Tuesday, 9 July 2013
A shift for the summer
I would like a t-shirt. One that says “I survived my first week of summer break!” Not because it’s been this horrible terrible week, but because MAN it’s been a major roller coaster ride!
Monday, I started off on a high. I was thrilled to be staying home, to spend one on one time with my littlest one and walk my oldest to and from school each day. I wondered if I’d enjoy this break so much it would be tough to go back to work in August. There was no morning rush so we ate a leisurely breakfast and had morning play time. My girls had braids in their hair. BRAIDS! Nobody has time for braids when your kids start getting ready 30 minutes before you need to be in the car. We’re lucky if hair is even brushed most days. Lana entertained herself and I READ A BOOK! Nap went well (I took one too of course) and the afternoon pick up and drive to gymnastics was smooth. I didn’t feel hurried and stressed coming home from the gymnastics like I usually do, and we even got to push bedtime a little later since wake up doesn’t need to be at 6:30 anymore.
Oh, but how I needed a reminder that this life is not about perfection.
Lana’s sleep went out the window, she was still crabby from this lingering illness, she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. Mariah needed alone time to wind down from the day right when her sister wanted to play with her most. The sister fights. Everyone had on their crabby pants. I screamed. They screamed. Nick calmed us with ice cream.
But something was different this week compared to those countless days when I stayed home before.
Things were rough, but I wasn’t spiraling into my usual pit of despair.
See, normally if something goes “wrong” I’m quick to jump to the conclusion that things are terribly wrong and will be for all of eternity if I don’t find a way to fix this problem right now. If I can’t find a way to solve my problem, I search for the root of the issue and hope finding it will allow me to fix things. I waste all this energy trying to put things back in order and bring balance back to my chaotic world. Let me tell you, it’s pretty exhausting. Not to mention my anger keeps building while I can’t solve the problem.
This week when it got ugly I still wondered why I couldn’t stop the fighting or fix the problems right there on the spot. Because for heaven’s sake I needed peace and calm in my life and I want my family to experience the same. But I was able to realize these were just little moments of stormy chaos. They weren’t going to last forever. They might be over in 5 minutes. They might take all week or month, but it would not be how things would be for the rest of our lives.
Once I started to see the tough moments as just that, moments, I started noticing the happy and peaceful moments too. Holding on to the memory of those moments when the tantrum took over was helpful to get me through those 2 minutes of madness.
And yes, the tantrums and fighting typically last less than 10 minutes. Somehow before I swore they lasted for hours.
Or maybe those were just my tantrums.
This switch to seeing the rough times as temporary is something I’ve taught my students for years. We call it the “Creator Mindset”. I tell them, “Just because you failed a test, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure in every area of your life.” Yet, I was telling myself that exact opposite all this time. Your children don’t show love and respect to each other, you’re a failure of a mom. Your kids can’t sleep through the night, clearly you’re doing something wrong. Um, no. No I’m not. I’ve started to see there are so many times when they do love each other, and heck they sleep better than a lot of kids their age. But I was so focused on the negative experiences that I couldn’t see the positive ones.
“They” say it takes three positives to make up for a negative. If someone says something negative to you, it will take them telling you three positive things before you’ll be able to let go of the negative comment. Our brains naturally hold onto the negative. We have to train ourselves to see the good.
Almost two months ago now, I bought a small notebook to start a family gratitude journal. A place for all of us to write down three things we were thankful for that day. I think I’m ready to use it now. I can see how powerful reflecting on those happy moments of the day can be.
Anyone else find themselves quickly spiraling into the pit of despair when something small happens? You are not alone my friend, let’s start seeing the rough spots as temporary and start fixing our eyes on the positive moments of the day.