To the tune of being deliberate with my parenting, I have to share a change that has happened over the past couple weeks.
I was DYING each night trying to get Dominic dressed and into bed in a reasonable time frame. Then I was DYING again trying to get him moving and dressed for school in the morning. Yelling, begging, offers for help, a spanking or two... desperate parenting attempts to get back to the way he was last year (peaceful getting to bed and peaceful getting ready for school). It was not working and the situation was becoming dire (in my mind).
I put out a plea on facebook for suggestions. I got a variety of answers on the topic as varied as letting him cry it out to spanking him to ignoring him to giving him more attention to setting a timer to waiting for him to be tired and on and on. All of the responses were helpful in their own ways - just knowing that I am not the only mom struggling with this issue was HUGELY helpful. Sometimes all I need is some solidarity to press on or reevaluate. Some of the questions asked by other moms were very helpful as well: is he getting enough alone time with parents in the evenings? is he actually tired? is there a routine in place?
So, having had it up to my ears with the melt-downs, I decided to step back a bit and observe (ha, should have done that in the first place... silly Montessorian). What I noticed was that he was getting wound up right after dinner - running around, being a bit crazy, pulling out tons of toys without really focusing on any, etc. I enacted a few changes after those observations. First, I started initiating a little bit of quiet play and/or focused activity - building a puzzle outside of the board, cleaning up left-out toys in a systematic and cooperative way, rolling up the clean washcloths from the laundry bin, and also turning the majority of the lights off in the evenings. This helped dramatically, and he was less reluctant to get dressed. We also became more diligent about taking baths after dinner - if his clothes are already off, there is less of a fight to get undressed to put on PJs. After the quiet play time in the evenings we've been reading a book or two from the library bag that hangs by the door.
At first he was still disinterested in going to bed after reading, and required a little more prodding and possibly some laying down time with myself or Ryan. After a couple more days, though, he started to become more comfortable saying yes to going to his bed, and even more recently, he has told us that he is tired before walking himself to his room or asking us to carry him to bed! We reinstated a sense of routine, we calmed the house for the time leading up to bed, we spend more time giving our full attention before bed with lots of cuddles and hugs and kisses, and the "battle" that had me in a total fury each evening has almost entirely ceased.