Remember when you came home from work, microwaved a frozen meal for dinner, poured yourself a glass of wine, and spent the rest of the night on the couch watching TV? Like most parents, those days are long gone. Now, after a long day at work, you’re bombarded with attention-starved kids, a spouse who wants dinner, and a house that’s a mess.
How can you keep cool and stay positive in the midst of chaos?
- Take a time out. Instead of jumping into “mom mode” as soon as you walk in the door, take a few minutes for yourself. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Take some deep breaths, wash your face, and maybe even light a candle. Push your mental “reset button” so you can focus on your family, not the report that’s due tomorrow.
- Show affection. Giving and receiving hugs and kisses can work wonders on your mood. Squeeze those kids tight, give your spouse a loving kiss and feel those endorphins rise. As a plus, those hugs and kisses may even soothe and relax your children (if you’re lucky).
- Offer praise. Kids get a lot of attention for bad behavior, so pointing out good behavior can go a long way for both of you. If you see your son working on his homework, you could say “Great job! You’re doing your homework and I didn’t even have to nag! ” Your child will feel great getting the compliment and you’ll feel good giving it. One simple exchange can spark even more positive communication.
- Use positive self talk. Therapists frequently encourage clients to engage in “positive self talk”. Instead of “ugh…how many more hours til I get to relax?”, try switching that negative into a positive. Thoughts like “I only have two hours to get in some quality family time before bed” will help you really connect with your kids. Play with them and let them tell you about their day. Remember — positive attention can go a long way.
- Find out why. Children who act out at home often have deeper emotional issues. Rarely do they do things just to annoy you. There may be an issue at school, with friends, or even at home. The point is to communicate. Sit down with your child and express genuine interest in their little world. If there are issues that you don’t know how to handle, consider reaching out to a child therapist.
Being a parent today isn’t an easy job. The hours are long, the tasks are demanding, and the “boss” is often unreasonable. But the payoff and benefits — unconditional love — makes it well worth it. Just remember to relax and enjoy the ride.