Learnings from the dark

We had a big week last week. All of us. Rob was absolutely flat out with work, travelling and working most nights past 10 or 11. That meant that it was game on for me in here with the 3 girls, nothing in particular other than life and school and extra curricular stuff and party prep stuff. Plus, we’re still finding our groove after the school holidays. It’s busy and everyone is a bit tired.

Such is life.

We got to Saturday morning, Rob was off at 7 to head to Sydney for work and it was up to me to get the 3 girls dressed and ready for a 9am hockey game (OH THE HUMANITY). The socks and shin pads HEAVEN HELP ME THE SOCKS but we got there but Daise was cranky and tired. We all were. And the last place we all wanted to be going was the Welby hockey fields. She wanted her pj’s and the TV and breakfast and no where to go and nothing to do. Same girlfriend, same. The cranky mood started and I tried not to get frustrated by it “keep your cool, allow lots of time, keep your cool Beth” and we got through it all but the behaviour didn’t improve. She was shitty, and it was here to stay.

There were harsh words during her sister’s game, she left Maggie alone when I asked her to stay with her for a few minutes. There was thunderous cloud that was there for most of the morning. And then afternoon. And it hit G force around 3pm when I banned the girls from playing Minecraft together because the FIGHTING and I swear to GOD it makes them go crazy. Angry and CRAZY.

She lost it.

There were mean words. Harsh words. Screaming. A decent tantrum from her that I hadn’t seen in some time. And while I would usually lose it, and fight back, I tried to stay calm(ish) and get her in her room for some serious time out. She was really angry at me, because I didn’t seem to be listening to her, and I cut them off before the agreed limits I gave them. Or something. She was pissed off and she wanted to be an arsehole at me, because in her eyes, I was being a bigger one at her.

Because there were no adults here to talk to, I mentioned something on FB about kids telling you they hate you, and they wish you weren’t here…the usual suspects and I saw my Mum saying something like “BACK IN YOUR DAY THAT WOULD NEVER….” you know the rest.

It wasn’t until a few hours later when I was rocking Maggie to sleep (I know, yes, I am still doing that shit) that I stopped and really thought about the situation. Sure, she was being an arsehole, but then so am I sometimes. I have my own tantrums, about cleaning up, or not getting ready quick enough, things that seem important to ME but are stupid in the eyes of my kids.

Huh.

Why are we so hard on out kids when they then are occasional arseholes to us? Why can we NOT tolerate this and instantly think “YOU CAN’T TALK TO ME LIKE THAT WHO DO YOU EVEN THINK THAT YOU ARE BACK IN MY DAY….” so on and so forth. It just dawned on me that I should be a little easier on them too.

How is my over the top reaction going to help the situation other than make me feel like I am in control because I am the Mum and that’s just how it is? It didn’t. It doesn’t. Sometimes I am a dick. And sometimes my kids are. We’re all tired. We’re all doing our best. They are growing, doing so much, let’s give each other a break.

Huh.

IMG_6952

See? That rocking to sleep business IS doing something. It’s making me stop, almost meditate as I rock back and forth and be quiet and just stop. And think. And be in the moment. It’s good.

I’m not one for letting kids do and say whatever they want and I do think that at times we are all too soft on our kids, giving up on things because the consequence or follow through is too hard or whatever. But I do think that there’s nothing wrong with changing the way things have been done, just because that’s what you do as parents. Or what our parents did, and grandparents did. Why not stop and look at MY actions and demands and stop being such a tough nut all the time. Maybe talking about, owning up to it will make those little people feel heard or understood and hell, even more accommodating? I can dream at least….

Anyway, some food for my thought, I’m sure lots of you do this already.

Anyone else tried a new way to look at this parenting business?
Exhausted from school and sport and stuff and life?

Comments

  1. This is something I’ve thought about recently too and actually apologised to my kids for my arsehole behaviour (didn’t use those words) and getting stressed and cranky over nothing. I too get sick of hearing, back in my day we would have never spoken to our parents like that, well I hardly spoke to my parents in the intimate way my kids speak to me so as far as I’m concerned it’s actually a good thing parenting styles have changed. Well except for the Minecraft tantrums, I know all about those!

    • They really do happen…Daisy is usually OK about MC but H will pretty much lose her mind after she has been on it. It’s been deleted off everything for a while!

  2. Kylie Myers says

    I NEEDED this today Beth. Thank you.
    Keeping it real as always and that is what I love about your postings.
    We have been dealing with their daddy working away Monday to Friday for a few months now (and then working weekends from home) and I’m over not having back up and they are over not seeing much of their Dad and well we’ve all been a bit arseholey to each other.
    Onwards and upwards.
    Your a great mum Beth, have a G&T tonight to reward yourself for the realness. The world needs more of that.

  3. Oh Beth I totally hear you. Giving yourself the time to stop and think and breath and ROCK gives you time to reflect.
    Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can.

    I have also been there and have actually gone – you know what – our little people are allowed to blow off steam and be angry coz they are important feelings too. And then it was me that apologied to Little Miss 5 and in turn she understood and said sorry too.

    • That’s what happened here we both apologised and recognised what we had done wrong and spoke about it together. It felt good.

  4. Parenting is hard shit

    • Sometimes it is. The age gap difference between the big one and the baby is proving the hardest for me to get my head and patience around at the moment…both facing different challenges and both needing me in such different ways.

  5. I respectfully disagree.
    Sure kids do have their tantrums for time to time, but I feel it is our job as a parent to help them manage those emotions in a productive and cathartic way, without screaming and saying horrible things to others. They have every right to feel pissed off as much as we do but they don’t necessarily have to vocalize it in a harmful hurtful and destructive way.

    I have tantrums and get fed up but I don’t scream “i wish you weren’t here etc” to my kids, and I expect the same from them!

    I think they will encounter times of frustration as they grow and I don’t think its ever a good idea to give a green light to a full blown tantrum., You can’t scream at a teacher or an Boss/Employer in that manner without repercussions.

    • Definitely! The fact we spoke about it afterwards (rather than just me dealing out consequences) will hopefully mean that next time it starts to happen we can stop ourselves. I live in hope anyway Allison and agree with you!

  6. Yep, rock on girl!!
    My eldest is the one that can really make me go nuts. He’s not naughty as such, but tends to always have something to say and like things done a certain way ( gee wonder where he what’s that from lol ) and I start screaming and SCREAMING and it never helps! Ever! He is also the most kindest boy, who has a heart of gold, but Lordy he has a stubborn streak.
    A while ago I would try and catch myself mid yell and sit down with him and talk it out….by golly it’s hard to find the time with 3 to sit and talk, but it’s worth it.
    And I have said sorry a few times, that I get cranky too and make mistakes. It has really worked wonders. Gosh we can learn so much from these little people hey…

  7. After a most amazing session with Nathalie from Easy Peasy Kids she helped us through some difficult times with our eldest. We were screaming back at the screaming. She taught us how to shower with love and talk about feelings and help them understand their emotions and she saved us. She really did. x

  8. Even though my two are now teens, I still love Justin Coulson’s Happy Families: https://www.happyfamilies.com.au (and I follow him on Facebook). His positive parenting, instead of harsh discipline and punishments/rewards, just makes sense to me. It’s about guidance, support and caring for your children. You are on the right track, Beth 🙂

  9. It’s funny, I’ve found my parenting style has to change between the kids. My eldest is the queen of ignoring and selective hearing and I found myself yelling to get her to respond. Number two daughter goes from 1 to 10 in the anger stakes in a second and I found myself yelling back at her yelling. The yelling was so counterproductive and just made me feel like shit. The younger one just tends to listen atm!

    Now I try other methods with both girls and it generally works, although I still lose my shit more often than I should. I do apologise when I lose it and it wasn’t appropriate or necessary. Now my girls will apologise when they do the same. If number two girl is frustrated and angry and I try to remain calm and tell her I understand why she’s upset/angry/pissed off but this is the reason why she has to do xyz. If anyone physically or verbally hurts someone, it’s not tolerated though, they lose their right to be listened to and have to go outside or their room or anywhere away from the situation. For me it’s ok to be angry or irrational, but they need to learn to deal with situations without resorting to punching or put downs. I try to hold all of us (parents and kids) accountable for the same behaviour.

    I’m still learning though, so far away from having the parenting lark cracked!

  10. Lisa Mckenzie says

    So well said Beth my daughter used to hate me regularly as a child and yell and scream at me but I often called her names not out loud but I felt the anger and I agree they have a right to get angry at us,pick your battles I say,this parenting gig is the hardest job you’ll ever do Xx

    • And the best! Oh the joys Lisa! can you believe your daughter is about to start all this as a Mum? Exciting times x

  11. My tantrums are always regarding housework. I am trying really hard to not have them, and honestly haven’t had one since my last bout of PMT, (funny, not, they both happen at the same time). What I found though, was my 4 yr old having a tantrum with nearly my exact words, except mine hasn’t happened for lot of weeks. A reminder for me that they have very long memories!

  12. It is a tough gig indeed.. We have times like this – unpredictable and irrational behaviour – makes me fear the approach of the teenage years.

    And that bloody minecraft has a lot to answer for.

  13. Hugs Beth

    It is awful when we have days like this. Everyone has a bad day and feel yuck. I don’t let my kids get away with it but equally when I loose the plot I also don’t allow myself to get away with it. I am a big one for stepping up and apologising to my kids if I have yelled and screamed in a way I shouldn’t. Typically there is something else going on that has nothing to do with them.

    xoxo

  14. Oh this parenting gig can be tough some days. The age gaps between my three girls can be fabulous one moment, then horrendous the next. Emotions are usually running pretty high in this house and sometimes I feel like my older girls are always fighting … and then I have a one-year-old to look after too. Such differing needs all at the same time. I try to keep my cool and take each moment, each day as it comes but often it’s easier said than done. However, I always make sure I talk with my girls and work out the situation once everything has calmed down.

  15. merilyn says

    everyone has days like that!
    there is an excellent book called
    “emotional intelligence” Daniel Goleman … great strategies in there!
    some schools in the US are using it as a model!
    “women circling the earth” Beverly Engel
    she has a great idea that each person holds a wooden spoon
    when the need arises to clear something! nobody interrupts and everyone has their time to speak and be heard!
    good luck! love m:)X

  16. Reannon says

    Last night after I snapped my husband with the old ” you just sit there! I’ll do EVERYTHING my fucking self!” & as I layed down with my two toddlers to get them to sleep I decided to surrender. I can’t fight them anymore. When they are losing their shit ( which they do every 7 minutes because they are 3 & 2) I am cheerful. If they need me to lie in their room for half an hour while they go to sleep I will. If they want to sleep in my bed, they can. If they want me to sleep at the end of their bed at 4.30am, I will. Because I am tired & im sick of feeling like they are making the days too hard with all their craziness. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I need to give a little, take a breath, be more of what they need? It’s probably the completely wrong thing to do but right now it feels like it’s the right thing to do.

  17. Kristie says

    You’re all levels of awesome for sharing this. I’m going to re-read it the next few weeks as hubby will be in Canberra for work and I will be flying solo with our boys.
    Love the rocking and how you’ve found comfort in that beautiful moment too.
    Don’t know how I’ll go without my sanity runs, but I will re-read, remember to breathe and just embrace toast for dinner to get through.
    We can have moments of arsehole and dickheaded-ness, but the good eggs in us know that these are cameo moments in the big lives we lead.

  18. This is something I have always struggled with. Knowing when to fight back and when to let things slide a little. For years hubby worked away and raising our four boys was a solo job. It’s hard when you don’t have someone to let off steam with or someone to take over when you’ve completely lost the plot due to tiredness. It’s something we all deal with at times xx

  19. Kathryn says

    Beth, I’m loving hearing about Maggie’s progress because my own daughter was born a couple of weeks after her. Just wanted to let you know you’re not alone in rocking your 12 month baby to sleep. If you work out a way of stopping please share, my shoulders are not going to cope much longer!!!
    And I am going to try and take your words of wisdom to heart because I lose it far too often over little things out of sheer tiredness. We’re all human, both the adults and the little ones.

  20. After a holiday that helped refresh my mind and soul, I’ve been able to approach parenting my 3yo son through his ‘threenager’ stage very differently to how I was a couple of months ago. I’ve realized mostly, when he’s being really awful, he’s actually just struggling and really really needs me, but can’t verbalise it, because he can’t recognize it. He just acts like a beast and when I’m cross with him, at least he has my attention. Now I stop and cuddle, sit on the floor and read a story, or we all dance to a song together with lots of hugs included in our moves. And when he has an outburst, I can usually approach him calmly to talk him through what’s happening, because I realized we were expecting a 3yo to process his anger/frustration/sadness/fear in a moment, then calm himself down and behave in a rational manner – which most adults struggle with, let alone a 3yo who is feeling these sorts of things for the first time. And when he gets really past it, and his behaviour is aggressive and mean, I can’t reason with him, but I can get him to sit in his room and read along with an audio book, which helps him no end. and at the end of the day, I often ask him ‘what made you happy today? What made you sad? Did anything make you feel angry? What made you feel nice and warm on the inside?’ Just to try and open up the discussion about feelings, that it’s ok to have them, and talk about them (heaven help us if we raise 2 boys who cannot talk about their feelings!!!). Sure, we still have our challenging moments, but it’s helped!

    • Rosie, this is what I really, really also try to do. It has become my motto: “When you most want to strangle your kids, give them a love.” I find that it lets us talk about why they are acting like little monsters (there is usually a reason), gets the issue out, and makes me feel like superMum because it is so much better than losing it with them.

      Of course it works best when I am well-rested, not stressing about my own crap, husband is happy, work is ticking along etc etc. Other times I just lose it completely (known as ‘furious Mummy’ – to be said in hushed tones of awe) and apologise afterwards.

      Cath

    • That’s so good Rosie! Nothing better than a new approach that works…for you both! Thanks for sharing x

  21. We skipped my twins music class today because I could tell it was going to be way way too much and what the three of them needed was an early bed time (and me too). I think about this a lot actually, I am often not successful at not being reactive / over reactive. I have tried and read lots of different parenting strategies at various times. The one that they respond best to is Positive Parenting I follow Dr Laura Markham online and have one of her books. It can be quite hard to do, at times impossible. I read a good quote some where that said parenting is one thing we all think we can just rely on our instincts for but often our “instincts” are just what our parents did to us. Not necessarily the healthiest way to parent.

  22. I am completely not used to all the activities and school and preschool and having a baby yet.. It’s full on, and whilst I really love that my kids are learning all these amazing skills and enjoying themselves I do wonder by the end of the week how and why we all do so much these days. Not everyone around the world parents in this way, children in other countries aren’t so regulated with their time, doing multiple activities, scheduled constantly. Yet here we are, and f you don’t do it all, will your kids be left behind?

    • It’s a tricky balance – we all seem to do so much. Always think what’s best for your kids and what you can manage – I hope you can work it out on this very long road ahead. SO much driving!

  23. to quote Oprah, when you know better you do better.

    I am a big believer in the power of sorry and hugging it out!

  24. nope, sorry I disagree.

    Kids need to learn that shit happens and the resilience they show in these situations will see them through to adulthood. As a teacher who has seen an epic decline in the resilience of kids when shit gets even the slightest bit tricky, we as parents have been too soft on letting them have a “moment” when stuff gets too hard, or someone will come and fix it or even better, mum and dad will come in and defend my shit behaviour and blame someone else. Sure, it sucks arse as a parent to see your child suffer or be upset, but I also know that if I let them just do whatever they like, it is not setting them up for a successful adolescence or adulthood. I see it every. single. day. We have failed a whole generation of kids because of it.

    We need to model expected behaviour, provide avenues for supporting when it does gets too hard, but know that deep down, being a complete prat is not on. It’s not how the world works.

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