This same time last year I wrote a post titled Parenting Despair on the realities of anger in my home. You can click on it and see where I was. Since that time with my friend and counselor, I have put into place 3 habits and practices that have been quite helpful in not flipping a lid and staying peaceful and calm. My goal is to stay in control and reduce emotional chaos: no yelling, no dagger eyes and sighs and looks that kill; keeping peace, patience, laughter and a wink.
1. Identify the trigger spots.
-Leaving for school, practice, anywhere. The more gear, the crazier it is. Especially winter time with coats, hats, gloves, boots, book bags, basketballs, water bottles.....I get impatient REALLY quickly.
-The second or third time I ask my oldest to do anything...gunna flip a lid.
-When I am tired...late in the day...especially in pregnancy.
-Dinner time: I am boiling water, chopping vegetables, putting out healthy snacks while my kiddos are zipping around me playing tag, potty training, "hangry" emotions setting in (hunger turns into anger) and general craziness.
(For non-moms......what spaces and places and situations can you think of that trigger your anger? Write down as many as possible.)
2. Prepare for the Trigger; Blow out a Candle and count to 10.
-I have practiced being aware of these trigger spots when I am prone to frustration, yelling, hurrying them up. I know it's coming...so I give us extra time. We actually take about 15 minutes to get out the door to school. That seems epically long, but we keep peace. I know dinner time is here; so we have saved our TV time for then. I make sure Robby is looking me in the eye each time I ask him to do something, the first time.
-When I feel my temperature rise, I am getting a little bit hot or sweaty, I am sighing loudly and start stomping around and getting short with my instructions - I stop and pretend their is a big candle in front of me and then blow out that fake candle. And I tell the kids to blow one out too. Because my emotions set the pace, so more than likely their temperatures are rising too. We got this from my friend Sandy, and now we are all doing it. It releases stress, blows off steam and kinda gets silly. A reset.
-I may blow out 3 candles....and then I may STILL need to count to 10. I do this out loud. My kids know I am really in need of help and gaining peace. They sometimes join or just stare at me. Who cares. Either way, I am not yelling at them...I am just counting.
3. Look at their faces and smile at them.
I love reading the passages in the Bible where Jesus looks at certain people or a whole crowd of people, sees them as helpless, and loves them....and THEN speaks to them: "And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him...." Mark 10:21.
My children are small, growing, little people who need a LOT of help whether they want it or not. I want to stop, look at their beautiful brown eyes, long lashes, baby soft skin, perfect lips, messy golden hair, wiggly legs ready for adventure and then SMILE at them. They need smiles and not scowls. They need encouragement and not condescension. Love and winks and hugs and not withholding affection or joy or laughter. These are my people.
(For non-moms....if it's consistently a co-worker, spouse, or person.....they still have beautiful features and are God-made humans who have sweetness in their DNA...find it)
After I apply these 3 steps, we are most likely on the track to being late.
But who gives a rats tail? My children see a calm mom, one who loves them, values peace over perfection and promptness, and enjoys her day before her, laughing at what could have been chaos, disaster, tears, time-outs and ugliness.
I have seen drastic improvement.....and still fall short...but I have a plan. At least I have a plan and I can give myself feedback about what went wrong and what step I forgot. Sometimes I still forget that dinner time is emotional meltdown land. Every. Single. Day. I keep forgetting.
May you make 3 steps that work for you or adopt these - and may peace and lateness abound in your life, too! Give me grace, I may be late to your house, but we will be peaceful and thankful when we finally get there. (I have seen the padded time really cut down on our tardiness, though)