You’re not alone. Every parent has moments that we look back on and wonder why we lost our cool like that. Maybe it's an afternoon where you’re feeling extra irritable or “ triggered” by your kids' normal behaviors. Maybe it's a single episode of exploding at your kid when they make a mistake and then regretting it. Sometimes we find ourselves in a longer season of coming across as the “mad mom” or “explosive dad”.
I personally have an ongoing frustration with my oldest child who is now technically an adult, as he just celebrated his 18th birthday. For as long as he has been going to school, he has struggled with being ready to leave on time. I know he's capable of getting up and leaving on time because this fall when his football coach made it clear that arriving on time for school was a requirement for being eligible to play in the Friday night game, he did whatever it took to hot-foot it out of the house in time.
But now, the football season is done and that external motivator isn't there. We are back to frustrating mornings of poor time management. I've tried many approaches to help him succeed. The most recent approach has been letting him choose to be late for school and explain it to the teachers himself. The end result was that he was late for school everyday for a week! I'm not seeing him learning from his mistakes quite yet
Today he was late again, and I became a “mad mom.”
Can you think of your last angry parent moment? What led up to it? Usually it's a combination of factors. Something in our kids' behaviors, what they do or don't do, what they say or don't say, gets under our skin. But how resilient we are to these frustrations and our ability, in the moment, to pause and think of the response we want to have rather than reacting on our first impulse has a lot to do with how well our own basic needs are being met.
When we have unmet needs we are going to feel more irritable, frustrated, impatient and inflexible, just like our kids feel when they have unmet needs.
So the next time you find yourself feeling like the “mad mom” or “explosive dad”, consider these possible unmet needs and how you can meet them to help you stay more balanced and regulated.
The fall brings some fun and also busy days and weeks for families. What are your kids involved in; soccer, football, dance, gymnastics, youth group, band practices, swim team, volleyball or something else? Each activity has great opportunities for our kids, but they also come with a cost on the family's time and energy. If you are a parent who's running kids to activities, making meals, scheduling appointments and keeping up with all the school stuff like permission slips, lunch money, conferences etc, then YOU have a lot on your plate. You are taking care of your family and lots of details to keep things running smooth, so let's talk about WHO's taking care of you.
Hopefully you have great support in your life. People who take the time to take care of you and "fill your cup." But a lot of parents are feeling like they don't have a great support system. And whether or not you have excellent support, self-care is incredibly important for parents who want to be at their best for themselves and their families.
Support and self-care are two of the 10 steps to navigate parenting challenges that I write about in my book Parenting Marathon. There is a lot of practical thoughts and easy next steps for you in the book but I'll leave you with one first step here.
Start with small chunks of time. Waiting for self-care until you can carve out a day or weekend away isn't enough. Today set aside 10 minutes for yourself to do something that is relaxing, brings you joy or fills your cup. Caution: Don't use this 10 minutes to clear out your email, answer text messages or schedule that dentist appointment. This 10 minutes is a self-care pause. Need ideas on what you would enjoy doing in those 10 minutes? I have a whole list in the free resources page shared in the book. Maybe it's listening to music, enjoying the quiet, prayer or meditation, watching the birds, drawing... you get to decide. Set a timer maybe and protect that little chunk of time.
Do you have any family reunions or large gatherings planned for the summer?
My family of origin is fairly small so our gatherings aren't huge. But the words "family reunion" make me picture large boisterous groups of distantly related people along with lots of noise, games, food and stimulation. My husband's side of the family is big and we have plans to attend a large family gathering soon. My kids will be meeting many distant family members for the first time!
It makes me mindful of my four kids and their unique personalities and responses to different environments. I can picture some of my kids jumping right into the unknown territory and having a blast. I can also picture some of my kids feeling very overwhelmed by the noise, the unfamiliar people and the uncertain time frames. If you have a child who's sensitive, shy, easy overwhelmed, or tends towards feeling anxious then here are a few things that could help you set your family up for more successful reunions.
How do you feel when you think about the fact that summer is at least half way done? It's ok to have mixed feelings about it. Summer can hold so many fun things, swimming, picnics, parks, fireworks, fairs! At the same time, for my family and lots of families that I work with, there is some summer burnout that happens around this point.
Summer burnout can happen for kids and for parents. It might be kids feeling a bit bored and starting to feel that all this time off is getting old. It might be parents feeling tired of all the driving to activities, or juggling their work while kids are at home, or navigating siblings fighting or whining.
Here are a few ideas to help you enjoy this second half of summer, block burnout and build some more fun memories: