“No, honey. It’s not time for lunch.”
“We’ll have lunch in a little while.”
“Um, some yunch?”
My daughter and I have endless conversations like this daily. Usually, they revolve around some unusual request: wanting to watch a movie when it’s time for a nap, asking me to read her a book while I’m driving, requesting to paint while we’re walking out the door. Toddlers seem to lack the ability to understand “no” when they hear it the first time. Their logic tells them to be persistent, to keep asking, pleading, begging, until mom or dad caves in. Sometimes the pleading and begging turns into an all-out tantrum complete with thrashing arms and unnecessary levels of noise. When this happens, I have a couple of options.
1) I can ignore.
2) I can respond in a calm and loving manner.
3) I can lose my mind.
Obviously, the worst option would be for me to lose it. As maddening as situations like this can be, yelling back at my kid never does any good. It makes the situation worse. It causes more tears than necessary. It makes me feel terrible. While this has happened only a handful of times, I have come to realize the importance of taking care of myself. Any time I feel myself on the verge of losing it, I take a step back.
Did I get a good night’s sleep?
Have I eaten breakfast?
Have I had my coffee?
Do I need some alone time?
When was the last time I had a good laugh?
When was the last time I was out in nature?
When I am a rested mom, who has eaten breakfast and had my coffee, I am a better mom. When I am occasionally able to sneak away for an hour of quiet time to write or clear my head, I am a better mom. When I stay up late with my husband and laugh about something hilarious, I am a better mom. When I get some fresh air while taking a hike or walking around the neighborhood, I am a better mom.
If I want to be the best mom for my children, I have to take care of myself. It’s essential for a healthy home. It’s essential for a good day.