How To: Teach your Son about the “Energy Train”

Today has been one of those days. I had every intention of doing a little bit of housework this morning, followed by a trip to the local botanical gardens with my Son. It started out ok; I had brought in a load of washing, and hung two out, was just having lunch and mentioned to the Toddler about going to the botanical gardens – which he loves. It is now 2pm (we were going to leave at 1pm) and the energy train has now left the station. For those that don’t know, or haven’t read the rest of the blog – I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue in 2010. I am much better at managing it now, but I still have to pace myself every day so that I can do the things I want and need to do, including taking my Son to places that he can explore, have fun and just be the awesome little kid he is. Today, however did not go to plan. To be honest, they hardly ever do with a Toddler. Without further ado, here is today’s list:

  1. Wake up in the morning and see that it’s a nice day
  2. Feel that today is going to be a moderate energy day, so make mental plan in head to take the Toddler out after lunch to the Auckland Botanical Gardens
  3. Have breakfast and put load of washing on
  4. Have shower with Toddler
  5. Get dressed and bring the washing in that was hung on the line over night – it’s now dry.
  6. Hang next load of washing out while Toddler tips the pegs into his dump truck
  7. Chase Toddler around the backyard to retrieve more pegs
  8. Stop Toddler from emptying out the clean washing onto the ground next to washing line
  9. Finish hanging washing up, turn round to find Toddler climbing up on Trusty Grandpa’s car…
  10. Fetch Toddler and remind him that cars are not for climbing
  11. Get told “Come back here Mum, Get Grandpa’s Duck”(he has a green rubber ducky sitting on his dash board, I have a blue)
  12. Distract Toddler by asking him what he wants with his lunch today, an apple or a banana?
  13. Toddler chooses banana
  14. Make sandwiches and peel banana for Toddler, who decided that he wanted to eat the skin…
  15. Cook own lunch and sit down and eat
  16. Ask Toddler if they want to go to the “Gardens” for a walk today
  17. Toddler very excited, answers “Yes!”
  18. Remind Toddler he will need to help clean up his toys, and put some pants on before we go out
  19. Toddler finishes lunch
  20. Ask Toddler to put plate on the bench
  21. Toddler ignores me
  22. Finish own lunch
  23. Ask Toddler again to put his plate on the bench
  24. Toddler ignores me
  25. Decide to start picking up toys
  26. Put own plate on the bench and ask Toddler to help put away his blocks and tools
  27. Toddler helps put the blocks away, but starts playing with the tools
  28. Decide to put own shoes on to give Toddler a minute, then ask them to put their tools away
  29. Toddler helps put Tools away
  30. Thank Toddler for doing such a good job of putting his toys away, give him a sticker for his sticker chart
  31. Ask Toddler to clean his plate up again
  32. Toddler ignores me
  33. Pick up plate and take it to the bench
  34. Ask Toddler to come to his room for a bum change and to put on pants, shoes and socks, so we can go out.
  35. Toddler allows me to change his bum, but refuses to let me put his pants and socks on.
  36. Ask Toddler if he wants to dress himself
  37. Toddler refuses and begins to jump on his bead and run away from me
  38. Ask/Tell Toddler that they need to help me so we can go to the gardens (if I have to wrangle him into his clothes, by the time it is done, I will have no energy left to take him out)
  39. Toddler ignores me
  40. Decide to leave him to it, tell Toddler that when he is ready to get dressed, I will be in the lounge waiting
  41. Toddler comes into the lounge after 20 minutes of playing in his room and finds me reading my book
  42. Toddler has a meltdown
  43. Put book down and calmly ask Toddler if they are ready to get dressed
  44. Toddler jumps into my lap for a cuddle
  45. Have a nice cuddle with Toddler and ask if they are tired (think he might be coming down with a cold)
  46. Toddler shakes his head and wants his socks on
  47. Help Toddler put his socks on
  48. Ask Toddler if he wants his pants on
  49. Toddler nods his head
  50. Start to put pants on Toddler, but then Toddler doesn’t want them on
  51. Toddler jumps down off my lap and decides to climb the fireplace (it is cold and not on, but he know’s not to do this grrrr!)
  52. Get Toddler down and warn him that if he keeps this up, Mummy’s energy train will leave the station (I.E. I was already starting to lose my energy at the point, but I knew that if he co-operated, I could take him for a short walk in the gardens)
  53. Toddler still plays up
  54. Give Toddler another warning
  55. Toddler ignores me
  56. Go to see Trusty Grandpa in his room, ask him to keep an eye on Toddler for 10-20 minutes
  57. Tell Toddler that there will be no gardens today, as he wouldn’t get ready and help Mummy dress him (tough love folks, seems to be the only thing that’s working lately)
  58. Tell Toddler to go see Grandpa, as Mummy is going for a walk ALONE
  59. Close back door and hear Toddler start new tantrum
  60. Go for a 10 minute walk, stop next to a paddock and watch horses for a bit
  61. Walk home – by this point, calmer but still exhausted from 10 minute walk and the antics of Toddler
  62. Tell Toddler that if he is good tomorrow, Mummy will take him to the gardens then, but he will need to help me.

Chronic fatigue is no joke. It is a deliberating illness that cuts you to the core. It can put a halt to the life as you know it, and force you to make changes and life altering decisions that you never thought you’d have to do. It can isolate you – friends that you used to hang out with a lot, no longer have time to see you anymore, as you are either having to cancel at the last minute or they are suddenly finding that they will have to travel to you more then you come see them (as you may not have enough energy to socialise and drive). It is an illness where you might look fine on the outside, but are exhausted and screaming on the inside. It can cause you to become depressed, as you can find that you are forever mourning and grieving the person you “used” to be, the energy you “used” to have and the things you once did. May 12th is Chronic Fatigue Awareness Day. There is not much help here in New Zealand for those with Chronic Fatigue. There is only one Specialist in all of the country that can diagnose you and help – and the public health system and insurance don’t usually cover her costs. If you are diagnosed, all you can do is wing it until you find out what works for you. It took me three years to find a new life for myself with my illness and make it work for me. I still have my bad days, but they are getting fewer because I now know how to pace myself better. However, I recently had quite a hard time with energy, as you can probably tell by my lack of posts! (having an energetic Toddler can do that to you!) It would be nice to hear from others that have had similar journeys to me – how do you make it work?