When I was a young mom, probably with two or three young kids, I often felt stressed out and frazzled. I loved being a stay-at-home-mom, and I’m crazy about my kids, but I still felt agitated and on edge a lot of the time. I was always saying to myself (and probably anyone else who would listen) My kids are driving me crazy!
One day when I was feeling particularly irritated, it dawned on me that I was the one creating the irritation with that one thought that was playing on repeat in my head. This was the 90s, so I thought of it as a recording on a cassette tape that I was playing over and over again, or like a computer program that, with the same inputs, was predictably creating the same output. The realization finally hit me…Duh, the kids are driving me crazy because I’m telling myself all day long that they’re driving me crazy! So, of course, that’s the experience I’m having with them! I had created a recurring pattern where they did X (insert whatever kids do), and I thought and did Y and Z.
This one realization was really a revelation. Literally, I think it was personal revelation for me, that I was doing myself in by allowing myself to continually think that same negative thought over and over again. I decided right then and there to start looking at things differently. When I really thought about it, I realized that these crazy-making moments were really just that, small moments in time that wouldn’t last forever.
From then on, whenever the kids were being a little (or a lot) wild, fighting, disobeying, making a giant mess, or whatever it was that got me so upset and stressed out, thinking I was having a “bad day” or a “terrible week”, I would say to myself, This is only a moment in time. I don’t need to write off the whole day as being a disaster. Things will calm down again, and as a mom, it’s my job to create the feeling I want in my home.
That one powerful thought saved my sanity over and over and over again through all the years and all the kids yet to come. Not like I did things perfectly after that, but that slight shift in perspective was so powerful that it transformed my parenting life. Not only that, I began to better recognize other repetitive thoughts that were really bringing me down and keeping me feeling stuck and victimized. Some thoughts that I remember from those days were things like, I’m always so sleep deprived. Things are always a mess around here. The kids never leave me alone. The work never ends etc…
Because I really wanted to have a better experience in my dream job as a stay-at-home-mom, I began to take responsibility for making that happen. The really good news about all this was that it didn’t require the kids to change at all. I was the one with the power to make the change. When I changed me, the kids seemed to change for the better as well. (Probably because they had a nicer version of the same mom. 🙂
If this sounds like where you are at some days (or all the days lol), it might be helpful to look inside and see what you are thinking and how that is impacting your experience with your kids. Are you having repetitive thoughts about a specific child, or situation, or time of day? Maybe it is bedtime, or early mornings. Maybe it is one of your kids that always seems to push your buttons (I’m looking at you toddlers and teenagers…). Maybe it’s the constant physical and emotional demands of parenting. Whatever it is, I promise you that if you take some time to process your thoughts, you will start to see how you can turn things around. The hardest part of all of it is recognizing what you are thinking and then putting in the effort to change those thoughts. Patterns of thinking and behavior take focus and effort to change but it can be done.
A good friend of mine, who is an amazing mom, said she used to feel resentful towards her kids for all the work and attention they required. She kind of felt like she had better things to do than just take care of them all day. She definitely wasn’t having a whole lot of fun and she wasn’t being her best self when she was feeling that way. After she thought about it, she realized that her kids were the whole reason she had quit her full-time job. She really had chosen to devote her life to taking care of them. She had a brilliant idea to help her while she worked on changing her attitude. She printed out notes that she posted around the house that said “Am I treating my kids like a chore or a blessing?” That small shift in perspective really helped her settle into her role as a full-time stay-at-home-mom, and things got so much better. If you talk to her today (her oldest is a senior in high school) there’s nothing she would rather do that be home with her kids. She’s now reaching the other end of the motherhood spectrum when you ask yourself what you will do when they are grown and gone. (Be honest, doesn’t that make you tear up a little?)
So the next time you find yourself thinking the kids are driving me crazy! I need to get out of here and get some me time! I invite you to consider how you’re seeing the children and the situation. There’s nothing wrong with time to yourself, but maybe all you need to get a little peace and quiet is to quiet your mind and look at the situation with a fresh perspective. Simple things like taking a minute to breathe, saying a prayer, listening to good music, or going for a short walk (even if the kids are with you) can do wonders to clear your mind and help you deal more calmly with your kids. Ask yourself what helps you to feel calm and then start doing that along with intentionally focusing on thoughts that bring you peace instead of adding to your stress. Calm yourself and then go love those babies. You can do this, Momma!
P.S. There’s a true story I have to share about the pictures in this post. I had just finished writing this when my oldest son (one of those crazy kids of years ago), randomly sent me the picture that is at the top of this post. His son had wandered off while he was on the phone, found mom’s lipstick and decided to create some artwork with it. My son said that he was a little upset at first until he looked at it closer and decided he kind of liked the “lipstick art”. The color and texture totally match the earth tone vibe in the rest of their house. (According to my son, if it had been bright green my grandson would have been in a little more hot water.) My favorite part was that when his cute, artistic wife saw it she actually touched it up a little and signed it for him.(See
below.) That, my friends, is a perfect example of how you can use your thoughts to handle a messy situation without going off on your kids and getting yourself all worked up in the process! Thanks to my 27-year-old-former-mess-maker-turned-graphic-designer-son for being that kind of dad. And thanks to his wife for having a sense of humor and making a memory instead of a big issue out of the situation. And here’s a mom (or dad) tip for when you encounter these kinds of messes. Magic Erasers really are magic! I’ve used them to get off everything from crayons on the wall to permanent markers on a computer screen. They have been life savers when I’m getting ready to sell a house and there are scuff marks on the walls and floors. They are also awesome on bathtub and kitchen sink grime. I love those things! Promise I didn’t get paid to say that, but if the guys at Mr. Clean want to endorse this post that is just fine with me. 🙂
Rachel Benson has been married to her wonderful husband Mark for 30 years. Together they have raised 6 amazing kids, and now have 4 adorable grandkids. Rachel is a real estate agent in Utah who is obsessed with all things home and family related.
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