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The Mummy Bank

I’ve been working for a lovely family recently who have just introduced their new son to their 3 year old daughter.  She has reacted as you would expect, mostly positive with the occasional outburst; hugging, kissing and every now and again squeezing just a little too tight to see how mummy and daddy react.

My lovely client was desperate the other evening and phoned me, I could hear her daughter screaming blue murder in the background.  It transpired that ultimatums had been issued and as a consequence someone was now shut in her bedroom for refusing to take a bath and was waiting until daddy got home.


 “What do I do?” asked my client near to tears herself.  We went through all the events that had lead up to the stand off and my client said “But I spent an HOUR today playing with playdough with her…”

 and I thought to myself, we really do, most of us, have a mental tally that we add checks and minuses to.  In her head, my client imagined that her 3 year old would behave herself in exchange for time spent with mummy earlier that day.  My client had invested a whole hour (a tedious hour, perhaps, or a frustrating hour when she knew she had a pile of other things to do) playing with her daughter, focussed entirely on her and this is how she is repaid!  The bank of mummy is suddenly found to be overdrawn when mummy believed it was bulging with credit!

I talked through the entire situation with my client and immediately gave her encouragement to give her daughter an option to get herself out of her pickle.  “Put the baby somewhere safe and leave him until this is sorted out.  It doesn’t matter if he howls, you know he is clean and dry and fed and safe.  Go and knock on your daughter’s door and very quietly say that you would like to give her a hug because she is sad and that you will wait outside until she is ready to speak to you.”  I then suggested that she explain to her daughter that daddy would be home soon and he would be very sad if the bath hadn’t happened yet.  Would she like to run the bath, or would she like Mummy to run a quick bath now? 

The next day, I heard how it had all worked out, that by the time my client had put the baby down, her daughter had appeared on the landing, still sniffing and squirting tears, but no longer hysterical.  Together they negotiated the bath and when daddy came home, the daughter told him that she had made mummy very sad.  Apologies and hugs abounded.

We also discussed this idea of “paying” in credits in the hopes that we can withdraw them later.  We decided that it was much better to do things with the children because we enjoyed doing them and not with any expectations or anticipated payback attached to them.  A lesson worth learning, but perhaps difficult six weeks post-natal without a friendly neighbourhood doula who has the ease of distance.



Posted on Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 01:35PM by Registered CommenterLucy Symons | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References

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