How to Be The Parent You Want to Be
We’ve been enjoying the summer over here, and hopefully, you and your families have been too! I spent last week home with BOTH my kids (which is why no newsletter hit your inboxes…. everyone over here is alive, but I accomplished nothing else! ).
Spending the week at home wrangling a preschooler and an infant was delightful in many ways, and a test of my patience and emotion regulation skills in others! My older son has fully entered the threenager phase, and he is driving me completely batty with epic daily meltdowns (including one last week in which he collapsed in hysterics on the floor next to the cat box for absolutely no visible reason… and when he finally managed to calm down enough to talk, it was because he wanted a PB&J THAT HE COULD HAVE HAD IF HE HAD JUST ASKED FOR IT) and endless limit-testing.
I’ve spent over fifteen years working with kids and parents around effective emotion regulation, including lots of work with parents around keeping their cool in tough moments with their kids. But man, even developmentally normative behaviors can be incredibly upsetting and infuriating, and our kids can be so skillful in pushing our buttons. Managing my kid over the past few weeks has been a powerful reminder that it is most difficult to be the parents we really want to be in EXACTLY those moments in which we need to be our best selves the very most!
So how can we give ourselves the best shot at being our best selves? By paying attention to how we’re feeling. By doing things to meet our own needs when we notice we’re feeling depleted, or when we see that we’re being more reactive. By anticipating that we might feel that way and doing something to take care of ourselves proactively.
For me, that meant going to bed when the baby went to bed last week. Sure, it was 8:30pm. So what? Yeah, going to bed that early meant missing out on the chance to read a book in peace and quiet, to catch up on email, or to talk to my husband after both kids were asleep. But it also meant being less fatigued during the day and having more patience and energy to face the inevitable meltdowns with at least a little more grace.
Other action items on my self-care list this week (even though preschool is back in session! ?): going back to an exercise class, or at least taking a daily walk (even if it’s just an extra few blocks en route to preschool pick-up).
This week: check in with yourself. How are you feeling? If you notice that you’re tired, stressed, burned out, more reactive than you’d like to be, what can you do about it?
Even if it’s something tiny (drink your coffee on the balcony! walk around the block! take an extra long, extra hot shower! call a friend!), any action counts. Any action makes a difference.
P.S.– register for our online program, How to Not Lose Your Sh*t With Your Kids,to get more tips and tricks on keeping your cool with your kids! It’s only $30, and we’ve had over 100 parents do it so far and say it was totally worth it!
We also will be opening slots for individual parent coaching (in person or via phone/telehealth) in August 2019– let us help you be the parent you want to be by building skills to more effectively cope with your own stress, anxiety, and frustration (plus get support around troubleshooting the behaviors that drive you particularly crazy!). If you are interested, please email us at clinic@practicesanfrancisco.