I have been following along with the Parenting Passageway's Twenty Days Towards Being A More Mindful Mother. Here's my take on Day 2.
It was a teacher friend of mine who pointed it out to me. The obvious.
"Amie, you have the tools you need to cope with the day-to-day raising of your children. Think about the strategies you used when you taught 30 young children. For over ten years you have been a wonderful, calm and confident teacher. What did you do when it felt like you were losing control of your class?"
Well, I thought, for starters there was DOTT and at 3pm they all went home!
But my friend urged me to think deeper and she was right. The tools were right there, ready to be dusted off and implemented into my home world.
How many times have I thought "I can't control him! I can't get him to stop what he's doing! He is driving me crazy!" Any parent of a toddler can totally relate! And do you know what, I am totally right in my thinking but wrong in what I am thinking! Not what you wanted to hear. But stay with me.
1. We cannot control someone elses behaviour, no matter what age they are. We can only control our own behaviour, our response, our feelings. Well, how does THAT help me you ask! When you are feeling like I did above, what can you control? Yourself. When I was thinking the above thoughts, I started to feel more and more out of control. In my teaching what would I do...I would stop, breathe, and think what can I do to help this situation? Can this thinking help me in my home life? You bettcha!
I love that picture of the crying child and the words beside it that say "I am not giving you a hard time, I am having a hard time". It was only last night that I held that thought next to my crying toddler. It helped me to remember it wasn't personal, it had just been a long, tiring day and it was defiently time for bed!
2. There's always another way. And as I used to say to my class "Tomorrow is a brand new day. What happened today is over and we start again tomorrow." No holding grudges. It's not personal, we all have off days.
3. Avoid 'You' statements. "You are out of control!" "Why can't you just stop?" "You are driving me crazy!" Not helpful statements. And I am guessing it doesn't make anyone feel good. When you're a teenager these statements equal "I am not good enough." "You don't know how to handle me." "What's the point, you just don't understand." And that thinking leads to resentment. Change it to 'I' statements. "I don't like what you are doing." Give a choice. With my toddler it is short and sweet "Play gently or go to the thinking chair". With my teenager it's a bit lengthier "You can keep playing the X-Box in your room quietly with your mates or if it gets noisy in here you'll all have to go outside."
4. Give yourself a time-out. Mother's of young children love nap-time! It is our time to unwind and recharge for the next shift. When you have a young child who doesn't nap it makes for a tough day and if you have a large young family with combinations of non-nappers and unsettled nights, getting the chance to recharge and unwind is probably unheard of. If this is you, please find someone to support you! Hubby, local family members or dear friends. It is unfortunate that in this day and age the 'village' no longer exists to support mothers in raising their families. But we can create our own villages.
5. We all mess up. Some of us mess up every day (me!). No-one could ever say that they were the 'perfect' parent. Even authors of the parenting books that we devour, hoping for THE answer to our problems, are not perfect in their parenting. And if they were I wouldn't read their book because I have more to learn from someone who has made the same mistakes as me.