My kids aren’t making me feel like sh*t on purpose

Kids are kidsSince 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.

  1. My kids are messy
  2. My kids are mean to each other
  3. 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?

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  1. says

    Oh, I hear you. I often find myself wanting to snap at my 5 year old because he’s just nag nag nag. Sometimes I realise I’m not being fair, because I realise I was trying to do something that I could have left in order to give him some more of my undivided attention, sometimes I realise he needs to learn to not be so annoying haha. It’s a fine balance around here.

    You’re right. Kids are just being kids. I try to remember this all the time! I’m constantly thinking about how amazing my mum was now haha.

  2. says

    How tired of being the cranky mum do you get? It’s insane, right? I’m here to tell you, it never stops. Never.

  3. says

    Sometimes you (we) need to review our rules.. and your screen time one makes so much more sense when you consider the length of days & heat. The other thing I remind you (& many) of is that within a very short space of time -into the teen years – there will be MUCH less of the noise & wants.. other than “food & can you drive me to …) hope the rest of the hols go better for you all D x

  4. Eliza says

    Well snap, snap, snap again! I would add food to the list. Mr 4 is supremely fussy, and if he hasn’t had enough food we’re in for trouble.

    A friend once told me I’d take to motherhood like a duck to water. I feel more like a chicken trying to fly. ah well I love them with all my heart and that has to count for something… right?

  5. says

    I try to let it go knowing there is not long before school returns. Some of the mess isn’t deliberately i.e. Heavy traffic so more leaves and crap coming in. My house is usually hotel clean so its very difficult to “let it go”, I’m like the angriest Elsa on the planet. But I have tried to keep up, its messy 5 mins later.

    I am looking forward to the big clean up and having my house back to normal again! Im sitting next to spare washing lines because of all the extra clothing being washed >.<

  6. says

    I hear you! I was mum cranky pants yesterday too and the heat is also making it worse. I often feel like all I do is clean up or instruct and with baby no.2 on the way I’m dreading the increase in my workload. I remind myself at this time that kids are kids for a reason and either pull out an ice cream or sit for 5 minutes and chat with my 5 year old or take a cold shower!

  7. says

    I think the setting aside blocks of time thing is really important. I’ve been working on that too, otherwise I’m constantly feeling only half ‘present’ at work or play! Screen time is also a constant challenge as the temptation is there to let those handy igadgets do a few hours’ babysitting – but you pay for it with cranky kids later on. Best of luck with your goals and thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    It’s like you read my mind after the holiday. You’re so so right, they ARE just being kids – it isn’t a personal agenda to get to us! When you’re in the moment though surrounded by chaos, it isn’t always easy to remember. Fab post lovely x

  9. says

    Hugs mama! One foot in front of the other! Your plan sounds very sensible, and at any rate, the holidays are early over 😉

  10. says

    Love that you broke it down into simple things because often that is what it is, outside forces making me angry with my kids when they are just being them. I actually started breathing again when you said you were a hot head. I could write the same paragraph about myself. And now I see it in my eldest who gets cranky and is a hot head. I need to work on my cranky pants a bit too I think!

  11. Jacq says

    Hugs Mumma! I feel you and I often resort to shouting but I want to change that. I’m also doing the counting to 3 at the moment. However, I feel like being 100% there and limiting screen time works best based on my experience. I should do that more often. xx


  12. says

    Oh I hear you! This has been so me this week – my 5 month old has decided that 2-3x 30 minute catnaps would suffice for day sleep… which has made me incredibly cranky because I’m not getting things done. I feel awful because you know, he’s a 5 month old. I’ve been trying desperately hard to change my attitude to be more loving and remember my priorities – so I’ll definitely be taking on your strategies this week (especially counting to 3 and ‘being all there’). Although, I think you forgot to add ‘drink a wine’ (or rekordelig, in my case)! Haha

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