Typically I am the calm mum, that mum who people comment and say “You’re so good with them, you’re so relaxed” but lately I feel like I have been shouting more than I’d like with my boys. I am NOT a shouty person, I despise fighting and raised voices, and I don’t know why for some reason my voice has been a decibel louder than I’d like with them recently. I realized however, I’m fighting the system. I’m normally an advocate for “don’t sweat the small stuff” and I guess I haven’t been taking my own advice.
Today was the last straw, I was functioning on 3 hours sleep (the boys woke up when we got up to eat our Sehri – Breakfast before the sun comes up in the month of Ramadan), and they didn’t go back to sleep. Which meant I didn’t go back to sleep. Which meant grumpy mummy. Naturally. My youngest (recently 3) doesn’t need to sleep as much as my eldest does (he’s 4), and tends to fight his sleep till the last second. 80 percent of the time after a day at playschool, they can fall asleep in the car on the way home. For Yusuf this is the only way he naps in the day, apart from being tied on your back. I digress, Aadam (4), fell asleep within minutes of fetching him and of course Yusuf didn’t. He fought, and fought, and double blinked his cute little eyelids as much as he could. I kept my patience and drove a little longer, one more time around the block. He started to moan that he wanted to go home, I said “sleep baby its ok”, and took another turn. I shouldn’t have done that. He saw the house gate and all hell broke loose with crying. I tried to calm him in a hushed tone telling him we would go home now, and not to cry as he would wake his brother. He screamed louder. He woke his brother. He also woke the VERY GRUMPY mummy in me.
I shouted so much at my poor little guy, for simply not wanting to nap, and I caught myself. Never again. I will not waste my time, or petrol, trying to force him to sleep if he doesn’t want to. Bed time may even be easier? Let’s see how we go… For all of that long story there is a point to my writing. I need to take some of my own advice on going back to calm parenting.
Parenting doesn’t come with instructions. We don’t know if we are doing it right. We struggle to understand their choices and personality traits. We struggle to understand why they don’t just do things when we tell them too (duh… kids aren’t robots), we struggle to understand why they don’t want to sleep (maybe because life is just so exciting?). We struggle.
So after all of that, here are my tips on calm parenting, which i feel NORMALLY contribute to general overall happiness and which I need to remember just a little.
Easy right? You didn’t need to see that in writing. Sometimes though you do. Take a deep breath, ask yourself is this life changing? Is this going to contribute to my child being a better person or having good manners? Will they turn into a tyrant by not napping? (Reality check for me, kids grow up, they will stop napping eventually). Our children feel everything and notice everything, even if they don’t tell us. Our moods affect them, just as their moods affect ours. If I am on edge or grumpy, guess what, they will act up. Once you let go of expectations, the whole house is more relaxed and is happier. Try it!
2. Enjoy your children, have FUN with them!
I’ve spoken about this before in a previous article, on living my life through the eyes of my children. On seeing the joy in everything. Anything is possible with the start of a new day. We get so wrapped up in our work, our errands, and our life. STOP! Make the time, trust me it’s there. Your kids don’t want a SUPERMOM, they want a PRESENT MOM. Let go of the small things, the dirty dishes in the sink, the spill on the floor (I hope my husband is not reading this 🙂 ). Enjoy your children, they grow up so so quickly. Live in the moment and PLAY. My son was dancing around and singing this afternoon, acting like he was on Broadway with a scarf around his neck. “DANCE WITH ME MAMA” he sang. My automatic reaction was “mummy has to go back to work”, and he asked again “LETS DANCE, COME”. I stopped and we danced. Swinging him around the room and seeing his beautiful smile lightened up my heart and soul. It didn’t even take 5 minutes. These are the moments that count. These are the moments that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
3. Shouting Doesn’t work
In case you didn’t pick that up from my introductory paragraph. YUP, all they hear is noise. It scares them. They don’t understand the message. They become immune to the screams and you just have to shout louder. This takes some conditioning, its natural. When you feel yourself about to lose it, I’ve learnt to literally step back. Close your eyes and take the deepest breathe possible. Breathe out. Explain why you are mad. If I speak to my boys in a calm, firm voice, it actually scares them more than shouting! They know mama means business!
4. Always be open to learning
This parenting thing is an endless learning curve, whether you have a new-born, toddlers or even when your kids are at university. Different chapters, different personality changes, it never stops. Move with them. Don’t forget it is OK to say No to your children, you are a parent first and foremost. You are there to SHOW them right from wrong and to guide them. Grow with your children, get involved in their interests, and push your boundaries. Explore. DONT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. ENJOY YOUR CHILDREN
Life is stressful. Being a mom can bring out the worst in us. When life feels overwhelming, we often want to control everything we can. Remember we are raising little humans, NOT robots. They will not conform to your every expectation. A relaxed mom has a better relationship with her kids. A relaxed mom is healthier, and happier… and her kids are too.
So now I’m going to take a “whoooo-saaa” moment, take a deep breath and be a better mama tomorrow.