On any given day while browsing social media, you’re bound to come across a few parenting quotes. You know the ones I mean; relatable words written in cursive font with pretty backgrounds, or across images of kids running through fields of flowers or splashing in puddles. Somehow these quotes have a way of surfacing right at the exact moment you are going through some parenting dilemma and need to hear that advice the most.
One of those quotes that has really resonated with me lately is:
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.” – L.R. Knost
I can’t remember where I first heard or saw this quote, but it has stayed with me and I think of it often.
We have two little boys, ages three and one. These are very fun, yet very trying times indeed.
Our three year old is becoming more independent and is starting to want to do things by himself that we used to help him with, like getting dressed. It’s amazing to watch him work through new things on his own and see the look of accomplishment and pride he gets when he completes a task. But oh my gosh can it be frustrating too. It’s a real exercise in patience when you’re running late and he is concentrating so hard on getting his shoes on the right way, and your hands are just itching to reach out and help.
Our little one just recently turned one, and he is in full on explorer mode, wanting to be on the move and into everything all the time. He is generally very good natured and laid back, but he is also very expressive and not afraid to let you know when he doesn’t like something. Try taking something away from him, or changing his direction if he’s headed off course, and watch out. My best distraction techniques are already proving useless.
While both independent, they are still fiercely attached to us at times. For me, the most trying moments are when they are both vying for my attention, and I’m also trying to juggle five other tasks that all need to be done right now. At the end of a long day when they’re literally crawling up my legs, and one more whiny demand or temper tantrum might send me right over the edge.
I try to keep calm, to share my calm, by finding a distraction to keep them occupied for a few minutes so I can collect myself. And then I hand him the wrong color cup or turn on the wrong episode of his favorite show, and there’s a full on meltdown. That’s it, I lose my cool, and I yell, and I instantly regret it.
After all, I’m their Mom. I’m their safe space. I’m the fixer of things. I shouldn’t be the cause of more distress.
Kids are still learning how to have and handle their emotions. They look to us to help them work through their feelings, and we should set an example for how they should behave when they experience big emotions.
So yeah, I’ve just set an excellent example by letting my emotions get the best of me. I joined their chaos.
But you know what? It’s going to happen sometimes, and that’s OK. I’ve used these times as teaching moments. Mommy doesn’t always do the right thing. We all make mistakes, but we always talk about it after. We talk about regret, and what we could have done differently. We talk about apologies, and what we can do to make it better.
And I try to take it easy on myself. I know I’m not alone, and I’m doing the best I can. Then I count down the minutes until my husband will be home so I can take a little break, restore my calm, and try again tomorrow.