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It happened again this morning getting the kids ready for school. While I accept some of the blame, Hubby needs to shoulder this one too.
I woke up happy, looking forward to having a productive day and a morning coffee at my local. I knew I had probably slept in a little too long.
At this point my mood starts to shift a little…..
‘I’m putting myself under time pressure here & it’s going to be a busy day…. Never mind, get up and get moving, the sun is almost shining.’
My 8 month old is happily gurgling in her cot so I leave her and head for the boys room to pull their uniforms out (normally one of us would do it the night before, but I worked over a 10 hour day yesterday and was logged onto a webinar at 8pm so I just didn’t.)
Back to their bedrooms, no clean uniforms here. They must be hanging on the line downstairs…..nope. The clouds are coming and they are getting darker by the second and I don’t mean out the window.
Yesterday Hubby was home with our 8 month old Lily and I had asked him one thing; please do the boys washing.
So at this point because I’ve woken up late, Lily is starting to grizzle for breakfast which I can’t do at this moment because I am dashing around the house like a mad woman looking for uniforms. Playing on my mind is my ‘To Do’ list today. The boys are downstairs not fed (normally they get their own breakfast but haven’t bothered yet for some reason), they are not dressed, I am not dressed and I’m starting to feel the hours I didn’t sleep last night due to our 5 year old coughing all bloody night long.
I can feel my rage coming.
And boom – there it is.
‘Why haven’t you had Breakfast?!!!’ I bark down the stairs.
I’m not angry at my kids, I’m angry at Hubby for not doing the kids washing which has now (combined with the other factors) put me under pressure. But instead of directing it at Hubby, It all goes to the boys.
‘Come up here and get dressed please!’
In a quieter voice to myself but also to anyone around I mutter ‘Even though there is nothing for you to wear.’
Martyrdom is my lowest point but inevitable. It feels so good in the moment but is instantly followed by regret. I’m consciously telling myself to stop talking and to breathe but it comes out anyway in its bitter, poor me pitch:
‘I have to do everything around here.’
‘Well, you’re just going to have to go to school wearing your uniform from yesterday.’ Hrrumph
Yes, I pulled out pants with dirt on them from their washing baskets, wiped them down with a cloth, did the sniff test and made my children put them on. Not a particularly proud moment but it was a situation must.
‘Now, get downstairs and get your breakfast’.
Next thing I know, my kids have gone from joyfully playing ghostbusters and laughing to snapping at each other and fighting – adding more stress to the situation. I’m half way through almost shouting at one of them to be quiet (funny how I use a loud voice to ask them to lower theirs!) and stop being rude to his brother when I recognise it.
That shrill pitch.
That whiney rise at the end of the sentence.
The frown in the middle of the forehead.
Only the wagging finger is missing.
The boys behaviour is unconsciously mimicking my own stressed, anxious and irritated demeanour. And like me, they are taking their newly moulded mood out on each other.
But I have been here before, I’ve played this negative type of ‘Simon Says’ and thankfully I can feel when I’m in the game.
I withdraw from the room, take a deep breath and think of our recent family outing on Sunday. My 8 year old was trying to keep Lily happy by giving her lessons on ‘How to stay calm and relaxed’. He was using his stretchy Scooby Doo to show her relaxation poses and how to breathe to ‘centre all your good thoughts‘. (I don’t know where he learned this, he said he just made it up – go figure).
I smiled at the thought, collected myself and went back into the kitchen.
‘I’m sorry boys. I shouldn’t have been so grumpy this morning and I must remember not to take out my frustrations on you.’
‘That’s ok Mummy. We love you!’ Said my youngest.
My heart melted and I won’t lie, I felt some real Mummy guilt in that moment – how could I have been so horrible to those lovely boys?!
In my experience, kids behaviour is learned. They mimic their environment, how it feels, what others do in it. They copy phrases, actions, facial expressions.
So if I don’t like what I see, then:
I need to assess my mood and attitude.
Less yelling and more control.
I need to redirect my negativity (Hubby had a strongly worded email land in his inbox not long after!).
I need to be conscious that I’m modelling what is acceptable behaviour, what communication, love, respect & dignity towards other people looks like.
I am teaching them how to have relationships.
A HUUGE (said like Donald Trump) responsibility but I can’t pretend I didn’t sign up for it when I chose to have kids.
We can’t get it right all the time and I do believe its necessary for kids to see the whole spectrum of moods and behaviour.
But they also need to see Mum & Dad have the courage to say sorry, to admit that even adults can get it wrong. That it’s ok to feel this way but there are better ways to manage anger, hurt, frustration, fear.
In the car at school drop off, my 8 year old said to me:
“Mummy, if you feel frustrated again, just STOP. Take 5 deep breaths and try thinking of something nice, ok?’.
I am reminded that children have a capacity for maturity that can teach us grumpy adults a thing or two. And that their rock star behaviour is also a reflection of the good job we do as parents, even if sometimes I feel like I’m failing!
oxo Jaimee Sarah
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