Staying Calm in the Midst of Kid Chaos
For most moms, life is hectic. Shuffling kids today care, school, sports; running to the grocery store; making breakfast, lunch, and dinner; not to mention making a living. Stress abounds, and it is very difficult to keep your cool when your daughter is crying because you gave her the orange spoon instead of the blue one. How can you stay calm in the midst of all that chaos and stress?
Take a deep breath…or 10. It may sound trite and overly simple, but it honestly does help. Getting more oxygen into your system helps your mind clear and gives your body what it needs to manage the stress response you are experiencing. If the kids are in a safe place, you may even step into another room or the bathroom for a minute or two to regroup.
Whisper. If your kids are at an eleven and you are trying to get them back to a 3, the worst way to accomplish your goal is to yell. Most often, they respond by getting even louder. Try whispering. Most kids will stop what they are doing and try to hear what you’re saying. Often, they will even lower their voices when they start speaking again.
Do a personal inventory. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Chances are good you’re tired, too. Moms are notorious for taking care of everyone’s needs but their own. If you are hungry or have not had enough water, your body is already stressed. Your physiological needs must be met in order for you to keep control of your emotions and moods. Keep a granola bar or apple and a bottle of water in your purse or the diaper bag so they are at the ready for those angry moments.
Keep perspective. Going back to the orange spoon, try to remember that to your daughter, the color of the spoon absolutely matters. She is finding her place in the world, and she’s searching for what she can control. Those big emotions she feels about the orange spoon are very real to her. Helping her realize that it is okay to want the orange spoon but it is not okay to yell at Mommy gives her the tools to sort out the appropriate reactions when she feels strongly about something. Being a kid is hard!
Most importantly, give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can. Hopefully these tips will help you stay more zen, but in those moments you slip and raise your voice or respond to a question more harshly than you intended, do not beat yourself up. One of life’s important lessons is that we all make mistakes, and it’s what you do with that mistake that builds character. When you feel up to it, pull your little man into your lap and let him know you’re sorry. Explain to him the emotions you were feeling that caused you to react the way you did. Give him a big hug and remind him you love him. And remember, you’re a great mom.