If Malcolm Gladwell was right and we need 10,000 hours to get really good at something, I should be a freaking awesome mother by now.
I’ve got more than 100,000 hours of parenting under my belt but I’ve gotta tell you — most days I pretty much still suck at it. Oh, sure, there are times when I’m convinced I’m raising astonishing creative geniuses who are going to rock the world. But there are also days when I worry nine more years isn’t enough time to get someone ready for the world when they still refuse to wear underwear.
I do know this, though. There are a few things I do to ward off being frazzled before it starts…or at least to give myself a little pause before I totally lose control. They don’t always work, and I don’t always remember to do them. But when I do, the day goes a lot better.
(sidenote: Don’t you love this notebook? I used these printables from The Handmade Home and had them bound at a local copy store. It makes me so happy to look at. I might add, “Get yourself a happy little notebook” as Point #6 on this list.)
5 Tips for Frazzled Parents
1.) Say “please” and “thank you” to your kids and spouse. I’m polite to so many people I don’t know well. Complete strangers, even. But the people I’m closest to tend to be the ones I drop the formalities and politeness with. And really, most of us just want to be appreciated. The minute you start showing them appreciation, they show it right back. It’s almost too easy.
2.) Play classical music. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why it works. Maybe there’s an official study somewhere that explains the calming effects of classical music. All I know is that when I put it on, the mood around here mellows and the yelling dies down and we all feel better. Even if it doesn’t work on the kids, it will probably make you feel better. And it makes you smarter, so there’s that.
3.) Take a minute. Literally, just one minute. Breathe deeply, or meditate, or pray, or just sit with your eyes closed for a bit. Sometimes that’s all it takes, to get yourself out of the situation for a minute and diffuse a little.
4.) Get out! Again, can’t explain it, but getting outdoors — that combination of fresh air and a little exercise (even at a little kid pace!) can just lower tensions. If there’s another adult there, go for a walk on your own. If not, bundle up the kids and take them with you. They may fight it, but usually a few feet in they’re finding bugs and birds and suddenly everything is looking up. A change of scenery can mean everything.
5.) Have time to decompress. We have quiet time. My youngest is five, and after lunch each day we read books and then have quiet time. But my oldest is thirteen and during summers or weekends, we still have quiet time. He can read, or do something to chill (no electronics because though they’re fun, they’re not really relaxing). I do it because I think the kids need to decompress, but even if they didn’t — I do. I really, really do.
So. These are things I do to stop myself when I’m beginning to get worked up. But I think the real key is to set yourself up so that you’re not getting worked up in the first place. I’m reading “Happy You, Happy Family,” by Kelly Holmes right now. It’s an ebook for parents to help them find happiness in the chaos of parenting life. Like a personal trainer but for happiness. She uses a mix of personal stories and scientific research to help you put the right habits into place to be a happier parent.
You can buy it here — it’s an easy read but a good one, full of practical tips to becoming a happier person and a happier parent in the process.
How about you? What do you do to calm things down when they get crazy?
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