I’m not sure about you, but when summer is over and fall hits us with our new schedules, schools, routines, and hurricane evacuations (!), it’s always a bit of a tough transition. Summer was full of sunshine, big smiles, adventures, and excitement. By the time the end of August hits, I am sweaty, sunburned, and waiting for nap time, every day. I’m also starting to feel myself lose my patience. Temper tantrums seem so much more unmanageable and I feel like I’m on the verge of a meltdown myself every time I have to fight my toddler into his car seat. But I wanted to share a quote that my mom (who is a preschool teacher) sent me a while ago that has become my mantra. Especially at this point in the year.
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not to join their chaos.” – L.R. Knost
Some days, some hours, or some minutes, this feels impossible with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I find it especially difficult during naptime or bedtime when all I want is an hour to myself and apparently no one wants to sleep. It is HARD not to lose my you-know-what. But…how does it help anything if I start to yell? Does that make my kids want to go to bed? Obviously not. When they are throwing a fit because I threw away their cookie that they swore they didn’t want anymore, does it help if I punish him for being upset? Not really. These are little kids with BIG emotions, and they are still learning how to handle them. I, on the other hand, am the adult. I know how to handle my emotions, stay calm, and can show them how to do it.
I am clearly no expert because I still lose my mind all the time, but by trying to remind myself that these are just little kids, helps me calm down. I’ve also listened to a lot of parenting podcasts (like 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms) and follow parenting advice Instagram accounts (like Simply On Purpose) which have a lot of great tips for keeping your cool and not yelling. I’ve also found a couple of things that really work for me and prevent me from losing it:
- Plan. On Sunday nights I plan out the week (meals & activities) and I look at my calendar every night after the boys are in bed. Are there things I need to get ready for the next day? Are we going to the beach in the morning? If so, I try to get everything packed the night before. It’s obvious why this works well and prevents stress!
- Make time. If I give myself enough time to put the boys to bed before it gets too late, everything goes great. If I let them stay up late and then I am trying to rush through bedtime stories and I look at the clock and it’s 10:30 (don’t judge me), I am annoyed and we end an otherwise great day on the wrong foot. This goes for trying to get out the door in the morning too!
- Figure out Quiet Time. There are some days that my 3-year-old doesn’t want to nap. Those days are hard. I work from home and need those hours to get stuff done. But it’s not his fault that he can’t fall asleep! Trying to force him to stay in his room and sleep usually ends in a tantrum and makes me the most frustrated. Instead, on the days that he refuses to nap, I set his “Okay to Wake” clock for an hour and break out his special “quiet time toys”. I learned this tip from the 3 in 30 podcast and I cannot believe how well it has worked! He stays in his room and either plays quietly or falls asleep. This is seriously a lifesaver and is something that I want to continue as he grows up. Instead of a tantrum, he is playing by himself calmly in his room.
I, for one, am not going to judge you if every day is not Instagram-perfect. Maybe there will be a lot of tears. And I don’t blame you if you lose it every once and awhile. But maybe, if we can remember that these are just little kids with big emotions, it can remind us that we have the power to “share our calm”.