For us, late morning can be a trying time. Chiquita (16 months old) is a 1-nap girl, since about her first birthday. She naps after lunch but sometimes gets a little tired and cranky about halfway between breakfast and lunch. If we're out and about, a snack trap full of cheerios will usually get the job done, but at home, it can be more challenging. I'm nowhere near being an expert, but here are a few of my solutions for crankiness.
Figure Out What's Wrong I often forget about the obvious... is she thirsty? Ask her if she wants some water, or offer some. Is she hungry? Maybe she's going through a growth spurt and needs an extra snack between meals. Is she in pain? Often, for Chiquita it's the teeth, so I'll ask her if her teeth hurts, and if she indicates that they do, I'll give her a couple of teething tablets and she'll be almost instantly better. Is her diaper dirty? Take a quick whiff or look and see if that's the problem.
Change the Scenery Sometimes just going in a different play area, outside, or for a walk with the stroller will distract her enough to put her back in a good mood. I've taken many spontaneous walks that have done the trick, but often just going outside to water the tomatoes has helped.
Do Something New The other day I found some old yarn scraps that I was going to give away, and instead, I rolled them into balls and put them in a bowl... instant fun. Something new and often re-purposed can be an quick fix. Other ideas: old tupperware; a pot, lid & spoon; scraps of fabric/yarn/etc; an old toy that has been packed away for a while; a scrap of paper (preferably from a magazine- with an interesting picture on it); a picture of a family member that you don't mind getting bent.
Feed Yourself This might sound a little counter-intuitive to take care of yourself when trying to deal with her, but seriously if I'm tired, cranky and hungry, I think my bad attitude is very likely to rub off on her (think putting on your oxygen mask before hers). So go to bed earlier, get up earlier, do whatever it takes to have time to sleep, eat, pray enough before having to take care of your child(ren).
Figure Out Her Love Language This may be hard at first and when she's young, but maybe you can at least feel her leaning toward one over another. Click the link above for information regarding love languages and families, but here's a list of them: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch. Maybe these could change as a child grows, too. Right now, I think Chiquita needs Quality Time to really feel loved and content. And that leads me to my last point...
Be With Her I have to remind myself that being a stay-at-home-mom is a privilege. And as a friend of mine said once, I'm home for my child, not for myself. This is something I have to constantly remind my selfish self. And if you work outside the home, than your time with your child(ren) is that much more valuable. So when you're with your child(ren), really be there.
This may apply practically to you in different ways. For me, it's the computer that's the issue. We have an armoir with doors where our laptop sits and it's right in our common area, which is convenient, but at the same time, a tempting distraction from time spent with my daughter. Other things distract me from her too (chores, phone calls, reading, hobbies, etc), but the computer tends to be the most common.
I'm working on several ways to really be involved with her... I'm getting up earlier to have a quiet time, get myself ready, and if time read emails/blogs. Sometimes this works better than others (depending on when she wakes up). And I'm trying to limit my computer use to when 1) she's playing contently by herself in her nearby play area, 2) she's self-feeding in her high chair, 3) she's playing with her Daddy, or obviously, 4) when she's napping.
We often use the computer together, to talk to family members on Skype, and that's okay. But otherwise, I can sense that even at such a young age, she can feel me prioritizing myself over her when I'm on the computer around her, and this upsets her.
I hope these solutions help you! I guess if nothing else is working, just start acting really silly and tickling her like a maniac. That usually works for me.
Please share your ideas in the comments!