Overwhelmed Mom Survives Strong Start

I’m an introvert by nature.  I’m not dealing with some sort of social anxiety thing or whatever.  I can handle people just fine, and have had to work with them in some capacity or another since I was sixteen.  I’m finding, though, that there’s a difference between doing a job and holding staff meetings and being social and talking to other parents.  I found toddler time at the library to be enough to make me an overwhelmed mom.  Of course, I may not have found it to be so traumatic if it didn’t end with a visit to the hospital.  Strong Start didn’t lead to a trip to the hospital, but I was still an overwhelmed mom by the time I gave up and brought Norton home.

Strong Start is a program in British Columbia that takes place at public schools.  It’s designed for helping with kindergarten readiness, but is open for all kids too young for kindergarten.  I went because our speech pathologist suggested it at our last appointment in order to get Norton around other kids more and help encourage toddler talking.  I was nervous about going, particularly since I hate to take Norton anywhere without the husband after the library disaster.  I always worry about doing something wrong that somehow results in another trip to the hospital.

We got there at the start of circle time.  Circle time was… well, Norton is 19 months old.  It’s understandable that he’s not going to be able to sit on a mat for 45 minutes.

We actually got kicked out of circle time because I could not keep him engaged.  The teacher politely suggested that I take him to another part of the room to explore.  I did, of course.  And Norton tried to escape by taking off down the hallway three or four times.  I can’t help but think that it doesn’t bode well for the future if Norton is already trying to run away from school.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, we left.  I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I was such an overwhelmed mom that even having a friend there didn’t help.  We didn’t participate in arts & crafts.  Instead of going to the craft table, Norton played with these wooden circle things.  That went well until he threw them across the room and scattered them.  (Fortunately, no other children were in the vicinity.)  We checked out the sand table, which was filled with dried corn kernels instead.  That was okay for a bit, but then he decided to throw handfuls of corn on the floor.

While I cleaned up that carnage, my friend got Norton settled down with her kids for a snack.  And that was okay, until Norton decided that he was done and threw his food on the floor.

I know that it’s normal toddler behavior.  I do.  But by the time we left, I felt like the most awful mom.  I nearly cried when Norton was eating his snack while my friend was telling me that it’s okay.

And we’ll have to do it again.  I feel like if I don’t keep trying, in spite of how much it stresses me out, then I’m not doing everything that I can be doing in order to help Norton beat the toddler language delay.  And if I’m not doing everything, then I’m not a good mom.  And then I feel guilty for having been so overwhelmed.

And I’m going to have to resume the weekly torture that is story time at the library.

I’m such an overwhelmed mom even thinking about these things, I just want to curl into a ball and cry.  But there are things that cause parenting stress that we have to suck up and do anyway, right?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. You are a good mom – and this is normal behavior for kids his age – maybe library is not the place for him, maybe it will be better next week. Hugs to you 🙂

    • We’re going to try it again because he needs it. It’ll eventually get better… right? Thanks for the encouragement. I really did need it.

  2. I second the motion that you are a good mom. Taking him to Strong Start is going to be great for him and you!

    I often feel overwhelmed with going to Strong Start because I am unsure of play group etiquette. Mt daughter plays well but is just getting the hang of sharing. Plus she’s all over the place!

    It does get better the more you go and you will eventually feel right at home!

    I hope it goes well next time! Take a deep breath and relax!

  3. Katherine says:

    As a mother of 3 and an early childhood educator for the last 23 years let me assure you that your child’s behaviour has nothing to do with your abilities as a Mom! You are not alone, we have all been there. My best advice is to hang in there or look for a family resource program (as they are less about school readiness and more about creating experience for children birth to six). They are all over BC). Don’t be afraid to go back, your child had some quality experiences, even if his behaviour was not what you envisioned. Leaving circle time is not a bad thing – set goals like being engaged a little longer next time. Remember, children are little people and I know many adults that can’t sit for 45 minutes. Hang in there, I feel for you.

  4. That’s exactly it, keep trying. He may be one of those kids who will never sit still for a long time. And that’s OK, he’ll get to his own way of participating. I’m sorry it’s so stressful for you.

  5. You are a wonderful mom, the things you describe sound like a normal Wednesday for most moms with toddlers. Food gets thrown, toys get thrown, tantrums get thrown – cut yourself a break, there is not one mom that does not go through that. The more you are around circle time, and the older he gets the more engaged he will be. Hang in there!!

  6. As PPs have said, you’ve described a pretty normal day with a toddler. I have found that one way to reduce the stress of taking my daughter out is to take some time before we leave to explain where we’re going and what I expect of her. So for storytime, for example, I start by saying something like “It’s time to get your shoes on so that we can go to the library. We’re going to sit quietly and listen to some stories, and then we’re going to pick out some book to take home”. Then as we’re getting out of the car, I say basically the same thing again. When we’re in the middle of stories and she’s getting restless, I can remind her again that we need to be quiet while we listen to stories. This is definitely not foolproof, and there are days that I know before we leave that things are not going to go smoothly. Sometimes taking one of her small toys along will help, sometimes we just don’t go… it’s a constant state of flux. I’ve been doing this since she was about 18mos, and on the whole, I’ve found that things tend to go better when I remember to explain expectations beforehand. But as you know, they’re only toddlers, and the expectations have to be reasonable for them.


  1. […] came home from Strong Start earlier today feeling like a completely inadequate and overwhelmed mom.  In fact, I paused while […]

  2. […] anything to feel like a better mom.  The day was just rough, from the beginning of the day with Strong Start until the very end.  I tried to pep talk myself so that I’d get up, make dinner and let […]

  3. […] It’s the parents not being parents.  I certainly understand that children can be difficult, even when they are being normal.  I’ve had my own meltdowns over it. […]

  4. […] We’ve gone to see the speech pathologist.  We’ve endured special torture in the form of Strong Start.  I’m doing everything that I know to do to help Norton with his toddler […]

  5. […] mom.  Some days (like when we go to the library and things fall apart or we go to Strong Start and I nearly have a nervous breakdown), I think that I’m completely and utterly failing.  Other days, I think I’m doing […]

  6. […] good as figuring out his non-verbal communication as I.  I can see the value in the program.  I gave it a shot last week, and I came home feeling like a complete and utter failure as a parent.  I spent the […]

  7. […] We’ve gone to see the speech pathologist.  We’ve endured special torture in the form of Strong Start.  I’m doing everything that I know to do to help Norton with his toddler […]

  8. […] good as figuring out his non-verbal communication as I.  I can see the value in the program.  I gave it a shot last week, and I came home feeling like a complete and utter failure as a parent.  I spent the […]

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