The day was long and whiny and teary. I had run out of good steam. Yet I sensed that there was enough bad steam left to suddenly blow. my. top. The situation was completely absurd, as situations with small children usually are. So absurd that I can’t even remember what I was trying to do or referee or what. I just suddenly had nothin’–save a temper about to erupt.
And then I actually laughed. Was I really about to go into Freak Out mode over somebody wanting to change her shirt for the third time that day and somebody else crying because the baby accidentally knocked over his block tower?
No, I was not.
I physically placed each child in a separate room with a special toy, made myself a big glass of iced coffee, and sat down to pray for a few minutes. Then, I texted Michael to ask about ordering takeout for dinner (he was thrilled. I didn’t read into it). Then, I went and got the kids out of their rooms, and we all had bowls of ice cream. After that, I put on a Tinkerbell movie for the kids and cleaned the kitchen. We went out to Chick-fil-a for dinner and had great evening. True story.:)
When you got nothin’, sometimes the best thing you can do is give yourself some space.
Here are five oh-so-practical ideas that can be used in combination (see above) or just one at a time, depending on how completely absurd the situation is or how completely empty you are at the moment.
– 1 –
There are so many situations with kids that are legitimately stressful or hard to deal with, but at the same time are completely absurd. Sometimes laughing at how silly something is gives us enough perspective to keep our cool.
– 2 –
Make yourself a cup of coffee.
There is something about a fresh cup of hot coffee (or my favorite, iced coffee) that gives me a sense of well-being. Even if you end up having to stick it back in the microwave six times before you finish it.
– 3 –
Put all of the children in separate rooms (if possible).
Sometimes kids are grumpy too. Sometimes little siblings who constantly interrupt play, or big siblings who constantly pick on you, are hard things to deal with too. Eliminate the possibility for conflict, for a few minutes at least, by an enforced Quiet Time apart. Let each child pick a special toy to play with, or a favorite book. And if they fuss for a minute (oh, the injustice!), don’t sweat it too much. Even my 18-month-old is not scarred for life for having been put in her crib for a few minutes. In fact, pretty much every time she’s ever been put into quiet time, it’s like a switch is flipped and she’s a love again when we go to get her out.
– 4 –
Sometimes you just gotta order takeout. Clean the kitchen in the afternoon, use paper plates, put the kids to bed later and–bam–you’re off duty and ready for a movie with your spouse. Besides, my husband is pretty much always thrilled to get takeout. Like I said, I try not to read into it. 🙂
– 5 –
There’s something about ice cream…
Surprise can be a great way to change an icky mood. Give everyone ice cream or a special treat out of the blue and watch everyone’s spirits lift. Children are so quick to move on from ickiness–a lot of times it’s their parents whose brooding kind of drags it on. So make yourself a bowl too.:)
– 6 –
Bonus! Turn on a movie.
Nobody wants to say this one. There is this unspoken Mommy Guilt rule that turning on the TV is a cop out. But you know what, my good sister? Sometimes a little TV is a God-send. Everybody calms down. Peace and quiet are restored for a few minutes. There is space for recollection. Don’t let anybody guilt trip you out of letting it be a useful tool up your sleeve for when you really need it. Besides, what mother doesn’t secretly pick up tips on parenting from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?!