Lessons I Learned from a Late Afternoon Tantrum

April 10, 2014

The Zen of a late afternoon tantrum... it's not perfect but it's ok.

I stand at the bench making dinner and listen to him cry.

He is wailing about the injustice of being three and a half.

He is angry, because he is not allowed to go out and ride his bike on the road with the big kids. He is cross, because I have to make dinner, I can’t go out to ride, and if I can’t go, he can’t go.

He is frustrated… but I’m not.

In the past, this kind of tantrum, at this point in the day, after a day full of impossible three and a half year old tantrums, would have sent me over the edge, but not today.

Today I feel sad for him, instead of feeling guilty that I’ve let the big kids go and not him.
Today I feel sad for him, instead of feeling frustrated that I can’t be everything, to everyone, all the time.
Today I feel sad for him, instead of feeling angry that this tantrum is making a difficult time of day even more stressful.

I put the first of the pizza pockets in the oven and wander down the hall to scoop him up. I rest my chin on his little blond head.

“It’s not fair!” he sobs into my chest, and today that phrase doesn’t even drive me insane like it usually does.

“It’s really not” I tell him, as I realise that today I am not trying to fix things. I don’t feel the burden of having to find a way to make everything ok, all the time.

I am not sure when I discovered the zen of this late afternoon tantrum, but it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and even though he still cries as I return to the pizzas, I know it’s all ok.

In the big scheme of things, it’s ok.
Even in this moment, even with the tears, it’s ok.

It’s not perfect… but it’s ok.

What have you learned from your parenting struggles recently?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

gen April 11, 2014 at 1:00 am

Thank you, once again for refocusing me on my parenting. This is exactly the sort of thing I need to read often to gently remind me of the Mum I want to be, the mum I have been in better times. This post takes a weight off me as it reminds me to let it be ok.

Thanks for so many good reflections Kate.


h. April 11, 2014 at 1:17 am

Beautifully written and came just at the right time (Feeling sick and husband away) I think our afternoon will pass by much smoother with your words in mind. Thank you


Joanne April 11, 2014 at 4:18 am

Hi there I’m one of your readers who normally just reads and runs but i wanted to respond today as I loved this post so much because it really relates to where I am at the moment with my nearly 3 year old twins. Finding my inner calm is something I’ve been working on this week helped along by me losing my voice, nothing comes out when I shout!
I’m not sure I’ve had much impact yet but I feel better trying.
I look forward to reading your posts each week andd have used a number of your printables. Your blog is fab, thank you for taking the time to write.


katepickle April 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Oh I remember the days when my twins were three and I had many moments when I thought I couldn’t possibly survive it…. those can be difficult days, but I promise you, it does get better eventually.


Kate Lloyd April 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Another interesting and relatable post Kate. You totally knocked it on the head with what my recent struggles have been “I can’t be everything, to everyone, all the time”. :)


Sarah P April 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

This was exactly what I needed today. Thank you.


Emily April 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Wish I’d read this before our recent “holiday”. Wouldn’t have changed my kids experience but would have definitely changed mine!! Thanks Kate.


katepickle April 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Oh holidays can be tough on parenting… it is one of those things that either go really well for us kid wise, or are a total disaster! Hopefully next time is perfect for you!


Teresa April 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I have a 5 year old who still has regular tantrums but I’ve realised it’s just the way she is as she gets frustrated when things don’t go her way. I’ve decided to let it go explain why I’ve made a decision, comfort her quickly and then move on. Sometimes she cries for a while but she seems to be adapting to this method and the tantrums don’t last as long as they used to. We often forget it’s hard being a young person and accepting we can’t control everything.


Jeanine April 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Thank you for the beautifully written blog. Now I can focus on being not the best Mom and not the worst. But a Mom who can step into my 3 year old sons shoes and realize that life isn’t always fair at the age and truly get it.


Bek @ Just For Daisy April 13, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Beautiful and timely. Thanks! :)


Orangeandi April 14, 2014 at 7:47 am

Hi there moms, it is very late here in Hungary, i m laying down in the bed next to one of my 9 year old twin boy, who happened to have a fever. His brother is a “my way or the highway” person. I can loose my patience with him pretty easily although i consider myself a patient person. So far i did not realized what he needed. Shame on me, took me 9 years, but hopefully i found the way to him and realized that he only wanted my undivided love an attention. It is probably hard on kids with siblings to share a parent, but sometimes we have to pay more attention to one and another time to the other. Thank u for sharing ur stories ladies.


Michelle April 14, 2014 at 10:06 am

This struck a chord:
“today I am not trying to fix things. I don’t feel the burden of having to find a way to make everything ok, all the time.”

Thank you for articulating why my heart has been heavy – and I’ve passed the 3 1/2 yr tantrum stage (up to the 9 1/2 yr tantrums – less frequent, but still there!)


katepickle April 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Oh I know that stage… I have ten year old twins who give their three year old brother a run for his money in the tantrum stakes… the 6 year old is pretty good at them too! LOL I confess even I chuck a tanty sometimes so I guess they never truly leave us! LOL


Lotte April 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Yes, sometimes – if we let it – things can be so simple. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts!


Nisrine April 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Thank you for sharing. I needed to read this post :-)


jenny b April 20, 2014 at 7:44 am

and its a lesson Life’s not fair!!! who ever teaches us it should be


Deb @ Bright and Precious April 21, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I loved reading this, Kate. So encouraging. I think I found the zen in the late afternoon tantrum too recently. Who knew?!


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