How I conquered the Back to School Meltdown
Last night was a tough one. The kids are back in school this week. Leo is struggling. My little 8 year old is exhausted from all the new changes, the transitions, the unknown. It wasn’t like the meltdown was that different than any of the others that have happened in the past. It was another typical evening of me saying no to sugar. Even after pulling out all the tricks and negotiation tools they’ve collected in their tool box they realized I wasn’t going to give in. That is when Leo melted. It was like watching a popsicle puddle into nothing in the hot sun.
What I know for sure is that my greatest resource is my energy. I’m a working mom. I love that I’ve continued to create for myself but that means that the past 10 years of living here in the US and working my ass off has been a whole lot of BUSY! Always multitasking, always juggling clients’ demands with family demands and trying to pull it off like superwoman. It has been challenging and I’ve been proud of how much I can get done in such a short period of time. I’ve lived on high ambition like it was a drug. And society praised me for it. Still does.
Except now things have shifted. I’ve slowed down. I’m not as busy on purpose. I’m redefining success for myself. I have cut back in such a gigantic way that I’ve had moments of hyperventilation – like how do I live without doing so much? Who am I? I’ve been coached through those times effectively and lovingly. I’ve learned to create time for nothing. Time for me. Time for dreaming again. This has filled me with an energy that I never knew I had. Not bouncing off the walls energy. Not stay up all night energy. A different kind of energy.
Last night I rested on the couch before dinner. I would have NEVER done that. And after dinner I left my phone at home and the boys and I took Tucker to the dog park. We ran, we walked, we raced, we played ball. I was completely present. I think this filled me with that energy that I’m talking about. The ‘being present’. On the way home they started begging, arguing and negotiating for ice cream. I said no. They kept at it. They are sugar freaks. I said no. I was in a calm and present place. They were annoying. I said no. I wasn’t distracted by my phone. I was clear about my answer being no and I wasn’t going to change my mind. Finally, and calmly, I made a conscious decision to quit arguing with them. Leo was a mess. It was getting close to bedtime so I knew he was tired. I was able to talk to myself in my head (yes, I was losing patience) and remind myself not give in, not to get pushed to the edge, yell, scream or do whatever else happens when there is that unnecessary and ridiculous temper tantrum over ice cream. It is usually around the time he becomes nasty when he doesn’t get his way that I try fighting through it. But not last night. I remained patient. Somehow I had this little reserve of energy that I was able to tap into. It was like a gold mine.
After his shower he shifted and settled down. Bedtime turned easy. He cuddled, he said I love you. Both boys were in bed and asleep by 9pm. Dance party for mom.
It was only an hour of my life but there was so much more to it. I’m not naturally domestic. Being a mom takes more work, energy, thought and mundane, ordinary tasks than I could have ever imagined. Last night my aha was that it doesn’t matter how smart I am, how many parenting books I’ve read or how strong I am. All of that really gives me nothing when Leo is telling me he wants to die because I’m the meanest mom in the world. There is nothing rational about that moment and being smart, tough and strong doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have the energy. My own personal peace of mind, my own reserve of energy was my golden nugget last night.
Sara, So well said. It can be tough to remember as 21st Century parents that we need some down time. I love the idea of just laying on the couch after the “first shift” at our day job before entering the “second shift” of being there for kids in the early evening through bed time. The rewards are great in this day and age as is the time and energy needed to elevate our immediate world by being attentive, caring parents. I am excited to read your next post. That is one way I take a little time for myself. Thanks to you for that gift!