Tag Archives: children

Every little thing is gonna be alright

Be the example

Frustration, anger, upset, exhaustion, etc. These are all emotions of motherhood. (I know, there are the good emotions, too, like love, compassion, cuddling (that’s an emotion at our house), happiness, calm, joy, peace, etc.) But this is about the messy emotions that hurt.

I let those get out of control a lot when my kids were young. I didn’t have a good grasp on what it was I needed to keep those emotions in check. Turns out, that last one I mentioned in the list above, exhaustion, was the guiding emotion. He was the Big Kahuna, the one who basically set the tone for everything else.

When sleep was elusive with babies and toddlers in the house, Exhaustion moved in and took over. And when Exhaustion is in charge, Anger, Upset and Frustration are like groupies. They follow wherever Exhaustion leads.

It can be hard, for several reasons, for a new mom to recognize this. There’s the cute new baby that everyone is in love with—and because it’s so cute and cuddly, you’re losing sleep to stay awake and watch it sleep—or you’re wondering why everyone is so in love with this bundle that eats, poops and sleeps all the time, and these thoughts are keeping you up because you’re stressed because you feel like a bad mother. Then there are the constant loads of laundry. I.Mean.Constant.

And there are the expectations that you put on yourself. (OK, the expectations start with society, but we moms internalize them and they become our expectations if we’re not careful.) And these standards are high. We ran corporations, headed up major projects, hiked across Europe and made something of ourselves. This motherhood thing should be a cinch.

Haha. It’s not.

When we were doing all those other great things in our lives before kids, we did them in a non-hormonal state, without the responsibility for the most precious thing on earth—human life.

Turns out, becoming responsible for a new human life coincides directly with enhanced hormones and sleep deprivation.

So, what to do? Don’t let Exhaustion be in charge of you. He already has his groupies. Don’t be one, too.

If you’re a first-time mom, the solution is simple—not easy, but simple. Sleep when the baby sleeps and let your partner (or, if you’re a single mom, let anyone who is willing to help you with these things) do the laundry and cook the meals. Ask for help from neighbours, friends and family. Even better, accept it when it’s offered. There is no prize for doing it all. Seriously. No prize. (This hurt when I found out.)

Your calm, peaceful attitude will rub off on your baby. The less exhausted you are, the less stressed you are, the happier your baby will be. I’m not talking perfect bouncing cherub-faced baby all the time here. I’m just saying, deep down, your baby will be calmer when faced with upsets. Be the example, even at that young age.

If you are not a first-time mom and don’t have the luxury of sleeping when the baby sleeps because you have to make sure that the toddler doesn’t dump all the Cheerios on the floor and burn the house down, put the kids to bed at a decent hour (bedtime is between 7:00 and 7:30 pm in our house), spend some quality time with your partner (I’m talking a good solid connection but for a short period of time), then go to bed early.

I didn’t do this when my kids were little because I thought I had to do it all. And I wanted to spend a lot of time with my husband because, you know, he’s an adult and adults are really cool to talk to. But now that those years are behind me—and I suffer from terrible guilt attacks from how many bad emotions I consistently displayed in front of my kids—I realize that those years were short and my children and I would have been better served by lots of sleep so that Exhaustion could not be in charge.

Silver linings

There is always something good to come out of any bad circumstance. You just have to look for it. And the silver lining to my early years with my kids was that I had ample opportunity (more than I’d like to admit) to be an example of regaining control after losing it.

I wasn’t always good at it. Sometimes Exhaustion had me in its cold, iron grip and I just couldn’t squeeze out. And when I was very upset and Exhaustion was in charge of the upset instead of me, it often spiraled out of control and ended up in the most dramatic of upsets: the upset that I couldn’t seem to keep it together no matter how hard I tried.

But there were days of calm when things would happen unexpectedly and Upset and Anger would step up to the plate and I would reign them in by sheer will and my desire to be a better person and a better mom to my kids. (Those were days that followed nights of adequate sleep.)

So when I see that my children are tired and frustrated, my example is the best lesson for them. If you let yourself get frustrated at your child’s frustration, the situation escalates. Jan Blaxall, a professor of early childhood education at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario says, “Research shows that children learn how to regulate their emotions by watching their parents.” (Source: www.todaysparent.com/toddler/toddler-behaviour/how-to-deal-with-a-frustrated-toddler/).

So what did my angry outbursts and unhelpful self-care patterns teach my children? It taught them that getting upset and freaking out was the way to go when things didn’t go their way. It taught them that cooperating and helping each other was optional depending on their mood. And it taught them that when they couldn’t keep it together, they didn’t have to try harder, they could just fall down into a balling mass of tears and screams. (Yeah, I did that sometimes. I was that exhausted and unwilling to ask for help. Lesson learned.)

And this is a vicious cycle. The more upset I got, the more upset they got. We needed some peace in our lives.

And somehow, somewhere deep down inside me, I found that place where peace exists and I dragged it up into the lives of my children. And I saw an immediate change in their behaviour as it related directly to my behaviour.

And even now, with slightly older children and no babies in the house, sleep has to be a priority. If it isn’t, we open the door and invite Exhaustion in. And his groupies follow him. And they don’t make for a very nice family life.

My daughter the mover

Told Big Sister she couldn’t re-arrange the furniture. To say the least, listening is not her strongest skill.

She moved all of the toy bins from where we had them arranged under the breakfast bar over to where she wanted them near her chalkboard.

Her dad came home at the end of the day and moved them back while the kids and I were at the park.

hell hath no fury

No commercials, but everything we need

Last year, we had cable. This year, we don’t. We still have shows for the kids, but it’s not commercial programming.

That’s my Christmas gift to me.

I have been enjoying the peace in our house without the background noise of the TV and the gimmies from my kids following every commercial break.

And my heart swelled when I asked my daughter if she wanted to write her letter to Santa in time for the Toronto Santa Claus parade and she said, “Sure!” then proceeded to ask me how to spell C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S  T-R-E-E and B-E-L-L.

I asked her why those words and she said, “Because that’s what I’m asking Santa to bring me for Christmas. I want a toy tree to go in my room and I want a bell like I got from Madame when I was the Étoile de la Semaine at school.”

Without the influence of commercials, my daughter wants her own tree, just like the big one we put up in our living room and she wants a bell. She asked for no toys, no clothes, no games. I was curious, so I asked her, “Why a tree and a bell?” Continue reading

A child’s history, a gentle reminder

History is a record of where we came from. Some people are interested in that. Some people…not so much.

Children are extremely interested in their history. They just can’t seem to get enough of it.

I think parents like to remember the days when their little ones were littler—cute and portable. It keeps them connected to the baby within their child. And by telling our children stories about things they did when they were younger, we are developing a sense of self in children, a sense of where they came from.

For example, a while back, my daughter came into the living room and sat on the carpet while I was working. She looked up at me and asked me to tell her about how she learned how to pee in the potty. So I told her the story of how I thought she might be ready for big girl underwear and so we tried it one day. I told her about how I showed her the potty and explained what she had to do. And then I told her about how I was in the kitchen later that day and I heard her yelling, “Wait! Just wait!”

I told her how I came into the living to see who she was talking to, but that there was no one there. I told her how I asked her what she wanted me to wait for, assuming it was me she was talking to. And I told her how she pushed passed me, tore down her pants and plunked herself on her potty.

She asked me, “Who was I telling to wait?” So I told her that, once she was sitting on the her potty, she looked up at me and said, “I wasn’t telling you to wait. I was telling my pee to wait, so that it would know that I had to sit on the potty before it came.”

After I told her that story about how she learned how to pee in the potty, she had a little giggle and told me that she really liked that story, then she went back to the kitchen table to finish her breakfast.

Such a simple moment. Such a simple story. But it was about her and how she learned how to do something. And every time she asks me to tell that story, I feel like I’m in the moment again—happy and proud of her accomplishment.

Maybe kids don’t want to hear about their history because they find it interesting. Maybe it’s their way of keeping their parents connected to those happy moments.

Just like the baby who smiles at just the right moment when the tired mommy doesn’t think she can do one more thing without collapsing from the sheer exhaustion and responsibility that this tiny human being has brought into her life. Parents need reminding that these lives that we are entrusted with are precious. If we keep our eyes, ears and hearts open, we will receive our children’s reminders and experience those beautiful moments.

Five Minute Friday – Home

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over on her site today.

It’s Five Minute Friday. The word is home. Here’s how to play:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s site and invite others to join in.
3. And then, absolutely no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

GO Continue reading

Butterflies and letting go

My kids are upstairs decorating my daughter’s room.

They each received gifts from their grandparents who live out of province. My son’s gift, most appropriately, was a toy pick-up truck with light-up headlights.

My daughter’s gift was a sheet of 3-D butterfly room decals. She is, after all, Nan and Pop’s little butterfly.

So, to get a little peace, I suggested she go upstairs with the decals to decorate her room. Little Brother followed. Continue reading

A child’s hug

There are so many kinds of hugs.

The polite, pat-on-the-back type that closer acquaintances on their way to becoming friends exchange.

The warm hug of a mother and daughter.

The protective hug of a father and daughter.

The strong I-love-you-so-much-but-I-can’t-put-it-into-words hug of a father and son. Continue reading