A while back I wrote a post called Mantra for Moms Who Yell. It’s become quite a popular post. I don’t remember what I was doing, but the other day I ended up reading it again, and it brought back all the feelings from the time I wrote it. I decided to share it in the Spirited Kids group I’m in on Facebook, because I knew someone probably needed to hear it.
I was right! The comments were really positive, but the thread that ran through them was this:
“That sounds great… but how do I actually DO IT?!”
I’ve been thinking about it for a few days now. How did I really start using this, and other mantras in my life? How did I, as they say, “remember to remember”. Because that really is the difficult part, actually remembering to use the tools you have.
I came up with a few things.
This word practice, used to hold such a negative connotation in my head. It meant hours of doing something I didn’t want to be doing. It meant pain, suffering, and no end in sight. 🙁 However, as I’ve grown, and changed the word has come to mean something completely different to me.
Now, practice holds hope, and relief. Practice has become something sacred, something that’s mine, that I do for me. There’s my meditation practice. My “yoga practice” (that’s more in my head than on the mat right now), and there’s my mantra practice. All of these are sacred (to me) rituals, that help me become more the person I want to be. Which means, just by the fact that I’m human, I’m going to make mistakes. It’s not going to be perfect, and I’m definitely going to mess up… but they are practices. The whole IDEA of a practice is the work comes in the imperfection. Your growth doesn’t come when you’re perfectly centered and focused in meditation. The growth comes when you’re brain is in a million places and you come back to center (again and again and again). This is true with a mantra practice as well. The growth comes when you’re fixing to yell and you remember, and come back to the mantra.
So… this isn’t a quick fix. It’s not going to stop you from yelling just because you read an article about a mantra for moms who yell. Nope… but it does work, if you practice. 🙂
So… how do you practice?
Repeat the mantra. All.The.Time.
Yes, literally. All the time. Driving down the road! Doing the dishes! Listening to the kiddo’s story for the 746th time! When the kiddo gets up for the 17th time in 5 minutes to get something they don’t need so they don’t have to go to bed! When you find yourself starting to get annoyed! When you should have left the house 5 minutes ago, but someone can’t find their shoes, or suddenly needs to go to the bathroom! When you’re trying to write a blog post about not yelling at your kid, and your kid decides to get the Which Way USA maps out and read every fact written about a state to you! (sigh)
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat!
Now, you won’t have to repeat forever. But, until it becomes something of your default reaction, you want to repeat! The repetition will help you create new habits. It will help your brain remember that’s what it’s supposed to use when things start to go sideways. So repeat!
(and when you forget to repeat… which you will, and you yell, or say something snide to your kiddo, and then remember, oh crap I was supposed to use that **&^%ing mantra, cut yourself some slack. It’s a practice, not a perfect. Growth happens in the remembering, even if you remember after you yell. You remembered! Celebrate (apologize to your kiddo) and Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.)
Love goes a long way, especially when you find yourself insanely annoyed with someone you love. Here’s the trick I’ve found (and another mantra you could use too! You could use Love, I love you, I love her. They all work great!)
At a time when your kiddo is not driving you crazy, like when they’re sleeping, or the other day mine was playing in the pool while I was sitting there reading a book, LOOK at your kiddo. Look at them deeply. Look at their little faces, and soak it in. Every little bit of them.
REMEMBER how much you love them!!
It is so easy to get frustrated, and overwhelmed and allow that to be the feeling that permeates our relationships with our little people. Remember love.
Since that one instance, in the pool, I’ve found myself doing this when I start getting annoyed with my kiddo. I stop. Don’t say ANYTHING. Try to stop thinking thoughts of how annoyed I’m getting, and look at her face. Her beautiful blue eyes. Her little nose, that is now dotted with these amazingly delightful freckles from being outside so much. Her smile that lights up a room. When you really LOOK, and FEEL the love, it does a really great job of melting away the annoyances. Again, this is a practice. It works best if you start in a neutral state (when they’re not annoying you, thus I mentioned the sleeping… because it’s so easy to love a sleeping kid ~ they all look like perfect angels!)
3. Be more Present.
Believe you me, I know this one is HARD. I have my own anxiety issues, and when my anxiety is increased I know I’m much more likely to get edgy and use a not so loving voice with my kiddo (and just about anyone else around me).
The thing about anxiety that I’ve learned over all these years is this… it’s NEVER about the present moment. It’s ALWAYS about something that has already happened, or I’m afraid is going to happen, neither of which I have any control over, so it does no good to worry about them!
Perfect example: That pool I mentioned earlier. I didn’t really want it, but, well that’s another story. Anyway… now I’ve got this pool to deal with. There’s a pump, chlorine, and the little blow up tube that goes around the top keeps deflating. 🙁 I’m ANXIOUS about this pool. But it’s never about the moment I’m in, when I’m watching her swim, and splash and have fun. It’s always about the “What if I wake up and the water is all over the yard because the tube deflated? What if I put too much chlorine in, and something bad happens? What if. What if. What if.” It’s never about the moment I’m in right now.
The cure for this (and most of my anxiety issues) is to come back to the present moment. Ground yourself. Look around. Name something you can see, touch, taste and smell. Use your senses to help you come back to this moment. Once you’re back in the present moment, you have all the power to make choices. <3 You have the power of your brain, and being able to use it when you’re in the present moment. When you’re in anxiety land, some “what if” in the future, your brain is of little use to you. 🙁 When you come back, remember your mantra. Choose your mantra… repeat. repeat. repeat. 🙂
I also started a little practice around this concept as well. It’s called the Happy Place Challenge. Every day I look for things that make me feel good, or smile, or laugh. (The smaller the thing the better… they take a little more presence to see). Then I share them with some friends who are doing the challenge too. It has a couple benefits. It helps me stay more present through out the day. It gives me something specific to stay present around. And (and this is a biggie) the more you look for the good stuff… the more good stuff shows up!! You can join the Happy Place Challenge too. We’d love to hear your happy places and support your journey. 🙂
I hope these ideas help you get started actually using the mantra for moms who yell. But even with all these strategies, the one MOST important thing I think you need is a little patience. Not for your kids, but for yourself. It’s not going to happen over night. It’s not going to be “fixed” instantly. It is a process, a practice. So even when you forget your mantra almost immediately after you decide to use it, (and you will!) don’t just throw it all away thinking “eh, this doesn’t work for me”. It CAN work for you, but you’ve got to keep coming back. The growth and the practice are all about the coming back. Expect mistakes. Expect to be imperfect. Expect to yell or growl or be sarcastic. Then remember… and come back. Give yourself a pat on the back for coming back and repeat. repeat. repeat. The more you keep coming back, the easier it gets until one day you find yourself using your mantra before you lose it with your kid, without even thinking about it. <3