Monday, July 14, 2014

Mindful Monday: Avoiding the Mommy Meltdown and NOT Yelling

Today I'm going to diverge from the normal garden-type topic.  As most of my readers know, my best helper in the garden and around the house is my 4 year old son.  

At his young age, he is already incredibly aware of the earth and what it gives us. He knows how pollination works and what it yields, and he understands the creatures that perform the task.  We have planted seeds and grown little plants.  He always helps with the harvest, even if he eats most of the little tomatoes he picks.

And he loves trees!  Bug has been hugging trees since he could walk.

With the chickens he is even more involved.  He feeds them and gives them treats.  He collects the eggs from Boo-boo.  He even helps clean the coop and brooders when it's time.  He's been a regular at the coop planning meetings since the shed arrived, too.


But, he's 4, and in that capacity he has the uncanny ability to drive me bat-poop crazy.  Both of us are hotheads, so we are known to have our horns out ramming each other like big-horned sheep.  (Figuratively, of course.  We don't really have horns.)  Unfortunately, this happens more often than I would like, and it usually ends with me yelling.

Nobody wins at those times.  Even though I have released my frustration, I am left feeling angry at myself for losing control.  Worse, Bug is usually crying because of my yelling and from whatever made me yell.  

I hurt my little boy.  That hurts me.  

I always hug him and apologize afterward.  And I try to explain why I yelled.  But that's not good enough.  He doesn't deserve to be yelled out that way.

The other day I read an article at Hands Free Mama about how she was able to curb her yelling, and I wanted to take that step for my own family.

So I made a vow to myself:
I will try my hardest not to lose my temper with my kids.  When I feel like I might yell, I will take a breath and step away from the situation.
This is harder than it sounds when I am the one who is with them most of the time.  But I have to give my husband credit for stepping in when he's home.  He sees when I'm on the edge, and he tells me he's got it so I can leave the room to chill.

In the article I read, she mentioned a moment when her older daughter spilled a box of Cheerios all over the floor.  The 6 year old looked at her mother with fear in her eyes, expecting to be yelled at, and that was when the author realized the impact her yelling had on her kids.

After I made the vow to myself, I had an experience similar to the spilled Cheerios.  Bug knocked over his TV tray because he was kicking his feet.   It was a minor infraction, but after warning him repeatedly to be careful of the tray, especially since there was a mug of hot coffee on it, I was on the edge.  (I removed the coffee before the flip.)  I was also doing some writing, so the interruption was another irritant with the situation.

When the tray flipped, I said his name using an irritated tone.  He looked up at me, and I saw that Mom's-gonna-yell-at-me fear in those beautiful blue eyes.  My heart broke.

"I'm not yelling," I assured him.  "Just put the stuff back on the tray.  It's okay.  Just a little spill."

I watched as he visibly relaxed and picked up the things that had tumbled to the floor.  

And I felt good about not yelling.  

I have only been working at this for a little less than a week, but I am already seeing positive results.  For everyone involved.  And I feel much better, myself.  Less stressed.

The article at Hands Free Mama also talks about reducing technology time, and I am working at that, too.  When my little man wants something from me, or wants me to play with him while I'm on the computer, I have been putting the technology aside and giving him my undivided attention.  

It's a slow process, like learning to keep my anger under control, but it's well worth the results.  I don't want to miss a thing with my son.  And I want to be as involved as I can with our teenager, too.  (Boy, that's a whole other deal there.)  So, in an effort to have a better family life, I am putting my own wants aside in order to share in the growth of my kids.  They are so worth it.

How do you handle day-to-day stress with your kids?

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