Today began a lot earlier than I thought it would. My toddler woke up to the sounds of my teacher husband getting ready for work. Teachers start their day pretty early. I should have walked straight to the french press, but got caught up in toddler breakfast, then the next thing and the next thing and then the next.
About two hours into our morning, I felt frustration as tightness in my chest and instinctively shouted at the top of my lungs. This scared my daughter, obviously, and suddenly I was back in the present, drowning in shame for losing my cool. It hit me: I had spent so much time regulating my daughter’s emotions that I neglected my own. So rather than stay in the house, battling it out all day, I decided we would go on an adventure. When I started backing my vehicle down the driveway, I had no idea where we were going to go, but I knew it needed to be outside and involve coffee.
After making a split second decision, we headed to Parkville, MO, to walk around downtown. Having only been to Parkville a handful of times, I wasn’t incredibly confident in my decision, but I knew there was a coffee shop and a playground.
We walked up and down the streets, learned a little about trains, met a few new people, and I got my glass of iced coffee. She held my hand as we walked along the sidewalk and she listened when I told her she needed to stay close. When we braved an antique shop, the only time she struggled to listen to me was when she saw a package of gum. She didn’t climb on any of the furniture or pick up any breakable items. She honored our family rule: use only one finger to touch.
By the end of our adventure, I knew that I’d made the right decision in getting us out of our home and in a new environment. I needed a change of scenery to help me regulate my own stress and internal, shame-filled, dialogue. I needed a cup of coffee to take a deep breath. I needed a space that allowed me to get centered again so that I could connect and parent in a meaningful and intentional way.
My reason for sharing my story is this: as parents we sometimes forget our own needs because of the needs of our children. As much as I’d like to think that doesn’t impact my ability to parent my daughter, sometimes it does. There are times when I can white-knuckle it to bedtime but some days I can’t. Taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of my children.
If you’ve experienced a parenting moment like this one: I HEAR YOU! Take some time to consider how you process your own emotions. Is it pretty easy for you to do manage your own anxiety in the moment or is it challenging? If you’d like more information on how to develop greater awareness around your own personal emotional landscape, I’ve written an article that may be helpful to you: Just Do the Dishes: Self-Awareness.
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