeah those parents suffer the meltdown process too. You can’t airbrush that out.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

But other than turning to massive amounts of chocolate, apparently acknowledging feelings  are important. In The Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin talks about these parent self-help books. I’m not big on those parent advice books with unrealistic scenarios that give unpractical advice. I prefer the Judd Apatow method myself. But she did happen to mention a couple of items I thought were noteworthy.

Instead of getting sassy with my kid about whining ,or dismissing his four-year old feelings about yet another set of Thomas the Train Tracks thus extending the attitude and sadness, I should just acknowledge his feelings and things would probably settle down a lot faster.

I was doubtful of this Brady-BunchPartridge Family mentality, but it surprisingly worked.

“…much of children’s frustration comes not from being forced to do this or that but rather from the sheer fact that they’re being ignored.”

There are a few methods she mentions to help the acknowledgement-factor and possibly decrease future therapy for your kid.

“Write it Down.”

Seeing how my son has noticed my daily lists and that I often write things down on paper or the computer, he’s become aware that writing things down is important. So when he suggested “Mom I don’t like baby sister smashing my Lightning McQueen, she should have her own race cars. She can smash them.”

Instead of ignoring him and telling him for the 100th time that she’s just a baby and she didn’t mean it. I stood up and announced: “I think I should write that down … that sounds like a good idea.”

He smiled and picked up his car.


I was unaware of the power of writing it down. I have used that many times this week. However I have also tried to master rephrasing the word “no.” Apparently kids hear that a lot, and in truth they need to hear it sometimes. But putting a positive spin on “no” can sometimes make the task so much easier. Instead of “No we can’t go to the golf course right now,” I use “It’s pretty hot outside why don’t we play in the pool first and then go to the golf course when it’s cooler.”

That one was pretty sweet. Watching Mad Men and Donald Draper can help you with your word magic.

Rubin suggests two other notes that I found helpful. “Wave my magic wand,” as in if I had a magic wand I’d make Go Diego, Go! appear right now instead of saying you need to understand the cable is out.

And last but not least “admitting that a task is difficult.” Just because I find it easy to make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night doesn’t mean it’s easy for my four-year to wake up and do it himself. Sometimes Pull-Ups Training Underwear are still necessary.

As a parent did these things make me happy? Well … it provided a less stressful environment and that made me happy. But  in truth I can’t always write everything down. I will have to say no loudly from time to time. The magic wand does not always exist when disaster strikes and I’ve only had four hours of sleep. And, learning to cowboy up and mastering a task is important, especially when it involves urine. Meltdowns will happen, and there will be attitude adjustments that simply need a time-out and a ban from Lightning McQueen race cars.

This is parenthood.

And even though some of Rubin’s parent tips currently work with my four-year old at this time, once he hits his junior high school and high school status I might have to resort to my substitute teacher methods, because teenagers are a whole new breed.


A Three-Hour Tour … A Three-Hour Tour

4 Apr

 Ever feel the need to kick your spouse, boyfriend, or partner out of the car while you’re driving long distances on the freeway?


It occurred to me as we made our trek to Legoland.

Legoland California

Legoland California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was supposed to be a joyous occasion and it was in the end … but the beginning tested my patience and we were in what my friend likes to call “silent mode”.

I felt like I was in the car with Gilligan on a three-hour tour … a three-hour tour!

As a mom, I can understand I’m a little neurotic. But there’s a reason for that craziness. Everything I do is for a specific reason. And no … it’s not so I can hear myself talk or give my dude a list of things to do. It’s to avoid THE MELTDOWN.

When you have kids and you’re on a journey that lasts more than one hour in a car your mission becomes avoiding THE MELTDOWN — when your kids lose it, when they cry because of boredom, when they cry because there is no television or video games, when they cry for a ridiculous reason, when they cry in general, when they cry because it’s nap time, when they cry because they’re hungry, or when they cry for no reason.

You do your best to avoid it.

That was my entire plan on a trip that the GPS stated would take an hour and forty-four minutes. However that approximate time did not include meltdowns and unforseen detours.

The park opened at ten and I wanted to get there around that time, give or take fifteen minutes, so my son could thoroughly enjoy all the attractions. Last year we failed to anticipate how long the drive would be, so we arrived after noon, where he was cranky because he didn’t sleep in the car, and the park closed at five. We felt bad about cheating my son out of the full Legoland opportunity, so I vowed that wouldn’t happen this year.

I did everything I thought I could to prepare, but the forces of destiny played tricks on me.

My plan included leaving early … just as the baby takes her first nap. Figured she would sleep all, or most, of the way there and we’d be cry-free for the drive, while my son played with most of the toys or books I packed.

What happened?

We woke up. 

We were supposed to leave around 8:30 a.m., but getting everything together in the morning took longer than usual. So I skipped breakfast, figured we could get some kind of sandwich somewhere. We made it out the door around 9:30 a.m.

Once we were in the car we thought about the coupon. It could have saved us sixty-two dollars. Now for some people, sixty-two dollars isn’t much, but when you have a family of four and you know there’s going to be ten-dollar popcorn and eight-dollar hot dogs, you try to save anywhere.

Did I mention the coupon during the week?


A few times?


Did it happen?



All he had to do was eat lunch at Denny’s, which is like 20 feet away from his work, and we’d get the free-ticket coupon.

But it never happened.

So he assured me we could stop by on the way there. No big deal, we would eat there. But before that ever happened we had to drop off one of his friend’s cell phones, which took about thirty minutes.

Was it in the opposite direction?


Did we absolutely have to drop off the phone that morning?


Could his friend have waited until the evening for his lost phone?


Did he?


Baby crying. Passed nap time. Son anxious and getting cranky. Mom frustrated, no food.  Hypoglycemic — just a nice way of saying bitchy because I was starving and had a headache.

We finally made it to a Denny’s, the one near his place of business, and the baby falls asleep. I suggested we take the food to go, so that the restaurant noises do not wake up the baby.

I got off the car and asked the hostess lady about the coupon special, she told me there were no more coupons. They ran out yesterday.


Forget the coupon, just leave. We need to get something to eat. I’m starving. I’ve got a headache coming and we’ve now been in the car for about an hour. My son’s patience is non-existent. I give him a snack, but he’s still in a crappy mood. He seems to be hypoglycemic too. He asks about Legoland again, for the hundredth time. Again I tell him we’re almost there, be patient.

About fifteen minutes later, my son gets a headache. He begins to complain about the headache. He gets loud.

Baby awake. Baby crying. Pacifier missing.

Baby’s crying intensifies my son’s headache.  We pull over and try to comfort my son and find the pacifier. He stretches his legs for a little bit, then decides he needs to use the bathroom.

After this twenty-minute detour, we get back in the car. Baby still crying. I move to the back seat to try to comfort and distract everyone. Baby settles down for a second, then starts up again.

Oh! There’s a Dennys right there. Driving too fast to make the off ramp.

There’ll be another one down the line.

Baby still crying. Son still cranky and head still hurting.

I continue my efforts to comfort and realize the baby has pooped.

“We need to stop the baby has a giant poop.”

“Can’t you just change the baby while I’m driving. Unbuckle her seatbelt, clean her and slip in the diaper.”

“Are you kidding me?


“Pull over.”

We exit. The baby’s poop made its way up her back and all over her clothes.

After changing diapers and clothes, we pile back in the car and drive.

I’m desperately searching the car for ibuprofen. My head is pounding. My dude decided to take another freeway so as to avoid heavy traffic. It’s a loop, but it’ll be faster than the current freeway we’re driving on. We drive the detour and encounter gridlock.

“Are we there yet?”

“No. Not yet.”

After waiting for all those cars to crawl out of our way, we drive thirty more minutes and see the sign: Legoland Next Exit.

Did you see that Legoland next exit?

We pass the exit.

What happened?

I thought you said next exit, not this one.

“Are we there yet?”

Baby cries.

It’s 12:14 p.m.

So envisioning  throwing him out of the car. Tuck and roll, dude. Tuck and roll.

Eventually we  made it to our destination, cranky as hell. But once I saw my son’s eyes light up as we drove into the parking lot, I was ready to rid myself and my dude of that nasty mood and of the three-hour tour … that three-hour tour.