Waking up this morning with another full night of sleep felt heavenly. All the things on my list of things to do seemed perfectly manageable. The pre-moving things like researching schools in Asheville, NC, looking for a home, thinking about insurance carriers, and deciding on things I needed to go through to get rid of...these all seemed like reasonable feats. Even in addition to marathon training, raising three kids and the normal every day things that come with life. Everything seemed smooth sailing.
TAKE IT OUT ON THE WORLD
Barrel full of FEELINGS
Three Year Old
It made for quite the morning. Forget trying to get my daughters out the door with a smile and joke. I was lucky to be breathing as I huffed out an "I love You" and smacked a kiss on their pretty little cheeks while the sound of tantruming 3 year old came rumbling down the hallway and out the front door. More effective than any rooster would be in waking up the neighbors.
Now, after calming my son and having him relax next to me with his highlighter and journal while listening to some annoying kid song about feelings, I'm trying to get my once calm and happy heart to come down to a normal level again instead of feeling like it is going to pop out of my chest. Writing helps. So does deep breathing. And really, now that my son is calm, and I've had a chance to process and get a few things done around the house, I'm feeing much more CALM.
The things I do to calm myself have been learned over the years. I know what works for me:
- Breathing deeply
- Self Talk..."Okay, Amanda, think before you speak. You're the best teacher he has right now so model model model."
- Being productive...just starting to get things done around the house.
- Talking to others...Feeling HEARD.
My first response in dealing with my son when he starts acting like a major jerk of a three old is to act like a major jerk of a 34 year old right back. I want to yell. I want to send him to his room with no explanation. I want to have a big fat MOMMY TANTRUM. And you know, many times I do just that. More times than I want to admit. But today I was able to step outside of myself a little and see things from my son's perspective.
I reminded myself:
- He's Three.
- Even though throwing a fit about not being able to go to school on a Wednesday (only Tuesdays and Thursdays) seems irrational to me, it is a REAL issue to him. It is also real to him that his sisters were laughing at his ridiculous fit and this made him feel angry. His feelings are real.
- I know how to calm down when I'm angry. I've learned this over the years. Kids need to learn this too. And we can help them.
- When I talk about feelings and emotions with my kids and let them know that they are normal and okay to have even though their behavior/actions aren't sometimes, I'm taking steps in helping them to deal with their emotional mood swings without feeling shame.
- As hard as this is, it is my job.
As I just mentioned, one of the ways I calm myself down is by breathing deeply.
Deep breath in through my nose...
Release it fully from my mouth.
I repeat this several times until I'm able to feel a calmness and gain some more control over my thoughts and actions.
If this breathing works for me, surely it would work for my kids. And it does. But they needed to learn this. How? How can we teach our kids the technique of deep breathing to help them CALM themselves?
One of the things I've done since my oldest was very little in learning to calm down with breathing is something I call
Smell the Flower.... Blow Out the Candle.
And it really works. I hold my hand up to them and tell them it is a flower. Then say "Smell the flower" as I model for them what a deep breath through the nose looks like. Then they try. Then I tell them that my hand or finger is a candle and I say "blow out the candle" and I model for them what it looks like to blow out through their mouth. Then they try. After that, I just repeat "Smell the flower...blow out the candle" until they have done this several times. It almost always helps them to relax and calm down. And in the process they are learning the strategy of Deep Breathing in helping them gain control over their emotions.
On that note, my time here is up. I'm sure I'll be smelling some flowers and blowing out some candles myself today. Plenty. It is just one of those days. But I'm up for the challenge that motherhood brings. It's my job and I wouldn't trade it for the world. The next calming strategy I'll be teaching them someday will be to discover the CALM and FREEDOM of RUNNING.
How do you find CALM when you are stressed and feeling out of control?
What are some ways that you help your children learn to calm themselves and communicate their feeling effectively?