1. Give Yourself Empathy. Let’s face it. Who gives empathy to Mom? Usually no one. So if you don’t learn to give yourself empathy, you may never get it. It looks like this:
“I’m feeling _____________________, because I need ____________________.
Here’s some Prompts.
Feelings: Frustrated, Angry, Hysterical, Overwhelmed, Disappointed
Needs: Order, Respect, Appreciation, Comfort, Rest
Just identifying these feelings and needs can shift your energy. Try it!
2. Re-Energize As soon as you can, create a quiet time. Even if the kids won’t nap, give them something to do so you can lay down, rest, or meditate for even a short time. Suggestion: Have a special activity (game, story book, coloring book, video game, etc) that they can ONLY use during these special “quiet times”. It will hold their attention better if it’s not something they get to play with regularly.
3. Check Expectations Maybe you were hoping to get more done today. Maybe you wanted the house or the kids to look a certain way for visitors, or pictures. Although your expectations may be reasonable, and you have every right to them, stress and anxiety are what happen in the space between our expectations and reality. I’m not saying you should completely close the gap, but if you can’t change reality, the only thing you can do is change your expectations.
I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I saw years ago… “I Feel Much Better Now That I’ve Given Up Hope”. If you laughed, it means you can relate! But short of giving up hope, shift your expectations.
4. Plan Eisenhower said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This isn’t your first day as a mom. Take a look at your plans for the day. What could possibly go wrong? I know you can think of a few things, because they’ve probably happened already. When you know what the worst possibilities are, you can have a plan for them. Not a hope, just a back up plan.
5. Smile Not one of those stretchy-faced fake smiles. I know I’ve had my share of those. But relax the muscles in your face. Take your mind to a happy thought. Even if the only happy thought is that someday the kids will grow up and this will all be over. (Sometimes we’ve all been there!) When you smile with a true, natural, happy smile, your emotions shift.
See? I know you just tried it. Now practice it when you feel yourself losing patience with your kids.
6. Take a Picture However big the mess is, it will be good for a laugh one day. Perhaps even bribery.
7. Breath The navy seals learn “box breathing” to help them remain sane in life-threatening situations. Maybe we can give it whirl here, too. Imagine a perfect square. Visualize going up the left side of the square as you inhale through your nose to the count of 4. “1…2…3…4…” Then hold your breath while you keep the same steady count of four. Visualize going across the top of the square. Now down the right side as you exhale through your mouth to the same rhythm. Wait to inhale again until you complete the square across the bottom. Two or three box breaths can help.
8. Remove Yourself Maybe you just need a time out. If your kids are old enough to be alone in the other room, take it!
9. Chocolate Enough said.
10. Hug Them Maybe you can wait until after #9 for this one, but hugging them and holding them close releases endorphins for both of you. Maybe they won’t be in the mood for a hug, but I’ll bet they would rather have a hug than the huge explosion that could occur otherwise.
Good luck! Please let me know what worked… what didn’t… and other ideas you have.