Find Calm Amidst the Stress
Every parent has had those days.
The kids are whiny. Everyone is tired and grouchy.
There is no “good” food in the fridge.
And you are trying your best to not order pizza for dinner (again) and send the kids to bed at 5:00pm.
Those are the days when I am so excited for my husband to come home from work and give me 5 minutes to just breathe. . . alone. . . without the kids jumping on me. When my crazy days precede a night full of counseling sessions, I know I need to calm down and center myself before going to work. Hence, a post on how to enjoy being a parent amid stressful days. A side note: I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this topic. Each family, parent, and child is different, so I know that what works for me may not work for everyone. But I hope that as I write about anxiety throughout the month that something will be helpful to you and your family!
When I find myself in the midst of a crazy day, holding back frustration as best I can, I have learned to stop myself and take a moment to relax. Usually this means I’ll put on a movie the kids love and go sit quietly for a minute to re-center myself. Even if I enjoy a couple minutes of uninterrupted Instagram time, I feel refreshed. When I am clear headed again, I begin to change the way I talk to my kids.
I voice gratitude to feel calm again.
Instead of getting so easily frustrated that Simon is stealing his sister’s floor pillow. . . again. . . I can change the way I talk to him. I can notice when he is sitting on his own pillow and say,”Thank you for sitting on your pillow Simon. It’s so nice of you to leave Grace’s pillow alone.” Instead of getting frustrated that Grace dumped a plate of blueberries all over the floor, I can say, “Uh-oh, the blueberries are on the floor. I’m glad you love blueberries and are a healthy eater, but now its time to help Mommy clean the floor.”
Other examples could be:
“Thank you for drinking your entire cup of milk.”
“Thank you for listening to Mommy and putting the crayons away” (even if it’s the 3rd time I asked)
“Thank you for smiling at me.”
Trying to say “thank you” at every small opportunity helps me to overcome my bad day. I start seeing accidents as simply “accidents,” and I remember that I have really great kids who love me. And I love them too! My patience returns and I’m able to be calm again. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good our kids are doing when we are upset. We are unfortunately quicker to yell and/or quicker to discipline and punish. Then when the storm is over, we feel guilty that we got so worked up. We wonder if we are failing as parents.
Emotions and thoughts and behaviors are connected. So in order to change our emotions, we can make adjustments in our thoughts and actions. Choosing to look for gratitude and choosing to vocalize even the smallest, genuine “thank yous” will eventually brighten our spirits and bring back positive feelings. Next time you have “one of those days,” try this experiment. See if gratitude helps you find calm as well.