Yesterday I decided to sit down and write out the elements I notice when I am feeling reactive instead of responsive and ideas on what I can do in those situations. Obviously being tired is a big one so being sure I am taking time to get adequate amounts of sleep and self-care is important.
The feeling of not being listened to is a big trigger for me, and one that I meet frequently with a two year old. As I stepped back and evaluated the times this often occurs I recognized two elements that may help, listening and engaging with what she has to say first and then making sure I am right there in front of her when I make my request. I notice I often talk to her as I am doing other tasks such as finishing preparing lunch and calling out to her to go wash her hands so we can eat. This may work for an older child but I have to remind myself that this child is only two.
Another trigger that came up for me is not getting enough positive feedback and affection myself. I come from a very affectionate family of huggers. My husband did not. And while it is a goal of mine to tell both my husband and daughter each day at least one thing I appreciate it is frequently not reciprocated. This one required a little more thought but the best I could come up with is making sure my self-talk is appreciative and loving and making sure to take the time morning and night to hug my husband. Voicing the need for affection and positive reinforcement may help. But this realization also drives me that much more to be sure I am giving these elements to my daughter.
Last but not least is walking int he door from work and being greeted by everyone's demands at once. There is a tired girl in need of preparing for bed who is only wanting some of her mommy's attention. There is a barking, whining dog needing to be recognized too. And frequently my husband is needing to unwind after his own similar experience in the afternoon when we change shifts. Meanwhile I am coming in low on the energy scale and hungry from it being nearly eight with no dinner yet. I decided taking some healthy snacks with me to eat in the car might help curb the hunger and making sure I either listen to cheerful music or turn off the radio and enjoy some silence may help my frame of mind on my drive home. Aside from that it is just part of parenting to put my kids' needs, yes the dog too, first at that time of night and spend the last few minutes before they are tucked in with some quality time. Deep breaths and prioritizing their needs will be key.
After I wrote all this out I was feeling a little more confident. I had a game plan. I like plans. The added benefit though was when I went to bed last night. I slept deeper and better than I have in a long time. My mind was at ease. I didn't wake up three times to rehash where I had gone wrong or worry about a future event. I slept! IT was magnificent.
I'm grateful to take this time to dive into reactions and solutions. I'm grateful to feel more confident going into today with a game plan. I'm grateful for creative and even common sense solutions. I'm grateful for the added benefit of sleeping well. I'm grateful to have a partner in parenting. I'm grateful to strive to be the best parent I can be for my girls. I'm grateful to remember that practicing graceful and positive self-talk and modeling imperfection and trying again is equally as important for my daughters. I'm grateful to give myself a little grace and forgiveness. I'm grateful to be so blessed in this parenting journey.
When do you find yourself feeling reactive? What elements seem to be your triggers and what helps you bring yourself back into a responsive and relaxed state?
May today remind us we are our own beautiful imperfection. May we allow forgiveness for missteps and grace for growing. Have a beautiful day!