A couple of months ago I was trapped in a negative cycle with the children. There were tantrums a plenty, refusals to put shoes on, sibling squarking, rivalry and one frustrated mother who felt lost and out of control. I noticed myself shouting more and enjoying my babies less. I knew something had to change… me!
It’s easy to fall into these cycles when you’re overwhelmed with that dreaded to do list and your two children are being rambunctious and wild. But it’s more important than ever in those times that you carve out a little space to think, breathe and contemplate the way things are and what may be contributing.
In my case it’s quite simple, if I have too much on and the pressure mounts my behaviour towards the children changes and I notice myself paying them much less attention – not really listening, instead barking orders and busily rushing around the house in order to work my way through the day and get to bedtime. This is not the point of me being at home with them full time and leads to unhappiness all round.
In general my two are great kiddos, that is if they feel listened to, if they know there is always time for a cuddle, a story, a quiet moment, or a crazy half hour together with me playing. I have no doubt that the best cure for my little family when things go to pot is to slow down, pay more attention, put aside the workload and the laundry and be present with them. To actually be with them – not just in the same house or same room, but to do stuff with them, to play together, to have tickle fights, to read stories, to chat, to let them know they are important to me – the most important part of my day.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about mindfulness, conscious parenting and simplifying in order to create calm in the home. The things I have learnt and gleaned from the books I have read have helped no end with our family dynamic and with my mood in general. Going through the motions can be dangerous and it’s easy to form negative parenting habits that can be hard to break. But once broken the results are almost immediate and the relief, palpable. I’m able to cope with the little stresses when being mindful – putting each glass of spilt milk into perspective and remembering that nothing lasts forever and moments of stress will pass if I remain calm. There are countless mini stresses each day when caring for little ones. Someone bumps their head, a tantrum is unleashed, a cup of juice gets spilt, the pushchair breaks, there is a mountain of crumbs on the floor you’ve just cleaned, someone drew on the walls in blue crayon, the cushions have been thrown off the sofa again, refusal to eat a lovingly prepared meal… Sometimes I choose to laugh and brush these small incidences off – laughter is the best medicine and always grounds me – reminding me nothing is really worth getting fretful over and life sure is chaotic when you have kids so why fight the chaos. Sometimes, in more serious circumstances, a little one-to-one chat is required. Something calm and on their level to remind them bad behaviour is not okay and won’t be tolerated. Whatever the deal, shouting or loosing it never gets me anywhere whereas taking stock and putting things firmly into perspective does. Not only do the kids respond better, but I don’t feel shitty about myself afterwards. In fact lately I’ve been really proud of the way I’ve handled things, and my motherly guilt is slowly melting away.
However bad your day, week or month may seem, it’s always useful to remind yourself you are not alone. There are so many parents out there contending with the same challenges little ones create. We are all just doing our best, and if that means eggs and soldiers for tea, 30 minutes of cartoons, or a lazy day at home – whatever works right. Provided you are making time for your children, letting them feel heard and valued, then I believe you’ll feel good at the end of each day and the fulfillment and joy of what can at times be a monotonous life, will be enjoyed.
Some recommended reading for those who many be interested:
Disclaimer: Elsie may or may not have knocked an almost full 100ml bottle of my favourite purfume onto our bathroom floor today and smashed the lot. Never have I needed perspective more! I may or may not have mopped the sweet nectar up with loo roll and salvaged what I could by sealing it in a sandwich bag in the hope I may be able to dab my wrists with it in future!)