Mean Mommy

I normally do a weekend recap on Mondays (and honestly it's the only blogging I've been doing lately), but our weekend was so uneventful I couldn't bring myself to write about it, and you know my standards aren't high. Ryan was out of town until last night so we just did errands, ate our weight in pickles from Ruggles, and folded laundry. 

Instead, I'll try to write about a post that's been brewing in my little noggin' for a while; being a mean mommy.

If you've read some of my parenting posts the past six months, you've probably figured out that it's been a tough six months for me. No, I'm not trying to martyr myself, life is good, but it's been a challenging six months for me in terms of parenting. I felt like we breezed through the newborn stage, the first year was so fun and felt easy with the occasional sleep regression thrown in, and then around 18 months, I felt like I lost my groove. 

Every single minute of every day was a struggle, contained a tantrum (or so it seemed) and I felt like I was starting to hate being a stay at home mom. Ryan's travel picked up around this time, so maybe that had something to do with it, or maybe it's that Olivia's already strong personality set in even more, maybe it's just that age, or maybe it's a combination of all the things, I'll never know.

Nonetheless, I felt like I was in parenting survival mode. All the things I said I'd never do as a parent, I did. I felt like just standing in the grocery store and surviving an epic meltdown was all I could manage, let alone parent through it. I didn't even know what I was supposed to do at that age, and I was steadily losing ground to a tyrannical toddler. I bargained, bribed, and begged. I felt like crying almost every day and my resolve to hold off on more kids strengthened with every week. Cheery, right?

Then something awesome happened. Steph came to town for 9 days. I can't tell you what a difference it made to have someone around to tell you "it's ok to do that", "that's not too mean", "that's not ok for her to do that". I spend 90% of my parenting time solo, and I lose perspective and honestly felt so defeated, I felt like giving up. She never overstepped her bounds,  she just gave me the confidence and reinforcement to do what I knew I needed to. I needed to be a mean mommy.

I don't really mean "mean". You know that we can't have a blog post around here without some dramatic flair, so don't worry that I've lost it.

Here's what I realized:

1. If she can understand "go throw this in the trash and then go wash your hands" and follow through, she can understand "sit in the cart and don't get out". Duh.

I had to start holding her to a higher standard, knowing that she understands exactly what I'm saying.

2. If I'm not consistent, it's all a waste. This means pulling the car over no matter where I am to tell her that it's not ok to try to squirm out of her carseat (anyone else have a toddler who can undo the buckles? It's terrifying). Every time. It means time outs for throwing things because she's angry, even in the grocery store. It means a lot of work up front.

3. I have to catch her doing things right.

I felt like I definitely praised her before, but when I stepped it up and really laid it on thick during the times she was following instructions, she grinned a little grin and complied even more.

4. She won't hate me because I'm strict. 

I was afraid to be stern, even angry when she did things that were wrong or maybe even dangerous, that she'd reject me and be even more resistant to following instructions. I was so, so, so wrong about this.

The firmer, stricter, and sterner I am (in the appropriate situations) when coupled with relentless consistency, the more she obeys. I feel like a have a brand new kid lately. She's more affectionate, giving more hugs and kisses than ever. Listens to me when I tell her to stop, or come back, or to sit in the cart. She's eating more at meals, sitting at the table until we're all finished, going to bed with no fuss, and even initiating new habits we've started, like holding my hand when we go from the house to the car. 

And guess what? I'm nicer now. She knows I mean business when I tell her no, or how to do something, so I actually spend less time telling her no. I spend more time praising her because she's doing so much right, and it's working

Does this mean it's perfect? Oh hell no.

She's 2 for crying out loud, it's going to be a mess sometimes, but I love being home with her again. I don't feel like I'm drowning in my own incompetency anymore, and that's a relief.  

So, I apologize for the ramble, and I realize that this parenting style doesn't work for every parent or every child, but it's saved my mama mind. For the first time in a long time, when Ryan came through the door tonight after being gone since Monday, I didn't feel like I needed to toss her at him and go drive in the car for 20 minutes just to be alone, drink a Diet Dr. Pepper and blast my Britney Spears Pandora Christmas music.

 I sat behind some teenagers at dinner tonight who were talking about how they're going to parent and how they won't be like their parents and I was flat out cackling to myself. Sure, you'll be cool parents with kids who want to share everything with you, yet never get in trouble, and you won't get stretch marks or hemorrhoids, or spend a whole day with a velcro cookie attached to your bum. 



  1. Parenting is hard. Great post! Glad things are getting better for both of you!

  2. kids here get things too easily. Coming from Asia, are grown to learn what our senior/superior such as teachers said really meant business, so we obey. Time out ? What is time out? Our time out in Asia is a stern cane to our palms that hurts like devil; it won't hurt you or scar you in any way, but it sure hurts you to a point that you will remember the lesson for a very very long time. I am in my late 30's now & according to my late mom, I was only caned/disciplined by her 3 times ever. According to her, she didn't even have to raise her voice, just a stern stare from her, I immediately behaved...and I was not the only children that behaved in such an obedient way towards our parents.

  3. Oh gosh!!! We all have this!!! Parenting really is SO HARD! Palmer is turning 2 next month, and I already see the "terrible twos" coming out of her. She knows what I'm saying, she just chooses not to listen! So frustrating. All we can do is our best, and I know you are giving her that! :)

  4. Great post Megan! Hazel just hit 15 months and I'm starting to see the "toddler" come out in her. She's becoming much more assertive and mischievous. I'm worried about being able to consistently discipline her. She's a super active little girl and a CLIMBER so I know I will have to be able to lay down the law just to keep her safe from herself...not to mention to keep myself sane.

    I feel you on the solo parenting. My husband doesn't travel out of town a lot for work but I think just being a SAHM without a big mama network around can feel so isolating. If you ever feel the need to commiserate, Hazel (and myself) would love a playdate since we are also in Houston!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing gal!! My son will be 18 months next week and I have already started to see some crazy temper tantrums. It's insane and he's so strong willed. I'm already dreading the thought of terrible twos, but I love your advice. I know there is a balance and boundaries are crucial for these little tikes!

  6. I've been the mean one from the get go. Sometimes it makes me feel like the worst person ever but I've always refused to have a crazy kid that doesn't listen. Starting around 2 years and 8 months things got tough. She's now 3 1/2 and things are really balancing out. She's a drama queen but that's just her. Shes me to a tee. She wants everything the way she wants it. It makes me want to putt out all my hair and laugh at the same time. Now, my boy. Sigh this boy...MY boy, hes going to be 17 months an a week. He's going to turn my world upside down. His crazy is coming out all of a sudden and I'm pretty sure I have no idea what the hell to do! He is nuts. Today we went to a grad party and he was EVERYWHERE and anytime I didn't let him do as he pleased, he screamed at the top of his lungs. It felt like everyone was staring! I have no idea what I'm going to do if he keeps that up. I'm rambling. lol

  7. Haha that last paragraph has me laughing out loud. I love your honesty and your sense of humor/dramatics :)

    I think you're doing a wonderful job with Olivia, it get's so tough sometimes. I am definitely no expert but I agree that implementing the strategies you laid out helps. I too find myself hating the stay at home mom life at times, I think we all do... It can just be so tiring sometimes and when you're wallowing in your own (perceived) inadequacies it feels SO. Much. Worse!

    Glad things are improving for you guys! xo

  8. Whoa, I so needed to read this today! I just flew with my 17 month old and am completely spent. This age definitely is tough. You have such a beautiful and happy little girl so I'm positive you are an amazing mommy but I certainly understand where you are coming from.

  9. I ALWAYS feel like the "mean" parent. Which I guess is a result of being the one to deal with lex every hour of every day. But it's true- the consistency and meanness and just boundaries make them better behaved kids. So while it sucks sometimes-'it's so totally worth the peace it brings! Loved this post!

  10. amen! i think we could all use more of this! having rules and standards for our children (no matter what age) won't make us mean, it means that we care!

  11. BTW, how do you keep your converse so white??

  12. Love love love this post! Keep up the good work, you are an awesome mom!

  13. I love this post! Mean moms unite! I wrote a post a couple months ago about not underestimating your children and what they can do and I think this goes right along with it. My husband and I are home about the same amount of time but I find myself being the "bad guy" and more disciplinary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making them listen, other wise, how will they know what is right and wrong when they are older? You're doing a great job momma just remember that it gets easier! Lo was AMAZING until she turned three. I was always embarrassed by how she was acting, I felt like I did something wrong because she was so great until then and then, one day, it all got better. She found that she can have her strong personality and still be the loving girl I always knew she was.

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  14. Oh, how I love this post. I'm so glad you shared! Being consistent is so important and praising when doing things right is also so important. I try to be consistent and to praise him when he's doing something right. But sometimes it is so hard. This is such a good reminder to stick with it and that it's important they know you mean business! I'm so glad things are improving at home for you!

  15. this is NOT rambling -- this is awesome! LOVE it

  16. I really needed to read this today! Ugh I've been going through all of this and I think it hit around 18 months for Aubrey too. I'm struggling to get her to know that I mean what I'm saying when I try to discipline her. When I tell her no- she smiles and/or laughs at me. Her father did this too as a child so I was somewhat expecting this but oh my are times tough here! This post is such a great reminder for me to be more consistent. They're all great tips! Thank you so much and thanks for giving me some hope! haha

  17. so, i tried this "stern" and except them to know and understand what im saying this last night.... we tried jello for the first time...and applesauce in a cup (not out of a pouch). i tried to praise praise praise for listening to mommy... but oh boy! my little guy, 24 months...just tries me... with his little smerks. I need to get a "poker face" because he cracks me up and it totally defeats the purpose..... going to keep trying! thanks for the inspiration.

  18. So I just left the most awesome comment ever (I thought it was anyway), and it disappeared. The gist of it was this: Thank you for this! Thanks for giving me the courage to start being a little more stern with my almost two-year-old girl. I needed to hear this. And if you ever need someone to decompress with who gets it, all while listening to the Britney Pandora station, I'm pretty sure I'm right around the corner. ;)

  19. Love this! I have 3 children. My oldest is on the autism spectrum. I learned rather quickly how necessary it is to be stern and always follow through. I still struggle from time to time. It is kind of my nature to be a little too forgiving. The kids definitely respond a lot better to directions given by my husband. I do my best though! I've been there bringing tears over temper tantrums. It can be very overwhelming. Kids really do respond well to praise and recognition. You are definitely right about that. xo


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