“How am I going to handle this?”
“Why is it so hard to get things done around here?”
“My kids are driving me CRAZY!”
“How can I possibly juggle all of these responsibilities?”
We know that when we are relaxed, present and in the moment, we can connect more easily with our Great Kids and we enjoy life more (as do they!); however, there are times when it feels almost impossible to get to that regulated, mindful place. Here are some ideas that may be of assistance. You will probably connect more with some ideas than with others, but hopefully everyone will find something that is valuable!
This can be a really hard thing to do, but also may be one of the most powerful in handling situations. Regardless of whether we accept or resist what’s happening, it already IS! If we can accept what is, it releases a lot of our negative emotions around it, and from that place of acceptance, you can have a clearer mind (free from resistance or strong emotion) and can make logical decisions about what to do. So, for example, my son is not ready to go when we need to be literally out the door for what feels like the 100th time. It’s happening, so it IS. I don’t have to like it, but whether I accept it or resist it, that doesn’t change that it’s happening, and if I resist it/ get triggered by it, it doesn’t help in reaching a helpful conclusion to the situation (and in fact leads to everyone being mad at each other, which definitely does NOT help).
Once you’ve accepted what is, then you’re in a great position to take a step back to reflect and plan your next step. At this stage, you can ask yourself some questions:
- “Name it to Tame It” (a phrase coined by author and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel): Is it frustration, irritation, anger, being “triggered” so my reaction is bigger than the actual event? A lot of times, being able to put a label on your emotions can help with being able to understand the situation more clearly.
- “What is in my control and what is out of my control?”: This simple question can help you to be clearer about where to put your energy. I can’t control that we are running late, but I can control how I react now and how I plan for the future. I can’t control that my son has motor planning difficulties and is sensory under-responsive so everything takes a long time, but I can control how much time I give him to prepare and/ or what supports I can provide for him.
- “Is my thinking/ action helpful or hurtful for resolving the situation?”: This question can also help with clarifying what will be the best next step. If I yell at my son, will it help him move faster, or will it make him defensive and angry and slow him down even more?
Connecting the first idea (Accept) to the second idea (Reflect) and ultimately to the third idea (Connect): if you are able to accept what IS (eg, your child comes barrelling through the room and barely misses knocking over the lamp) then it gives you space to be able to reflect and look UNDER that behavior to the root (ie, is my child an under-responsive kid who needs to move, or does my child have motor planning difficulties or body awareness difficulties that affect safety, or does my child need some connecting time with me). If you are reactive, which we all are sometimes (“How many times have I asked you to stop running in the house???”), it can create elevated emotions, guilt, anger, etc.; however, if you can accept what is, and from that place of acceptance you can reflect on what might be causing that behavior, then you can CONNECT with your child and help solve the problem (eg, In a calm voice and getting on the child’s eye level, “You running around shows me that you need to move your body! It’s not safe to run inside, but I’ll be done in two minutes and we can go outside” or “What would you like to do?” or “Let’s make a ‘save the animals’ obstacle course!”)
Make sure to make play part of the schedule. Like laughter, play is important for both adults and children. In his “Healthy Mind Platter”, Dr. Daniel Siegel includes Playtime as one of the 7 essential elements of a balanced life (the others are Sleep time, Physical Time, Focus Time, Time-In, Connecting Time and Downtime). What is play, you ask? It’s whenever you are engaging in an activity for enjoyment versus for a practical purpose. When planning a play session with your child (this is also Connecting Time), set aside 20-30 minutes in which you can focus just on play (putting away devices, etc.). This play time will look different, depending on the age, interests, developmental factors, etc. of your child, but the most important thing to remember is to attune to your child and to help your child feel safe and relaxed.
Laughter activates the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine and can completely flip your mood, thus allowing you to be more able to handle whatever gets thrown your way. Think of that amazing feeling you have after you’ve had a good belly laugh! How can you just laugh, you say? Watch funny animal videos on YouTube with your child (the effect of laughter can help to connect you and your child when tensions are high). Do a search for clips from your favorite funny movie or comedian. Send a silly picture, meme or gif to a friend or your partner. Think of funny memories from childhood. Call a friend who you like to laugh with.