Calming Down (for ourselves & our kids)

I’ve been the only adult at home with my two month old and my two year old for the last 4 days. Things have been going pretty well- better than I expected them to, which is why it was about time for me to lose my shit. So that’s what I did this fine Saturday morning.

Without enumerating every ridiculous problem I had (that given more patience, wouldn’t have been a problem), I’ll just tell you about my awesome reactions to the “mischief” that my 2 year old was making.

I put her on the bench on our enclosed porch (our version of time-out) while she stared through the window at me as I fumed.

I explained myself, at length (!) and why she was making me feel frustrated…this to a 2 year old, mind you.

I told her that I didn’t want to talk to her.

I told her to stay in the basement while I went upstairs…while she was crrrrrrrying!

Finally after more than 30 minutes of trying very unsuccessfully to manage/calm both kids and myself before we left the house, I realized that I needed a complete reset. Every little deviation was pissing me off at this point simply because my bucket of patience was already running pretty low.

And then I had it, a desperation epiphany! As I stood in the living room listening to both my kids cry (one in my arms & the other still relegated to the basement), I realized that I WAS THE ONE WHO NEEDED TO CALM DOWN! I know it seems a little silly to write that in bold AND CAPS, but it seemed totally ridiculous that I hadn’t already realized it.

I yelled down to my sad, sad daughter that she could join me upstairs. Then I told her that I had been acting too upset (even though she was the one with snot allllllll over her teary face) and that I had to take some time to breathe and calm down before I could talk to her properly. So I rocked my two month old as I stood with my eyes closed and took deep, audible breaths. To my surprise, the snotty sad sack that had been my older daughter became just a regular kid again while I worked on myself. She stood still in the room with me and just looked up at the ceiling, presumably breathing a little herself.

Once I felt better and thought I had given her enough time as well, I opened my eyes and apologized to her. It was not the first or the last time that I would apologize to her today. And this was not the last time that I would see tears from her, but for a few minutes after this exercise, we both felt better and could see and hear the other person more clearly.

The day wasn’t “solved” by deep breathing, but after forgetting and forgetting and forgetting my own advice and losing my temper over and over again, it felt reassuring to know that I could get things under control if I really needed to.

I wasn’t being kind to my kid(s) or to myself. And while I’m certainly not always kind, I’d like to always know where I can find some calm when I need it.

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