Monday, August 20, 2012

On the days that are frustrating...

Andrew, 3 years. Photo taken by Kelly Cantu of Serendipity Moments.

I have been blessed with a busy, chatty, smart little three year old. He's 100% all boy. His current interest are dinosaurs and sharks, guns, riding in daddy's truck and snakes. He loves monster trucks, trains and race cars (NASCAR).

I love him more than almost anything on this earth.

But sometimes.....sometimes he makes me want to pull my hair out. (If he hasn't already pulled it out himself.)

When things are frustrating and stressful it's hard to remember to be patient, gentle and compassionate. There are tears, tantrums, spills, messes, fatigue....you anxiously watch the clock for bedtime or nap time (whichever is coming first), you try hard to distract yourself and your child from whatever is causing the stress and frustration. And then, at the end of the day you tuck your child into bed and you sit there and pray, pray, pray that bedtime will go smoothly. And usually it doesn't. You find yourself wanting to yell, scream and run away.

Andrew, in the midst of a meltdown when we visited the USS Lexington.
How do you gather yourself after days like this? How do you rise above the situation and continue to be the parent you know you should be, the one you want to be?

Here are a few ideas and resources I've used over the past few months in dealing with Andrew.

1. Pray. I'm a believer in a powerful God. I believe He gave Andrew to Philip and I as a blessing and we've been entrusted with his soul, his life and we have to remember that. So I pray for guidance and peace. I pray for more patience. I pray for wisdom. I pray for mercy as I make mistakes. I pray for comfort. Just a quick prayer of "God, please help me be a good mother." is sometimes the reminder I need to get my head back in the game, return my focus to where it needs to be. I believe God gives these things in abundance, wisdom, comfort, guidance, peace....and I feel better every time I talk to Him.

2. Talk. Hopefully as a parent you've been able to surround yourself with like-minded and supportive parents. Not only am I blessed with a supportive husband, I'm blessed with a few different online groups, as well as a few local friends. I have friends I can text and who can sympathize with me, make me laugh or remind me that it's "just a phase". I have friends willing to share resources and articles so I can grow from these experiences. I have friends willing to share their worst days and experiences and make me realize I am not alone. They are there if I need to cry, vent or pout. And they provide that extra strength I need so many times.

3. Do something to get your mind off the event(s) that led you to this point of frustration. Sew. Bake. Call a friend. Work on a scrapbook. Exercise. Read a book. Make a cup of tea or coffee and just sit down and enjoy it. Clean. Have sex with your spouse. Watch a movie. Play Angry Birds or Words With Friends. Take a long, hot shower or bath. We all have different ways to release frustration. Some are better than others and serve us well. Find something that is a positive frustration release for you and your family. Even if you just get a ten minute break to do that thing you love, find those ten minutes.

4. Forgive yourself. You aren't a bad parent. Your child isn't a bad child. You are both just dealing with a rotten situation and it's gotten the best of you both. Unfortunately life does that sometimes. Take a breathe and forgive yourself, don't beat yourself up.

5. Plan for next time. After you've forgiven yourself, plan for how you will handle this situation *when* it arises again. What will you do to keep yourself from losing your cool? What will you do to help your child focus through stress? How will you handle another bad day? Being proactive and recognizing what went wrong this time and making a plan for how to handle it better next time gives me a lot of peace of mind when dealing with my son. Just because I reacted badly in one situation doesn't mean I have to react badly again.

6. Be Thankful. Tonight as I was winding down (um, attempting to wind down) with my son, several friend on FB started posting prayer requests for two college boys who had gone missing during a storm tonight off the coast of Florida. They had not been seen or heard from since around 5:30pm. It was now close to 10:30pm EST and the Coast Guard had already been called out. As people began to pray for these boys, I was laying in bed with my son begging him to fall asleep. To please, please fall asleep. I was lamenting to my husband that I was stressed out and emotional. Then I happened to see one of the posts about the missing boys, including an e-mail from one of the parents. It put things in perspective almost instantly. I was able to take a deep breathe and thank God for the kicking child beside me. Shortly after he fell asleep. And as I'm finishing up this post, I'm happy to report the boys have been found! You don't have to imagine something awful that has happened to another child to be thankful for your own....you just have to remember to be thankful for the child you have been given.

Frustrating days happen. They are scary and irritating and hard and awful. But they are a part of parenthood. They are a part of life! You have control over your ability to take a frustrating day and make some good out of it. You have that choice.

Your child learns from your reactions as well. Taking a hard day and turning it into something beautiful will be one of the most powerful lessons your child learns. Just breathe, take it one day at a time (one minute at a time if needed) and get through the day.

Remember the times your child makes you laugh!


What do you do to help combat a frustrating day with your child(ren)? How do you cope?

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