Today, I picked up my kids from daycare. And, as is so often the case, I wondered why it's seemingly impossible for them to both be in a good mood at the same time.
Upon leaving, my three-year-old threw a tantrum—a full-on screaming, stomping, attract-the-attention-of-all-the-other-parents-and-make-you-feel-like-everyone-is-judging-you kind of tantrum. (I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that it involved her refusing to put on her coat when I asked her to, followed by her getting mad when I put her sister's coat on first instead). This is not my first rodeo; I've experienced such tantrums many times before. But it did give me pause to think what I'd do if I hadn't had that experience.
In that spirit, I give you three things I'd like to say to a mom who is at the end of her rope.
#1 Take a break. Maybe other parents deal with everyday stress better than I do, but when I reach a certain level of frustration with my kids, the best thing I can do—for all of us—is to step back and get some perspective. For me, that might mean getting a manicure or going out with my girlfriends...even just sitting in a coffee shop with a book for 20 minutes feels like a mini-vacation when there's no one tugging on your sleeve or demanding to be picked up. I love them dearly, but there's no doubt about it: I'm a better mom when I take some time away from my kids.
#2 Cut yourself some slack. Having small children is a bit like living with small dictators who are also megalomaniacs. When you are continually confronted by irrational, emotional behaviour, it's normal to have an emotional reaction yourself. Sometimes, you'll react to your kids the way you want to, in a calm and adult manner. Other times, you'll wish you had a time machine so that you could have a do-over and not yell at them like a crazed banshee. But losing patience from time to time doesn't make you a bad mother...it makes you human. Learn from the experience and move on, but don't take it to heart.
#3 It's just a phase. One of the most challenging, yet also helpful, things about children is that they're always changing, forcing you to change with them. So
whatever it is that's driving you crazy right now—whether it's sleep disruptions, throwing food, screaming in the car seat or toddler tantrums—take heart: it probably
won't last. What seems like forever is really just a drop in the bucket. Your kids will move on to another form of torture soon
And for good measure, I'll add an optional #4 How about I watch the kids while you go take a nap?