image via pinterest
I had a bit of a breakthrough last week. It was a hard week. Work is particularly busy and stressful right now, my husband was out of town, I haven't been sleeping well, and my kids decided to flip out on me a bit. Let's just say there was some screaming and things flying through the air. I couldn't figure out why they were so much harder to deal with than usual. On the occasions when this happens, I typically chalk it up to them being tired, or perhaps reacting to dad being gone. I'm sure those are factors sometimes. What I realized, though, was this:
When I'm stressed out, I tend to handle my boys with less patience, and my reactions are harsher than they usually are (harsher than they need to be). As a result, a typically short-lived situation escalates out of control. This makes me more stressed, the kids act out more, and the downward spiral continues.
The other thing I realized - or perhaps reminded myself of - is that when I'm having a particularly busy week, the things that tend not to happen are the very things that need to happen to keep me on an even keel: sleep, exercise, those ten peaceful minutes at the end of the day... Without them, a hard week gets even harder.
It really was an "a-ha" moment for me. I know this is common sense stuff, and of course I already knew that kids get stressed out when they see mom stressed, but for some reason, I hadn't really applied it to myself in this way. This week, I've been much more conscious of the way I react to the typical brotherly situations (you know the ones I mean...when they steal toys from each other, whine about not wanting to get dressed, throw toys at each other's heads...). By reacting in a firm but calm way, the situation gets diffused so much more easily, and I remain in control. I know I will still have to deal with stress, and I will definitely lose my cool from time to time; but I have to remember that I not only have to take care of me for me, I have to take care of me so that I can do a good job of taking care of them...