Parenting has never seemed so challenging. Moms, my heart goes out to you. You have never had so much on your plate. Navigating your family through all the daily changes while living with multiple pandemics has taken its toll on everyone’s mental health. I imagine your stress level has gone through the roof, as you try to be the calm in the storm.
Sometimes, before you don your supermom cape, your day starts. You barely even catch your breath before your youngest, 3-year-old Jasmine, pounces on top of you. She disturbs your cozy warm bed and last bit of shut eye. Eager for your attention she screams, “Mommy, mommy I’m hungry now!” And your oldest, 5-year-old James, refuses to get up. “School is stupid! It’s not even real.”
After a tug-of-war to loosen his death grip on his bed covers, you fall backwards, bump your head, and lose it. “Get up right now…” Your words fly out faster than you can scoop them up. Now you storm out of your son’s bedroom, slam the door, and dissolve into tears.
Plagued with mommy guilt, you lash out at yourself again. “ I can’t believe I just yelled at my baby, my sweet five year old, James, who I love more than life itself.” You spewed out such nasty stuff that you barely recognize yourself.
But it’s not your fault that he caught you off guard. Imagine if you could get out ahead of that unforgiving tidal wave before it knocks you down, scoops you up, and spits you out onto the wet sand, cold, shivering, and alone.
When did motherhood get so hard? Sometimes, we feel like we have little control over our lives.Here’s what I mean…
As a young teen, I thought I was invincible. Before our family vacation to Fort Lauderdale, FL, nothing could knock me down. I had no fears. It was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect beach weather. I was too young to realize the awesome destructive power of Mother Nature. The ocean was a mystical place, mesmerizing to watch.
I was with my big sister, and we were in charge of the world. So, I ventured deeper into the ocean waves. Splashing my ankles. Touching my knees.Up to my waist. Jumping over them until waves came at me fast and furious. Too young to have any fears yet, I waded deeper out into the ocean. It’s hard to gauge just how far.
I was dodging a wave when I lost my footing and slipped. Another wave took me down and swept me up, and smacked me face down into the wet, gooey sand. And spat me out on the beach. I lay there spewing out salty ocean water and clumps of gritty sand, all alone coughing and catching my breath.
I couldn’t fathom how a wave of water could knock me down and leave me panting on the shore.
But there are always clues to the tidal waves that take our spirit down. If we tap into our internal GPS, then we can get out ahead of the lows and the highs that populate our days. And the best part is we can do this before we get derailed by our own negativity.
Recently, child development specialist Karen DeHaven, MA, BC-DMT, LPC, a child therapist and the owner and director of AHA! Studio for Integrated Therapies, LLC, and I were interviewed on Dr. Jo Anne White’s blog radio show Power Your Life . We discussed tips, techniques, and tools to make parenting easier, less stressful, and joyful. And we co-created a “Family Feel-Good Toolkit” to give moms a step-by- step guidance to help your child understand and manage emotions in a healthier way.
Please click on the Power Your Life link below for the full story.
This first part of my blog series is based on my insights gained from our discussion. It is focused on transformative, seamlessly integrated self-care routines for moms.
From my research and collaboration with mental health professionals like DeHaven, I realize the one thing that prevents moms from moving through their days with flow and ease. It stems from how they were raised to suppress or ignore emotions.
Many moms have been taught not to tap into their internal GPS, their emotional intelligence says Marc Bracket,Phd., director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI) , in his recent book which represents his life’s work on the topic, “Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotion to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive.
Stop labeling your emotions as bad or good, says Robin Stern, PhD.,associate director of YCEI, and start paying attention to how you feel. But that contradicts how many of us were raised. Dr. White recalls the daily damaging messages that we have internalized as parents: “Only babies cry, you need to act like a big boy!” or “It’s not okay to be angry!” or “You have nothing to be sad about.”
But Brackett says that we need to be super curious and approach our emotions like a scientist. Because our feelings tell us if we feel good and want to experience more of that emotion, or it could indicate that we need to stop and reassess what we’re doing.
So, before you get hijacked by your emotions, use them as a gauge and do this one thing: Pay attention to how you feel.
In the Radio Show DeHaven walks us through the four stages of emotional intelligence:
4 Stepping Stones to Emotional SmARTS
1. Name it. Identify and rate your emotion. Identify your own emotional state. Be as specific as you can. Don’t wait until you fly off the handle and freak out. Instead do multiple daily check-ins. Ask: What am I feeling? Pinpoint where you feel it in your body.Learn to recognize if there is a pattern.
2. Regulate and tame it. This is the process you go through to self-regulate and find your inner calm. DeHaven and I co-created a “Family Feel Good Toolkit” to go through each step. One chart you do together to discover which sensory activities are secret mood shifters for each member.
3. Read emotions in others. Shift perspective away from self toward others to stay in social engagement space.
4. Make an informed choice. Respond rather than react.
Here are 4 tips to get through your day with more flow and ease:
- Prepare yourself mentally before you begin your day.Wake up at least 15 minutes before your kids. Have a routine that grounds you before you greet your family.
- Be kinder to yourself. Pay attention to how you talk and think about yourself. Are you lashing out, feeling guilty, unworthy. Is this how you would talk with a dear friend? Jodi Silverman, founder of the Moms Who Dare Community, is the expert on creating transformative self-care routines for moms (My internalized practices and principles that I learned from Jodi’s 6-week-resiliency workshop helped me face down COVID pneumonia).
- Catch yourself when you first go negative. Overwrite the message with powerful affirmations that you believe. When you think,“I’m not good enough… I’ll never get this right. I’m weak.” As you hear those tired old messages, stop and ask yourself: Is that true? Replace with: I am love, I am patience. I am a work-in-progress.
- Multiple self check-ins. Then alert your family to what you need from them. Use “I” messages:”I feel… I need.. I have had a long, hard day, and I just need a couple of minutes to recharge my battery.”
The key to not being knocked face down by your negativity is to get out ahead of it before it takes you down. If you’re checking in daily, then you will be better equipped to handle what comes your way. And once you can take better care of yourself and find ways to nourish your body, mind, and spirit, then you can be a better role model for your kids.
Please like, share the social media love, and comment if you found this article useful. Share your biggest struggles and little victories!
Grab your “Family Feel-Good Toolkit” by clicking the link here!
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