I'm a mom and sometimes... sometimes... I lose my cool.
(Really? Nah. Oh yes, it's true.)
The biggest challenge I have found when I'm irritated is that as an extrovert I tend to vocalize when I'm upset. This really, REALLY, doesn't work with kids. No child thrives in a nagging, negative environment. Heck, no adult does either, but at least the adult can walk away and go to a movie or something. That little kid who is just getting more upset and acting out because of the icky vibes will be with you all day. Like right with you. Probably even while you are trying to go into the bathroom and shut the door.
When you have an adult roommate or you live in an open office environment you can usually put up a hand and the person will back away lest they upset the tiger. Little kids? Not so much. They probably forget you are in a terrible mood. They might remember for... say... 30 seconds.
So one day years ago, after realizing the old adage again was true–if you can't say something nice... I had an inspired idea.
What if I put a sticker on my mouth?
That way I would not talk from my non-heart place, and the kids had a visual when they looked at me to remind them that Mommy was not in a good place to be talking to.
Not only did it stop the stem of unnecessary nagging and negative commentary from me, it stopped questions from them which would open the floodgate of nagging and unnecessary negative commentary from me. With this small measure of peace, peace began to descend. Or maybe I just got a chance to breathe through my nose and calm down. One thing happened that was unexpected, though.
It eventually made us laugh.
It's hard to stay mad with a sticker on your mouth. Try it. My favorite stickers are the ones from Trader Joe's. I also like their bacon.
"You're so... happy!"
Yes. Yes I am. That's because I clocked in to the sleep zone around 9:00pm last night. 7:30pm the night before.
Once again I am reminded of the balancing power of sleep.
You think I would have learned this by now. I have three kids, four and six years apart. Enough time to free-fall into the sleep-deprived baby and toddler years and then come back out, battle-worn and sweatpant weary, into blissful sleep at night once more, only to do it all over again.
This time, however, my baby has hair. Lots and lots of hair:
I wuv him!
The first month was, well, brutal. Loving and fun and amazing and cuddly and... brutal. We didn't know how this puppy-thing worked. He didn't know how we worked. All we both knew was that there was a lot of potty happening and not a lot of sleep happening. Sometimes in the yard. Many times in the house.
I weathered it well at first. I was invincible! Fueled by love and determination!
It took weeks before I looked in the mirror and realized I was un-showered, in the same clothes I'd been wearing since.... um.... I don't remember... an old pair of glasses sliding off my nose instead of wearing my contacts. I had to step over piles of laundry to get to the kitchen.
The pre-schooler was always doing things wrong. The dog was too jumpy. People weren't helping enough.
Diner was an afterthought. I didn't have time to play. I don't know what day it was.
And it was getting worse.
Luckily, we got a cold.
I could blame the play-place I took the kids to but I know better. Getting a cold means you are overwhelmed. So I shut it down, went to bed early for two nights and now...
The pre-schooler is doing everything well. The dog is awesome. People are so supportive.
Dinner is planned. I played all morning. It's Tuesday.
And yet nothing changed except me getting some much needed zzzzz's.
So mom and dads, before you wonder what's wrong with you, what's wrong with your kids, what's wrong with your life, what's wrong with your very existence, check to see if there is anything wrong with your sleep. If you can get some extra hours in the sack, do it. If you can't, put a sticker on your mouth while you ride it out. It will get better, I promise.
In 2013 I took a class called The Power of Decision.
It changed my life.
It was based on a book The Power of Decision by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker. A Science of Mind leader, Dr. Barker was from New York City and he pulled no punches.
"I will show you that indecision is actually a decision. It is a decision to fail."
What?! Hold on a minute, the book has barely begun and you hit me with this? Can we ease into it a little bit?
And so it went. Powerful, short sentence after powerful short sentence drilling into you the knowledge, and the power, and even the dreadful failures, of your own decision-making.
No whining allowed. No excuses, either.
Dr. Barker gives examples of those who decide and of those who do not and he writes, without shyness or apology, about how he avoids people who just don't take their lives into their own hands.
"I cannot help anyone unless he has made up his mind..."
But, but, but... you're a Reverend, aren't you supposed to be there for everyone? Not when he has decided his time is valuable and he will not waste it. Ouch.
I loved it.
But while the entire book was fabulous what really struck me was his message about children.
"Children are afraid of making mistakes because of their strong emotional need to please their parents."
(And Indecisive adults are still worried about displeasing someone.)
It had never occurred to me before: children are not always taught to be good decision makers.
But how do you do this? How do you teach them to be good at making decisions?
His answer is simple: tell them they are good at making decisions.
So if a child asks: "Where should I put my wet towel?" You could say: "If you were alone in the house, and no one was here to help you, where would you put it?"
And they may say: "On the side of the tub."
And then you have to stop yourself from correcting them because you might really want it hung up on the hook. But maybe that's harder than you thought because they are much shorter than you. And honestly, it was a darn good decision to put it on the side of the tub because the answer was not "on the couch" or "in my bedroom" or "here, you take it".
So yes. Yes. That was a good decision. That would satisfy the requirements of keeping the house safe from a wet towel. Thank you. You make good decisions.
If you keep this up, if you keep telling them they make good decisions, they will bloom right before your eyes into the adults you hope they will be. Ones who make good decisions.
This is one of the most profound parenting principles there is:
Don't introduce resistance into their vibration.
A dream is a beautiful, powerful thing. The thought of something wanted is the first step towards allowing it into your life. An inspired idea, so beautiful and pure, and so filled with potential, has no resistance.
"I want to meet Santa Claus", the child says, all dewey with bright eyes.
Our parental instinct might be to help them see reality. To help them not to be disappointed. "Well... honey.... Santa Claus is very busy."
What then does the child think? Santa Claus is too busy to care? Too busy to make a dream come true? Or is it just them - Santa is just too busy for them?
What happens if, instead, we stop trying to make sure they are OK (from our fear-based place) and instead we joined them in their dream?
Imagine stepping into the beatiful bubble they have created in their imagination and meeting them there, in joy and wonder.
"Do you think he would come alone or would he bring some elves?"
What a wonderful discussion you could have! Does Santa always wear his red suit, or does he have casual Fridays?
Maybe your young child wants to swim with dolphins.
The parenting reaction might be:
That is the time to pause.
Even if your intentions were good, has your heart closed in fear? Fear of them having a dream they can't realize? Fear of them being disappointed? Fear of you having trouble laid upon your head in the form of whining, begging, cajoling or crying?
Instead, picture that bubble of joy they are in. Join them there, in that dream. Look around. (You are just in your imagination so you can make it up as you go.)
Wow. It is very beautiful in here.
This is magical! See the waves splashing in the pool. Feel the dolphin's body as you hold onto her while she swims. Laugh while she pushes you around with her nose.
What a fun talk you can have!
"What would you do first? Would you hug the dolphin or splash her and see if she splashes back?"
Magical connection happens when we daydream together.
But what if the discussion turns to actual reality? Your child looks up at you and asks, "Will you arrange for me to swim with one? Now?"
Now you proceed with an open-hearted conversation. One where you only promise or do what feels in integrity to you.
Take it a step at a time.
"Honey, I did some research and there is a place you can swim with dolphins. It's 1,000 miles away and I'm not comfortable planning a trip there this year."
That might be the end of the discussion. Your child might say "OK!" and go about their business. But if they press, you can explain again how the Universe works:
"I am only one person. And while I do get a lot of things for you because I am your parent, I am just one part of the big, huge Universe. The Universe is everything. The Universe always say 'yes'. I will keep picturing your dream with you, and if it feels right for me to do something, I will. But you don't need me to make your dreams come true. You only need you and You. (That big part of you that is always holding hands with the Universe.) You already said what you want. Now your job is to keep picturing what you want, and why you want it, if it makes you happy. Or, you can just go about your day and play. The Universe never forgets."
Join your child in their dreams big and small.
"Can I knock and see if the neighbors are home to play?"
"Can I get a pumpkin to carve the size of our house?"
"It's a school night" becomes: "Oooh! Tell me how you will play and get done all you need to get done tonight."
"They don't make pumpkins that big" becomes: "Would you make it a funny pumpkin, or a scary pumpkin? I know! Would you carve it into a house and live in it overnight for a Halloween sleepover?"
Of course there are times for a simple "not tonight" or "they don't make them that size", but when you add the intent to support them in their dreams two things happen:
1. They continue to blossom and live in a world of possibility.
2. And you don't feel like the keeper of NO.
A real dream come true.
What if you went 21 days in a row of staying open-hearted during your child's bedtime routine?
That means no snapping "hurry up!" or rolling your eyes when they are finally in bed and they ask you to bring them some water.
No chasing behind them with a wave of negative emotion trying to get them into their beds faster.
No saying no to extra hugs and kisses.
No shutting them down, shutting them up, flaring your nostrils, giving a heavy, put-upon sigh or otherwise closing your heart during the entire process.
Only connection. Love. Smiling. Gentleness. Laughter. Encouragement. Appreciation. And I did I mention love?
What do you think might happen if you kept your heart open for 21 days while putting your child to bed?
This world is full of options. That's a blessing. But some days it doesn't feel like one.
Play dates. Classes. Social groups. Outings. Family gatherings. So many things to do.
Are you feeling stressed out by all of the options? Yes, choices are a blessing but when it's play dates, classes, social groups, outings, family gatherings, sports...
How do you eliminate the planning stress?
When I feel put upon, stressed out, or cornered, I have to remember: What do /I/ want?
That changes everything.
Instead of feeling like the world is throwing boulders at me that I have to catch or duck lest I get pummeled, instead I remember: I get to choose.
And not only that: "Look at how many amazing choice I have!"
From there the rest is easy. That's because I've practiced listening to my intuition, and my kids have, too. Intuition is your Inner Being, your Big Guidance, and it never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever steers you wrong.
It even does scheduling.
I have a 6 month old baby, a 10 year old a daughter and a 6 year old daughter. I have a husband who works from home. I have a big summer ahead of me. What do I want?
Ease, of course.
Fun, oh heck-yes.
I want to be easy. I want it to be in our Highest Good. And I want it to be awesome.
So now, from this perspective, nothing seems stressful. Possible sleepover? Trip to Great America? Maybe. If we want. If it is something our Higher Self says "ooooh!" to.
And if it is not?
There is no pushing. No protecting myself (under the guise of protecting my kids). No guilt for saying "no thank you" and no fear of missing out, doing it wrong, or screwing up.
It is just... perfect. As it is. And as it is not.
So now: bring it.
An email box full of invitations? I can handle it. My Inner Being already knows what my summer looks like, and from that perspective, it is AWE-SOME.
I have another baby so that means it's time to get cracking on organizing my life differently. By "differently" I mean "don't get all cranky because you can't get anything done".
Important Note: Don't let the word "baby" stop you parents of kids, tweens, or teens from reading this post. This To Do List Strategy works for parents with kids of all ages. I just happen to have a baby right now, OK?
Now where was I? Oh yes.
Take my To Do list.
(No, really, take it. Ba-dum-CHISH!)
In the past, it was great to have a running To Do List. It was all I needed. Skim the list, pick something to do, do it, check it off. It was so simple.
But then I had a baby.
Suddenly that To Do list was a huge, looming pile of "Can't Get Done's" - a shadow of shame and frustration hanging over me, weighing me down. Nursing, changing diapers, rocking, holding a baby.... all great times when my body was busy while my mind was free to watch the clock tick, the dishes pile up, the emails to go unanswered, my hair to grow split ends, the thank you cards to be unthanked...
I felt like I couldn't get anything done. I got frustrated when I was interrupted - again. It was stressful.
So I started playing with how to organize my time. First I tried creating a smaller, daily To Do list from my main one. That seemed like a great idea. I could just pick the top three to five things I would, (really, truly, would) do that day that were critical.
Except it didn't work.
Now I had a smaller, but even more pressing To Do list looming over my head throughout the day as I changed diapers, rocked, held, soothed... and I felt even more stressed out because it was a shorter list and I wasn't even able to get thatdone right away.
After years of research and trial and error I have found the To Do list system that works for me - particularly when I have a baby or a toddler. You know, one of those constant-interuptus little people who, bless their hearts, might not take a 2 hour nap that day when you need it.
My system is all about flow.
It's main design is not necessarily to get things done, but to keep me from feeling stressed out. Which, ironically, means I end up getting more things done. (Tricky, but true.)
Instead of assuming I have complete control over time, my To Do list works in a world where I don't have to. (You mean I don't have to control time? No! Yay!)
I will still pick the top three to five things that I really want or need to get done that day and put them down on paper, but instead of just making a list, I categorize them into time opportunities. Or, because I still have a daily paper organizer (in addition to my online calendar) I will pencil in the To Do near the part of the day in which they can - or are most likely to - get done.
What can I do while the baby is awake?
- Folding laundry. (He loves to play with the socks on the bed.)
- Light cooking. (He loves to be held and I am a one-handed wonder at the stove.)
What requires babysitting so I can leave the house?
What requires the baby to be home with me but occupied or asleep and I am OK to be interrupted?
- Digging out the garage
- Taking a shower
What requires the baby to be occupied or asleep at home with someone who can tend the baby if he wakes or needs something so I am uninterrupted?
- Email to a client
With this new framework I feel more flexible and generous about getting my own needs met.
I can actually do that while the baby is in the carrier and I'm standing outside.
Writing a blog post?
This good for my soul and my creativity but I don't need to write every day. How often? Weekly would be great. If I am feeling well rested and inspired, I am totally happy to write in the morning - and get interrupted to change a diaper like just now - but only when the older kids are in bed and it's just the baby and me. Right now at 5 months old he's still very quiet. ;)
Knowing this means I can look forward to one morning when it lines up. Because it does. I don't have to push it.
With this type of To Do list I can:
Once I stop fighting reality or stressing out, it all flows.
That feels fantastic.
And, incidentally, so does getting stuff done. :)
Is more than one person in the room cranky pants at the same time?
Here is one way I shift it, fast!
Sometimes only one of is is off-kilter.
When that happens the happy people usually ignore them and go about their merry way. Sometimes the prevailing joy in the room laughs cranky pants back into happy land. Sometimes the cranky one will go off for some alone time to recharge, reflect, and get back in the groove.
But when more than one person is not connected? And we are all together? That is a recipe for bickering and ick.
It often starts off subtly.
So subtle you don't know it's there.
A "no" here. A half-ask-half-order for something. But soon it starts to degrade. The air gets heavy. Gloves are off. "I TOLD you not to do that!" and "Mom! She..." I jump in with my lemon-pinched face and start to micromanage.
Then it hits me. Oh!
I see it.
I decide I don't want it.
And I take a big breath and shout out, "Who has the vibration in the room?"
"Me!", says the happiest person, beaming, their hand waving high in the air.
"Them," says everyone else, pointing at that shiny, happy person who is waving their hand in the air, beaming.
From there we know what to do. We follow them. We make a conscious choice to match the frequency of their energy instead of our own. My kids know this. I repeat it to them often enough: "Like energy attracts. So if you are cranky and they are not, either you both have to end up cranky, you both have to end up happy, or you have to separate to stay where you are. Which one would you prefer?"
"Who has the highest vibration in the room?" is a reminder that since we are all eating breakfast together, or in the car together, or on an outing together... we get to decide if we want to keep fighting the happy person or start joining the happy person.
I haven't seen a time yet where we decided not to join in.
It's eye opening.
When we play this "follow the leader game" the bummed-out people usually blush when they realize what's been going on. Or nod. Or apologize. Negativity often wants to justify itself. It wants to fight to exist. So if it's around a happy person it will battle with both fists. Happy person makes a joke? Cranky person gets offended. Happy person accidentally bumps cranky person? Cranky person gets all miffed. Happy person doesn't even NOTICE something... that cranky person is all up in arms about.
We realize that we have been beating down the happy. Popping all of the pretty bubbles. Oops.
So, who has the highest vibration in the room?
It's not a contest. We don't keep track. And we don't feel jealous, either. We feel relieved when we all find our way again the way we like it: happy together.
What if you are reading the story Cinderella and your little one asks, "Mommy, why are Cinderella's step-sisters so mean?"
How do you explain this to child?
"Because some people are mean" doesn't work. Not with Law of Attraction. Some people may act mean, but no one is born mean.
The answer actually very simple really, when answered with the basis of Law of Attraction and all of the teachings of "Love Is All There Is" on the planet from time immemorial.
"They are mean, honey, because they aren't loving themselves. They aren't connected to their Source. That's why they feel bad and act mean."
There is only love and we are either allowing it or pinching it off. Everything we feel or do is in relationship to that.
Some time later, when someone was complaining about mean old Captain Hook from Peter Pan your child may look at you and say, "He just doesn't love himself".
When it comes to the simple truths, kids always get it.
Everyone is "good" when they are connected. It doesn't mean we want to be around them when they are "mean", but it does remind us all that love really is all there is.
That's a nice world to grow up in, I think.
For when your child wants something and you are feeling pressed for time…
...or you have something else to do.
Lately my four and a half year old daughter has been saying, “Just one more book and I promise I’ll go to bed.”
Sometimes I read an extra book. Sometimes I don’t.
And the kicker:
Tonight she asked for an extra book. I didn’t want to read another book.
“No, honey, no more books. Time for bed.”
“Will you lay down with me?”
This sounds so cute. Honestly. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle with their adorable little kiddo?
Except my mind flashes back to when this meant, “I’m not tired and I don’t want you to be tired either so how about you pretzel yourself onto my tiny bed while I do jumping jacks on your head?”
I also thought about the 9,367,851 things I wanted to do before bed. Or the fact that I wanted a break. Or that I still had to get the baby to bed or…
In that brief pause of not answering my daughter an inspired, intuitive angelic message came through. It translated into something like: “You can do anything for two minutes”.
That made so much sense to me I said, “OK” and before I knew it my daughter was scootching over to make room for me.
I pretzeled myself onto her tiny bed and braced for impact.
Wow, she really wanted to cuddle this time.
It was so cute, her arms wrapped around me. I smiled and sighed contentedly. I thought, “What could be better than this?
She says: “Let’s look at the ceiling and pretend we’re seeing fireworks.”
Wow, this is so much better! There we were, our heads together, our arms around each other, pointing out imaginary fireworks.
“Look! A red one!”
“One in the shape of a flower!”
“I like the purple one!”
It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced with my child. It was so simple, so inspired and so real.
The Not Part
Afterwards I realized the most important thing I did was what I did NOT do.
I did not say to her, “Ok, but only for two minutes.”
I simply thought, “I can do anything for two minutes” and so I surrendered to those two minutes. In doing that I ended up with a whole lot more.
We are busy, no doubt about it.
Sometimes we can’t just stop what we’re doing and play (dinner on the stove, baby on the changing table, UPS at the door). Most of the time we might not stop because we really don’t have “all day”.
But what about two minutes? Do you have that?
Not: “OK, FINE, but only for two minutes…”
I am talking about thinking to yourself: “OK! I can do anything for two minutes!” while saying to your child, “YES”.
If you can surrender for just two minutes you leave the door open a crack…
…and magic might just wander in.
Really Good Life... With Kids
Tips for how to live a fantastic life while parenting, raise connected, successful kids, and navigate relationships... happily.
Love, Alora :)
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