As modern mothers, we tend to hold ourselves to some impossible standards. If we had a touch of perfectionism before having a child, it can rear its head with a vengeance after we have a tiny human to raise, and our children have the propensity to set us off like no one else. Here are some tips to help you keep perspective in the moment so you can lighten up and enjoy the ride.
1. Examine what is making you so uptight. Are you feeling pressure to be perfect because of your past? Understanding why you do the things you do can go a long way toward making you a more fulfilled mama.
2. Do something to pamper yourself — a hot bath, a mani/pedi, or even a fresh haircut. Feeling as refreshed and recharged as possible will give you extra energy to deal with the million-crisis march that is parenting.
3. Schedule some girl time and swap stories over a cup of coffee with your fellow mamas. Chances are they have similar frustrations and can share some strategies that have worked for them. Plus, laughter helps lighten any mama’s load.
4. Find the positive. Do your kids’ crazy outfits set you off ? Hooray! They dressed themselves! Are they bickering amongst themselves? Awesome! They are learning negotiating skills. There’s always something to praise and be thankful for.
5. Intentionally lower your voice when you feel your blood start to boil. You will still be angry, but at least you won’t be adding yelling to the mix.
6. Smile at your children. Hug them. You might realize that you’ve been scowling or frowning even when you haven’t meant to. A constant low boil of anger can make it hard to show love toward your children. Cup their little chins in your hands, look them in the eyes and smile.
7. Put on some music. This can have a soothing effect on both you and your children.
8. Make sure basic needs are met — yours and your kiddo’s. Has everyone eaten? Hunger and low blood sugar can make even chill mamas cranky. Drink water and make sure to sleep! If basic needs aren’t met, you can count on special meltdowns.
9. Try to view things through your child’s eyes. Are you crushing him with the burden of perfection? Kids will not (I repeat, WILL NOT) get it right all the time. They need space to make mistakes and even fail, especially when the stakes are low.
10. Relocate. Go outside and take a drive, or just walk 10 feet away. Sometimes a little distance between you and the perceived problem will offer fresh insight into how to proceed.
11. Keep a journal. It can be paper or electronic, whatever you like. Spending time reflecting on your days helps you to spot areas of strength and weakness and can potentially help you to keep your cool moving forward.
12. Examine the family schedule— anything causing more stress than it’s worth? You have my permission to give your family a break on activities that only seem to drain energy and resources.
13. Prevention is key. Before heading into a potentially stressful situation, go over your expectations with your kids — but set realistic and attainable ones. Shopping, sitting still, waiting in line and smiling for family pictures for an hour straight are all going to be challenging for children to accomplish perfectly.
14. Channel your inner Elsa and “let it go.” Easier said than done, I know. Figure out the behaviors in your kids that are non-negotiable and then lighten up on everything else. Quiet your mind from the tyranny of the urgent.
15. Finally, cut yourself some slack. Ask yourself, “Will this matter in five years?” Chances are that answer is “no” and you can afford to ease off the throttle.