You’re hot, You have a million and one things to do between the home, work and trying to entertain the small demons you created that are running round demanding everything, and if you hear “mum” one more time you might just literally explode – but you wont because you know it will still be your job to clean all the ‘you’ off the walls.
I’ve been there, I felt my children were driving me crazy, I was drowning under the constant tide of washing, cleaning and trips to the potty and I couldn’t cope. All these phrases and images were coming out of my mouth and poisoning my mind.
Our minds are so clever and able to do the most amazing things, but they are also undiscerning and pretty gullible. Our mind absorbs and takes in everything we tell it, even when it’s completely absurd.
Every time I referred to my children as demon spawn, my mind believed it and soon a trepidation took shape that made me feel low at the idea of spending the day with them. Every time I said I was drowning under all my home, parenting and work responsibilities my mind let it in. Every time I told it I was being driven crazy, that I couldn’t cope, that I was useless, my brain believed me and soon I was having physical symptoms. I had panic attacks and felt snappy and at the point I sought help, I thought I might genuinely be crazy – because that’s the appropriate response to the extreme images I was creating in my mind and I had told myself I wasn’t equipped to deal with it.
And the best part, my children are not awful. Not in slightest. My home is not dirty and my work gets done – eventually. All I wanted was to spend time with them, have a picnic or go on a day out but these things all felt impossible to me.
That was the first thing that needed to change. Being a lover of language, creative writing and all things literature. I had to do something that felt very unnatural. I needed to stop using such negative and emotive language. I needed to stop exaggerating the negative and start telling my brain some useful stuff. – Number 1. Ditch the negative self talk. Your children aren’t demons, hell spawn or anything else you call them. They are your children. You love them. You couldn’t imagine life without them, even if they are challenging at times. Of course you can cope, your success rate for coping to date is 100%, that is amazing. You have phenominal coping skills.
Number 2 – “Will you put your shoes on”, “We need to go, put your shoes on”, “No they are on the wrong feet”, “Where is your other shoe”, “JUST GET YOUR DARN SHOES ON RIGHT NOW!!!!”
We get angry, we tell ourselves they are making us angry. But are they? Are they not just being mostly age appropriate children thinking it’s funny getting a reaction out of you, daydreaming and wondering what your 3rd favourite Octonaught is. I was making myself angry all those times. I was letting myself get worked up. So I changed tactics, “What are you going to put on first, your shoes or your coat?” usually works but on the days when he is really in daydream land “We are leaving at this time, if you don’t have your shoes on, you will have to walk to the car in bare feet”, is better. I say it once and the responsibility is with him to put them on or not and he will face the consequence. I only had to say it once, I didn’t get mad and luckily he had his shoes on before I had his little sister in the car.
Setting expectations like this and making sure I followed through was key. Some days it was hard, I was tired or foggy and would forget if I had already given a warning and so they would get two or three warnings and I would feel myself getting tense (notice I didn’t say feel my blood boiling, ha-ha). And sometimes even now, I still shout but it’s so occasionally and I know I’m still doing a phenominal job. I do actually have amazing coping skills.
Finally, make time for them. Book the day out, even if you don’t feel like it. Go for the picnic or the nature walk or have the water fight. I can hear you screaming at me, “when Mel, when do I do that between the cooking, the cleaning and the laundry”. I know you think, I would if I could. But you can. It sounds counter-intuitive I know, but spending time with your children makes more time, and everyone is happier. So you spend half an hour in the garden playing with your children. You come in to get the washing on, and you put it on. You don’t need to fix a snack, answer 20 strange questions or tell them to stop fighting because they are happy and have had attention from you. You start to cook dinner and you are left alone to cook it in peace, and you all have lovely things to say about your day around the dinner table. The house isn’t wrecked because they burnt their energy in the garden so you only had to sweep the floor once. Making time for your children, makes time for you.
Putting these steps into practice, you’ll not just get to survive the 6 week break, but you and your children will get to enjoy it and you might even find a new level of confidence and gratitude from the spectacular way you cope with the challenge of parenting for years to come.
If all else fails, remember that one day they will be potty trained, they will be riding their bikes out with friends and you might even miss the constant screams of “MUM” – until then there is wine.