Parenting is awesome but it can be incredibly stressful at times. Here’s a little secret that I learnt that has helped me to stop being overwhelmed by parenthood.
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This is what I have done to help me be a happy parent.
“I need a poo poo!” cries Sebastian, one of my 3 year old twins.
I whisk him up and place him on the toilet.
“NO!” he screams.
He wants to do it by himself.
Understandable. He is, after all, a ‘big boy now’.
Except, he waddles around with his pants around his ankles as if he has all the time in the world.
Eventually he makes it to sit on the toilet.
Great. I’m safe to return to my long list of ‘immediate tasks’ for at least 5 minutes.
I close the door as instructed.
Finish tidying up the kitchen.
Remember to turn the stock off.
Help Galen with his writing.
Help Dante with his maths.
Do my Catalan homework.
Relax in the sun and have some fun.
All in the next half an hour.
“My finished!” he cries. And we make it through the rigmarole that is wiping his bottom (he likes to do it himself) and using soap to wash his hands “it’s too yucky!”
Then I notice a strange yellow puddle on the floor.
I sigh. It’s OK. I can handle this one. I pop out of the bathroom to get a mop.
When I return, Sebastian is scrabbling around behind the toilet, near the toilet brush looking for some small object.
Dangerously close to the yellow puddle.
I pick him up and move him to safety.
No biggy right?
He is screaming and shouting and flailing. “Nooo!” The sound is piercing, shooting. It smacks me in that place. You know? That place that all toddler screams go to. That part of your brain that they tickle, itch, annoy, irritate. Somewhere at the back of your head, just above your neck.
The scream has a direct line to ‘that place’.
You try so hard to keep it under control. But you can feel it boiling, simmering, bubbling and spilling over.
The stress. The list of jobs. The trying to do everything. To be perfect. Your inability to control your kids.
I know what is happening inside me. I can feel the trigger. I can feel that small blob of irritation growing bigger and bigger. I know that it will burst. I know that its immediate cause is this screaming child who in my mind is begin totally unreasonable.
In previous times, I would have carried on.
I thought I had to be perfect.
I thought that I had to do everything.
I thought that I had to cope with everything. All of the time.
I thought that asking for help was admitting defeat.
I thought that being cross and getting on with life was just part of life.
Then I Rethought how I Wanted my Parent Life to Be.
I realised that when I get cross. I suffer. Everyone suffers.
What did I do?
I let go of perfection.
I lowered my expectations.
We have 4 young children. Yes, dinner times are noisy. We’re working on that.
Getting dressed is a military operation. We’re working on that.
Bath time is a splashy, soaking affair. We’re working on that.
Bed time is often a disaster. We’re working on that too.
I lowered my expectations so that things don’t make me so cross.
At bath time last night, I returned to find the floor soaking wet. Did I get cross? No. I told the boys to get out of the bath and dry up the floor.
And here’s my biggest secret of all…
Asking for Help is Not Failing, It’s Winning.
I also learned to ask for help.
I am not superwoman and I cannot do everything by myself.
Sebastian is lying on the floor shouting and screaming.
I feel that trigger. I know it’s coming. The anger boiling up inside me.
“Carlton!” I call. (My husband works from home and as much as I don’t want to disturb him, I need him right now.)
“Carlton!” I call. “Please can you take Sebastian for a few minutes?”
Ten minutes later, Sebastian is giggling with his dad and the bath room floor is clean. We are sitting out in the sun, enjoying our 10 minutes of family time. A happy mother, a happy father with a happy family. We are working on not being overwhelmed by parenthood.
Happy You, Happy Family
If you are looking for a book to help you become the happy parent that you want to be, "Happy You, Happy Family" is an awesome read. Easy to read and actionable ideas, you'll be a happier parent the moment you start to read it. I really loved it.