I was going to title this "Apocalypse Now", but with all the End of the World talk going around, I figured I'd go for something different. You see, I may have just broken one of the seals. Or signaled the Four Horsemen to get down and boogie.
Something monumental happened to me.
I'm still whirling.
In all seriousness, though, I've had a couple of epiphanies over the last two days. The first one spurred on the next.
Hello. My name is Maggie, and I am a Yeller. (Hello Maggie!) I have four children, ages six, four, two and eight months. To say things get loud and chaotic around here is... well, it's an understatement. I don't always handle the noise, bickering and near constant interruptions to my thought process (seriously, I've been pulled away from this article a couple dozen times already) with as much grace and cool calm as I would like. Instead, I behave like my four year old, having a meltdown.
I am not proud of this. I have been trying to work on this bad habit of mine without much success. It was far too easy to emotionally vomit on my children, to get that release of pent up frustration. I'd been unsuccessful in those attempts...
Sure, it's only been a day and three hours (yes, I'm
counting..), but I see improvement already. You'd like to know my secret?
My first epiphany was my Yell Check Chart:
(pixilated, sorry! And don't worry about the bruises on her face, she tends to be very... active.. in how she shows her displeasure at not being held--she smacks her forehead down VERY hard, no matter what surface is under her... even if that surface is a toy that can leave a bit of a black eye..)
I plan on getting this chart laminated so that I can erase it at the end of each week, after recording the details in a file on my computer. Each time I raise my voice in anger or frustration (not when I'm hollering for someone to come in for dinner, or to come here from the other side of the house--it's all about the spirit behind it, don'tcha know?), I have to fill in a box. When telling my friend about this, she thought it was a GREAT idea, and took it one step further--she was going to do this as well, though she wanted to record what she was doing, and what her children were doing when she got frustrated and yelled. I think that's a good idea, and will do that as well.
I started this yesterday, and I am happy to say I didn't yell even one time. Holding myself accountable by having a visual record was enough to help me hold my tongue. I don't want to have to fill in those boxes! It really helped me check my attitude and be deliberate about how I interact with my children.
Which led me to this morning. Oh, my friends, my two year old woke up early and cranky. I could have given in to the urge to yell in exasperation and anger more than a few times, let me tell you! I held my tongue and stayed calm with her, though.. and that's when my second epiphany hit me: our children need us to stay in control of ourselves, especially when they are not in control of themselves. It is easy to want to behave exactly like them--but we can't do that!
I know, many parents are gonna shake their heads, "She's just now figuring this out?!" In fact, I believe Millie has spoken about this before, too. I guess it just now clicked! Not only are we to be a good example on how to deal with our emotions in a calm manner, we can also fuel their out-of-control behavior when we ourselves are not in control.
I'm happy to report it is not, in fact, the end of the world.
At least, not in my house. My house is finally under some semblance of order!
(By the way--it took me five hours to get this article written up--I spent a great deal of time interacting with the children in a calm, loving manner. So if this is disjointed in its flow, please forgive me!)