This is one phrase you really need to teach the kids for those moments when you are on the verge! So far in my helpful phrases series we’ve touched on:
- “We’re working on it”
- “Yes, mommy”
- Phrases to stop dinnertime battles
- Phrases to promote independence
They really were trying to be helpful while we were assembling our homemade instant oatmeal packets. I know this because they kept repeating, “I am helping! We are really doing great work. After this we can get our superhero glasses from the store!”
I spooned the oats into the sandwich bags.
My 4 year old spooned some brown sugar onto the oats.
My 3 year old was getting handfuls of chocolate granola and putting a few in the bag, some on the counter, and shaking all the crumbs on the floor to keep his hands clean.
My 2 year old was shrieking because I wouldn’t let him dip the oats into the bag for obvious reasons.
All the shrieking converges. The baby cries through the monitor. And the phone rings…
Let’s just say I’m On The Verge. Instead of screaming in frustration (which is not necessarily bad unless you’re screaming at your kids) or telling all the kids to go sit in a closet and leave you alone, I’ve found a better way. We’ve not perfected it yet, but “we’re working on it.”
“Give me a minute.”
When I ask for the kids to give me a minute, I usually need some or all of these things.
- uninterrupted time alone
- kids to play independently and not stand beside me saying “mommy, mommy, mommy”
(Note: I know that a minute is only 60 seconds, but I’ve chosen not to use this phrase literally. “Give me a few minutes” just doesn’t have the same ring to it).
⇒ Fun + Energetic moms will rock at this because though they have a short fuse, they get over things quickly
⇒ Confident + Take Charge moms will find this helpful during times when the kids are uncooperative or defiant as this is a big trigger for them
⇒ Strong + Deliberate moms might not get to a point of explosion quickly, but if you start to feel resentment or slow rumblings of a grudge, this can help you turn your mood back in the right direction
⇒ Calm + Steady moms, you rarely ever get On The Verge, but use this when you start to feel helpless or run down by the kids
Don’t overuse it
If you use this phrase every time you want the kids to go do something else and leave you be, it won’t be nearly as effective. I’ve reserved this phrase for when I am truly On The Verge. Now, this may come every day – depends on how much of a tired mom you are – but try to reserve it for when the kids also realize you are losing patience. The kids can tell the signs of an impending mommy explosion in our house, so when I say “give me a minute” they nod their heads in understanding.
Establish some ground rules
I don’t necessarily leave the room during this time, but I just need time and space to cool down. I may go into another room to sit in a chair or even go stand outside. I tell the kids to be quiet, stay where they are, and not call for me until I come back. If they break these rules there are consequences. I say that when I’m finished calming down I’ll come back. We’re not fully there yet (particularly my 2 year old) but we’re closer.
Use the time wisely
If you are truly On The Verge, I would not recommend using this time to scroll on your phone. That’ll help you escape the tension, but not release or process it. That’s just pushing it under the rug and in an hour or two you’ll explode anyway. Pray, read your Bible, stare at the wall, or think of things you’re grateful for. Use the time to try and get calm again, not just to escape. By actually releasing some of the tension you’ll come back in a better place.
Come back and explain
There is usually something that trigger my need for a bit of space. And let’s be honest, the kids usually know what that is because they are usually responsible for it. I try to get calm and come back to have a little talk with the kids. If I’ve exploded pre-minute, I start with apologizing for losing my cool. If not, I recap what happened. It might be like this, “You guys were fighting so much this morning and screaming. I get frustrated when you are rude to each other and I needed to calm down. Instead of screaming because your brother didn’t share, why don’t you…..” It’s harder for children to listen and grasp your lesson if you’re still fuming.
If you need a minute, take a minute
If you start practicing this before you actually need to use it, the next time you think you’re going to lose it the kids will understand what’s expected of them. If you think you’re going to blow your top, then take a few minutes. Whether you need to use a timer (our fave here) or just sit until you’ve cooled off.
Don’t start screaming and throwing or having a tantrum.
Or, if you need to, give yourself a minute, and go do it in another room.
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