My Secret Weapon To Prevent Me From Completely Losing My Sh**
Let’s clear the air. Parenting is hard.
Parenting is hard. Like, don’t get me wrong. It is the single most impactful, rewarding, and magical part of my life. Literally my raison d’etre. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. And it doesn’t mean that sometimes, being in the trenches of parenting doesn’t suck. It’s okay. We can talk about it. I’m here for you.
And so are other Lafayette Moms – check out this blog literally titled Parenting is Hard or this one about Gremlins and what they can teach us about parenting.
And let’s clear the air on another point – being a stay-at-home parent where you are constantly on is really hard. Being a working parent where you are torn between caring for your children and trying to work is really hard. Being an educator parent where you are both trying to work full-time, care for your children, and constantly in the midst of tiny humans seems like a special level of hell. (Thank you teachers, you are doing the Lord’s work.)
But even when it’s tough, and I am super irritated and overstimulated, I try really hard not to take it out on my girls. Maybe we could debate this, but I don’t think my girls deserve to get fussed at because I am having a bad day or am feeling overwhelmed. I try to remind myself that in the not-so-distant future, they will be teenagers that hate me and I will miss them petting my face or being literally attached to my hip. And what happens when the teenage torments are over? That’s right – they leave. So I always want to find a way back to my hippy dippy, lovey dovey, in the present, soaking up my tiny humans’ expansive love mode.
But that’s easier said than done. So here are some of my brain hacks for not completely losing my sh**.
First, I am a deeply flawed person. When I am a little short with my girls, or God forbid I snap, I own my behavior and apologize. I explain to them that I have a very short temper right now because I am feeling overwhelmed, upset about something that happened in the day, insert big feelings here, etc. I get low to their level and hold their hands. I tell them that I am sorry, that I shouldn’t have spoken to them that way, and that it has nothing to do with them. I ask them for a hug.
When I don’t have that mental capacity, sometimes I just have to put myself in timeout. And I tell them that I need a time out because of how I am feeling. Then I go away for a few minutes, probably somewhere cool and quiet, and take many deep, slow breaths. Then when I return, we reset.
Sometimes, we turn down the lights, put on some jazz music, and sing out our big feelings together.
It’s not a perfect system, but hopefully, I am modeling to my littles that it’s okay to have big feelings. Sometimes we need to sit with those big feelings. And maybe we can find some tools for working with those big feelings.
Meditation is my secret weapon.
Aside from the day to day crisis control, I got to a point where I needed to bring down the total baseline of stress and anxiety. Enter my secret weapon, meditation. Every day, around the middle of the day, I lie down flat on the floor, and listen to a guided meditation. I am a fan of the Headspace app, but I also use Insight Timer. Bonus, Insight Timer is a totally free app that features super high quality guided meditations from some of the best meditation teachers in the world. Highly recommend. With as little as 10-20 minutes per day, I get to reset. I started this habit in 2020 in the peak of the COVID lockdown. Three years later, I get this fuzzy, irritated, crackly feeling in my brain reminding me in the afternoons to give myself permission to slow down and take my meditation break. With consistent practice, I have seen a dramatic drop in my overall anxiety levels, and I am now much better able to deal with the day-to-day crises as they come up.
So I hope you will give yourself permission to have and share your big feelings and to give yourself an opportunity to rest. It’s counterintuitive, but by giving yourself that an opportunity to recharge, you may find you can do and be even more than before.