Friday, March 26, 2010

Keeping Calm

Being a parent is hard work.  Kids are kids,  and sometimes they break things.  Sometimes they don't listen.  Sometimes they hit their sister.  Sometimes they throw a tantrum in the grocery store.  They make big messes.  They color on the couch.  They smear Vaseline all over the carpet. (Personal experience here.) They eat stuff off the floor. They clog the toilet to overflowing right before your dinner guests arrive (here too). Sometimes I wonder if my kids have a sensor to tell when I'm already stressed or running late, and pick those times to misbehave. Adding these stresses onto an already busy life just seems to be too much to handle sometimes. I will be the first to say one of my biggest weaknesses as a mom is staying calm in all situations.  I know I'm not the only mom who gets upset and regrets the way she acted. (Tell me I'm not the only one, please!)  

I don't want to be the mom that yells are speaks harshly. I don't want to be the mom who is stressed out all the time. I don't want to put the rest of my family in a bad mood when I am unhappy. I want to teach my children how they should treat other people by the example of how I treat them.  I want them to never doubt even for half a second that I love them.  I want them to see a happy, caring mother, who is forgiving.  I understand that no woman is perfect and we can't be expected to be happy and cheerful all the time. But I do believe that my children always deserve to be treated with respect.  There are some things that are unacceptable.

How do you do it?  In those moments of frustration, how do you keep your cool?   How do you remind yourself to be gentle and keep a peaceful home? How do you show your children respect?  


Alyssa Harper said...

1. Take a DEEP breathe. (This is absolutely necessary)
2. Quickly run through the 5 WHY method...which is a super complicated process (not) of asking why 5 times. It sounds stupidly simple, but it TOTALLY puts stuff in perspective and finds out the root cause of the problem...and, take note, it's rarely the child.

For example, Micah unrolled the ENTIRE ROLL of bathroom tissue and stomped on it all over until it was a torn mess.
1. Why did he unroll it? Because doing so is fun.
2. Why is it fun? Because a lot of material comes out of nowhere.
3. Why does the material come out? Because the toilet paper roll is put on so material rolls OVER the roll, meaning it easily unrolls when he bats down at it.
4. Why is it put on that way? Habit.
5. Why is it a habit? Because I've never thought to change it.

I now put my toilet paper rolls on so they unroll UNDER, instead of OVER...the results have been glorious. Micah never unrolls toilet paper anymore.

Every house will have different solutions to problems, but the trick is finding the root cause of the problem, so you can create an environment where your child is able to succeed.

(Note: If the root cause is that your child is just going through the growing pains of being a child...hey, at least you know why he's doing it...and contrary to that first-instance, stomach-dropping dread of finding your child in a predicament, (HOW COULD HE DO THAT TO ME!?!?) the kid mostly likely isn't doing it will any ill-will towards his/her sweet mother.

Delia said...

You aren't alone Erin! Of course not. One of the first emotions we as new mothers get good at feeling is guilt. I think it goes with the territory. I wish I could say I have acted how I wanted to at all times but just like my children are learning about am I. I am constantly being confronted with situations I have never encountered before and therefore often react instead of being proactive.

I like what Alyssa said. That is really cool. To look at it from their perspective kind of removes you from the situation so you aren't as likely to take it so personal...though when you have to fix it, clean it, or suffer for it it is hard not to take it personal - I understand. I have noticed that with Owen...I have made a lot more mistakes and made a big deal out of things that I should not have much more than my second child. He is my first. With Reid I have more experience and better perspective and I think I am a better parent to him so far....Sorry Owen. Really I am.

I just pray A LOT. For help to be patient and for forgiveness and help to know how I could have done things better. Fortunately kids often forget the lessons they were supposed to learn the first time so they repeat similar misdeeds. That gives me another chance to do it right. If I handle a situation poorly I get down on my knees to pray and ponder. I think about what I did and reenact the situation in my head in the manner I should have acted. I go through many possible scenarios until I am settled on the one I like best and then keep that stored in my head for the next time. It often works.

Another great thing about kids is that they forgive and forget. They are the best Christ-like examples there are. When I make a mistake I just tell Owen that I did and that I am sorry. I don't beat myself up in front of him. I think that causes him to not respect me. Instead I strive to teach him how we repent and make amends for our mistakes, and then move on - a key element.

On a day to day basis I have to remind myself to focus on playing the role of teacher instead of referee. When I am referee I am constantly putting kids in time out, saying no, "calling fouls." When I am teacher I explain things when I say we shouldn't touch this or that. I ask and answer questions and speak positively to them. I have a conversation with them of why we don't say bad words and can bear testimony to them. WHen I think of myself as a teacher I also look at them differently. I don't take their misdeeds personal.

One other trick that I have seen a friend use is that she almost always uses a sing-song happy voice when she talks to her kids. Not like fake and cheesy but just happy. Have you noticed when you get in a rut and start barking orders and commands at your kids all the time? I have. Instead of shouting at them in a annoyed manner to get in the car when they start wandering and looking at rocks, I try to "remind" them by saying it happily, "Owen. Time to get in the car." Just doing this small thing has made a huge difference in me and my kids.

I hope that helps.

Delia said...

Sorry for commenting so much...but another thing that I thought of was that I try to whisper in my kids' ears or speak in a low voice near their face. If my child is not listening to me when I call out his name then I go close to him and talk to him. He seems to respond much better and I don't end up raising my voice or getting frustrated.

Delia said...

continued from last comment. When I talk close to them, I am also in the position of removing them from the situation if they still aren't listening, or of hugging them, or just physically touching them when I talk to them. I think kids pay attention better when you pat their back or gently touch their shoulder when you talk to them.

Jes said...

Oh Erin I could hug you for posting this right now! lol! :) Im so glad Im not the only one, and Im excited to get some more ideas. Ive been talking about this kind of thing with a few other moms lately, and am looking for some more things to try :)

I really like like Alyssa's comment too :)

Anonymous said...

I have this same issue a lot- especially as I babysit for some rather unruly children. I often find myself flying off the handle at small things because there have been small things building up all day.

One of the things that I've always regretted is spanking. (Believe me, it happens only every once in a while and in extreme situations) My excuse is that is how I was raised and its hard to break such a mind set- and I'm thinking there are a lot of moms out there who were raised to spank. I know for me that when I really get to that point I know that I have to change something NOW- and I do as Delia suggested- think of a million ways I could change the situation so it is better next time.

I also really believe in apologizing because I'm definately not a perfect mom. And it teaches the kids humility, forgiveness and that making mistakes is okay.

Alot of the time I try to start my day with reminding myself that when contention starts its Satan trying to get into my home. Its often easier to push off the temptation to yell when I know I'll just be furthering his plan if I do.

Now that I feel like a monster, admitting my darkest mom moments, I hope that it helps someone who needs it.

Kym, Shaun and Riley said...

To the above mom, you shouldn't feel like a monster at ALL!! I also grew up in a home where a (very occasional) spanking was used as a consequence to bad behavior. It didn't happen very often, but when it did we new that Mom and Dad meant serious business!

For me, I have tried hard not to spank my son. I think the key,for me,is to not let the situation get to me. It's VERY hard, but it can be done. Sometimes I have to remove myself mentally(and sometimes physically) from the situation to think about how to handle it logically.
I know that if I can give my child a calmer, logical RESPONSE then he returns that same response. And on the other hand if I just REACT to the situation then he reacts as well and then we are both upset.
I am NOT PERFECT and I don't think any mother/person is, but there is always room for improvement. Every situation is different and is a learning experience.