I am a sucker for all of the cliche quotes floating around Facebook and Instagram about calm parenting. You’ve probably seen some of them, like: “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.” I could go on with so many of these quotes that inspire me to be the mom my children need. (Of course, not the mom I always am). 😉
While these quotes can feel like cliches and can maybe seem a bit overused, there is so much truth packed into those statements. I don’t want my kids remembering me as a frazzled, impatient, crazy lady who can’t seem to keep her cool. I don’t want them wondering, “Am I going to get nice mommy, or grumpy mommy?” Basically, I want to have their trust, and to be a safe person in their lives.
I want them to know they will be loved, no matter what.
BUT, that isn’t always easy to model and put into action, consistently at least. Are you in a difficult phase right now with one or more of your children? The last few weeks, one of my littles has tested every ounce of my patience. Some of his go-to behaviors we’ve seen recently: high-pitched screaming in the middle of a restaurant or grocery store, tantrums that go on for 20 minutes, hitting/scratching his sibling, kicking us in the stomach during diaper changes (Lawd help me) and overall just testing any boundary we put in place.
I have been anything but calm, the last few days in particular. I yelled yesterday, when generally I’m not a yeller. I actually was so frustrated with what felt like constant whining and crying yesterday, that I went in my room (into my closet actually) away from my kids, and stomped my feet. Full disclosure: Totally stomped my feet with all the frustrated energy I had. Literally, who does that? I’m telling you, I felt done this week. I didn’t feel like myself, the way I typically like to handle things. But I was tired, and at the end of my rope. Ever been there? ;
It was so frustrating as a mother — I felt like I wasn’t able to understand my little guy and what his needs were. My first thoughts were:
- Does his schedule need tweaking?
- Is he overtired?
- Are his teeth bothering him?
- Is he ravenously hungry?
All of those things checked off just fine and normal on my list; it’s just been a difficult few weeks of navigating through whatever is going on with him.
I can’t see it now; maybe it’s a growth spurt, or frustration with not being able to explain what’s bothering him. I’m not sure, but what I do know to be true is this: It’s my job as his mother to remain calm. Am I going to do this perfectly each day I wake up? Nope. But that’s the beauty of being a parent. Our kids (if they feel safe with us) will forgive us if we take responsibility each time we mess up — if we show them we are humble enough to own up to our mistakes.
My littlest isn’t quite yet 2, but I still said I was sorry to him the other day when I became frustrated. I knew I had messed up the moment I showed him that I couldn’t handle his emotions/behavior. I remember saying, “I’m sorry I was so frustrated with you earlier and that I yelled. Do you want a hug?” And followed up with, “Do you want to read books with me?” Of course he said yes, and that was all he really needed — my full attention, and my calm.
It’s easy for me to be calm with my kids when they’re being uncomplicated. But the moment there are some difficult or intensified emotions they’re working through, I know I need to take some deep breaths and practice maintaining a calm spirit. I know I need to empathize and see things from their world. I know I need to set limits with love and care. “I know you wanted that toy, but right now it’s brother’s turn to play with it. You can have a turn after he’s done.” It’s sometimes that simple. “I know you’re upset because want to have milk, but right now we’re going to have water.” Calm, even-keeled, genuine empathy for their situation, while still setting limits and not giving in when they really need us to hold a boundary for them.
My favorite illustration that my favorite parenting author (Janet Lansbury) uses in dealing with difficult situations with our children is to imagine as though you’re wearing a superhero cape. A real Superhero shows up to defend and save the protagonist. A real Superhero works to stay calm in a chaotic situation. A real Superhero is a mother who is committed to loving her child through a difficult season, while working to maintain a calm, unruffled spirit. It’s hard to do, but worth getting ourselves the proper tools we need to keep our calm with our kids.
Thanks for reading, Superhero Moms! We are all in this together! What are some tools that help you to remain a Calm Mama?