We can all agree that in motherhood bad days defiantly out weight the good. Weather our kids are still babies and wont sleep through the night or our kids are older and still learning their emotions, it’s a struggle every single day. It’s not just good and bad days either. You can be having a great day and then in the blink of an eye everything changes. This is a normal occurrence in my house.
My youngest is 2 and she’s trying to insert her independence, learn her emotions, and cope with the fact that mommy is about to have another baby and she isn’t too thrilled about sharing me as it is. The hardest part is her trying to learn her emotions and trying to help guide her in that. You never know what’s going to set her off and she will be fine one second and then BAM it’s World War 3 right in the middle of my living room.
She wants so desperately to be heard and understood but she’s only two and doesn’t quite know how to express what she wants or needs and frankly I don’t think she knows either. It’s a work in progress that’s for sure and I just keep telling myself that this season won’t last forever.
Since this season is challenging, to say the least, there are many days I’m stressed and in a bad mood before my coffee is even in my hands. Yes, that early. After months of this I realized this season wasn’t ending any time soon. This meant that I needed to find ways to help cope with the stress and have a better attitude throughout the day or I may just not make it to the next season with all my hair or sanity.
1.Slow Down & Choose A Better Attitude
I know this may seem cliché but it has to be said. We are in charge of our emotions good or bad. We are in charge of how we cope with every situation. We decide how we will respond and with what attitude.
When we yell at our kids and get stressed out over the bucket of Legos that has been dumped out 15 times today it is 100% our choice. Most of the time we are reacting out of the situation instead of slowing down to process and think through the circumstances.
Have you stopped and had a conversation with your kids about not dumping out the Legos or to pick them up when they get done playing with them? If so, then have you spoke to them about consequences if they don’t pick them up and then actually followed through with it? More times than not I would just get frustrated and start raising my voice. All that did was stress me out more because it was allowing me to get and stay angry longer and it stressed my kids out.
One of the things that made me realize I needed to find a way to help control my stress level and responses to situations is when my 4-year-old daughter came up to me one morning and in the kindest little girl voice said, “Mommy can you please not yell at me today. I really don’t like it.” Talk about a punch in the gut. I don’t think anything has made me feel worse as a mom than I did in that moment.
Not only did I feel like a crappy mom, but I started to notice that my yelling was rubbing off on her and her sister. I started to notice that when either of them would do something the other one didn’t like they would yell at the other one to stop or give it back or, and this one is the worst, just yell in their face because they didn’t know what else to do. All they knew was that they were frustrated and when mommy is frustrated she yells. Even typing this makes my heart hurt.
The reason they would yell was because I wasn’t providing them with the necessary tools to help them cope with their emotions and situations in their day to day life. I was their example and I wasn’t being a very good one.
When a situation arises that’s frustrating, this is a lot in the season of toddlerhood, I take a second to step back and think before I choose to respond. This allows me to take in the whole situation and gives me time to process. This means that my initial response isn’t out of stress or frustration but from a more level-headed perspective.
2.Step Away for a Few Minutes
If you can feel your stress level rising, then immediately remove yourself from the situation and give your body 5 to 10 minutes to calm down. This means you go to a room that has no other human being in it. Not even the baby. If you have to go sit on your toilet because your bathroom is the only room in the house with a lock, then do it.
Once you’re alone take slow deep breaths. When you do this it actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which triggers a relaxation response in your body. So, breath as deeply and as slowly as you can to get the most out of it. Also, make sure you’re letting yourself fully relax during this time. Don’t get on your phone or turn on your tv or radio. If you want, you can turn on some meditation sounds in the background but that’s it.
3.Have a 5 Minute Dance Party
Sometimes all we need is a shift of focus to take our mind off the things that are frustrating us and change our mood. Having a 5-minute dance party with loud bumping music is a great way to accomplish this quickly for you and your kids. I do this regularly and it has honestly taken my kids from bawling their eyes out to laughing their loudest most ridiculous belly laughs. Now don’t think you can put on some music and expect to just let your kids dance and you sit on the side lines. The only way for this to change your mood is to participate, so get out there and bust some moves mama.
4.Let It Go
More times than not the things that make us frustrated are the things we should just let go of. The fact that my 2-year-old can go from the happiest child on Earth to hysterically bawling faster than Speedy Gonzales would drive me bonkers just as fast. I would instantly get beyond frustrated, mostly because I couldn’t (and still can’t) figure out how to calm her 90% of the time. Then I realized she’s two. This behavior is age appropriate and most of the time she doesn’t even know why she’s upset or what the heck kind of emotions she’s experiencing. This is the time for her to learn and I have to help her do just that. If I’m constantly trying to get her to stop or calm down while raising my voice at her, then all I’m doing is telling her she can’t and shouldn’t be feeling or processing her emotions and instead to just shut them down.
When I had this realization, I knew I had to stop trying to control the situation and just let it go. The same goes for a ton of our other frustrations. The fact that the kids have decided their new wake up time is 5am, or when they run through the house screaming while playing a game, or constantly asking if dinner is ready while they see you standing in the kitchen cooking.
Sometimes you just have to let it go, don’t let it bother you anymore. (If you didn’t just read that and instantly start singing the song from Frozen then have you truly entered into motherhood yet?)
5.Wake Up Before Your Kids
This may be a hard pill to swallow because it was for me. I never wanted to wake up before my kids, mainly because my kids wake up between 5:30 and 6:00am. Yes, that early and I don’t know why. We are currently working on them using an “Ok to Wake” clock but it’s a work in progress.
So, the fact that my kids wake up at 5:30 means I have to wake up at 5am to get any time to myself or beat them out of bed. I used to say it wasn’t going to happen but then I heard Rachel Hollis say something that changed my perspective. She was talking about her morning routine and why it’s so important to wake up before the kids. She said that waking up before the kids is you meeting your day instead of the day meeting you. It sets you up as playing the offensive role instead of the defensive.
This clicked for me especially because my kids would come in the room every morning crying or asking for a million things before my head was even off the pillow. Now you understand how my frustration level can get so high before coffee.
When I heard Rachel, Hollis make this comparison it changed my perspective and I decided to give it a try. I now wake up every morning at 5am, including weekends. I make my coffee and have my alone time for about 30-45 minutes (if I’m lucky) before the kids come out and greet me. I have also started getting their morning milk and breakfast ready before they even wake up so that we can avoid, or lessen the amount of, unnecessary melt downs first thing in the morning.
After I started doing this I got a head cold and for 3 days allowed myself to sleep in since I knew my body needed it. Honestly those three days were chaotic and started in frustration. Once I got over the head cold I was actually excited to go back to waking up at 5am. Trust me, it works, and you should defiantly give it a try.
Motherhood is hard, and some days are full of one frustration after another. If you feel you’re having more bad days than good, then I urge you to put a few of these tips into practice and find what works for you and your family. We choose our mood every day, despite our circumstances, and inadvertently we’re teaching our kids to do the same. So, let’s start teaching them by our example how to choose peace and happiness over stress and frustration with these great coping skills.