Another week, and we’re still navigating this new and strange reality.
For the most part, I hope you’ve found your bearings, but if you are still feeling a little lost and out of control in life with kids, read on, because by the end of this email you’re going to know exactly what you can do to feel more confident and in control, even amidst the chaos and unpredictability of life these days.
Just to be sure that you’re in the right place, this post is for you if you’re trying your best to be a present and patient mom, and make the most of your day to day interactions with your kids, but can’t seem to consistently keep your cool.
You want to do right by your kids and, let’s be honest, you could do with a stronger dose of control and stability too.
I’m not just talking about navigating life with kids amidst Corona (you know, how much screen time is to much, and how to I do this “homeschooling” thing).
I’m talking about knowing how important these years are, in general, in forming your kids’ self esteem and resilience, and wanting to do the best you can to nurture their development as well as lasting relationships, no matter the circumstances …
But, understandably, you just get caught up in the stress of everyday life with kids, which makes it hard to actualize your vision of motherhood.
And these days, there’s no shortage of stress!
You’re a commited mom. You read books, parenting articles, and you’re even subscribed to my email list (!).
You’ve tried different techniques and approaches parenting, but no matter how much you want it to, nothing seems to work consistently.
Maybe you’re quick to ask for help, you seek advice and have even joined parenting groups (kudos!), or you’re like me, and most moms that I work with, and you’re accustomed to doing everything yourself and rarely ask for help, no matter how hard things get.
And boy, some days are really tough.
Well, if this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place, and you’re not alone.
And guess what!?
The first secret to improve your mood, and feel more present and patient with your kids is to acknowledge that you’re not the only one.
That’s not to say that some days it feels completely impossible to regain some sense of order and authority, but it does mean that you don’t have to feel as though you’re the only one or think that you’re somehow flawed.
You only have to join The Motherhood in the Making Community to know that at one point or another, every mom, including myself, feels totally lost, alone and out of control. It can seem scary and shameful if you think that you’re the only one, so rest assured that you’re not.
The second secret to improve your mood, and feel more present and patient with your kids is to understand why it’s so hard to feel calm, content and confident in your day to day interactions with your kids.
To break it down for you, there are 3 reasons why you keep losing it on your kids:
#1. You’re wired that way. Your brain functions to keep you safe. When it detects a threat, it will trigger your stress response mechanism so that you can react fast. The problem is, you’re brain often gets it wrong.That’s why you’ll snap at your toddler when they won’t stay in bed. Unless you can consciously override your stress response mechanisms, your brain will not be able to make the distinction between a tantrum and terrorist.
#2. The second reason you keep losing your cool and your sense of control, is because you have stuff going on under the surface, out of your awareness that is causing you to misinterpret your kids’ behavior and react. When your brain receives information from your senses about what’s going on on the outside, it will interpret the information before reacting. How does the brain know what meaning to attribute to the incoming information? The answer is experience.
The reason you react to your kids, is because your brain is using your experiences in life, particularly your experience of being parented, to inform your responses. Sometimes that works in our favor, and sometimes it doesn’t. Like when I micromanage my kids in the kitchen the same way my mom would get stressed out when I would try to help. I don’t mean to do it. In fact I’d like to interact with my kids in an entirely different way, but my will is not enough to undo learned behaviours, perceptions and pattern of relating.
#3 The third reason, which I appreciate the most because it is just so real, is that you don’t know what you’re doing!
Let’s face it, these kids don’t come with a manual. Even a Masters in Psychology didn’t give me the tools one needs to tackle this practically, mentally and emotionally demanding task.
Coming into this gig, all we know is from the model we were given from our parents. Maybe, like me, you’ve read the parenting books to fill in the blanks, but you still find yourself falling into old patterns, and your dream to build loving and lasting relationship still seems uncertain.
Even if you have positive associations with your own childhood, your kids are completely different and unique individuals. You still have to figure out who they are and how to relate to them.
But if you’re like most moms I work with, whose childhoods did not go well, you feel even less equipped.
So, you know you’re not alone and it’s normal and common to feel out of your depths and lost, but who’s asking themselves, “What can I do to stay calm and feel confident that I’m doing a good job?”
Let’s jump into secret #3: Here’s what you need to do to improve your mood, and feel more present and patient with your kids:
1. You need to rewire your automatic reactions so that instead of unconsciously reacting, you can stay calm and thoughtfully choose how to respond to you kids.
2. You need to figure out what’s going on for your kids, so that you don’t miss opportunities to connect with your child and your relationship together.
3. Figure out what’s really going on for you under the surface causing you to misinterpret your kids’ behavior and react. Unless you bring that stuff into awareness it’s going to keep triggering your automatic reactions and keep you from nurturing the connections and building the relationships you want to have with your kids.
Hey there, I'm Liba
I’m a psychologist, parenting coach, and a mother of 4, and I teach moms how to regain their sense of calm and control so they can feel confident raising content, capable and considerate kids.