Here we are! We have officially entered what I lovingly (?!) call the 90 days of May. If you have children in school, you know what I’m talking about. There are concerts and performances, last minute projects due, special ceremonies, end of school year events, all in between the regular practices, lessons, games and meetings. And don’t forget Teacher Appreciation Week or Mother’s Day! Or the groceries or the garbage that needs to go out!
It can be very overwhelming. You will have days where you feel like you are a horrible parent. We all do! It’s hard when you are exhausted, stretched to the max and everybody needs something from you.
Remember to BREATHE!
It is likely that you will snap once or twice at your children, at your spouse, even at yourself. That is OK. It happens to all of us. The trick is to not let it happen too often. The ideal, is to get to a point where the exhaustion and snapping happens less and less. When I work with my One on One clients, we create simple systems to get to that point where you can get through the 90 days of May and actually enjoy most of the activities and the chaos.
As parents, we think everyone else expects us to be Super Mom or Super Dad. Sometimes, we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else. When you have one of those moments when the world seems to be falling apart, take 30 seconds – that’s it, 30 seconds – to stop and BREATHE. For some folks, deep breathing for 30 seconds can work wonders. For the rest of us, or those of us who need to quiet our mind from racing, here’s another option:
In just 30 seconds, pay attention to all 5 of your senses.
– What do you hear right now? Even if it’s a crying, screaming child, remember that the child has lungs healthy enough to let you know something is not right. In the future, those lungs might power a solo in the choir or a musical instrument.
– What do you see? What is something within view that brings you pleasure? It could be a picture of your family or a bird on the tree outside. Look for something that makes you smile.
– What do you smell? If you are changing a diaper (Hey, life happens!) can you think of something that smells nice? A flower, a candle, the honeysuckle bush outside, or hot chocolate?
– What do you taste? If you are not currently eating, can you plan to eat something that makes your taste buds happy today?
– What do you notice about touch? Are you holding a sweet little hand? Do you have fuzzy socks on that you enjoy? Can you pet your dog/cat?
Taking 30 seconds amid the chaos can help ground you.
And what happens when you do snap? Think about what you would say to your child if he/she was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed? Think about what your child was feeling to cause the actions or the behavior that just happened. What would you do? Say these things to yourself. Take care of yourself first. Then you can go apologize to the person you snapped at earlier.
When you are ready to apologize for snapping, you can start by saying “Boy, I was pretty awful at being a parent/spouse earlier.” You can explain why, or you can jump to talking about how you will try to avoid this happening again in the future. By doing so, you are being human. You are being real. You are also teaching your children/spouse that they might have “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days (to quote Alexander from a book by Judith Viorst) and that’s OK. It’s what they do with these days, what they learn from them, how they survive and get through them that counts!
It is OK to ask for help. Email me at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com to set up a 20 minute strategy session. I make time in my schedule to offer 5 of these strategy sessions for free each month. This could be your month to get out of overwhelm and back into enjoying parenting.
I anticipate a few “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” moments, but I wish you many more “happy and healthy” days during the upcoming 90 Days of May!
One of my favorite things during the Spring season is watching my husband and daughter start our garden. They start the seeds in small peat pots in our kitchen and nurture them until the sprouts are big enough to move outside to the back porch. We all take turns bringing the baby plants out into the sunshine for a few hours and then back in to stay warm overnight. Once they are big enough, Tim and the girls plant the little plants in our garden.
The impact of gardening has often been studied and written about before. I’m sure you’ve heard that the more active your children are in growing and/or preparing their food, the more likely they will be to eat it, or at least taste it. While this has not exactly been the case in my family, the girls certainly enjoy the process of growing and picking tomatoes for dad or zucchini for the neighbors.
There are also health benefits to being outdoors and to doing meaningful activities with your hands. In fact, there have been studies that show the more outdoor experiences a child has, the more positive his attitude tends to be. Many adults I have talked to, use gardening to relax and reduce stress which can help grow a positive attitude, or at least squash a negative one.
A garden does not need to be huge. In fact, if you don’t have an area in a yard to use, you can grow a small container garden. Even just experimenting and trying a few things with your children can be fun and help grow the connection between you and your child. We have planted apple and orange seeds from our snacks and the excitement and joy of watching them sprout was awesome. Parsley is an easy plant to grow in a small cup in your kitchen. We have also taken empty egg shells and grown hair for our “Egg Heads” (thanks mom for that fun idea while I was growing up!).
To grow your own “Egg Heads,” next time you use eggs, carefully crack your eggshells so that you save at least 2/3 of the shell intact. Wash them well and let them dry. Draw a face near the top of the cracked shell. You can even glue on some googly eyes. Fill the shell about 2/3 full of dirt and then put some grass (or parsely) seeds in the dirt. Water it as needed and watch the hair grow. My girls enjoyed giving our Egg Heads an occasional haircut .
Whatever type of garden or kitchen experiment you try, allow your kids to explore, experiment and get dirty. You can always hose them off or throw them in the bath tub!
I would love to hear what is growing in your garden! Comment below or send me an email at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com and I’ll respond personally!
Here’s a website I recently found: KidsGardening.org . It is full of fun ideas and lots of information about gardening.