Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Turn Down The Volume Please

It has been tough on my psyche these past weeks. I am a self analyzer, a perfectionist always looking for a flaw within myself. And believe me, I have spent many a minute in my lifetime, particularly when I hit my 30's in reflection upon my actions, words and overall achievement in life. There are days that I wish that I could just go back in time and become that ignorant young woman without a care in the world. That young woman who chalked mistakes up to a life lesson within a second of doing a wrong, wronging someone or being completely selfish.

But something happened when I hit the 30's and I have become this overachiever wanna be. I can't find myself able to just blissfully enjoy a moment of life without thinking about what I could be doing better, how will this affect a person down the road and so on. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands, or perhaps I am still coming to grips with feelings of inadequacy of being able to secure a career kind of job. Perhaps it is the constant inner argument going on in my head, reminding me that I DO have a great job. In fact I have TWO great jobs. I am a Mommy who gets to stay at home to care for my children as well as the privilege to care for other people's most precious treasure as well. And, while the days are long, if given the chance to trade up for a career job, I am not really sure if I could do it.

With that being said, I have hit that time of year where I feel burnt out, frustrated, under appreciated and tired. I am tired of feeling like I am alone and doing everything on my own. Everything from raising my children, to raising other people's children, working a part time evening job, to trying to clean this house, making multiple meals, caring for the lawn, trying to juggle appointments all while feeling like I have no social time. As a result, I find that my patience is on a short fuse and that I catch myself yelling at my children all of the time. It doesn't take much to set me off and within the instant that I yell and see the hurt pass across my child's face, it sets into instant remorse and that ugly silent internal reprimand. It is then that reality sets in and I sit in silence pondering just why I got mad and felt it necessary to yell. I mean, we all know that yelling doesn't get us anywhere .... most of the time. Sometimes it has proven to be a useful tool to get my wayward child's attention, or even to get my point across seeing as I had already tried the patient repetitive way a hundred times before. But the fact of the matter is that yelling is the source of making my days seem long, unappreciated and self reflective.

I read an interesting article in a parenting magazine a couple of weeks ago. It specifically talked about parents who felt like they yelled too much and selected three families with different scenarios to help through their yelling issues. And, to no surprise, the little techniques and suggestions from experts seemed to have helped them along. Of course the cynic in me rolled my eyes at the thought of changing the yelling pattern by a few deep breaths. But the optimist in me was encouraged to try it. For me, taking the few deep breaths before responding or adding a few extra minutes in a routine so the kids weren't rushed into something didn't work. But what has worked is being aware of the need to yell and then stopping myself. Instead of venting that frustration verbally, I am trying use a hug as an outlet. As a result, the yelling on my behalf has practically cut in half. I find that my children are responding to me better when I hug them and then gently, yet firmly talk to them about the issue at hand.

I am not naive enough to think that this is the solution, nor will it work forever, but at least it has provided me with the silence of that nagging internal conflict on how I could have done things better. And believe me when I say, Masyn is trying her best to test out my new skills and my attempts to not yell as she is a handful. My willful little diva thinks and acts like she owns the world and that we should all bow down to her. I joke with my husband that I am terrified of what the teens will be like with her given our love/yell relationship at the tender age of 2. So I beg of you all, should you have some tried and tested advice, please feel free to pass it along to this sound sensitive Momma.


Ellen said...

I could have written this myself - like litterally copy and pasted it into my blog!! I don't even know what to say - except that I have been there, am there, will be there.. depending on my day. This winter I really battled this same thing, unfortunately I don't really have any suggestions except for what you have already discovered (the hugging thing in particular). For my self I decided to do some me things - I got a library card and started reading books again (I hadn't sat down to read a book since before kids), I started making goals for myself - whether they were short term or long term (like where I want to be in 10yrs) not that these things HAVE to happen, but I think it helped to refocus me as a person and put time into being me instead of giving giving giving because you eventually you run out of give. It's something I find that I have to keep up on or else things start sliding again. I hope that things get better for you! You are not alone!!

Lesley said...

I'm going to sound like a parrot but like Ellen - I've SOOOOOO been there!
I have been a caregiver for just over 5 years now which means that I've spent just over 5 years now spending 10.5 hours a day chatting with children. It can be lonely at times. Yes, I have meaningful conversations with them about why the sky is blue,grass is green and why carrots stain my fingers all the time BUT sometimes I crave meaningful conversations with adults about news, music, movies...anything grown up!
About two years into my dayhome career I hit a wall and was feeling mucho lonely. I evaluated where I want to be in my life and realized this is it. I love being home with my kids and I love caring for other people's children as well. The hours are long and days off few and far between sometimes but I have a fulfilling career, zero commute, tons of fresh air and exercise and I get to make up my daily schedule somewhat and decide how we'll spend our day.
Three years ago I started volunteering with the McKenzie Dayhome Association. We're a group of dayhome providers that meet monthly to share ideas, swap stories, have inservices and sometimes just vent and ask each other for advice. This has helped a lot.
FYI- if you're looking for childcare and are in the neighbourhood I do have connections -wink wink-.
And Bunco, oh what would I do without Bunco? Once a month I get together with 11 other ladies - Jenn included :o) - and we roll dice, count 6s and chat about life. Sometimes it's kids we're chatting about, waxing horror stories, sometimes TV shows or good books and yes sometimes even s-e-x. Oh my!
This comment didn't really have anything to do with the yelling part but more of the first part of feeling a bit like trying to be wonderwoman and maybe feeling like you've lost the real you along the way.
Oh, and my only trick I've learned about squashing the urge to yell which has worked for me is to open all the windows in the front of my house. My reasoning is that I wouldn't want my neighbours to hear me yelling at my kids because I'm frustrated. It works and the fresh air is always nice!

Goofball said...

I fear I'll have very little patience when I become a mother.

at family gatherings I am so tempted to reprimand the children when the parents don't. I'll probably also need some skills to balance patience, realism and authority.

Jenn said...

I don't really have too much to offer. But I'll always be a listening ear.

I think the hugging sounds like a great technique. When I watch Lucas get mad at Nathan and he yells it reminds me not to yell so much.

I agree that me time is important to prevent burnout.

Remember the sun will come out tomorrow~ bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun =)


Amber said...

Great, reflective post. I have been feeling at my wit's end lately and I think it will all be better when the kids start school this week and I get two hours a day to myself. It's not a lot but it's needed.One thing I've given up this summer is "me time." My greatest coping mechanism with my kids is to just carve out some of my own time and them I'm a much more pleasant mama!