If you feel annoyed with your children, your partner, yourself
Updated: Feb 18
It often happens when something goes not according to the ideal plan.
One of my favourite writers, psychologist Lyudmila Petranovskaya describes it perfectly in her book '#SelfMama, Life Hacks for Working Mums'.
As parents, we often have an ideal picture in our heads.
Sometimes, things match that ideal. We manage to keep to a perfect routine (for whole two weeks), we manage to keep the house in order (for whole two hours), we skilfully respond to tantrums (whole two times). However, when this ideal slips, we feel we lose control. We start to blame to regain control. We feel bitter and ultimately angry. (Also on blaming, watch this fantastic 3-min video by Dr Brené Brown.)
You had a relaxing evening planned, but your baby took ages to fall asleep. You told your partner the 'best way' from a 'top parenting book' on how to handle your toddler's tantrum, but s/he did it completely differently. You wanted to start working early today, but your child takes ages to get dressed for school. The voice in your head starts saying: "Why? Don't they see how hard I try? Don't they love me? Nobody cares about me, nobody ever cared..."
At the end of this blame-bitterness-anger chain is the feeling of loneliness, despair, exhaustion. You do not want to talk to your family. You do not want to do anything for them. Here we go, an ideal mother!
Often what helps is to simply notice that you've got on that downward spiral.
The next time you feel annoyed, here is what you can do:
Try to trace it back to the source. Where did it all start? What kind of ideal plan went wrong? Were others even aware of your ideal plan? Were they able to understand it (are they mature enough to do it) and to make it happen? Has your plan contradicted their plans?
The plan itself has no value. What has value is your needs that the plan was meant to meet. What are they? Does your family know about them?
Example: You had a fantastic plan to go for a walk on Saturday, spend time as a family, in the countryside, relax after an intense week. You thought: kids wake up early anyway, we all get ready by 9 am, get a Zipcar and drive to a nearby National Trust property. But on Saturday morning, kids say they don't want to go to another museum, they want to play, your partner had plans to watch football, and there are no Zip cars available nearby. Hard not to go mad!
At this moment, take a step back - what was the intention in the first place? The intention was to relax, enjoy a sunny day, spend time as a family. What else can meet those needs? Can you have a lazy morning and then walk to a nearby park? Kids play in the park. A nearby cafe has strong wifi for your partner to watch football on his notebook, while you read a book. And you all have lunch in a local cafe—a nice relaxing day.
The key is to 'jump off' the ideal picture in your head and give the Planner in you an exciting job to come up with Plan B.
This flexibility is a skill, a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger it gets.
Another tool that all working parents need is the flexibility of time. Read about it in the next article. Subscribe for the articles delivered straight to your inbox.
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