When I get pissed off, oooh boy does it take a lot of energy and willpower to simmer down, especially when one of my toddlers or my darling man aims what seems like everything they can muster to bring me to my knees in an explosive mess of frothing fury. I’m a passionate woman, some might say.
Those who could do without me would call me mouthy, those who appreciate my strong character call me feisty. I’m not even going to talk about how I lean in and out of being bossy, because well, the Internets is all over that giant hoopla. One thing that I do know and that I can admit about myself is that I have a hard time reigning in my emotions when my buttons are pushed.
And little kids, much like our partners in life and love, know how to push those buttons (consciously or not) like no other.
It’s up to me to hold grace and exude calm as often as I can and apologize, take heed and be kind to myself when I don’t. But that’s after the fact. What do I do before the urge to explode runneth over? I have tactics. I have my ways. Perhaps some of these are played out and world-renown in the diabolical minefield of parenting advice, but I myself didn’t clue into some of these things until of recent and I sure didn’t make a mental note that I was actually devising an action plan to stay calm. But I am. That’s what I do multiple times a day. And I don’t think they suck. They definitely aren’t annoying in that let’s be a perfect parent way, and they’re mostly pretty wacky. I guess I do wacky well. I’m not going to tell you to breathe deeply and count to 10, because that only kind of, sort of, works. For the small stuff. These here are the big-guns.
I’ve broken it down to 3 things, more or less, that I catch myself doing to keep my temper in check around the kids…
1. If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen
I will literally just exit the scene no matter what is going on, even with toys all over the place and a screaming/flailing/wrangy child in the middle of it. Because nothing is enough and they are just so bored even though I’ve been tossing activities their way like Mr. Dress-up on speed. It’s already bad — They can work that melt-down out themselves for a bit. I’m outtie. Food being flung at me? Peace-out, you filthy animals. Someone lays a smack-down on me when I’m handing them a magnificent treat of apple-crisp and ice-cream as an after-school snack, thus spilling the milk that was in my hand all over my art books, mere inches from my computer that I had to lunge after and rescue? I bite my knuckles really hard and run (literally) into the closest room, where a blood-curdling scream won’t scare the crap out of my kids. And I do just that, really loudly, into a towel or a pillow. (This happened yesterday.) This only takes a mere moment or two and I’m back in there, administering whatever discipline I need to without appearing demon-like, or if Trev is around, I let him step in if I’m really steamed and let him take on that bit of loveliness. We take turns doing that for each other from time-to-time. Parenting is kind of like baseball. Batter in, batter out.
2. Mary Poppins Wuz Here
Uhm, yea. I put on my Mary Poppins hat and pretend like I’m in a musical. How many of you have heard that annoying sing-song voice that mothers of young children use? Yea, we’re doing that because we’re trying really hard to stay calm and the sing-song voice, as nerdy as it is, is waaaaay better than screaming. Sure, one day my kids are going to figure out exactly what I’m doing when I use it and give me the side-glance, but for now, they look at me adoringly when I turn sentences into songs, or intervene their wrestling matches while singing their names and busting into a rendition of, “Stop, In The Name of Love.” I change the lyrics to something more along the lines of, “Stop, In the Name of Love, Before Your Mommy Looses It…” and I go on like that, making up silly lyrics and physically steamrolling them until they stop. It works sometimes. Sometimes, not so much. I’ll take the sometimes.
3. Choose Love
Always. I mean, this goes without saying, right? When everyone is about to loose their minds, there are times I don’t care about teaching my kid a lesson as much as I want to hug it out. Sounds cheesy, but it works. When I think one (or both) of my kids is behaving absolutely irrationally or rudely, I try to understand what’s going on in their brain and heart from their perspective. It’s really hard to do in the heat of the moment, but sometimes all it takes is for me to get on my knees, take their hands, look into their eyes and ask if they need a hug. Eight or so times out of ten they stop freaking out and nod their heads forlornly. Okay. I can do that. I can give hugs. Miraculously, I’m not about to lose it in return either.
That’s it. Nothing magical here, and definitely nothing overly contrived or wordy as far as child development goes. Just everyday, real parenting action. From my heart to yours.
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Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Regular writer here and on Disney Baby. Part-time mischief maker, all-time geek. Elsewhere on the Internets… via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve