“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”
– Sam Keen
It’s often easier to parent gently and positively and generally keep our cool when all is going well with life. What about when daily surprises just keep piling on stress and emotional turmoil, how can we keep our emotions in check and not let our frustrations and anger cloud our parenting intentions?
In the last four weeks our family dog died, our washing machine and my laptop broke, all three children became sick and, well, the list goes on . . . and on. I’d love to say that I was able to remain perfectly happy go lucky through it all, but I wasn’t. I didn’t totally lose it either (phew!), but to be super honest it took a lot of awareness and mindfulness to stay positive.
Do you ever feel bogged down and negative about your parenting interactions when you are feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed? Try one of the ideas below to get through those exhausting moments.
11 Ideas to Preserve Your Gentle and Peaceful Intentions Even When Faced with Stress
- Think small steps: Instead of thinking about how you will face the entire day, focus on one hour or even each half hour, and take each moment as it comes.
- Change your mind set: Stop yourself from criticizing or focusing on the stuff your kids are doing “poorly” and all that is going wrong. Try to focus and look for the good stuff instead. It’s not easy, but being mindful and searching for the positives really makes a difference.
- Out with the old: Try a new way of confronting the usual parenting challenges. Try to play where you are usually serious, and practice flexibility where you are otherwise set in your decision. That change will help your brain become unstuck from the negative rut and return to your positive and peaceful goal. This doesn’t mean you should throw away limits, just rethink how you are approaching them.
- Trust More, Control less: Kids are capable of a lot, sometimes we forget to trust them. Let go a bit, give your child the responsibility for something age appropriate and safe and see what happens. You might just be positively surprised, and you will get a small break to focus on something else.
- Sticky Notes: Leave yourself a reminder in an area you walk by often that you want to be more positive, kinder and happy about your parenting decisions. “I can choose love”, “Kindness works.” “Breathe, Believe, Be Nice.”
- Mirror, Mirror: When you feel your angry voice surging, run to the mirror, and notice the crease in your forehead or the stress in your eyes. Is that really what you want your child to remember about you? Take a deep breath and try to bring into the mirror the face you do want your child to remember.
- Nourish yourself: Don’t skip meals, reach for healthy foods and don’t forget to take small breaks for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in taking care of everyone else, but self care is vital (think oxygen mask on a plane) if you are not taking good care of yourself, you cannot truly take good care of anyone else.
- Turn up the music: Use music to lift your spirits and give the children a chance to dance, connect and have fun with you.
- Make a Gratitude list: Write down all the wonderful things in your life all that you are so thankful about. Read the list to yourself when things get really tough. Gratitude is truly uplifting and calming.
- Quick Calm-Down: We can better face the demands of parenting when we are able to keep our cool. To do this, it helps to know how to calm ourselves no matter what. I like to take four to six deep breaths or repeat a calming mantra such as “I choose kindness”. Doing this can be very helpful and the more we practice it, the easier it works to regulate our stress reactions.
- Vent Away: Find someone willing to listen to all the stresses and difficulties you have going on, preferably someone willing to just listen without judgment or advice. I’m very lucky that my mother was more than willing to hear all my complaints and frustrations so that I could just get it out of my system and not take it out on the kids! Letting go of whatever is stressing us or bothering us can be very healing.
Every day may bring us a surprise, a special moment or a challenge. This time with our family, this life, it’s the only one we have, so why not try to make the most out of it? Returning to positive and gentle parenting might be challenging at times, but it’s well worth the effort!
In what moments do you find it hardest to stay true to your peaceful parenting intentions?
Peace & Be Well,
Photo Credit 1: Ariadne Brill