Not to be a "Debbie downer," but there are some days that I feel like I'm constantly failing. Do you ever have those? Where every few minutes it seems like there is some new stressor, a new puddle of sticky baby food goo on the floor, or another fire to put out with your child?
Those are the days where I feel you need a "re-set" button. You know the bit. Take this morning, for example. Sweet Toddler wakes up after a decent night's sleep (nothing obvious is wrong), he wants a little snuggle while you prep breakfast. The baby is contently munching on rice puffs in her high chair and they are laughing with each other. You set out a delicious lukewarm bowl of oatmeal (just the way he likes it) with a dash of brown sugar and cinnamon with blueberries on the side. You feel like a hero because you've managed to make his favorite breakfast while carrying and snuggling him.
Then, crud hits the fan. Out of nowhere, the Sweet Toddler decides that his barely warm oatmeal is burning his tongue (no worries, folks, I tested the oatmeal first), and it was not hot at all. Sweet Toddler then turns into Out-of-His-Mind Whiney Toddler (OOHMWT) and you know the rest. You try to convince him that the oatmeal is actually not hot and that he can blow on it if he wants, just to be sure. You patiently reassure. More whining, whining, whining...and regardless of what you say, this battle is lost. He finally decides that he will pick at the oatmeal, and when he realizes that you were right all along, then the OOHMWT got frustrated with his oatmeal slipping off of his spoon. While you leave to grab a spoon to feed the baby, there is sticky oatmeal everywhere because he flung it off his spoon in a swoosh of frustration. You say, "Can you please use your words and tell me what is wrong." Whining commences. Then, please use your words to tell me what is wrong." Then, "use your words," (thanks Daniel Tiger for this song that is always in my head). You even go the extra mile and muster up some patience to say, "I understand that you're frustrated, please use your words and ask for help." More oatmeal flinging.
|Yup, this was our morning...|
After that, your patience is already at an end and it's only 8:07 am. How is that possible?! You reset, and tell him that he needs to pick up his mess and continue eating. You reiterate that he's not in trouble, but that cleaning the mess is the right thing to do. You offer to help. You do all the right things (I'm sure that some of you could probably tell me where I went wrong), but you were patient. None of that matters when he gives you a "stink" face and won't do it. I lost my patience and yelled, "stop!" and then I felt like all of the times that I said "yes" to being patient in this whole situation alone were cancelled. He and I were at our wits' end. Of course, then the baby picks up on the stress and tension in the house and realizes that at that moment, she needs to eat or just to be held (understandable for sure). More crying.
What did I need right then and there? A "re-set" button. A way to have more patience to just get through the situation, let alone the day. I needed to stick to my guns. I knew that in this moment that I needed to teach him something, but I was so angry and stressed inside. "Why can't he just pick up the oatmeal? What's the big deal?" While I tried my best to empathize (at least to see where he was coming from), that didn't seem to make a difference. After 20 minutes of just sitting there in silence and running late for our appointment, he finally gave in. I'm so glad that he did, because he gobbled up his oatmeal and started picking up the flecks that he had flung all over the table. Seeing this turn of events, I told him that I loved him and that I'm proud of him. He said "Love you too, mommmyy!" This makes my heart melt and I can't help but hug him. We hug A LOT in our family.
That's all hunky-dory, but what about the times when the stress, fighting (especially between siblings), and strain drag on? We have those moments too. I have tried counting (thanks again, Daniel Tiger), deep breathing exercises (thank you, yoga), closing my eyes for a bit to just focus on self-talk, and praying. Goodness, I wish there were reset button. Most of the time I just struggle and want the easy way out of the situation because the stress and tension is too overwhelming. I'm sure I'm not alone here?
I guess I've realized that the more worked up I get (even if I seem calm on the outside), my kiddos still pick up on it. I try to hide it, but they have an amazing radar for these things. They know their mama. They know when I'm elated and when I'm about to tear up. I often take a break to hug and hold my son when I don't know what else to do, even though it isn't initially well received. I am grateful that he's a "mamas boy" for now because he hardly ever resists affection from me...and he caves. :)
While I'm still working on my way to start over and reset with my son (I'll continue the counting, breathing, and hugging), I know that there is no perfect solution.
That's ok, because I'm not perfect and neither is he.
What do you fellow parents do to "reset" during a conflict with your children? How do you survive a long day of tension? Please feel free to comment. :)
If you have ever had those days, know that I just had one. You're not alone.
Labels: balance, sahm, tantrums, toddlers