The 2-year old is sick. And the way he expresses his discomfort is by attaching himself to my personage and moaning “Mum Mum” all.day.long. in the exact tone that hits the nerve in your face that makes your eye twitch.
After my 10th consecutive hour of this, I was about to break. Actually, I was breaking. And breaking looks like total lack of compassion, patience, critical thinking or parental authority. I just want to curl up in the fetal position and moan. But I can’t because I currently have a toddler attached to me doing that exact same thing.
Enter my heroic husband, who has also suffered today as he worked from home to the background moaning of Mum-Mum all.day.long. Yet he still walked into the kitchen (where I was cooking/hiding…with a toddler attached to my ankle) and offered to take over so I could go upstairs and escape for a bit. His exact words were, “I would like to offer you some time away from the noise,” but all I really heard were angels’ voices.
So I limped up the stairs and collapsed into my unmade bed as I propped my weary feet up on a mountain of clean laundry. *Side-note: the very fact that I could retreat to a less-than-perfectly-cleaned room is a huge victory for me. Until recently, the very thought of an unmade bed or still-not-folded laundry would’ve sent me into severe anxiety. But all that has changed as I pursue the greater good of sanity. The bed will eventually get made; the laundry will eventually get folded, but not if I loose my sanity first!
And here’s the amazing part: within TEN minutes, my nerves were calmed and my mental capacities had returned to me and I was ready to go back on to the battle ground with a revised plan. For fear of sounding like an informercial, allow me to share with you how this occurred: BREATHING. More precisely, Alternate Nostril Breathing.
If you are as unfamiliar with this practice as I was a few years ago, you can read more about it here. I’m really not kidding when I say it dramatically helps with sensory or emotional overload. Dramatically. Every time.
Pictured below: not me. But someone who clearly got to shower and paint their nails practicing alternate nostril breathing.
Ok, where was I? Oh yes, laying on my unmade bed with my feet propped up on a pile of laundry. Oh, and I had my headphones on listening to a nature soundtrack. Ocean waves to be exact. First, because I find it peaceful. And secondly, because it’s an excellent way to block out a whining toddler on the floor below.
After my 10 minutes of alternate nostril breathing, my headache was gone, my breathing had slowed down, and my mind was cleared. I was able to come up with a revised plan for the remainder of the night- one that didn’t involve running away or lashing out at the kids. It looked like this:
- Before dinner, I asked the children if they could help me by talking quietly at dinner; no loud noises.
- I was serving a new recipe that I wasn’t sure would be a hit (cauliflower ‘cream sauce’ and mushroom bake) and so I encouraged/bribed the kids with popcorn and a movie if they ate all their food without complaining. First, because they will do almost anything for popcorn. And secondly, a movie would keep them quiet as we rode out the night. And thirdly, because I wasn’t sure I could trust myself to handle complaining or whining without stabbing myself in the eye with my cauliflower-gruyere-covered fork. *side note: dinner was a huge hit with 50% of the family, including Sammy who asked for a ‘second loading’. Ha!
- eat a piece of dark chocolate and blog about it while the kids watched their movie and ate popcorn. (Update: Three. Three pieces of dark chocolate.)
So there it is: my glamorous survival techniques on a less-than-ideal day. I hope this encourages you to give yourself a big hug on the hard days and figure out creative and fruitful ways to parent! And as always, I’d love to hear what’s working for you!