I am trying to absorb the lessons from my peaceful parenting course. I am finding a lot of them are applicable to more than dealing with children. When someone really annoys you, be aware of your anger but don’t let it hijack you into a tantrum. Hit the pause button. Stop, drop and breathe.
“Being mindful just means you are aware, you are noticing it”Dr. Laura Markham
Observing myself & hitting pause
I have spent this weekend watching out for my language, my reactions, my triggers. There were quite a lot of them. Even though I had a decent amount of sleep (surprisingly, I boasted 6h50 on my last update), Family Time was intense and Little Girl C seemed to be heating up further as the weekend moved along. I used all sort of connection techniques – arts & crafts, cleaning the garden together (her idea, not mine), lunch out to their favourite place, no rush leaving the house. I was determined to joke at each complaint and try and connect as much as possible so it would make it easier for everyone to be at peace. Or so I hoped for.
So I kept at it and mostly kept my cool until Sunday night – yes, Sunday night is a killer. By then I was so disconcerted at her multiple attempts to find a chance to fight that I lost track and lost it on her. Here I go again saying she was intentionally doing it (she seems to like a fight). And finding an excuse for my own behaviour.
Funny enough, I could almost see the pause button while I was at it, a blur in the distance that I seemed to believe was available. However, by then I was not strong enough to do it. I guess my desire to tell her what I thought was stronger than my 1 week old parenting course.
Permission not to be perfect
In a normal Sunday night, I would have ended in tears. Guilt would have consumed me and throw me into a state of numbness and overwhelm in one of the few evenings of the week that I am not exhausted. After my tantrum, Little Girl C immediately stopped hers (it happens often but it is not a winning strategy) and engaged in enraged apologies. Yes, she was still angry but now also worried at my own anger. Oh anger, when did you come into my life. I guess somewhere between age 4 and 5 it creeped its way into the house as I found myself at a loss dealing with my little one’s emotional roller-coaster. And I have been trying to tame it since, with some days less victorious than others.
Let’s face it – I dislike anger. I have trouble dealing with it. Some sort of childhood thing I would guess.
But rather than letting myself be beaten up this time round, I ensured I left the bedroom only after many hugs and cuddles and gave myself permission not to be perfect. As Dr. Laura Markham would say, throwing in the towel only creates more laundry. And I am not a fan of laundry!
The concept of peace
I don’t want a silent house, one where kids don’t talk and parents open their eyes to indicate next steps. Rather, I want a peaceful house that is full of rough play but no-one gets hurt. I dream of a peaceful house that is full of conversations but no-one gets offended (or at least not for long). A peaceful house that is a safe place for everyone to feel their emotions without breaching into other people’s safe space. Too much to ask? Potentially, I am aware of the idealism of it. But so many days it looks so easy and others just an unattainable goal that will peak with the torments of teenage-hood.
I am determined not to let that happen, so I start with the only thing I can control. My own attitude. No matter how much I grab a new book or new course, all routes bring me back to the same place. Me. Or in your case – you. The only thing we can truly control in our relationship with others is how we react to it. Or not react at all. Everything else is up for grabs, and generally not us to choose.
Put on your oxygen mask first
I can see how airlines have this mantra. As I was coming home Monday night, I felt down. I had an accumulation of events between 5 and 6 pm that brought my day to end on a negative tone. A doctor’s appointment with an unsatisfactory outcome (not bad, just unsatisfactory). Performance reviews for some colleagues that have less than good performance. Or being late in a week I had promised myself to go home early every day. By the end of it, I was close to starting an article about how it just does not work.
So I hit the pause button. It fell on Hubby B to receive my declaration of unhappiness as I found the tube packed while I wanted to badly leave Canary Wharf. So I sent him my 5 sentences of frustration on WhatsApp. It felt better. He knew not to answer. Reality was – I was only after empathy.
I took a deep breath and listened to one of the Parenting course daily “inspirations”. I like how she always finishes telling you to smile. You can’t help but do it. And your posture changes.
It is possible
By the time I got home I felt like my fountain was slightly replenished. I joked through any attempts to create dinner fights, I dropped my agenda on getting them to bed sharp at 8, I pretended like there was all the time in the world for bedtime stories and journaling. I even managed to convince Hubby B to play along when Little Girl C was clearly pushing how many bedtime kisses she wanted.
As I sat on the stairs outside the bedroom, wondering how many times Baby S would leave his bed this time round, I welcomed him in my arms and responded to his request from a place of love. No threats. He went back to bed. She stayed in bed. They slept. I did a little victory lap, as tiny as it may be. And felt slightly more accomplished. It is possible. If you just Stop. Drop. And Breathe.
Naturally, not on an empty fountain. I got my Amazon Music playlist on and blasted some music on the headphones singing along to it. I got some chores done. Only then was I able to write this. Sleep will be compromised tonight. But I fell good.