As a parent, are you frustrated that you’ve lost control and freedom in your day-to-day life? This is something a lot of people feel, but not many talk about.
Things that used to be easy – going to the grocery store, deciding what to watch on TV, visiting Grandma – can be challenging and sometimes just don’t happen.
A friend recently shared this story. She has a two-and-a-half-year-old and a six-month-old, and she had plans to meet a girlfriend at a nearby bakery. As she lifted her toddler into the stroller, he began to scream and arch his back. After several tries, and with a toddler howling in the driveway, she had to cancel her plans.
My friend described her reaction to me:
- Adrenaline because her son’s screaming made her heart race.
- Anger because she wanted him to behave.
- Sadness because she wanted to leave the house.
- Embarrassment because neighbors were outside and could see everything.
Sound familiar? A lot of parents have had experiences like this, both big and small. Whether it’s a trip to the bakery, a simple meal you wanted to eat together, or a family vacation you planned for months, you suddenly find that your best-laid plans are falling apart.
In these situations, it’s helpful to focus on the present moment and what will help you stay calm. This allows you to assess the situation and decide what to do next. Can you make your original plan go forward with a little more work? Is it time to find a compromise? Or do you need to completely retreat and talk to your child at a later, calmer time?
One of the most difficult things to accept as a parent is that you cannot control your children, only your own reaction. It’s okay (and normal) to have feelings of frustration and sadness when your plans are not going as you hoped. The goal is to take care of yourself so you can calmly think through next steps that are under your control. Hopefully you arrive at a solution that works for you.
This article is a great resource if you are working on calm parenting: How to Get Control When Your Child is Making You Angry.
In the end, my friend went inside and called her girlfriend. She brought coffee over and they all played outside. Not exactly what she wanted, but a good compromise.
Have you had an experience like this? You’re in good company here, share your story if you like!
Best wishes for your week,
Rebecca W., Empowering Parents Coach