I’ve been there; exhaustion – at 2 pm, and lots more day to go: hungry children, needing food: dishes needing to be cleaned: laundry piled up: work to be done: stories needing to be read. Kids screaming, crying and fighting due to a combination of hunger, and the need to go outside or release their wiggles. I know that place well. The dark world that can be a sea of emotions bubbling up inside. With a mile high list of to do’s and kids behaving like kids. These are the most intense moments in my house - the moments where I feel overwhelmed and in serious need of help…or a nap, or wine, or a beer…or something that takes the edge off…but you know what I’ve realized time and time again? That this is the time when my children need me to be the calmest, because these moments create patterns. These moments create habits, and most importantly these moments of emotions, and crazy, and needs reverberate through my house for weeks and months at a time.
Now, I am by no means perfect. I have days of stress, where I am snappier than normal, and am dry or short, but these things are always apologized for: and with me taking responsibility for my feelings, and the reactions for my feelings – I am human after all, but the work that I’ve done over the last few years to release my old patterns and hurts, has created a magic in my life, for which I am eternally grateful. I have learned to see my children and myself in a way that helps me feel connected to them always, and also helps me to understand them. This week, I want to share with you, the 5 realizations that helped me turn our life around. These are things that took years to understand, that I want to share with you today.
1) Most over reactions came from me and my expectations of who they should be, and how they should behave.
Expectations are harmful for them and for ourselves, because we are projecting onto them what WE think they should be or who they should be. This does not serve us, and leaves us expecting them to be someone what they are not: always measuring them, by our rulers, and not by their own: it does a great disservice to them as people. For instance, it is, unreasonable to expect a 2 year old, to not touch a new item on a table. The nature of a two year old is one of curiosity and exploration. If you don’t want your two year old to touch something that is on the table, simply don’t put it within their reach. Hitting a two year old or yelling at them for something like this is harmful to them as people because it makes them feel bad for something that is an innate to their nature. It creates a pattern of misunderstanding, lack of communication, and trust. Often when we are having a continuous problem to something that our children are doing the best place to look is within ourselves, and examine our expectations.
2) Hurt that is not dealt with, or handled, becomes a crutch for negative behavior.
It’s hard to stop behaving in a way that we don’t like when we are not dealing with the things that are bothering us in life. By not dealing with situations that may be uncomfortable, or seem difficult, we push the hurt feelings deep within us, and hide them, sometimes using different coping methods, to deal with the hurt feelings. The problem is that, somewhere within our psyche we are still aware that we are unhappy or hurt, and as we become aware of the negativity, and the feelings begin to pour over into out daily lives affecting our children. Some of us have the ability to not lash out when our lives seem out of control, but often it’s hard to deal with everyday tasks when we feel hurt in different ways.
3) Most of the times that I was angry and hit or yelled, it was because I was not taking care of myself.
I realized somewhere along the way that when I was tired, hungry, needed sleep or a moment to myself, I became the most moody and angry. It’s not possible to not take care of one self and take care of someone else, and feel great at the same time. When we do this, feelings like hurt or resentment, creep in. Sometime, it’s martyrdom. I know when I begin to feel resentment while cooking or cleaning, that it’s time to take a mommy break. In order for us to properly take care of our children, we must first take great care of ourselves. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, its loving yourself. And. Necessary your health.
4) They are human beings, and come with a deep sense of who they are - their needs, and what serves them.
This may seem like an oxymoron, at first, but it is a fact that we seem to forget. This may become apparent in the way that we handle an uncomfortable situation(s) with our children. For instance: one of my twins has always been what can be normally be considered “picky.” He’s been like this since the moment that he was born. When he was a newborn, he developed nipple confusion, between breast and bottle, and for a long time, I thought that there was something wrong with me, and what I was doing. I tried everything that I could think of: expensive bottles, nipples, binkies, nursing weekends (where I would nurse exclusively for days on end) no bottles or binkies, and giving him more solid foods. Nothing seemed to work. After about 7 months of age, he was eating regular mashed food because it was the only thing that he would eat…flash forward to now. I’ve come to realize that he is a determined and consistent person – he likes routine and order. He thrives on this. My switching from breast to bottle, was wreaking havoc on him. He was born with this trait and I understood it in the long run. It’s part of his personality, and a part of who he is. Realizing that he is a human being with a personality and a sense of who he is, has allowed me the freedom to give him his freedom, and nurture his trust in himself (he and all my other kids, as well).
5) I teach them how to behave with each other and how to react to their feelings, with the way that I treat them, and behave with them.
The saying kids will always do what you do and not what you say is true – they do. I have learned that if I want my children to do something or behave in a certain way, I have to start first with me, because if not, the changes that I want to make through them are not real, and won’t stick. In order to change a behavior, I have to stop creating it myself, also true if I want to start a behavior or trend in my home, i.e., modeling what I want vs what I don't like. These changes last, and have a positive effect on all of us.
Remembering these 5 things has changed the way that I live my life with my children. They remind me to learn to understand them, as much as possible, as well as to take care of myself, and my thoughts so that I can get the best of any situation of difficult moment with them.
I would love to hear what you think, in the comments below, or if you have had any tips or realizations over the years you would like to share.
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