Do you ever feel like your head is going to explode? Between work and cleaning house and meals and laundry and the car that needs to be fixed and the bills that need to be paid, life can seem pretty overwhelming at times.
Sometimes we wake with a zit on the end of our nose.
Sometimes we don’t get to bathe until nap time, or until the relief party comes home.
Sometimes we look at all these things and ask “why?” Why can’t I stay on top of things? We tell ourselves, we should be better, we should be faster, and we should be able to do it all. Whatever the self beating we give ourselves, it stops us in our tracks. We turn mole hills into mountains. It’s not the sheer volume of our to-do list that debilitates us; it’s the belief that because life happens, as it does to everyone, there is something wrong with us. That is what is debilitating.
There are even times when we want to indulge ourselves in this sort of self pity, not that it feels good, but I think we feel that there is some glory in martyrdom. It starts small, but with each revolution of the cycle self pity and martyrdom snowballs into something unmanageable. Entertaining and getting wrapped up in these attitudes leaves us frozen. Instead of saying, “I’m way behind. I sure am motivated to pick up the pace and conquer the world,” we say something more like, “I’m way behind. What’s the point?”
Two words that calm parent’s emotional storms and change discouragement to motivation!
It seems too simple but it’s true. These two words can help our brain to switch from fight or flight to rationality. It gives relief from broken and unrealistic “shoulds.” These words can soothe our soul in the midst of hard and painful times. Consider the following examples and the difference “it’s okay” can make.
1. The bedtime meltdown: As we were putting my kids to bed, we started up the stairs to the bedrooms. My four year old was getting a drink as the rest of the family began ascending the stairs. My wife and I had our hands full carrying children and random items. Without an explanation he burst into a fury of screaming and crying. He wanted to hold Mom’s hand going up the stairs but no one knew that. The tantrum started before we knew what was going on.
Shoulds: “He shouldn’t be acting this way. I should be able to control him and his behavior. This shouldn’t be happening. He needs to be in bed now!” These thoughts conjure up feelings of irritation, anger and frustration. We feel out of control and dissatisfied. They often lead to harsh words, power struggles and a lack of empathy and understanding.
It’s Okay: “It’s okay. Four year olds have tantrums sometimes. It’s alright for him to blow off some steam and for me to relax, comfort him and move on with other things I need to do. It’s okay for him to walk up the stairs on his own even though he is upset about it.” Just writing these things gives me a calmer feeling than writing the “should” statements above.
2. Don’t wake the baby: We have three boys. They are wonderful boys, but like a lot of four to eight year old boys they are energetic and loud. Energetic and loud is actually pretty great most of the time, but when my wife is putting our twenty-two month old daughter, Emma, down for a nap in the middle of the day, energetic and loud doesn’t mix well. There have been multiple times when Emma was just about to sleep when one of the boys laughs hysterically, jumps off their bunk bed with a loud bang or yells a playful war cry as they play in the other room.
Shoulds: “Emma should be asleep by now. The boys are being ridiculous. I told them to be quiet while I was in the room with Emma. They shouldn’t be that loud. I think I’m going to go crazy!” “Shoulds” lead us to believe that normal childhood behavior is misbehavior. It leads to upset feelings and an inability to relax and enjoy your opportunity to spend time with your children.
It’s Okay: “It’s okay. The boys are not deliberately being defiant. They are simply wrapped up in their play and have forgotten to control their volume. It’s okay for me to ask them to play outside or down stairs. It’s okay for me to spend a few more minutes relaxing with my daughter to lay her down for her nap.” This mindset allows us to see our children’s intentions more clearly and respond in a more mindful way. It allows us to set boundaries without damaging relationships. Finally, it allows us to invest in the present situation and enjoy the presence of your drifting child.
3. Shame on me: My family lives a half mile from the Snake River and in the summer we spend as much time on the river as possible. This last summer my oldest son decided he wanted to learn to water-ski. My in-laws purchased some trainer skis to help the kids learn and my son had already mastered the shallow water start with the help of an adult. But I wanted him to try to start in deep water. I think I wanted it partially for the “daddy pride” of having your little boy do something a lot of adults can’t do, but partially because it was a lot of extra effort to start the kids in shallow water. I became “that sports dad” on the river that day. I pressured him into trying it. Then, when the buoyancy of the skis kept flipping him upside down, he became a little rattled. He wanted in the boat.
Shoulds: “He should be able to do this. He shouldn’t be so scared and upset.” Then when I came to my senses and could view myself rationally I started to beat myself up, “I shouldn’t have talked like that. I can’t believe I was everything I don’t want to be in that moment.” These “shoulds” made me think that my son probably didn’t want to be around me any more when the opposite was true. He needed to be reassured that I my love was not dependent on his deep water starts.
It’s Okay: “It’s okay that Cuylar doesn’t want to deep water start. It’s okay to take more time and effort to start from the shore. We’re in no hurry. It’s okay that I messed up. Everyone makes mistakes at times. It’s okay. This is not insurmountable.” When I could tell myself “it’s okay,” I was able to reconnect with my son and he was able to feel loved by me. We were able to move on and have fun and learn at the pace that was comfortable to all of us. I was able to forgive myself for doing things I wasn’t proud of and move toward things I am proud of.
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It’s time to put away the “should” and remind yourself, “It’s okay.” These short, simple two words can breathe relief and life into almost any situation. They can help us see opportunities in what we previously believed to be tragedy. There is no problem the negativity won’t make worse, and no event under the sun that positivity won’t make better. “It’s okay” neutralizes things and creates a safe place to grow from. So try it this week and report back in the comments. Share your stories and feelings of how life rolls on and you say, “it’s okay.”
Question: How has “it’s okay” positively affected you, your child and your everyday life?
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If you found this article helpful, you may be interested in reading “31 Quick (2 Min) Stress Relievers for Busy Parents” or “turning Struggles into Opportunities.”
Enhance your ability to calm your emotional storms with the “Quick Calm Toolkit!” In the Quick Calm Toolkit you’ll get “It’s Okay” worksheets to track and magnify your efforts and ability to manage your emotional storms. You’ll also receive a short audio recording of a quick technique that will help you decrease your stress, anxiety and frustration in literally 2 minutes! To get TRU parenting updates and the amazing Quick Calm Toolkit, enter your email below!