After a particularly tough day on the home front I was chatting to a friend about the negative overwhelming thoughts I had been having about my rambunctious toddler. You know the thoughts. “I can’t control him!” “I can’t get him to stop what he’s doing!” “He is driving me crazy!” It was then that she pointed the obvious out to me.
“Amie, you have the tools you need to cope with the day-to-day raising of your children. Think about the strategies you use when you teach a class of 30 young children. You are a wonderful, calm and confident teacher. What do you do when you feel like you are losing control of the class?”
“Hang out for home time!”
But my friend urged me to think deeper and she was right. The tools were right there, ready to be dusted off and implemented into my home world. Maybe you’ll find something that will help you through your next tough day!
1. We cannot control someone elses behaviour, no matter what age they are. We can only control our own behaviour, our response, our feelings. Well, how does THAT help me you ask! When you are feeling like I did above, what can you control? Yourself. When I was thinking the above thoughts, I started to feel more and more out of control. In my teaching what would I do…I would stop, breathe, and think what can I do to help this situation? Can this thinking help me in my home life? You bettcha!
Have you seen this picture being shared around facebook?
It was created by Joy from The Joy of This and when I saw it come through my Facebook feed it smacked me right between the eyes. The truth of it expressed so simply and as I held my crying toddler last night, I held this image right next to him. It helped me to remember it wasn’t personal, it had just been a long, tiring day and it was defiently time for bed!
2. There’s always another way. And as I used to say to my class “Tomorrow is a brand new day. What happened today is over and we start again tomorrow.” No holding grudges. It’s not personal, we all have off days.
3. Avoid ‘You’ statements. “You are out of control!” “Why can’t you just stop?” “You are driving me crazy!” Not helpful statements. And I am guessing it doesn’t make anyone feel good. When you’re a teenager these statements equal “I am not good enough.” “You don’t know how to handle me.” “What’s the point, you just don’t understand.” And that thinking leads to resentment. Change it to ‘I’ statements. “I don’t like what you are doing.” Give a choice. With my toddler it is short and sweet “Use gentle hands or come and sit with Mummy”. With my teenager it’s a bit lengthier “You can keep playing the X-Box in your room quietly with your mates or, if it gets noisy in here, you’ll all have to go outside.”
4. Give yourself a time-out. Mother’s of young children love nap-time! It is our time to unwind and recharge for the next shift. When you have a young child who doesn’t nap it makes for a tough day and if you have a large young family with combinations of non-nappers and unsettled nights, getting the chance to recharge and unwind is probably unheard of. If this is you, please find someone to support you! Hubby, local family members or dear friends. It is unfortunate that in this day and age the ‘village’ no longer exists to support mothers in raising their families. But we can create our own villages.
5. We all mess up in our parenting. Some days I feel like that’s all I do! No-one could ever say that they were the ‘perfect’ parent. Even authors of the parenting books that we devour, hoping for THE answer to our problems, are not perfect in their parenting. And if they were I wouldn’t read their book because I have more to learn from someone who has made the same mistakes as me.
I love reading blogs that share the boo boos, the projects that didn’t quite turn out and the children that just weren’t interested in that fabulous idea! I love those blogs. They make me laugh. I feel a common bond with those Mama’s and get a sense of communal support because it happens to me too!
What tools do you find really help you in your day-to-day parenting?