“When our little people are overwhelmed by big emotions it is our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.” ~ L.R. Knost
Parenting is hard. It really is. Of course it comes with its own priceless rewards and otherworldly joy, but any mom or dad who claims to love every single moment of parenting is straight up lying. There are bad moments. There are worse days. It’s all part of the ride! While there are no perfect parents, try your best to be a calm one for your child. I guarantee that you’ll only feel guilty and beat yourself up after you snap. So how can you cope? Here are some tips on what you can do next time you feel like you’re at your boiling point.
When we are in stressful situations, our muscles automatically tense and tighten. Wilfully relax by forcing yourself to take slow, deep breaths and count to ten. This will help slow your heart rate and buy you some emotional distance. Repeat several times if necessary.
So your kid spilled the soup, broke a glass family heirloom, drew on a white wall or ruined your living room carpet–is it really worth getting bent out of shape over? Are you needlessly getting mad at your kid for being a kid? Things break. Chances are, your child is already a little frightened. Your emotional (over)reaction can do more damage than any mess ever could, not only to your child but also to your mental health.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. My daughter is only two years old. While she certainly enjoys a lot of the comforts I didn’t have growing up, I imagine what it’s like to be that small, to have such little control in a big, exciting but equally scary world. People always telling you what to do and how. You not being allowed what you like because it’s either dangerous or unhealthy. Not being able to communicate how you feel. Not knowing how you feel. Etc, etc. Regardless of your child’s age, try a little sympathy and empathy. This is your baby, after all.
Multi-tasking has become the catch-cry of parenting. We wear our busyness like a badge of honor. However, we usually feel impatient when we feel like we’re falling behind. We’re intolerant of anything that gets in the way of our endless list of things to do. So do yourself a favor and focus on one thing you can control right at this moment. Be present. Be aware. Focus on just one thing, take your time, finish, and focus on another. You’re not in a race. What’s the rush?
This one’s pretty obvious and next to impossible especially for new parents. Not getting enough good quality sleep keeps us on edge and makes us more susceptible to losing our cool. I am guilty of this too, but learn to prioritize getting rested over binge watching Netflix when the kids are finally asleep. Me-time is important, but for your patience and sanity, consider getting seven hours of glorious shut-eye.
In his book The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz writes, “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you…” Remember this when your child is acting out, throwing a tantrum, having a meltdown. These actions are not intended to defy, humiliate, or provoke you. These are the results of your child’s own struggles. So before you get tempted to yell or spank or discipline, stop and ask yourself “How will this help?”