When We Need to Parent Ourselves

“I know you’re upset. It’s frustrating when things don’t go as planned, but that’s a part of life. You can feel frustrated but it’s not ok to take it out on those around you.” A talk I have had countless times with my kids. Anyone with a child knows all too well that playdates have about a 50/50 shot of going as planned, especially during cold and flu season or during the early years when fever viruses run rampant. The lesson of adapting to plan changes is a recurrent one.

Though I can parent my children through disappointment and guide them toward seeing the positive, toward accepting that some things are not meant to be, I am far less graceful at ushering myself through similar upheaval. Today I had hoped to volunteer at my daughter’s school. I was excited at the prospect, as a snow storm had cancelled my last volunteer date. Then, life took ahold and changed my plans for me. I would not be volunteering today.

The frustration brewed within me, overflowing in unseemly ways. Lowered patience and a short fuse gave rise to bad mommy moments. What would normally solicit a verbal reminder now quickly escalated to timeout. I was acting like an overgrown grade schooler. Thank goodness I’m not on reality TV!

A few too many minutes in, I realized I needed to parent myself, that I need the lecture. “I know you’re upset. It’s frustrating when things don’t go as planned, but that’s a part of life. You can feel frustrated but it’s not ok to take it out on those around you.” Man, that speech is so much less annoying when it’s directed at someone else! Still, it’s no less correct.

Deep breath. Return to center. Remember that there’s a reason that some things fall apart and other things come together. Smile.

All worked out as it should. I accepted and moved on. I just had to parent myself to get through it.

Sometimes we parents need timeout too.

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