What You’ll Find Inside: When it comes to parenting, we all have days that just seem to crumble before our eyes. If your interactions with your kids are feeling a little mindless and angry lately, you’re not alone. Download your FREE Cheat Sheet for Mindless Parenting Days.
I woke up still feeling tired. I was coming down with a cold, and I’d spent all morning trying to get my 4-month-old baby to nap….. unsuccessfully. I was dragging my feet on this morning, not that that was a change from any other morning since our fourth had been born, but this morning seemed worse. I was a zombie in a mother’s body.
The whole time I was trying to get him to sleep, I was thinking of what I had planned for my homeschool Morning Time and how that dream was slowly fading into wispy thin air.
I could hear screaming downstairs from my two girls and little did I know I would come down to an even more disastrous playroom than I could ever have imagined.
Our Morning Time didn’t happen. In fact, the chaos of the morning just tumbled into lunchtime. I was angry and impatient (and maybe I yelled) the entire morning. It was not a pretty sight.
I should stop right there to give you an ounce of background on me: When I’m exhausted and have a plan for the day, the recovering (relapsing) perfectionist in me has a hard time letting go of that plan.
I tear through the house like a big black tornado, picking up everything in my path and rolling it into my dark funnel cloud. That might be toys, it might be clothes, or it might be my precious little children that rarely, if ever, deserve my fury.
Do you ever have one of those days (or even weeks) where everything seems to crumble, one thing after another (at an alarming pace) and you‘re not very adept at handling it? By ‘not very adept’ I mean about as mature as a 6-year-old.
I have one of these days or weeks every so often.
Bonus: Download a free cheat sheet – 5 Quick Fixes for Mindless Parenting Days as an added bonus of joining my weekly newsletter.
Mindful Parenting is One of My Top Priorities
Sometimes though, as in my opening story, I parent a lot less mindfully than I would like. Actually, many times I would call it mindless parenting. It’s like being on autopilot.
I’m gonna be honest here, occasionally, I am downright embarrassed about my behaviour. I have a lot of ‘shoulds’ in my head about the parent I want to be and I find it hard to live up to that ideal mom in my head.
The Landslide: Mindless Parenting in Full Swing
Back to my day, lunch wasn’t much better. Although everything happening was normal, I wasn’t handling any of it like normal. No one was sitting in their seats, no one was interested in lunch.
Then came nap time for Tigress. It started out ok but about 10 minutes in, she screamed that she was “all done her nap.” Thankfully she was still in a crib otherwise she’d never even nap. So I tried to stay calm and offer books to read but that was good for about another 10 minutes.
As a side note:The after-lunch-nap time for Tigress = school time for Miss H. It’s when we get the serious stuff done. So it‘s crucial that Tigress‘ nap happens.
Of all days, today Miss H was not interested in school either. It was really a lost cause at this point but I wasn’t ready to give up. I still hadn‘t admitted to myself that maybe I needed to fold my cards for the day and change the pace. I was holding on to my anger that the school day wasn’t happening the way I had envisioned it.
After more screaming from Tigress, I went up to find a picture frame off the wall and broken on the floor. All the books I gave her were on the floor as well and she‘d strewn anything she could reach from her crib, around the room. I felt like I was ready to explode.
By this point Baby Boy was also screaming; he needed a nap and I’m sure he sensed my stress. There were toys everywhere. No school was happening, nobody was listening, nobody was eating, nobody was napping.
Finally, I exploded.
I lost my temper, and I yelled at the girls. A lot. The kind of yelling that as the words are coming out of your mouth, you‘re regretting them.
We don’t name-call, shame or belittle, but I know that yelling is just as hurtful even when using phrases like “When you do (this), I feel so (frustrated)”. It was respectful yelling (if there is such a thing) but still not nice. Yelling hurts and I know better.
It was not pretty and not mature. It was definitely not mindful.
This was pure mindless parenting.
I put both Baby Boy and Tigress in their cribs screaming and I let them scream while I tried to cool down. Not overly successful, but I needed to take a breather. I was angry, overheated, and ready to freak out- and I totally did!!!
I grabbed 3 huge green garbage bags and gutted the playroom. Everything went in and it all went to the garage – all the while I was spewing comments to Miss H such as “you don’t care about any of the toys or books or anything in the playroom so let’s get rid of them!”
I thought doing that would make me feel better. It was only a marginal improvement. And ok, maybe it was a bit blamey/shamey as well:-(
The worst part is, my response was not related AT ALL to what was making me angry, it was just one big huffy act that was being done to make me feel better, not teach.
But I digress, back to the day.
By this point, it was almost dinnertime and we were planning hamburgers on the BBQ. I needed a BBQ lighter. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find one.
Baskets went flying, everything on the top of the fridge flew onto the floor…. I turned three camping bins in our front breezeway upside down. I went crazy mad.
The wooden birdhouse and the gingerbread village leftover from Christmas were casualties of the chaos… they went flying across the breezeway.
Yes, I was totally throwing them – they weren’t just knocked over. I chucked them. I have to say it felt good at the moment…. but remember that 6-year-old tantrum I mentioned earlier? This was totally that moment. Still no flipping lighter.
Finally, I found matches but then discovered we were out of propane! This was all too much.
I wanted to run. All the way to the other side of the world.
I had already shooed the two little girls outside to play and my oldest daughter was inside trying to keep hidden. I didn’t run. Not very far anyway. Just to the furthest corner of our yard to breathe in the snowy air. It felt better. I let tears stream down my face as I sobbed and felt sorry for myself. I felt much better letting it all out but then really crappy for all the damage I’d done to the little hearts of my children.
Being 4 months postpartum with 4 kids definitely contributed to it all, but I was missing the signs of what I needed to handle the day.
We ate dinner as a family (hubby was home by then). I apologized for being immature and handling my anger poorly. We talked about how even adults have those moments of crazy overwhelm but most of the time we hold it together. Sometimes we don’t. They forgave me (thank goodness!)
What I had Needed: 5 Quick Fixes for Mindless Parenting Days
After all was said and done, I reflected on what I could‘ve done differently and I wanted to share:
- I should have just corralled them outside at 9 am and taken a walk. Nature heals our bodies, minds, souls and hearts. We got out the following day and it was a good reminder of how stressful cabin fever can be when it’s too cold to go outside for days on end.
- It reminded me to not take my ‘plan’ for the day too seriously.
- If the day goes downhill, I can grab books, make tea and cozy up on the couch if it‘s too cold to get outside.
- Your sanity is more important than the nap. When the act of putting my little ones for a nap becomes stressful on a particular day, I can call it off and switch up my routine! Surprise the kids with a trip to the park.
- I can take out the sensory play stuff such as play dough, warm soapy water with scoops and sieves, dried beans, water beads (even the bigger kids can find calm in sensory play) and just walk away. The mess later is usually always worth the few minutes of peace.
Here's a preview of the cheat sheet you'll get - just print it off, post it on your fridge, in your playroom or anywhere that you'll notice it in a moment of chaos.
Bringing Yourself Back to Mindful Parenting
In these crazy moments, it’s so important for you to re-center yourself.
If possible, sneak off to another room for a few minutes and take a breather. Perhaps baby can sit in a swing or jumper and watch their older siblings create or play. If you know this scenario will cause you more stress, turn on a kid’s show and let them watch, shamelessly. For hours if you need it at that moment.
Make yourself a tea, meditate or pray if that’s for you – but definitely close your eyes and take a few deep breaths by yourself. Even if your only moment alone is in the bathroom. Connect with yourself. Look in the mirror at your reflection and say a gentle affirmation such as: “This is a lot, but I can do this. I‘m doing the best I can right now.”
If you are feeling on the edge and/or you have a crying baby who you feel needs to be with you even on your trip to the bathroom, call in reinforcements if you can. A friend, family member or neighbour. If there is anyone you can call to relieve you of parenting for even 15 minutes, it will feel like such a huge relief.
If you have a baby that needs you, go have quiet time with them for a few minutes – often that’s what they really need anyway. >> Baby carriers like the Baby K’tan or wrap can save you in these moments. I wouldn‘t have been able to cook dinner for the first 5 months of Baby Boy‘s life had it not been for the Baby K’Tan.
Don’t forget, get some sleep!
I read somewhere that if you want to take a nap without your kids to bugging you, tell them this: “as soon as I wake up from my nap, we’re all going to do chores/clean playroom/turn the TV off”… and watch them never wake you up. This obviously only works with older kids who you can trust to play independently and not flush random things, cut their sister’s hair or paint the walls.
A Final Note
As moms, we all experience moments of extreme stress but if you are in serious distress and fear for your or your children’s safety because of your emotional state, please get help NOW!
Ask your partner to come home from work if possible. If you’re a single parent or can’t call your partner, call a friend, parent, neighbour, someone in your church or another group who would understand….just please connect with somebody if you’re worried about safety. We all need help.
What About You?
Do you ever have days like this? How do you switch from mindless parenting back to being more mindful?