Wednesday, September 4, 2013

8½ Tips on How to Not Lose Your Mommy Mind in THIS Moment

Lately, there have been many full moons, it seems. It seems this way because the children have been losing their ever loving minds and mutating into werewolf type creatures that were put on this earth to terrify me about my immediate future and what it holds for me.

Santiago has been crying at the exact moment he is put down. Immediately. Sometimes, he starts at the moment we are anticipating putting him down like he knows it's coming. So we pick him up because we think we have placed him on a bed of nails but to our surprise there are no nails and as soon as we have picked him back up his crying has ceased. Miraculous. 

I mean if this isn't the face of trouble...
Rafaella, by nature is a beast, so her werewolf metamorphosis isn't too far-fetched. She's the kind of kid that falls off the bed and hits her head and then stands up, shakes her head, and skips off. She's a beastly sleeper and an even beastlier eater. I know, I know. Most parents would love a kid that eats this well but a good eater is one thing; a child that will scream her face off for your ham and blue cheese scrambled eggs when she still has her own because she wants hers and yours too... well that's a different beast all together.

The kiddies leave us stunned some times. Husband and I. Sometimes we look at each other like Did you put them up to this? Because this is a joke, right? But alas, this is no joke. This is the typical day of being a parent of two children under the age of two

So without further ado, I bring you 8½ tips on how to not lose your mommy mind in this moment.

1. Buy a good set of headphones and listen (loudly) to Good Life by OneRepublic (or other song of choice). Let me explain, when I was a teenager I would put on my headphones and listen to my Walkman and imagine a music video in my head. Later in life, I would put on my headphones and listen to my mp3 player and strut... yes kind of like John Travolta in Staying Alive - ok... exactly like that. Point is, music can get you out of a moment by helping you to imagine a new one. So when you're kids are spitting their food at you or violently wailing about a battery dead iPod or hanging from the proverbial rafters, plug in those headphones and listen to a song that will make the crazy chaos seem like a music video. Everything set to music always looks better and what's the harm in One Republic reminding you that life is good:
"what's there to complain about? When you're happy like a fool, let it take you over. When everything is out, you gotta take it in. Oh this has gotta be the good life..."  
2. Contain, contain, contain! Keep them in one place. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed because Santiago is crying in his jump-a-roo and Rafa is jumping off her changing table onto her bed and falling an inch away from the edge, plummeting her to the concrete floor (thank you boy cousins, by the way, for introducing this new past-time) I contain. I take everyone into one room and close the door so no one could leave. It's like that scene in A Bronx Tale when Chazz Palminteri gives the biker gang a chance to leave and when they give him lip he locks the door and says, "Now yous can't leave." It's like that but without the busting heads part.

3. Bust heads.  Your own that is. When Rafaella was a baby she was incredibly hard to put down for a nap. We would walk her back and forth, sing to her, hum like an airplane for her, sit on the corner of the bed and bounce her, hover over her crib vibrating her to Sleepyland and then she'd peacefully sleep for 15 minutes. One day, normally patience of a saint Husband admitted to being so frustrated with her that he smacked himself in the face to stop him from doing anything crazy. I curled my lips inward to stop myself from laughing since that is not what an understanding wife does. I'm not suggesting you go all Husband and smack yourself in the face but some times we all need a smack out of it. Maybe that means stepping into another room and closing the door... only for a moment, ladies. Or maybe that means screaming into a pillow. Whatever works to smack you back to your calm place... 

4.  Lose it. Have you ever shown your kid what they look like when they are scrying (screaming + crying = scrying) in your face? Why not try it? Scry in their face and see how quickly they look at you like What the...? Or in the middle of a tantrum, throw down and dance hard... to imaginary music or sing along if you prefer. Your kid will stop and wonder what you are doing long enough to channel their energy elsewhere. At the very least, you will have channeled your energy elsewhere.

5. Take turns. Monday evenings is my writing workshop night with a fellow writer. And nothing screams creative and inspired more than screaming, moody kids. Oh wait. That's not right. There is nothing that screams creative and inspired less than screaming, moody kids. Mondays happen to be Husband's basketball night with the guys so he could use the extra aggression. So when the kiddos are in an exceptionally screaming, moody mood on Mondays, Husband is kind enough to contain, contain, contain them... in a different room. 

6. What's that saying, "A glass a day keeps the doctor away..." I notice that sometimes I am a better, calmer parent when doing something I really like. Take, oh I don't know, having a glass of wine for example. Sometimes when the kids are having a moment and mommy needs her own moment, I pour myself a glass of wine or an ice cold Presidente Light and I am instantly in a calmer place. Let's be honest, how do you really think all of those 50's housewives kept it together?

What? I didn't come up with this?
7. Remember - and this is a hard one - that what they see is what they will eventually do. I remember last year Rafa realized she could climb. She would climb on top of the coffee table and I would place her on the floor. She climbed the table again. I picked her up and back down to the floor. Again she climbed. Again I placed her on the floor. I tried to remain calm but after her 63rd climb (maybe that's a little exaggerated) I lost my mind and very angrily and loudly screamed. "STOP IT! Stooooop it!!" So of course she looked at me and yelled back, "TOP IT! Tooooop it!!" She didn't remember my previous patience, all she remembered was my screaming. Damn it! And so I realized that what she sees is what she will learn and then it will be what she does. So do whatever you can - leave the room, sip a glass of wine, dance to invisible music - to keep calm and carry on.

Me and my mini
8. Play the laughing game. When I was in college my friend, Eddie would always want to play the laughing game whenever we went to a bar. It went like this: one of you starts just by laughing. And then your friends are supposed to just start laughing. There was no joke. There was never a joke. You just laugh and eventually it turns into real laughing. It was weird. And whenever he brought up playing it, we would always pretend we didn't hear him, but you know what, it never didn't work. By the end we were always really laughing and laughing hard. So maybe you could try this when you're kids are driving you nutballs. Just start laughing. And maybe, while you're at it, you could remember a time they weren't making you nutballs. 
Yes. Like this moment.
8½. If all else fails, put a paper bag over your head and tell the kids that Mommy has left the building. (cited from "Self-Respect" an essay by Joan Didion, "It was once suggested to me that as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag." And Momastery.)

So there's always that...

Using tips 2, 6, and 8


  1. Jen, I love the example you gave about how when you lost it with Rafa after she kept climbing and yelled, she yelled right back and didn't remember your patience, only remembered the yelling. That will stick with me, especially since right now, at this very second Violet is the most defiant beast of a child she has ever been in her almost 3 year. She is also the cutest, and somehow it makes it that much harder!

  2. I agree! Sometimes it's harder than others, though. I especially liked that you referenced a Walkman. It's so true that they remember the loosing it and not the patience. And that never ones away, btw. My teenager still remembers the not so shining moments of mine.


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