A little more than ten years ago, I was recovering from some serious health issues that left me completely depleted. Weak, breathless, pale – even the hair on my head was fragile and easily broken. Yoga became an important part of my healing, thanks to an amazing teacher at my gym. Unlike other classes there that left me so discouraged and sad about what I couldn’t do well (or at all), Cheri created an atmosphere of acceptance and calm. It was all about accepting yourself where you were at, just at that minute, and moving on from there. Cheri’s gentle guidance helped me reconnect with my body in a positive way, and I got healthier.
Fast-forward to a weekday morning about a month ago. I am working overtime trying to get my three-year-old out the door for daycare drop-off, and it’s been one of those mornings with a battle at every turn. It sounded a lot like this bit from Louis C.K. (content warning for sensitive ears). Anyhoo, I was finally in the home stretch of this exhausting exercise, using my last bit of stamina getting my little ball of anger into her car seat. She insisted on not putting on her coat before leaving the house – fine, I chose my battle, warned her about the cold, and moved on. But then, she turned on me as I attempted to buckle her into her car seat, without putting her coat on first. Which I had no idea she actually did want me to do, but only after we were out of the house but still the garage. My lips pursed. My eyes closed tightly. I hung my head and considered grunting “Arrrrrrgggggghhhh!” Or just grabbing her wrist and yelling. “SHUT. UP. NOW. CAR SEAT. NO COAT.”
Instead, I heard Cheri’s voice: “Calm your face.” This was a common phrase in her class, spoken as encouragement while we were either holding a pose for several breaths, or straining to try a new one for the first time. When you relaxed your face, somehow the poses magically got a little bit easier. Releasing your jaw muscles, erasing the grimace, you could tap into a new reserve of energy and even enjoy yourself a little bit more while still doing hard work.
All this came back to me in a rush, and I did what she said. I calmed my face, relaxed my body and looked my kid in the eye. With that, the tantrum spell was broken for both of us. It wasn’t quite as refreshing as savasana at the end of yoga class, but it instantly helped me reset the day.
How do you keep yourself from getting sucked into temper tantrums or arguments with your kids?