Day Five, Loving On…
Isn’t there some sort of universal rule that there’s a down day whenever you try to do something for a week? I hope this was it because if it wasn’t, then I’m really in for it tomorrow! The kids fought, whined, hit and kicked, they ignored each other and me, they yelled, cried, screamed, screeched, and refused to apologize or even attempt to engage in a constructive conversation. Fun plans were shot down, screen time was begged for with a persistence that could be better applied to more productive causes, and their abilities to get out the door left before us. Today was a nightmare.
I don’t cope too well with these days. Some moms have these amazing contingency plans and somehow manage to pull it together even during a day like this. I haven’t yet learned how to manage that. Changes of plan are tough for me (as they are for my kids), and even more so when I’m already feeling crazed. So if you’re like me, I’d love to hear your coping skills on those days. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
- Add in some outdoor time. Our playgrounds are still covered in snow but we were able to have a nice walk nevertheless. All their troubles just blew away in the wind. In retrospect, I should have spent all afternoon outdoors with them.
- Be prepared to leave difficult places. When they’re in this kind of mood of course the problem is that it’s hard to predict. For example, they all did great at the grocery store today, one did terrible (while the other was thriving) at the library, another terrible at home, and the third just wanted to be held regardless of where we were.
- Apologize for my shortcomings. I yelled a bunch today, I got frustrated and let them know it. At one point, time-outs were being doled out and privileges revoked in reckless manner. But the thing that I did right was to have moments of connection with them during the brief interludes between storms. Buddy and I hugged a lot and he even apologized once. Missie and I had some chats and mutual apologies.
- When all else fails, hide. I did that a lot today: in the bathroom, behind my computer, cooking dinner. I’m trying to make those brief times into intentional breaks rather than a time where I mutter under my breath and get even more riled up. I’m trying to remember to take some deep breaths, say a prayer, and remember something good about my children.
- Keep noticing the emotional needs. It would have been easy for me to throw in the towel with all of this loving on my kids stuff. They made it so hard today! But instead there were moments where I was able to see through their impossible behaviors and see their hearts. Inside was a burning desire to be loved, to be safe, to be seen. Especially on such a tough day, my kids are likely to feel insecure. The more I can keep it together and act in a warm and loving manner, the more likely we are to have a shot at turning things around.
- Extend grace. Grace to them, to myself, and to every single moment leading up to this being such a tough day. And when I couldn’t find any more grace, God supplied it.
So we muddle through. As a whole it wasn’t pretty, but there were some redemptive moments. Once they were all in bed (earlier than usual), we poured a glass of wine, took a few deep breaths, and got going on our evening plans. Here’s hoping for tomorrow…!