If you thought you were a pretty decent, upstanding person before having kids, I’m sure you got your wake up call shortly after they were born. There’s really nothing like the chronic sleep deprivation of the newborn stage to bring out the worst in even the saintliest of saints.
Your mind does weird things, your blood sugar and hormones are out of whack and there’s definitely a reason health professionals say that sleep is one of the most important aspects of having good physical and mental health.
So basically you’re mental for the first little while until your body gets with the program. Insane people are known to do strange things, and act out of character. The problem is that even if you start get more sleep (and count yourself among the lucky ones), this insanity might continue when your sweet baby disappears leaving a conniving toddler in it’s place.
I believe there is a reason that nuns and priests can be so godly. Clearly, it’s because they don’t have children. Anyone who’s ever had a toddler knows how good they are at bringing out the momster in us all. There is little that can try my patience more than my toddlers. Or make me act as crazy. They just know how to get in my head.
There’s that time at the mall…
“Mommy I want a cookie!”
“No, not right now.”
“Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!” (violent spasming and flailing on the floor of public place, drawing a large crowd of onlookers..)
“OK, OK fine, here’s a cookie, just get up and stop screaming!”
Toddler jumps up and grabs the cookie with a victorious smile…
Mom realizes what just happened too late…all in the panic of trying to save face.
Sound familiar? Even the best of moms has had this happen at least once, I’m sure of it. Even the moms with the awesome game plan. Even the moms with years of veteran experience. Even the moms who swore they’d never give in like that and had a perfect record until that one day…
Or the time your kid seems to be purposefully trying to make you loose your cool. To test you how far you can go. Because that’s what toddlers and kids do…they test all the boundaries, they see what they can all get away with.
This is when you realize the implications of your momster responses. You have a small person watching your every move, and listening to your every word. They want to see how you react to everything.
They copy what you do, they repeat what you say, and that’s why it’s scary. If you’re feeling like less than a decent, upstanding person in a bad moment and you react impulsively, your child might see a side of you that you didn’t want them to ever see.
Then you have to apologize and explain that you reacted badly, and that it wasn’t the right way to deal with their bad behaviour.
So what can you do to keep the momster under control if this is an area you struggle in?
Take a minute
If you can’t remove yourself from the situation at hand, then take a moment to take 3 slow, deep breaths and think about your response before you blow up without thinking.
Give yourself a time out
If you can go somewhere away from your children for a bit (like another room or the bathroom), take a time out and get your emotions under control before dealing with discipline or an emotional situation.
Do a soul search
If losing your cool or responding in a negative way to your kids is something that’s happening more often than you’d like, set aside some focused time to do a little soul searching. Ask yourself why you’re reacting like you are. Are there deeper issues at hand?
Have you been making time for priorities in your own life like good rest, spiritual growth, eating or exercise (I always forget to eat for some reason..)? Do you just feel like you have no idea how to parent and are in need of some resources? Determine what the source is of your reactions so you can address it.
Reevaluate your game plan
Once you’ve addressed what needs to change, make a new game plan. Maybe it’s taking more time for yourself for sanity’s sake, or getting an accountability person who you can tell your plan to so they can help keep you on track. For me personally, I need to have things like consequences for bad behaviour laid out clearly beforehand so that I can respond to my girls with confidence in my parenting.
The times I’ve felt the most out of control and upset is when I don’t know what to do or how I should respond (which happens more than I’d like!I mean, I’ve never had twins before…). Of course, things are always changing and new issues will surface with parenting as your children grow, but that’s why reevaluating the game plan is important. Make sure you’re taking time with your spouse to sit down and communicate about how to deal with new behaviour as it comes up so that you can be on the same page about discipline issues.
This is a great article about age appropriate consequences that I like to refer to often: http://amotherfarfromhome.com/32-consequences-bad-behavior/ and this site also has tons of articles on toddler behaviour and other helpful information for moms!
Take care out there