What do you do when your child wants boob time every hour or your munchkin is throwing a tantrum everywhere you go? On the bright side, you’re a regular advocate of freeing the boobies, and you don’t need an alarm system when your screeching 2-year-old has you cornered. There’s only so many silver linings you can find in one day when your kid is climbing the walls backward like something out of a horror movie, with crayons for claws, coloring as they go. There’s only so much mindful breathing you can do, and you go back to Lamaze breathing to avoid a panic attack or hysterical laughter. Ah, the joys of teaching your child that poop is not the perfect finger paint to make the wallpaper pop. When my kid is driving me bananas, this is how I learned to chill the f*ck out:
Know Thy Triggers
What sets you off? While you can’t avoid situations like these all the time, being aware of your triggers will help you know what’s coming. Then, you can monitor your reaction to stress to master it. Typical signs of stress are:
- Heightened heart rate with some dizziness
- Yelling or raised voice — louder than “I’m counting to ten, young man!”
- Irritability and impatience
- Lapses of judgment
Stay in touch with your body and accept how you’re feeling. You’re human. It’s OK, but excess stress goes too far and affects your children, too. You don’t want your kid drawing a picture in class of you as Parentzilla destroying towns. Before you start climbing skyscrapers or walls with your kid, know thy triggers.
Be Wisely Selfish
Even modern moms are expected to be Super Mom all the gobstoppers ding-a-ling time. It’s not just moms, though. Single dads and dads who are the stay-at-home parent deal with this situation, too. You work, make all the meals, do all the shopping — and there’s so much more to the list. While you know you don’t have to be a perfect parent, the pressure’s still on, and the pot is boiling over. Taking time for yourself looks selfish, and it feels selfish — but it’s not selfish. You’re not neglecting your kid if you take five minutes for yourself to recenter and avoid a panic attack. You’re not neglecting your kid if you take an hour once a week to go for a long run or have a beer with friends without your darling rugrat. Being wisely selfish keeps your autonomy whole and your zen centered, so you don’t feel the pressure of being Super Mom or Dad or turn into Parentzilla.
Stop Being a Crazy Busy Bee
Easier said than done? In the chaos of your daily routine, you miss your kids like crazy, and then when you see them, it’s mix of warm fuzzy love and them driving you crazy. You wouldn’t have it any other way, but what if you could just stop being caught up in the whirlwind of stress and focus on the present? Focus on them growing up in the moment while you do grown-up things. Stop worrying about what you need to do at work while with your kids, and while at work stop worrying about what you’re missing out on. Rearrange your schedule to a way that works for you, but most of all, be in the present. Hone in on the task at hand, and you can move to the next one fully aware of what’s happening, as it’s happening to enjoy every moment.
Don’t Forget Your Other Child
Wait, there’s another one? Did you lose him or her at the mall? When was this one born? You may not have thought about this kid for a while, but they need attention, too — your inner child. This point doesn’t give you permission to walk around the house in a diaper and forget adulting forever. It means that most of your adult life is typically centered on obligations rather than yourself, and somewhere along the road, you forget the importance of play, creativity and letting loose.Be spontaneous. Recreate the games of your youth with your kids. If you want ice cream for breakfast, why not? Take a painting or karate class. When you feel bananas, it could be that your inner child’s not getting the attention it deserves, either. Playing with your child is fun until it gets repetitive, but they learn by doing the same tasks over and over again. Parents often want to dominate play. If you want to play with your child, pick something inventive for both of you with just enough rules you can agree on, such as a classic board game. Have fun with it. Bending the rules is OK.
Reclaim the Power of No
A parent’s most-used word is no, but it’s not always heeded. Moms and dads, you need to reclaim the power of no in other areas of your lives. More projects at work than you can handle? No. Friends and family crossing your boundaries? No. Nope. Zilch. Peace out, Papa and Nona. Start with something small, and when you feel like making excuses, reclaim the power of no. Say yes to yourself. Every parent faces the challenges of screeching toddlers, and on your best day, sometimes all you can do or want to do is lay down on the supermarket tile floor with them and wail, too. When my kid drives me bananas, I try to remember my triggers and realize this is all completely normal. As ridiculous as it all feels, as powerless as I feel, I’m not a super parent. Nope. Nada. Just going to be wisely selfish and lie down in a hot bubble bath with my wine, coloring book and big ol’ slice of pizza. Alternatively, I could make banana pudding for us to enjoy when my little squirt has gone renegade. There are plenty of bananas to go around. Fortunately, my chill the f*ck out arsenal of tips and tricks does the job of bringing me back to center and slipping less on the dropped banana peels of my sanity. May the force be with you on your journey to keep your bananas calm and collected.