You would probably assert that you love your kids more than life itselfâ€”that you’d throw yourself in front of a train for them. Yet, if you could bring yourself to be fully honest on this deeply personal topic, you might also admit that there are times when you just don’t like them very much. They’re misbehaving, they have a snotty attitude, they’re causing you trouble, not listening, or acting disrespectfully. They’re just a pain in the butt.
Go ahead. Fess up because you’re not the only one. Motherhood is not a state of constant bliss. No one ever said it would be. Fortunately, if you get tuned in to what’s happening, in time, you can use those unpleasant moments for your own benefit as well as for the benefit of your child.
Here are three things to consider when you feel like you birthed a monster.
1. Ask yourself what happened to you today that shifted your attitude, shortened your temper or severed your patience. Maybe you had a particularly difficult day: you’re overworked, tired or stressed, and it’s actually the monster in you that has reared its ugly head.
It’s so easy to blame your frustration on someone else, but if you’ve been heating up for some time, your child might merely be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I sometimes ask therapy clients to think of their emotional system as a big soup pot. Each ignored feeling adds another dipper full of soup to the pot until it comes dangerously close to spilling over the rim. Your soup might be simmering away even before your little one shoves his sister down the stairs or knocks over your favorite lamp on his rampage through the living room. The trick is to maintain the level of your soup (your feelings and stresses) relatively low down in the pot so that a bad behavior from your child doesn’t result in your pot boiling over. Believe me, your child picks up on your stress and can act out in imitation of you. Sometimes his misbehavior is a reaction to your sense of vulnerability and weakness. So put on a happy face for your own good and for his. Then take care of yourself.
– Give yourself a time out. Explain to your kids that you need to step away, take a breath and collect yourself.
– Schedule alone time: a bubble bath, your favorite magazine or an art project. Put a sign on the door that says, “Please do not disturb. Mom needs 30 minutes.”
– Take a refreshing walk and ask your spouse, a neighbor or the babysitter to watch the kids for a while.
– Plan some leisure or play time–even when you think you can’t spare a minute. It’s worth it to everyone in the family.
– Spend time in adult, non-work activities. You owe it to yourself to re-balance your life.
– Make a date with your spouse. A little romance is a great antidote to too much mommy time.