A few days ago, I was reminded once again, how quickly the small things can send me over the edge.
I woke up early, took care of my usual morning routine of making coffee, checking email, making breakfast, and just enjoying the rarely quiet house. So by the time the boys were up, I was happy, clear headed, and ready for the day ahead.
After a relaxing breakfast, the boys helped clean up and played together without fighting, without my urging, and I was able to settle into some housework.
I was feeling an amazing sense of accomplishment. I was on top of the world and ready to face the rest of my day playing, cuddling, and having fun with the boys.
Then it all fell apart…
While making lunch, the phone rang, it was my dentist confirming my appointment for the next day.
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Instead of confirming my appointment, they needed to reschedule. Fair enough, let me look at my calendar.
I’m on the phone, so that means that it’s time for the boys to chase each other in the kitchen, laughing and screaming. Why do kids always have to be so loud as soon as I get on the phone?!
I pause the conversation, take a deep breath so I don’t yell, shoo them out of the kitchen, and get back to my call.
I stare at my calendar as a sense of frustration tingles up my spine. Looking…looking…I can’t find a time to schedule my appointment. I could take my kids, but I can only imagine the headache that would cause. So I calmly say “I’ll have to call you back to reschedule.”
I have such little time away from the boys to get to appointments, I might not ever make it to the dentist.
A few minutes later, lunch is ready, and we sit down.
As I take small bites of my sandwich, the voice in my head is loud and demanding. I do so much for everyone! I never get time for me…even for a darn dentist appointment! I need some more help!
I’ve lost my appetite.
I was no longer happy, ready to relax, and play. Instead, I was angry and irritable.
Then the demands started coming in – “Mommy, can I have a drink?” “Mommy, play with me!” “Mommy, did you clean my favorite shirt?” “Mommy, what are we having for dinner?” “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!”
My kids seemed to get louder after every demand, and my patience had run out.
The tension was rising and I could feel myself starting to lose my temper.
I needed to walk away before I exploded.
A few years ago, I would not have taken that break. I would have kept pressing on and trying to push down all the anger inside of me. It would never work and I’d end up yelling.
I realized that the best way to calm down was to take a break…but I wouldn’t do it. I worried about what my kids would get into, how much fighting would ensue, and if they’d actually leave me alone to calm down. It didn’t seem worth it.
After my explosion at my then 3-year-old, I knew that I needed to start taking breaks when I’d get upset. So, I set up different ways to keep my children engaged and busy in an activity so I didn’t have to worry…as much…about what they were doing while I was away.
Here are my favorites.
Rainbow rice and Playdough
I dump the rainbow rice in a big tub, add some spoons, cups, and matchbox cars and my kids are set for hours. And we have a huge set of playdough contraptions that I can throw out on the table for them.
I love this option as a creative outlet, but I do worry about the clean up afterward. But now at 3 and 6, my boys are able to pick up after themselves pretty well, so it’s sometimes worth the mess.
I plug in a good audio book and hand my boys a set of headphones. There are so many wonderful audio books available for all ages. My kids love “The Magic Treehouse” series, Disney Storybook Collection, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Not only are they taking a break and listening to wonderful childhood stories, they also enjoy the actors playing out the different voices and giving them the feeling that they are part of the story.
I prefer to get my books at Audible. Click here to try Audible and get two free Audiobooks!
I love to get everyone outside and sit with a book while they play in the backyard or playground.
Just getting outside and breathing in the fresh air, hearing the sounds of the birds, and taking in the sights of the season are a great way to reset my energy.
For me, adding a book is the perfect complement to this as I love reading and it’s important for my kids to see me enjoying a good book as an example of how to spend free time and that books are enjoyable.
When I was pregnant with my second son, one of the nurses at my doctors’ office recommended having a box of toys for my older son to play with while I was feeding my younger son, so there would be less frustration during this time.
This was the best advice I received and has been something I’ve tried to carry into other aspects of motherhood.
So, why not have a special set of toys that only comes out when Mama needs a break? This gives them something new and exciting to experience while I get that much needed time.
There’s no guilt in turning on a TV show or handing them a tablet. I have to admit, the subject of screen time has been the biggest challenge for me as a mother.
I limit their screen time and do my best to offer a mixture of organized activities, free time, and family time. But some days, I don’t want to set up an activity and they aren’t all that interested in my ideas, so I turn on the TV or hand over a tablet.
I used to feel really guilty about this, but I realized it’s better to have a bit of screen time than a Mama who’s angry and yelling.
Now when I’m starting to feel the tension build, and I realize that I need a break, I have several different options for my children, so keep them busy and happy.
More for You:
- The Secret To Being A Happy Mom
- Pretend Play is Boring, How to Actually Enjoy Playing With Your Kids
- 4 Ridiculous Ways To Cure a Bad Day