Crawling under the pool table.Don't get me wrong. I have an amazing little girl in my life who has opened up a whole world that was nonexistent before. But, lately I have been reminding myself that this is a marathon not a sprint and it is okay if I do some things for myself. One of those things is going back to the gym. On Feb. 11th, I started going to the gym. To do this consistently, I chose a place that is family-friendly, close to home and work, and enlisted Kyle's help with Grace some of the time. You see, the gym has child care and kids can be in there for up to 2 1/2 hours at a time. For me to attend a Spinning or Step/Bosu class Grace has to go to the playroom or stay with Kyle. The first few times it worked out great. She went right in and I was able to get an hour of exercise relatively guilt free. But last night we hit a wall. She cried so much that she made herself vomit. And I was pretty sick, too, when I made the tough-love decision that leaving at that point would only teach her that if she cries enough, she will get her way. It took a lot of strength to calm her down, clean her up, and hand her over to the childcare workers when she was so clearly upset. But I did it and (for the record) I stressed about it for the entire workout.
So, tonight I took a page from my teaching experience after being reminded of this strategy from my friend Aimee. At school we use picture schedules and social stories with some students who have limited vocabulary, don't do well with change/new situations, or who need reinforcement about events in their day. Over dinner tonight, Grace and I created a short story together about going to the gym. I started telling and writing the story and we talked about the gym even though it wasn't a "gym night". After she went to bed, I typed it on the computer and added some clipart to make it look like a real book.
Front cover and some pages from the bookMy goal is to read the book to her a few times tomorrow before we go and maybe allow her to take it with her to the Kids' Klub for the staff to read if she needs to be reminded that I am coming back. If it works, we might just laminate it and take it with us every time!
I am also considering having her bring a comfort object or a DVD. I noticed another little girl brought her stuffed animal last night, so we might do something like that. Another strategy I am tossing around is some sort of sticker chart and a timer, where the child care workers can give her a sticker every 10 minutes and when the page is full that means I am coming back. I am open to any other ideas, so please share!