Every night, as part of Porter’s bedtime routine, we get his PJ’s on, we brush his teeth, and he goes potty. A couple of weeks ago, while hubby was out of town on business, I had had a long and hot and exhausting day. I can’t remember exactly why I was so high strung and grumpy, probably a combination of not having my partner parent come home to relieve me after work and also because it was like 112 degrees outside. Either way, I was done with that day and just wanted my kids in bed! Is that too much to ask?
So we’re going through his bedtime routine and he is taking his sweet time getting his toothbrush going. I mean, I know I told him to not put too much tooth paste on his brush but at this rate we were going to be there all night!
So I snapped a little.
“Porter! Hurry up!”
As this impatient demand burst from me I saw, reflected in the bathroom mirror, an angry, tired, mean mommy, and a little boy who was just doing his job.
This stopped me in my tracks and time kind of froze for a second.
This is not me. What is wrong with me?! This is my precious little boy who loves me and all I can think about is hurrying him along so that I can be alone.
Seeing my face in that moment scared me. And I don’t ever want to look like that again.
How are we, as parents, supposed to always keep our cool? How can we keep from raising our voice unlovingly or demanding perfection unfairly?
I’ve been pondering these questions for the past couple of weeks since this experience and I’ve come up with a few answers.
Prayer is the answer to a lot of life’s problems for me, but especially for parenting. And not only because I believe in a God who will answer prayers and actually help me change, but because being quiet and pondering about my life and what I want to change and just taking a moment to reflect on things like this is, in itself, a really good place to start.
Since thinking about this outburst I’ve realized a good thing for me to do is to breathe. Take a moment and, even if both kids are screaming and throwing things and pulling at you, just stop, close your eyes and breathe. Sometimes I’ll even lock myself in the bathroom or my bedroom for a second. Knowing my kids, I can trust them to not get into any trouble during those 30 seconds, but judge this move according to your own kids.
This is a major part of parenting for me. If the kitchen sink is overflowing with dishes, laugh it off and turn on some dance music. If your 18-month-old drew with eyeliner all over her face, laugh about it and grab a warm wash cloth and your camera. If your 3-year-old just through his giant, stuffed elephant in your face at two in the morning and then continued to crawl in your bed and ask to play with you, have a good giggle and make him a bed on the ground. Seriously though, if you want to be a happier, less grumpy, less demanding mommy or daddy, try smiling. Happy people smile. Remember that.
4. Work it out
If you are overwhelmed and over booked, change something. Figure out what outside force is taking over your happy side and throw it in the trash. For me, I had too many projects going on. Blog posts, blog pictures, wedding videos, work videos, dishes, meal planning, grocery shopping, church callings. So many things are pulling at us! It’s no wonder we get grumpy some times. We’re human!! But if you are starting to crack, take a step back and work it out. I realized it was my projects that were piling up, so I made a calendar and a plan for how and when I was to work on each one and when I was going to set everything aside and play with my kids. I felt a lot better.
5. Say Sorry
No matter how hard I try, I really don’t think I will always and forever be the perfect polite and soft spoken and gentle mom. For one, it’s just not my personality, and for two, I’m human. And so are you so give yourself a break. If we snap at our kids or our spouses just say your sorry and give them extra love. We try to be our best selves, our strongest selves for our kids but sometimes bad parts of us will slip through the cracks. Explain to your little ones that you were wrong and that your sorry and that you’ll try to be better. Guess what will happen then? They’ll learn how to patch up their own mistakes too.
I hope all of us as mothers, fathers, students, professionals, bosses, employees, teachers, or whatever your title may be at this point in your life, take time to evaluate our patience with ourselves and the people we see every day. Are you perfectly patient all the time? If not, take a few seconds to ponder and make a plan for how you will be more patient today!
You won’t be alone!
Let me know what you think and how you battle your temper in the comments.
Have a great week!
P.S. I saw this video from Huffington Post this week and even though it’s an old Mother’s Day video, it’s amazing, and it goes really well with today’s topic. Take a look!