A week after weaning: tantrum city

Ugh. This week has been a ride. Weaning has hit me kind of hard emotionally, and even though I know that I was ready and I know Avery’s going to be just fine, it’s hard not to be filled with regrets when naptimes become a 2 hour long tantrum with absolutely zero sleep resulting in an extra tired and clingy toddler.

She can open her bedroom door, now, so even though I try to follow regular routine and lay down with her in her dark room, read a book, and spoon her to sleep, she jumps up and runs to the door screaming as soon as I say there’s no more milk. She busts out of the room (so it’s no longer dark) and rattles the baby gate at the top of the stairs aggressively, screaming to go downstairs. She even slams her door shut behind her, closing me in there. She won’t let me near her. I let it go for 2 hours, two days in a row, while I patiently waited in her bed for her to change her mind. When she finally stopped screaming and exhaustedly just sat in the hallway holding the baby-gate bars, I caved and said we had finished nap time, even though she didn’t use it to sleep, and we could go downstairs. After those two days from hell, I started taking her for drives in the car for naps. Not environmentally sustainable. Not sure where to go from here, so we’re taking it one day at a time with no long-term plan.

In my frustrated haze, I miss how peaceful and easy it was to lay down, have her lovingly snuggle into me, and nourish herself for a few minutes before falling into a deep sleep that lasted anywhere from 2-3 hours. But I have to consciously remind myself that sometimes she’d need to be attached to me for all 3 hours, and she’d bite me, and there was no milk left after the first few minutes anyway…

To add insult to injury for poor Avery, she had a stomach virus this week. What we thought was a one-time barf at the cottage last weekend turned into ocassional vomiting in the evenings, no appetite, and 4 missed daycare days this week (other kids at daycare had it, too, of course). It was a relatively mild virus, but the vomiting and no appetite made me feel guilty about weaning, too.

Avery’s temperament is obviously affected by the change – increased tantrums, followed by intense clingy sessions. This morning, when I told her it was time to leave the park, she had a tantrum that lasted most of the horribly awkward walk home. I couldn’t get her strapped into the stroller, and had to hold her with one arm (a writhing, 30 pound, almost-2-year-old is HARD TO CARRY) and push/drag our stroller with the other. A walk that should have taken 5 minutes took 30 minutes. But right before we got home she stopped, pushed her cheek against mine, clung to my neck, and said “sorry.” She’s such a good kid dealing with overpowering emotions.

I don’t know how much of the mood change is caused by being cut-off from nursing, and how much is from the resultant loss of sleep, or from being sick, or from her general age and stage in life. Bad combination of events.

Regardless, there’s no turning back, now. Her and I will both have to deal with the emotions as they come at us, and hopefully we’ll level out and be content with our new relationship soon…

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14 thoughts on “A week after weaning: tantrum city

  1. I can say that we saw all the exact same changes right before turning 2. The writhing, screaming toddler carry is no small feat. We did have the mishap of the stitches, which I think threw her into the same sort of trauma/transition, and we had a really rough week or two before things settled down. I imagine a new normal (with more two year-old behavior, but less avoiding naps entirely) is in your future. It’s amazing how they can spiral, isn’t it? The poor appetite leads to poor sleep, the poor sleep leads to bad attitude and more drama, the drama leads to no naps, etc., etc. Hang in there, I’m positive your feelings of liberation are also coming, though I know how hard it is in the moment.

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      • Since nursing is no longer part of the routine, we’ve reengineered nap time and bed time. Now it’s potty, cup of warm milk, story, song/lay down. For about a week or two Linnea would get up and want to climb out of her pack n play (we have the zip down side one), so I would calmly tell her that she needed to lay down or I would help her lay down. I had to help a lot in the first day or two but then she started doing it on her own. When she would scream, I would say screaming isn’t for inside, it is time to sleep, and if she kept screaming I would step out for a couple minutes. I only had to do that a couple of times. Mostly so I didn’t scream myself, 10 deep breathes kind of thing. We aren’t a cry it out family, but sometimes that 60 second breather allowed me to remain calm, which was essential for Linnea to calm down.

        We’re about a month out now. Naps take about 2 minutes to get down right now and bedtime maybe 20. She still wakes up at 6 effing am every morning and wakes 2ish times a night, so sleep isn’t perfect but it’s way better. The biggest things that seem to matter are a consistent bedtime and standing firm on rules (i.e. you stay in your bed or I will put you in your bed, lay down, no screamingat s ). Easier said than done, of course! But I think for Linnea this was a lot about finding the boundaries in this new chapter. Also timing was hard here because she got her first 2 year molar last week!

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      • Thanks! I think where I deviate from your routine (and what’s probably causing the problem) is not making her lay down and stay in her bed. Now she has had two successful escapes from her bedroom, and she knows that pouting in the hallway for 2 hours is an option. I might have to try holding her door shut through the screams and “helping” her lay down (which will probably happen through kicks and and screams on repeat for the first few days of trying…). We also may be giving her too many options… I ask if she wants to nap in her bed or in moms’ bed. She says moms bed, but it’s not dark in there and she just gets down off the bed 2 seconds later. Maybe by next week I’ll be ready to re-attempt the in-bed nap routine and be stricter with actually staying in her dark room and in her bed.

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      • Oh yeah, we are the masters of too many options! Honestly the only reason I’ve had it in me to do most of this stuff is because of how bad a napper Darwin was (an hour to go down for a 45 minute nap :/ ). All kids are different and I know you’ll figure out what works for you and Avery. I’ll be here cheering you on!

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  2. Glad you clearly understand the current chaotic behaviors have lots of roots and developmental aspects ~ weaning does not get all the credit.
    Unfortunately this does not make any of it easier on anyone. And the spiraling into increasing chaos really struck home with me as I clearly remember my most current spiral of thinking and feeling……. though at MULTIPLE decades older I did manage to cope enough to see, name and understand what was going and interrupt it without 2 hours of hysterics and no ne had to carry me home. Current events can be quite triggering for those of us who have good memories about what life was really like in the 1940’s & 50’s. ‘The Brady Bunch’ glosses over a great deal.
    Today the sky is blue where I am, it is warm but not nasty hot or humid, there is a lovely breeze and now I shall go look at your chickens!
    Thank you for writing.

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  3. Oh no. Sorry to hear things aren’t going well right now. I hope she shakes that bug soon, and that helps at least a bit with her mood. It’s a tough road, and you’re both doing the best you can. Hang in there!!

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  4. RE your July 3 post, I could not find a place/way to comment.
    Wanted to say it is important to try to say goodby as you did, and then do the departure as you did. You two are really good parents!
    One thing that you might consider is actually posting a blank month or week calendar at her eye level and have her put the stickers on showing who is putting her to bed for the night each day of the week. She marks off each night. Make this a ritual.
    1. Gives her information 2. Gives her a sense of order. 3. Teaches calendars both the repetition of days and using them to count events down. 4. Helps teach names of days of the week and possibly months.
    She won’t learn these at once but it gives structure to the terms today, yesterday, and tomorrow which are tough abstract concepts; and makes it less unfamiliar and weird for kids as they hit any school structure. (‘We cannot learn what we do not know’ educational theory … we need some concrete ideas to tie abstract thinking to is another way of phrasing it.)

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