A few days ago I had a terrible mommy moment. I was tired, exhausted, and frustrated. I was attempting to get out the house on time for a certain event and the children were not cooperating. One had “forgotten” how to put on her shoes. Another refused to leave without her lovie. The littlest screamed from being placed in a carseat when he clearly wanted to lie on the floor for a while. We were late. I was so overwhelmed. When little voices gave way to whining, I lost it and launched into a raised voice tirade (no curse words) that ended in a very hurtful dismissal. The effect was instantaneous. There was no more whining. There was no sound at all. Just a quivering lip, watery eyes, and a slow walk to the car. I felt like crap.
An escalated adult cannot deescalate an escalated child.
When we made it to the car and started down the road, I apologized to all of the children. I apologized for losing my temper. I apologized for yelling. I apologized for speaking to them harshly. I explained that it had nothing to do with them, but was all of me for not organizing better and not having better managed my time for the day. I asked their forgiveness. Each gave it. One child said “Mommy, it’s okay”. I corrected that immediately because it wasn’t okay. Lashing out because of frustration is not okay. I could have easily handled that differently, but I chose not to. That was not okay.
A January 2020 article in Health Day stated children exposed to constant yelling can develop a negative self-image, self-destructive acts such as “cutting”, antisocial behavior, and delayed development. Those children are also more likely to become victims of abuse in their life, become abusive themselves, become depressed, or develop anxiety. I certainly didn’t and don’t want any of that on my children. But children are sponges…
Recently, I was sitting in the living room while the children were preparing to leave the house. I heard an argument that hurt me to my heart.
One of the children was whining because the task of putting on a coat seemed difficult. Another child was trying to “help” but was berating the sibling for “crying over nothing”. The child was getting frustrated and so was the helper. It was becoming a shouting and crying match. It was like looking at a mirror.
I got up from my seat, went into the room, and sat on the floor in front of both children. I spoke in a very low voice so that they had to listen carefully to hear me. No extra noise. I asked Child 1 what was the issue. I asked Child 2 how they could help without yelling. Then, we sat down together and put on the coat. I hugged each and told them that sometimes we have to walk away when we hear ourselves loud and angry because it does nothing for anyone.
|I never want my children to feel that yelling and anger is the only way to express themselves.|
I don’t want to be an angry mom. I have the best memories of being raised by my great-grandmother. On occasion, she would get frustrated, but those were few and far between. My memories of her were of a loving and kind woman. I want the same for my kids.
I want them to have the greatest memories of their childhood with me. I want them to be filled with fun times and interesting memories and experiences.
I read a post this week that said “An escalated adult cannot de-escalate an escalated child. Take a moment. Step away. Breathe. Then re-engage. ” It was such sage advice. So, what can I do to stop being that angry and overwhelmed mom? There are quite a few things actually.
- Remember it’s not me against them. Sometimes, guys…sometimes it feels like the littles have teamed up, had the Baby Boss style meeting, have come back to the field of play and are determined to take me out throwing selective listening, flat out refusal, and deliberate disobedience. That’s not the case at all. The kids are just finding their voice, finding their way, finding themselves. I get it.
- Make sure I’m not expecting too much. Honeybee will be six this week. (Oh wow!) There are certain things I expect her to do with minimum whining. When she wakes in the morning, she should make her bed. She should be able to dress herself (as her clothes have already been put out). She should be able to put away her PJs. Recently, I’ve been allowing her to make her own breakfast (pouring cereal and pressing the button for microwave pancakes). Those are age appropriate things. When Little A asks me for help, I have to make sure it’s something she can do and not something she just doesn’t want to do.
- Check that work life balance. I am a fan of saying that, God forbid, if you should pass away today, you will be replaced by next week. You may have flowers sent to your funeral. You may have a representative from the company. However, you are ultimately replaceable. Where you are NOT replaceable is home. If you’ve been giving too much of yourself and haven’t been taking time to refill when you’re running low, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your family.
I remember once feeling so anxious. I just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and hide for a couple of hours. I thought about it and realized that even though the house had been silent by 10 every night that week, I was still up until 2 taking care of office work, entrepreneurial work, etc. I was getting up at 7. I wasn’t getting the sleep I needed. If my kids were cranky when they didn’t get their naps, why wouldn’t I experience the same.
- Take some me time. There’s nothing wrong with taking a bit of time just for yourself to get yourself together. I don’t do too many massages and nail care routines, but I know moms who do and that’s fantastic. You need that time. I prefer to curl up with a good book on my Kindle or cell phone while in an empty parking lot sipping on an Icee. I always feel so much better afterwards.