“What do you want for a snack, today, bud?” I ask my 2nd grader as I prepare to get him out the door and on the bus.
“I don’t know, yet.” He says nonchalantly as he continues to munch on his cereal. “I’ll decide later.”
The first burst of many morning frustrations moves from my center and spreads outward to the top of my head and tips of my fingers. Why can’t my son just pick a snack and be done with it so I can move on to the next thing and get ready to leave?
I know it’s going to happen and despite my best efforts, getting my children to school/daycare and myself to work transforms me into a fire-breathing, yell-at-the-kids she-dragon.
Why can’t we get out the door with my sanity in tact?
For the most part, I consider myself a kind, level-headed, sincere person. Except for the mornings I work. I even get mad at myself for getting mad. And, since this is not how I want to parent, I decided to work through my morning “get out the door in a timely manner without freaking out at my kids who seem to do everything in their power to prevent us from leaving on time” issues and figure out a way to depart in a sane fashion.
Here’s what I’ve learned about diffusing mom anger:
1. This is my issue – not my kids’.
My kids are far too young (at least my 5 & 2-year-old ) to understand the importance of leaving at a specific time. Sure, they can get out the door in 8 seconds flat if they knew we were going to Toys-R-Us, but understanding why Mommy needs to get to work at a certain time is beyond their comprehension. Much to my chagrin.
I mean, I’m the grown-up with grown-up responsibilities, right? So I should be able to control my she-dragon; even when under pressure.
2. I had to change my attitude.
I had to step back and look inward for why it was I was getting so frustrated in the mornings. In the process, I discovered that, even though I have a flexible schedule, being on time is super important to me. And, with limited daycare making the most of my kid-free time is super helpful.
However, in the long run, I realized that speaking to my kids in a negative way is not worth that extra 15 or 20 minutes at work. It really isn’t.
3. I had to change my strategy.
The most obvious, yet painful solution was to WAKE UP EARLIER. Repulsed by the idea at first, (especially with a toddler who still wakes up at least once a night), I’ve since been able to work an earlier wake-up into my daily routine with great results. Now, I go to bed earlier and give myself an extra half an hour in the morning to make sure we can leave on time.
Also, prepping as much as possible the night before has proved beneficial. Packing the diaper bag and my lunch, or laying out the kid’s clothes have cut down on morning routine stress (and she-dragon emergence).
4. I had to let go of expectations.
Who cares if my daughter wears her pajama top to daycare? Is it really worth the 10-minute battle-of-the-clothes she wages every morning? No. It’s not. There are other, more important battles I’ll pick. It’s my expectation that she look a certain way when we walk out the door, but at 2-years old she can wear whatever the heck she wants to daycare.
5. I have to remind myself to breathe deeply.
Daily, I have to remind myself to breathe deeply and remember these years, in the long run, are so short. Do I really want my kids to have memories of my she-dragon when they are older? Do I really want to waste this time raising my voice? In those moments when I feel my mom anger rising, I count to three and breathe deep. That pause allows me to refocus and remember how important these little people are to me.
6. Do not adopt a dog.
No, seriously. I can’t even imagine what a dog would do to my morning routine. Nearly every day when we walk out the door, I say a prayer of thanks that I’ve been able to resist the very strong urge to get a puppy.
What are your coping mechanisms for diffusing mom anger?