Usually when I feel myself losing my schmidt as a mom, it’s because both kids are pushing me to the brink in a very methodical but lightning fast way.
Things were going great two, maybe three minutes before and then the littler sends an inaudible, invisible cue to the bigger and they take off!
It’s maniacal giggling, it’s climbing on non-climbing things, it may involve waste products or ingesting non-food items.
When control over our situation is quickly unraveling, there’s a little breath game I like to play. Ideally I have to get the beasts into a space where, although they may not do anything I would find appropriate, they aren’t going to be in danger. If they scream, it’s fine. Stashing them in a locked bedroom is fair game. Locking myself in a bedroom is definitely fair game.
Here’s what I do: Take a breath for myself, one for each child, throw one in for my spouse, and add an extra for myself again, just to wrap it up. They should, of course, be those deep drawn out breaths. I imagine I am taking in love from that specific person (even when that person is me) as I picture their smiling face. When I breath out, I am loving them right back. I focus on giving each person some props for what they may be doing right then, or for how they’re feeling. For example:
My two-year-old may be panicking that mommy seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth (but I’m pretty sure I can leave him safe for just a few more minutes… probably). My five-year-old may be brainstorming how he could increase the noise level…
My husband may be working hard, oblivious to all of this. Well, there’s the possibility he may not be working super hard at that exact moment, I suppose. He may be out having a burger and a beer for lunch… Okay, don’t think about that one too hard. I’ll just still send him love, gratitude, and energy for all he gives to our family and the world.
I am doing my best, which at that moment means calming down in order to be the best mom I can for my kids. I always make a better decision about how to approach them, even smile thinking about them, before going back to the chaos.
This practice saved me many times from doing or saying something regrettable when my boys were one- and three-year-olds. Ages which felt the most constant in terms of pushing me to my limits. I didn’t choose it soon enough in every situation, but it became another tool for the belt.
Sometimes I use this exercise when my hyper dog lunges at another stranger or when I hear an enraging political tidbit; ten seconds in the car or in the bathroom. I am cool with you lab, and you too pundit. Done.
These days, although I still go through this process to overcome daily frustrations, I more often take the breaths to remind myself of how blessed I am. My favorite suggestion is at either end of the day when all is or might be calm. I prefer the morning because consciously giving and receiving love changes how I meet those I treasure most when I first interact with them.