June 20, 2014

What To Do When You're At Your Wit's End

mommy losing her shit funny ecard on OneQuarterMama.ca

I've blogged now about how we parent and hopefully given some useful tips.

But, there are times when you're having an awful day and the kids are just jumping off the walls. The toilet is clogged, the garbage is overflowing, you have no clue what to make for dinner, you just want to drink one cup of coffee, and you can't even think for two seconds without being interrupted. What do you do when you're at your wit's end?

You think, "oh yeah, great, One Quarter Mama had all these great tips, but how can I implement them when all I want to do right now is scream? She's never been to my house! I challenge her to come to my house and try out her sanctimonious gentle parenting crap!"

Well, I've had those days, too.
And I would totally go to your house and give you a hand. Just pay my trip over :)

So what can you do in that moment when you think you're about to explode? Try one, or many, of the following tips until you simmer down enough to think clearly.

1) Take a picture.
Grab your smartphone or tablet and take a picture of the mess, accident, tornado or chaos. This is for you, not to share on social media to embarrass your kids or show everyone what crazy demons they can be. This is for you and your partner to look back at and laugh, because one day you will. One day you will sit alone in your room and miss these ridiculous days.
Taking a picture also buys you time to change your thinking and literally reframe the situation. Your kids may also stop trying to kill each other and start posing and looking cute, which helps.

2) Tell your kids you're losing it.
You can be honest and tell them you are not coping. You are modeling human behaviour and giving them the words they can use when they are in the same situation.
It also teaches them about empathy. Often, kids want to help. If you tell them you need help, they are more likely to do something about it. Say something like, "kids! This is getting too loud and chaotic for me. I can't think and I'm getting very upset. Can you help me by picking up your toys and being more quiet? While you are cleaning up, I will go calm down for five minutes alone." Then, providing everyone will be safe, go somewhere alone for five minutes. Eat a chocolate bar in the shoe closet. Go yell at a chair in the shed. Whatevs.

3) Like #2, take a break and walk away for five minutes.
As long as your kids are safe, feel free to step away for five minutes. Lock yourself in a room. Call a friend. Set a timer and play Candy Crush. Or set a timer and cry. But just five minutes, then re-emerge and start again. (If you feel like you need more than 5 minutes and this happens every day or many times a day, you may need more help and I will leave some ideas for resources at the end of this post)

4) Take a deep breath and try to remember how you want your kids to feel.
Do you want to be apologizing to them before bed tonight for completely losing your marbles at them, or do you want to spend that time reading books and cuddling? Sometimes holding that ideal and keeping it in the forefront can snap you out of reacting badly.

5) Remind yourself this is all temporary.
Kids are only this age once. You don't get any do-overs. They do eventually grow out of most behaviours, even if it takes some longer than others.

6) Keep it in perspective.
Did they smear poop on the walls or is your house burning down? While poop wall paper sucks, a house burning down is a much bigger headache. So try to keep what is happening in perspective. It could be worse. I know I'd rather play "what's the smell?" and pick up surprise turds hidden behind the couch than, say, have to deal with a tummy virus. Or blood. Always look on the bright side! :)

7) Don't take it personally.
Your child isn't acting out to hurt you or spite you. They act out because they simply don't know any better. Or sometimes they just need attention. Perhaps you've been distant and distracted all day and it culminates at the end of the day when you are gifted with an epic tantrum of wild proportions. It's nothing personal though, they just don't know how to express their needs.

8) Remember your kids are people.
You wouldn't (hopefully) yell at an adult in public like this, so why do it to your kids? It's not acceptable either way. Try to remember your kids are just tiny humans learning their way in the world. You are in charge of taking care of them, but you do not own them.

So there, I just gave away all my secrets. Most of the time, I just believe my son is having a harder time than I am, since he has way fewer tools and less life experience. That empathy gets me through the rough patches. Also, because I have it very clear in my head that I don't want to be like my parents, it's very easy for me to think, "what would my parents do in this situation?" and then always do the opposite.

On a serious note - if you are really struggling and have thoughts of harming yourself or others, including your children, please call 911 immediately. Isolate yourself from those who are triggering you while you wait for assistance or run to the neighbour's and tell them you need help. Stay on the line with 911 personnel until someone else arrives.

If you're not in crisis, but not coping well, in QC you can walk into any CLSC during opening hours and ask to see a social worker. They will be able to counsel you and provide resources you may benefit from, such as respite or an aide.

Some insurance companies and employers offer a free Employee Assistance Program (EAP), where you can call for assistance 24/7. Immediate counseling can be given over the phone or you can have access to more long term counselling, if needed. You may be able to take parenting classes or anger management.

One book that has helped us a lot is Nonviolent Communication. We've also done some of the TEACH Through Love Program. 

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