Since last week’s meltdown, I’ve tried very hard to take off the cranky pants. Let me tell you, it’s been difficult. Those babies are stuck right on me.
Which made me realise that I have a major attitude problem right now. I get like this from time to time. Trying to do “all the things” sometimes makes me dreadfully resentful of my children. I resent them being “in the way” of all the other things I want to do in my life. It’s hard to admit that, but there it is.
On the weekend, I took stock of all the ways the kids have been driving me batshit crazy. It was a good exercise because it made me realise that my embarrassingly long list actually boiled down to just three things.
- My kids are messy
- My kids are mean to each other
- My kids want to be on screens too much
Not such a daunting list when you look at it. Matter of fact, these all seem to be fairly standard ‘kid’ things and the problem isn’t with my kids at all. It’s my attitude that needs a bit of mothering. I’m a cranky mum because of way more factors than just my kids.
Every mother knows that kids are relentless. They incessantly drop crumbs, clothes, toys, towels and unexpected f-bombs. That’s just the way we are when we’re small. It takes time to learn how to clean up after ourselves, be patient, wait our turn, figure things out instead of asking all the time and do things for ourselves when someone else probably does them better.
It’s frustrating to be the one to have to pick up the pieces as kids go about their daily life. To be patient and instructive and remind them again and again and again how to be a good person. The older my kids get, the easier it gets in many ways, but the longer I’ve been doing it. Year after year, crumb after crumb. Kids are relentless.
Kids are kids.
My children aren’t being kids at me. They are not being messy at me. They are not bickering at me. They are not using screens at me. They are just doing what kids do.
It’s me that needs to grow up and be the role model they need, not the cranky mother they currently have. I can’t help them change their ways overnight, but I can definitely adjust my attitude overnight. I can choose to leave the cranky pants in the cupboard where they belong.
Here are my three strategies for playing fair:
1. Count to three. I am an explosive hot-head and I know it. It’s a character flaw that gets in the way of being the parent I want to be, the role model I want to be. Is it any surprise that my kids yell at each other when they are frustrated? Hmmm… So, when I feel the urge to react, I’m going to try to take three deep breathes and think instead. I need more pauses in my life anyway.
2. Be all there. I’ve talked before about how hard I am finding working and mothering at the same time. Something I am not doing well at is putting a proper divide between the two. I need to set aside blocks of time in my day where I can focus 100% on the kids, before returning to the task at hand. They deserve my undivided attention and it will allow me the space I need to add those pauses.
3. Set screen time. I’m stingy with screen time, but it’s the holidays and screens are what my kids (Max in particular) really love to do. I’ve relaxed our usual screen rules and the kids can now have screens for a couple of hours each afternoon from after lunch until 3pm. The hottest time of the day, when they really should be out of the heat anyway.
I’m hoping these three strategies will get me back on track. I am so tired of being the cranky mum.
How do you reset when you find yourself ‘losing it’ as a mother?