There are three things in parenting that are consistently, poke-your-eye-out, evil.
I have no solutions for you. I only have some vague ideas and empathy. We are just hobbling along the parenting trail next to you.
Here's what I know to be terrible and maddening: Meal Time, Transitions, and Bedtime.
This is the Trifecta that slays me. I am really banking on "knowing being half the battle" at this point. Now we know these are the places of melt-downs, whining and general disaster.
But we're going to need a little more.
The following are some ideas that help most of the time. (Then there are the other times where no one has enough water to douse the flaming dumpster that is your home. That is resolved only by prayer and fasting. Maybe.)
I offer you two possible life rafts: Time and Attention.
Time: We need to give extra time to Meal Time, Transitions and Bedtime. No rushing any of these. I have seen what rushing can do and so have you. We may need to get them up earlier to give them extra time to get out into the world well and peacefully. This most likely applies to me, the parent. If I am rushing, then I rush them, and then it's hot garbage everywhere. We need to give them extra time when we exit a place and move to something else. We may need to book our day lighter and give ourselves longer.
Meal time needs extra time and a slower pace. How our children spend their time is completely up to us and some things may need to change. Schedules may need to shift. Editing for white space and just LESS is up to us.
Attention. Put away the cell phone and be present. I'm talking to myself. When I am ALL IN at these 3 hotspots, then it goes much better. I am ready for them and I am way more inclined to find that things go smoothly. My sweet kids need me present when they are coming unglued about the lost shoe; they do not need me looking on my phone distracted and growing annoyed at them. (Not that I need to necessarily find the lost shoe for them, but I need to be peaceful and present.) They need my kindness and patience at the end of the day when it's all starting to unravel in their tired hearts. And that requires my attention. They need a safe and strong place standing ready. These evil places need full attention and full on grace in the Little Years. Not half-attention and half-grace.
With some Time and Attention this is not going to get perfect, but it can get better.
We can slow down. We can be kinder. We can be fully there. We can watch these evils lesson and maybe, just maybe, we can do this together, with peace, kindness, and joy. We can OWN these places and turn this ship around. This is our pep rally. This is OUR time. We've got this!
Just so you know, I am walking by faith as I give more Time and Attention. If you see a hot mess of a family coming your way, know that we are a hot mess of a family coming your way by faith. Who knows what roadblock we just overcame to come your way.