If you’re late for work and your young child refuses to put on her shoes, what happens in your brain?
Do you think, “If I don’t get her shoes on, we’ll be late getting out the door. If we’re late getting out the door, I’ll be late getting her to daycare. And I’ll be late for work. If I’m late for work, I’ll get in trouble with my boss. If I get in trouble, I will lose my job….”
If so, don’t worry, you’re normal. Very normal.
All parents catastrophise from time to time.
We are built to fear for the worst. That’s how we survived life before indoor heating and supermarkets.
But, I am curious, does your catastrophic thinking lead to:
- good parenting (and shoed feet)
- questionable parenting (and parental tantrums)
- jamming the sneakers on the little so-and-so’s feet and hauling her
out the door
Now, normal is normal and it probably won’t do that much damage to your kids for you to go a little nutty on occasion. In fact, spazzing out every once in a while in front of our children is probably better than being cold and reserved all the time. At least kids know that their freaking-out parents are human parents.
Freaking-out parents are toddler-human, but still human. A parent who doesn’t over-react some of the time is probably not paying much attention to their child and the world they live in.
Nevertheless, we do need to raise our game above toddler-status, at least most of the time.
And our kid’s nervous systems need us to be mom and dad, rather than raving lunatics.
Kids need parents to be centred (enough), brave (enough), and curious (enough) –
…at least most of the time.
So, here’s what I propose:
1. Time Cushions:
Build more time into your schedule. Never, ever, let your child run the clock. If it takes 10 minutes to get your little angel’s shoes on in the morning, plan for 20 minutes. I do and it works like magic.
2. Cut the Fat in your Schedule (by sitting on your butt):
If you are perpetually stressed out because your little Sally has stuff to do every night of the week, I bet little Sally is even more stressed out. A little stress is good; a lot of stress is very, very bad. Yes, activity and excersize are necessary, but so is sitting and collecting one’s thoughts. You and your child both need and deserve time off of the clock.
3. Hire a Baby Sitter:
There may be times when you need to not be with your child for the sake of your own sanity. Be prepared for those occasions! Make a list of people to call (possibly with bribes) on those days when you’ve nearly forgotten your partner’s name due to:
- lack of sleep
- lack of sex
- lack of conversation about the parts of your beloved’s day which did not
involve childrearing OR
- all of the above.
With time-cushions, a lighter calendar, and baby-sitters we can keep time from crushing our souls. Without them, well, we are likely to keep sledding down the slippery-slope of catastrophic living.
Here’s to being calm (enough), brave (enough), and curious (enough) to create family-sized schedules.
Here’s to facing the clock and the onslaught of time as co-creators rather than as frantic and powerless minions.
It ain’t easy, but it’s doable.