I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that I suffer from a touch of the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which, according to WebMD is a “Type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. You may have SAD if you felt depressed during the last two winters but felt much better in spring and summer.” Symptoms include irritability and the cravings of carbohydrates (Ding Ding Ding). Lucky for me, it’s now mid March. I know that with the longer days and the ability to get the kids outside more often, things will improve for me without much in the way of medical intervention.
But that doesn’t really help me in the minute by minute, hour by hour challenges of dealing with four small kids, on my own, for the vast majority of each weekday. (Hubs is gone from 5:30 a.m. – 7:15 p.m. Monday – Friday). I think I had my “Aha” moment when my 3-year-old son asked me point blank why I yell at him all the time. And my heart just shattered.
I know all moms yell at their kids. I am no exception. I don’t even think I yell at my kids more than any other mom does. But here are some hard truths about it, and some small ways to make this better for me, and maybe for you too.
I hate myself when I yell at them. There is no other way to say this. I feel like I am royally screwing everything up, and that I am the worst mother in the whole wide world.
This one is even darker; it sometimes feels good to yell at them. Like, cathartic. And, for real, sometimes their behavior is SO TERRIBLE that I need a way to shake them out of their jerkiness. And without exception, when I yell, I get their attention, and they apologize to me for whatever horrible thing they were doing, and I apologize for yelling, and we move on.
A yelling person is not who I want to be. So I am fixin’ to fix it. Or at least change it. Or at least improve it somewhat. There, I said it. I am going to change.
So here are a few of the ideas that I have that will (and DO) make me better at this whole concept of being calmer and less shreiky.
Less time on my mobile device. I am actually experimenting right now with quarantining my device during peak “mom hours” and I will be writing a whole separate post on that when I have more data. Me + My phone = distraction + anxiety, and takes my attention away from them. They deserve as much of my full attention for those few hours a day that we are all together doing homework and eating and TRYING to enjoy each other.
More time with my Mom Tribe. When I am with friends, either at their houses, here at mine, or out in public, I am magically transformed into a more patient person. Maybe this is because I don’t want my girlfriends to think I am an insane shrew, or because being with them just makes me a better version of myself, but whatever the reason, I try to be with others, especially when we are all cooped up, as much as possible. I am talking, like, multiple times a week.
I talk to my kids about my feelings, and about the consequences of their behavior. I feel like I owe them some honesty about how I feel, and I feel like they are surprisingly receptive to it. I think it humanizes me to them, and helps us all understand that we all need to be there FOR EACH OTHER, and that I am not trying to be perfect, and by extension, they don’t have to be perfect either.
The good news is that Spring is right around the corner. I ran OUTSIDE today for the first time in quite a while. Just the act of writing this piece makes me feel better, and I hope it brings you an idea, or reminds you that you are not alone when you feel bad or don’t bring your best to your kids every moment. Tomorrow is another day. I’m going to do my best!