This morning as I was settling my little girl into preschool for the morning I sat down with some pretty beads and was threading up a necklace. I helped out two other little ones who joined us and we were having the loveliest time. I could have sat there all day helping with the beads. So relaxing. And I probably imagined that being a mum was going to be about doing lots of craft with the kids and baking and having a lovely time. And we do craft, and we do bake but I definitely underestimated how much of yourself you give and how the days can be really hard on you.
It really never ends. All of the jobs that we do as a mum and managing the different personalities all in the one house. I love being home and having a large family. It goes without saying but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. And sometimes it’s good to get some new ideas from another mum on how they deal with it. My kids make me laugh every day (my daughter waving a sanitary napkin at me at the nail salon instead of a packet of tissues certainly made me laugh today!) but when you have a bad day it really just gets to you. We are dealing with some challenging behaviour at the moment and it really does take it out of you. I am trying to kill it with kindness (the behaviour not the child) but I’m worn out.
Anyway, I know we all have our own struggles with parenting and life in general. Sometimes it’s when all of our little ones are at home and can’t do much for themselves. They rely on us 24/7 for every little thing. Sometimes it’ll be the week where everyone is sick and you just want a minute to yourself. Or adding a newborn to the mix, or the terrible twos or it could be the older kids – I have no experience with teenagers and won’t be giving any advice there. We haven’t got there yet so I’m imagining that’s going to be an experience too. So this is what I do on the really hard days.
1. Remember that tomorrow is always a new day. That’s my favourite motto. Next is laugh or you’ll cry. The sun will come up on a new day and as clichéd as it sounds everyone feels better when its a new day and you have the whole day ahead of you. You can start the day, count your blessings and forget about yesterday and move forward.
2. Time out doesn’t have to mean in their room. We have someone that refuses to go to their room for time out and we end up fighting and then I’m left wondering what actually happened and why did they need time out in the first place because it all gets blown out of proportion. Quiet time away from the others and where they can just be on their own and quiet works well for that child. Sometimes that might mean in the lounge room while the others are in the playroom.
3. Send them outside. Sometimes you just need to open that back door and get everyone outside and running around. Even doing what they would normally do inside can be taken outside and everyone gets fresh air and a change of scenery. Round them up and send them outside.
4. Walk away from the situation. If everyone is safe, take a moment. Make that cup of tea or coffee and grab a biscuit (or four) and just take a deep breathe. It’s not the end of the world so let things calm down.
5. Make it a reading in bed night. Early. We do dinner around 5 or 5.30 and baths straight afters. If it’s a really bad day or there is fighting or shenanigans going on then everyone picks a new book from the playroom and reads in bed. You can get these great little reading lights that clip onto bedheads from IKEA and the big kids love them. Now the big kids read in bed every night but start that earlier if needed. I’ll watch a dvd with my little ones calmly downstairs and the house is so quiet. It’s nice.
6. Talk it over with another mum. Oh one of my favourite things to hear from another mum is their troubles because then it doesn’t make me feel alone. Sometimes we just say hi and bye to mums at school and preschool and drop offs but invite someone over or visit them or meet up for coffee at the shops and just talk. I always feel 100 times better when I’ve had a chat with a friend. Just call someone if you have to. You realise that every other mum is dealing with the same stuff you are and it just makes you feel better. If you’ve got a little one with special needs then find other mums with special needs kids too. They get it.
7. Get down to their level. Something that I’m doing more and more even if I’m busy is to take a minute, get down to their level, speak quietly so they have to stop and listen and try that first. It works with all the ages and not just the little ones. Try to see it from their point of view and let them calm down. Having a little one with special needs who doesn’t talk means that frustration can build up over the littlest thing so I hold her hand and get her to show me what she wants. It takes more time and when all the other kids are going crazy for dinner or whatever they need it can seem like the last thing you should be doing but it works. If it’s a meltdown then be there, hold them to keep them safe even if they’re a bigger kid and just quietly reassure them that you are there and not going anywhere. This is how I deal with them even if everything else needs to wait a while.
8. Have some special toys and DVDs tucked away. My linen cupboard has a stash of DVDs and jigsaw puzzles (amongst 50 million other things stashed in there) and the garage has extra toys. Bring them out. When everyone is going a bit crazy or telling you they are bored then something they haven’t seen in ages seems to do the trick. My other favourite trick is lay out a blanket or quilt and tip out the lego tub. Don’t worry about the mess until later. I have been known to offer $2 for the best construction. And don’t come to me in 2 minutes…take a good 10!
9. Get some time to yourself. This is so hard. I can’t think of the last time I didn’t have any children with me. But if hubby is home then take a walk, get your nails done, go to the supermarket or shops minus everyone, do some craft. I often negotiate some time in my craft room on my own. It might sound silly to some people and probably when I had one child that would have sounded silly but the busier your family home is and the more that is going on then the more you need to say, heh I need some time on my own and I need it on Saturday at 2pm. Or something like that.
10. Have something that is yours that you love. Having a hobby, something you do outside the home on a regular basis, going to the gym, something that you do that you love is so important. I would not stay sane and keep my happy disposition if I didn’t have craft and a room full of things that I love. I enjoy taking out the stresses of the day with some knitting or sitting at my machine and making something pretty. It just makes me happy. Some people might prefer a punching bag in the garage or a pair of running shoes. Sometimes you might not know what that thing you love is because you’ve just stopped working or you need to find it but ask yourself what you’d like to learn or do and go from there. If it’s crafty then there are so many online classes you can do and tutorials that you can teach yourself so there are no excuses. Make the time.
11. Get the help when you need it. I see it so often with special needs mums. A new diagnosis, mum is doing all of the appointments and relaying everything to dad, life was busy enough before the diagnosis and now there is no time to even deal with the feelings that have come with this new situation. See your GP and get a referral to see someone and it can be covered by medicare so don’t not do it because you think you can’t afford it. Same applies if something is wrong with one of the children and you’re not sure where to turn. See your GP first because you won’t be the first person and you won’t be the last.
I hope that helps and love to hear your suggestions or what works for you!