Summer vacation has only just begun and I am already finding my patience waning with a deep need to be alone!
Camp doesn’t start for another week. And even then, it’s only two weeks long. YIKES!
It’s going to be a long summer if these feelings keep up, boy!
I figure I’m not alone here, dealing with the incessant demands and constant interruptions as I attempt to work (from my home office) or prolong my morning coffee (now that we’re on “summertime”).
Those long days with the kids at school seems like such a faded memory and it’s only been a little over a week. Eeek!
My mind easily goes to super judgmental thoughts like:
- What the hell is wrong with you?
- Can’t you see how lucky you are that you have your kids here, with you?
- You have the freedom to work from home and enjoy this precious, fleeting time with them…and you’re choosing to complain or be annoyed?
Yup. I am.
I am that mom, in this very moment, right now as I write this.
The one who loves her kids more than anything else in life and who wants cuddles and kisses and to spend time with them exploring the world and doing nothing at all…and yet, I have all these feelings too of wanting to get far away from them, to be alone, to not cook for them and to certainly not play camp counselor or lego friends or any other shitty game that bores me to death!
I feel guilty even writing this, but let’s be honest and truthful here:
I can still be an amazing, loving, giving, generous, caring, funny, and awesome mom while having feelings and thoughts like the ones above.
It’s what I choose to do with those thoughts and feelings that ultimately define me and determine how I live, mother, and show-up in the world.
Do I allow my frustrations to show up in anger and screaming (which they do sometimes, again, let’s be honest)? Or do I, instead, invite them in with a curious eye so they can help point me to my deeper needs?
The latter feels the best, every time.
Here are the exact 4 steps I use CALM DOWN when all I’m about to LOSE MY FREAKING MIND on my innocent kiddos.
Disclaimer: this takes practice but it is doable!
Step one: Notice and Name
- Notice how you feel (frustrated, angry, irritated, hurt, tired, overwhelmed, etc.) Bonus points if you can figure out where you feel it in your body!
- Name the feeling (s)
- Just this process alone brings you a sense of clarity and calm because now you know what you’re dealing with versus simply just feeling shitty and out of sorts.
Step two: Identify the need
- Ask yourself what you need to release the negative feeling (s).
- This means you have to allow yourself a quiet moment to sit with the feeling (s).
- Imagine the feelings are gone, how did that happen? Here are some suggestions:
- Time alone
- Less time with a certain person
- Take-out instead of cooking
- More sleep
- More fun
- More structure
- Less structure
Step three: Make a plan
- Now that you know what you need, ask for it
- Yes, this means asking for help! (not always easy, I know!)
- Talk to your kids about your needs and brainstorm with them how you can get what you want (kids are actually super resourceful and want to be helpful)
- Take turns with a friend or neighbor to watch the kid (s) for an morning or afternoon or even a sleepover!
- Tag-team with your partner (I’ll take the morning, you take the afternoon)
- Give them extra screen time so you can take care of you (it won’t kill them)
- Ask them to find a project they can do alone, so you can use that time to tend to your needs without being interrupted
- Adjust your schedule to make room for your needs (earlier bedtime, saying No to invites that end up feeling like too much, or saying Yes to invites that feel like fun but you always find an excuse not to go)
- Hire a babysitter or barter services with someone
Step four: Try it out!
- Even if you’re not 100% convinced this plan will work to alleviate your shitty feelings, GIVE IT A TRY! You will never know until you try (which is a great life motto, btw).
- Try it at least once and see how you feel afterwards.
- Did you feel lighter, more relaxed, and a little less frustrated after giving yourself what you needed?
- Notice the small shifts in your feelings, in your body, in how you show up for your family.
When I follow these steps, I always feel better. Yes, sometimes I feel like I could have used more than what I got (time alone, sleep, more nights with no cooking), but tending to my own needs does refill my cup. And while one break may not refill it completely, it helps to ensure that I am not running on empty.
Because as we all know, we can’t fill anyone else’s cups when ours have nothing left to give.
I want to love my kiddos hard with lots of focused attention, fun and games, explorations and chill time! I like to think I do this often and well.
Yet, I can also very easily lose my mind when my own needs aren’t taken care of. And it’s MY JOB to take care of them.
So here’s to a summer that feels as good as you want, because knowing that we each have the ability to take care of ourselves is deeply powerful!
Here’s to taking care of ourselves, together.