I have decided to stop counting days in a desperate attempt to make this coronavirus confinement feel less long. But yesterday we reached a milestone and I realized we are only just about the half of this lockdown saga. Yesterday was the day I became my mother.
For accuracy, I should probably say I became my father. I remember he is the one who would threaten to send me straight to bed without dinner. And this is exactly what I did to my children yesterday. They had literally spent their time playing with my nerves all day. Constantly picking up fights with each other and refusing to listen to whatever came out of my mouth.
In normal times, I would probably be disappointed I ended up “punishing” them. But these are very special circumstances. Therefore, I have to say I am pretty proud of myself for not losing my shit completely actually. There were no screams (or very little anyways) and they understood that they had taken the very last little piece of balance that was left in me. Therefore, when I put them directly to bed without dinner, they did not protest. I am telling you, I won guys!
Truth is, I only won a battle. Not the war
Now, I will have to be strong enough to stick to my premises, otherwise the efforts I made yesterday will be vain. Whenever I manage to keep my cool and make an effort to stay real (and be an adult basically), deep down I know that these times are not just hard for us. They are especially more so for our kids, who are so little and for whom routine means so much to them, that it’s inevitable. They all lose their shit at some point. Such a change in their lives can make them literally freak out.
The other day, my 4-year-old daughter invented this game and asked me to play with her. Here is the game: we sleep, then we wake up, we eat and she takes off for school. Then when she’s finished her work, I come and pick her up, so we run into each other’s arms (in the living room) and we move back home (her bedroom) to have dinner and go to bed. And after that, we start all over again until it hurts (for me, cause lately all I feel like doing really is lay on the couch in front of the tv).
At first, I did not pay much attention…
Then I realized how much she was missing her “normal” life, the life she knew before the pandemic. The only life she’s ever known really, her daily routine, and how much this situation was affecting her. Way more than it is affecting me – the serial couch fan. So, I decided to make an effort to let go. Again, these are not normal times and we cannot pretend like nothing has changed. Which is exactly what I thought on day 1.
“It’s fine, it will all be fine, we’ll spend a lot of time together at home with the kids and it will all just be fine”. Bullshit! It is not fine and we cannot live as if it was. Special times require special strategies. I cannot continue to treat my kids as I used to, when their life was completely different. I need to be more indulgent, both with them as well as with myself. And hubby of course, but hold on to this thought as I will talk about this soon.
Children are little humans and need to be treated like that
We need to stop thinking that our children are too little to feel things and understand things. They have exactly the same emotions that we have. The only difference is, that they cannot always express them clearly, so the easiest thing for them to process emotions and get them out is mostly crying and being nasty and completely losing it.
This lady here helped me a lot understanding that we cannot just impose our will on kids. They have their own brain and their own set of feelings and were born with free will. And this must be respected. This is the kind of things that seems so obvious and clear when explained, still we do not manage to see it all by ourselves.
I took some time to think about what I learned watching Amy’s parenting tutorial and came to realize that I was putting a lot of pressure on my kids. Too much clearly, which is why yesterday was the day I became my mother. The moment I started to pay attention to the way I was talking to them, it became very clear that I was saying a lot of NO’s. Way too many.
Let’s try to be more tolerant for now
There is only one thing that matters to kids and it is to impress their parents. When we say no to everything, they feel like constantly disappointing us because they are clearly trying to do something we do not approve of. And that’s where they start feeling negative emotions like anger and frustration, which lead them to crazy behaviours.
So I have decided to say YES more, and to let them play in the mud for hours until one of them has dirt up his nose and cannot breath anymore; I can be ok with that now. I can also accept that their room is not always tidy (mine isn’t either so why should theirs always be?). Let’s just try to be more patient and tolerant from now on. Both with ourselves and the kids. Schools will open again, eventually.