There’s a family down the street we refer to as Sports Family. There’s Sports Dad, Sports Mom and three Little Sports. They can’t park in the driveway because there’s no room given the assortment of bikes and nets and equipment. The lawn is usually overgrown because there’s no time to cut it between baseball games.
One day when we were all getting used to being cooped up at home, there was a loud uproar emanating from Sports House. This wasn’t someone kicking a soccer goal or getting a great hit. This was all-out spine-tingling screeching.
Quite simply: Sports Mom lost her cool.
We laughed about it later. “Yeah,” she acknowledged matter-of-factly, “That wasn’t one of my better moments.”
Sometimes, your kids just drive you nuts. It’s a fact, just like sometimes they want to cuddle and sometimes they catch a cold. It’s part of having kids.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wait for the issue du jour to blow over. It’s not healthy for anyone if you feel like your children are making you crazy. So if counting to 10 (or 20, or 100) isn’t working, try out some of these tips.
Use Your Head Not Your Emotions
Take time to stop and think: Are you reacting because you’re angry, or have you thought the situation through and decided how to respond first? Taking the time to make decisions from your head instead of from your feelings will go a long way in resolving the chaos in a calm matter.
Don’t Feel Guilty
It’s OK to feel annoyed. But don’t feel guilty if you do. Just acknowledge it, accept it, and tell yourself, “Hey, things are a bit out of control today; no wonder I’m exasperated.”
Change Your Focus
If the kids are picking on each other and playing The Blame Game, it’s hard not to dwell on how aggravating they’re being. Try focusing on your own behavior, rather than your child’s. Part of this is learning ways to better manage your emotions. When you get focused on your life and your goals, you’ll have more connection and influence over your child.
Start a New Routine
Is your family in a rut? Do you tend to follow the same daily schedule? Consistency is definitely important, but sometimes you may need to shake things up. Find a nature trail where you can feed wild birds or tackle a recipe in which everyone gets to participate.
Stop an Old Routine
On the other hand, if you suspect that constant chaos is contributing to the family stress, it might be time to introduce a routine. You don’t have to go overboard, but designating times for meals, snacks, playing outside, screen time, naptime, etc. can go a long way in establishing a sense of order.
Make Time for Exercise
Are you thinking, “I WISH!”? Sometimes it’s hard to fit physical activity into your day. Often, it’s one of the first things to drop off the To Do list. But physical fitness is important, and it’s as beneficial to your mind as it is to your body. Exercise helps people sleep better, reduces stress levels, and boosts the endorphins that help you to feel happier.
Make Time for You
How many times have you dumped on a friend, only to feel a wave of relief at hearing them say, “No WAY! That happens to me too!” We all need family, friends or other counselors to hear us out and affirm, “It’s normal that your kids get under your skin from time to time. I understand how you can feel that way.”
Just like physical exercise, don’t let self-care drop off your list. The best way to help your kids deal with their upsets is to exercise a little self-compassion toward yourself first.