A few weeks ago, my son said something to me that was a major wake-up call. We were running late, again. My daughter decided she needed to change her outfit right before we walked out of the door, again. I took a deep breath and reminded myself she was only 3. What’s 5 more minutes? Breathe in. Breathe out. Then she walked out of her bedroom with her latest fashion choice and walked into her playroom. “Mila, what are you doing?” “I just need to grab a few things for the car, mommy.” That was it. I lost it.
“NO TOYS! WE HAVE TO GO! EVERYONE GET INTO THE CAR NOW!”
She started crying and wailed all the way to the garage. As my son walked by me he said, “Maybe if you would talk to her a little nicer and not yell she would listen better.” Ouch. I opened my mouth to tell my son that I HAD asked her nicely… about 27 times. But I stopped. I immediately realized he had a point. I re-reminded myself that she was only 3. She doesn’t move at the same pace as I do. She shouldn’t have to. I took the kids to school, apologies were said and received, goodbye hugs and kisses given. They loved me, no matter what.
I felt sick on the ride to work that morning. I realized I have been losing my cool with my kids more often than I cared to admit lately. The past few months have been tough. My husband had a unexpected, emergency eye surgery that he is still recovering from, my grandmother is in the hospital, there have been a number of family issues and a lot of big projects at work. I usually handle stress pretty well, but recently there has been too much happening all at once. But I am an adult. These are grown-up issues that should not spill down to my children. I decided I could change. I was going to stop stress-parenting. These tips have been helping me keep my cool with my kids, no matter how stressed out I feel.
How to be a happy mom when you are stressed out:
1. Let it go. This is a big one. I am constantly having to remind myself that they are only kids. My daughter wears crazy outfits to daycare. It may not be the most practical decision but it is a small part of the big picture. I may have to ask my son 3 times to brush his teeth since he is preoccupied with legos. That means he may go to bed 5 minutes later. No big deal. Let. It. Go. (considering the amount of times I have heard this song in the past 2 years, I should really have this technique down by now)
2. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes. My kids are professional out the door delayers. If we have to be out the door no later than 7:40… I tell the kids it’s time to leave around 7:25. This gives them time to grab different socks, find toys, use the bathroom… just a small sampling of the last minute kid excuses that drive me crazy. Now I don’t have to yell since I have plenty of time. It has made our mornings run so much more smoothly.
3. Get more sleep. This is a tough one. I like to stay up late since it is the only time I get to myself or with my husband. But more sleep means I feel less stressed. So I have been making a serious effort to stop what I am doing and go to bed early and it makes a difference.
4. Ask for help. When I am feeling really overwhelmed, I simply tell my husband. And guess what happens? He will take the kids to the park, or get them both ready for bed even if it is ‘my turn,’ or he will simply ask how he can help. Your husband, family and friends are not mind readers. But they do love you and if you ask for help they are usually happy to oblige. Don’t wait for them to offer, since they might not realize how stressed you are, or they might be afraid to talk to you, since you have been acting like a stressed out psycho.
5. Break the rules. I have been letting my kids stay up late occasionally, so I can read them as many books as they want. I let my son skip Saturday morning karate so we could snuggle and watch TV on the couch. One morning, when we ALL woke up really late I announced, “You are always on time for school, but we all woke up really late. It happens. We will get ready like we normally do and I will take you in through the front office with an excused tardy.” We got there 20 minutes late. If it means less stress for everyone involved, I am all for it. The best part about being a parent is that you are a rule maker, but you can also decide when to be the rule breaker.
6. Have some fun. Cancel your plans one Saturday and do something fun with just your family. My husband and I are very lucky to live where we grew up and love that we have lots of friends and family nearby. However, that also means there is always something to do. Birthdays, dinners, BBQ’s, play dates… life books up fast. When you are feeling overwhelmed, cancel some commitments and do what YOU want to do. For me, there is nothing more relaxing than hanging out in the pool all day with the fam. Bond, be present and enjoy that time together.
I’m not perfect… I still yell and make parenting mistakes. But the first step toward change is awareness and I am definitely more aware of how stress can affect my parenting, thanks to one comment from my sweet son.
Thanks for reading and if you want more real mom life moments, be sure to follow me on Facebook! 🙂