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I need to hear

If you have a High-Needs, Super Spirited child, I would love to hear how you balance time with your Not-So-High-Needs, Not-So-Super-Spirited child. 

High-Needs:  Cedar (17 months)

I-only-THOUGHT-she-was-high-needs:  Norah (5 yrs)

I’m really struggling to help Norah with learning activities.  Honestly, I’m struggling to simply feed, snuggle, and talk with Norah.  Cedar takes a measly one hour nap.  When can I create space for art or literacy? 

Cedar is so very large.  Her spirit, that is.  She does everything loudly.  Her scream could break glass.  She is delightful.  And incredibly draining and demanding. 

I’ve tried putting Cedar in her highchair with playdoh, paints, crayons while Norah and I work.  She cannot tolerate restraint and screams until she wiggles her way out or I take her out.  When I put Norah at our dining room table to do a project, Cedar climbs Norah’s chair and becomes a destructive force. 

I’m discouraged.  I’m frankly deflated about the prospect of homeschool.  The idea seems impossible to me. 

Cedar is 17 months.  I know it is a tough phase.  Tell me what to expect, experienced mamas and papas of high-needs kids.  I need to know.  Or give me ideas to survive.

9 responses »

  1. I have no advice. Just hugs. I know, probably not what you needed. Your stories of the activities that you do with Norah inspire me to get outside with my kids. We spent 2.5 hours outside yesterday and it was great. I tried to get Liam to collect items for a nature table, but he wasn’t interested. Instead we lifted rocks to look for bugs and then he started to dig. Even let the baby play in the dirt. He had a blast. I would say, it should only get better with Cedar, but truthfully, I have no way of knowing that. Maybe if you guys hold your studies in a tree, Cedar won’t be able to disturb them and she will get some outside time. 🙂

    • I am longing for warmer weather! Maybe a treehouse is just the thing we need. But I’d need to put Cedar in the tree and Norah and I could sit under. Otherwise, Cedar makes a beeline for the road or neighbor’s house. She runs and doesn’t look back. Maybe a fence would be the best investment!

  2. My fourth was/is a handful of energy and emotion! I began gating her off in her room for 20 mins at a time and getting out a “special toy” for her to play with. It took her a couple times to get used to the idea of alone time…but it worked. We worked up to 30 mins after a month or so. She even enjoyed it!That gave me a little more time to work with the older ones and all of us a break. Now she is five and I keep her little brain busy with Kindergarten work!

  3. I’m going to need all the help/ideas I can get as I have a daughter like you described (21 months) and am going to be watching full-time a 3 month old. Needless to say, I’m a little scared. So I’m subscribing to this…

  4. Julie, I’m gasping for air, both for your sake and remembering that similar time in my life. I tried childcare for my newborn niece at that stage, too, and almost strangled my niece so her mom had to find other arrangements. Maybe Andrea wasn’t AS high-need as Cedar, but I agree with Karla that Cedar might need to learn about “alone time” no matter how much screaming takes place for a few days (yours and hers). Oh dear. I cringe to give you that advice, but I know my kids learned when I set the sacred timer, they would get my attention when the signal sounded. If I didn’t set a timer, I’d keep fussing at one or both kids to find something else to do while I was “busy.” I needed the reminder as much as they did… focusing my attention on my kids wasn’t always my priority. It’s one of those things I’d do differently if I had it to do over.
    Another suggestion is to have 3 more children. Apparently those large families can use the older kids to entertain the younger ones… but they still have to get through this awkward stage you’re enduring. Enduring? Yes, that’s what it feels like today but you WILL get through this with grace. I know it.

  5. A thought about homeschooling. Both of my children were, and are, smarter than me even though I’m a college grad with a great mind. I knew I needed help guiding their minds, hearts, and bodies, so we chose traditional school for them with my intense involvement as a classroom volunteer. That way, I didn’t have to be the “bad guy” 24/7. Perhaps there are homeschoolers in your area who know how to make this work, but when we needed to make the decision, we didn’t have any good role models.

  6. Maybe you could bring out a really special toy (or non-toy, since those are so much more interesting)when you and Norah have a project to work on. Something Cedar would just love to get her hands on, and only bring it out during project time.
    Also maybe utilizing the non traditional school hours for projects, like when hubby gets home and can lend a hand. If Cedar has an earlier bedtime than Norah then project time could be an evening ritual. Grabbing an hour or two or quiet time with her on the weekends or when the Grandparents are around perhaps.
    It does sound incredibly challenging, especially the little bit I’ve been around Cedar. 🙂 Just remember, it won’t always be quite like this! And it may be that homeschool isn’t for you after all, and that’s ok. You can always change course if necessary.
    I’m hoping to make it to the homeschool convention in Greenville in March…I’ll let you know if I hear any good tips. Hugs mama!

    • My cell phone would be the perfect toy for Cedar. But only if it is unlocked and she is able to make outgoing calls. And no, the toy phones don’t work. We have three.

      I know that 16months to 24 months is a super challenging time. I know it won’t last forever. I can do this. And I absolutely reserve the right to change my mind and enroll her in school! No words to eat here.

      Ah, Shannon, I’ve missed you!

  7. What about a mother’s helper that could be there to play with Cedar once or twice a week while you and Norah work? any responsible teens in the neighborhood, a homeschooler perhaps?!

    Oh, and to answer how I balance time between the high need and not so high-need, I often find myself neglecting the calmer, more passive one. It is a constant struggle to remember to give Lucy the same focus that I do to my strong willed, super intense guy. He demands in a way that she doesn’t. I really enjoy one on one time for little outings with her. Even though they’re brief, it helps me to focus on her in a way that I can’t otherwise.


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