From battles about how we’re wearing our hair, to running after a four year old to brush her teeth, the morning routine at our house can get a little- well, let’s just put it mildly- chaotic.
I will be the first to admit that when things get a little chaotic, and I’ve had to repeat myself just one too many times, I can start to lose my temper. I’ve dropped off two very unhappy little girls who are upset about a multitude of my so called offenses from that morning. Dropping off after a morning of increased frustrations on everyone’s part is not an ideal way to part ways.
I hated the thought of dropping them off when we’ve had a bad morning or a morning where I may have lost my temper and got angry with one of my kids.
After a few consecutive “bad” mornings, I decided I needed to look in the mirror and figure out what I’m contributing to the morning madness. I came up with the conclusion- that whether I like it or not- I set the tone for how the morning goes. Ever heard of the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, aint nobody happy.” The author of that quote knew what they were talking about. If I’m crabby, inevitably, my kids will be crabby, too.
I can make an intentional decision of how I will respond and react to potential disasters in the morning.
I decided to try it out.
I have a strong willed four year old (almost 5- hold me) who doesn’t like to wear pants or socks, or well, let’s face it- clothes. This can be mildly problematic when you have to leave your house at 7:30 a.m. to go to daycare.
Needless to say, several battles in the morning revolve around clothes, despite picking them out the night before. I knew this was a potential trigger for things to start to go awry. I literally had to do a pep talk to myself before waking the kid’s up- it went a little like this. “Ok, you got this, it’ll be ok- just take a deep breath.”
Instead of getting instantly frustrated and resorting to threats or yelling, I took a deep breath and stayed calm.
Now, I don’t have super brilliant ideas on actually addressing the getting dressed thing- but more so of how I managed my own temper. I realized if I didn’t get all worked up and frustrated- things didn’t escalate so much. Sure, she still didn’t want to wear socks or pants, but I found that if I didn’t overreact- she ended up putting on her pants and socks without (too) much resistance.
I took this little experiment and decided to begin to fully incorporate it into the way I respond to my kid’s behaviors. We all have our triggers- it’s important to know them so we can face them head on and appropriately deal with them. My triggers are whining and having to repeat myself. I have to be really intentional in how I respond when these triggers pop up for me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s less about the actual behavior, but in how we respond that can potentially exacerbate or ease the potential behavior.
This has taken significant practice, grace, and do-overs. It’s a lot of apologizing to my kid’s that I yelled or got upset, and it’s a lot of intentional responses. I am not perfect and neither is my parenting. However, I know I’m the adult, and I have to manage my own emotions while appropriately responding to theirs.
When I feel myself getting worked up, I remind myself that I set the tone and to practice the pause.