Before I had kids I thought I was pretty “chill”.
I was a teacher.
I could calm storms in my classroom that would have sent other grown adults into the corner, sucking their thumbs.
Parenting my first child felt like a breeze. For the most part, I was as cool as a cucumber.
Enter second child.
The transition from one to two kids changes life DRAMATICALLY.
With two kids, you’re splitting your attention, your energy AND refereeing fights.
They’re either best friends or worst enemies.
Or this: egging each other on to top the last crazy adventure.
Parenting has been a challenge over the past year.
We have moved 4 times in the past 2 years, and have spent the past year building our house whilst living in a 28′ RV.
It has felt MESSY.
It has been CHAOTIC.
My temper has never been so short.
The lack of a healthy diet, paired with lack of space and unprecedented stress has helped to create a ticking time bomb.
I have spent a lot of time reflecting, decompressing and trying to rediscover my optimistic self over the past several months.
Related post: Finding Your Inner Peace as a Mom
I am a firm believer in positive parenting.
I read the books. I do the research. I put it into practice on a daily basis.
I strive to be the best parent possible.
I TRULY believe that children deserve respect, no matter what.
So, why can’t I get this angry frustration thing under control?
When my kids are fighting, the dishes are piled up (yet again), I’m tripping over the millionth toy, my response will likely be one I’ll regret.
The last thing I want is for my kids to have an angry mom.
That’s unwarranted and unfair.
When I noticed an ugly pattern, I decided to come up with a few automatic responses that help diffuse the situation for all of us and still keep my positive parenting approach in tact.
The Chaos: Your toddler wants another banana and is balancing between a stool and the kitchen counter, your 6-year-old wants you to set up her online art class and you’re cleaning up a milk spill that happened seconds before. The RAPID FIRE REQUEST GAME has commenced.
Calm Response #1: “I can do one thing at a time.”
This isn’t said in a snarky or rude tone. It’s just the honest truth.
This response is really more for me than it is for my kids.
It’s a reminder to myself that I’m one human mom, not super woman.
It also acknowledges my kids’ requests, and models for my kids that I can stay calm when a million things are going on.
Kids have needs, and a lot of them. Their brains work at a super fast pace, and they aren’t trying to be “needy”.
I can either get completely flustered about the requests flying at me like baseballs at a batting cage, or I can maintain a calm demeanor.
The Chaos: Your house is a disaster and the realtor is coming to show your new-to-the-market house. Your kids REALLY want you to play with them.
Calm Response #2: “I really want to _________ with you. I am going to finish this and then I’m all yours!”
How many times have you been in the middle of something and your kids are adamantly requesting you to look at what they’re doing or wanting you to play with them?
I try as much as possible to show my genuine interest in what my kids are wanting me to see, and do but there are times that I need to focus on something (i.e. calculating the amount of paint needed
for our house).
When it’s just not possible for me to drop what I’m doing, this response lets my kids know that I do WANT to fulfill their request and that I am going to give them my undivided attention as soon as possible.
Make sure you follow through with what you say you are going to do after you complete your task. Don’t jump on another task if you said you were going to go build with Legos after you completed what you were doing.
It’s important that our kids know they are valued and that what they are doing is important as well.
The Chaos: Your kids are fighting over a toy and accidentally break your grandmother’s vintage, glass vase.
Calm Response #3 : “I’m feeling frustrated.”
When I first used this response, it felt awkward. I felt like it was going to backfire and I would be even more frustrated.
But, it was helpful for me to verbalize how I was feeling. I have always taught my kids to talk about their feelings, so why are mine any different? Shouldn’t I practice what I preach?
My kids need to know that it’s healthy and helpful to talk about feelings.
Simply stating how you’re feeling is a very effective way to not only talk yourself down, but also model healthy coping skills for your kids.
Parenting is a roller-coaster ride.
Frustration is normal.
Wanting to curl up in the fetal position and cry is NORMAL.
But, you CAN rise above your frustration and angry responses. I promise.
If I can do it, you can too.
The only way to grow as an individual, and as a parent, is to come up with specific tactics that will help you cope during the difficult times.
Your kids deserve it and so do you.
What are your tactics and responses for the chaos of parenting?