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mom relaxingYou’re on Day 4 of your 12 Day Challenge! By now you may be realizing that you have been expecting too much from your child and because your expectations are often not fulfilled, you feel frustrated and angry with her.

I’m sure that just reflecting and striving to implement some of these new strategies has worn you out.

Let’s agree one more time for the record that parenting is hard work. It’s a job that stretches you.  Your core qualities are being tested beyond what you think you can even manage at times.  You wouldn’t be the first mama to feel overwhelmed by the tasks of consistency and fortitude!

At this point in our coaching, however, I want you to put some thought into the idea that “all behavior is communication.”  Obviously, you could immediately think of your own child and contemplate what her behavior is communicating to you, especially the challenging behaviors.

But I want you to think about yourself instead. How often are you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry?  Think about a scale from 1 to 10.  Say 10 is your rage, your absolute boiling point.  Where are you on this scale most of the time?

If you’re thinking you probably fall between 5 and 10 most days, I want you to reflect on this for a moment:  You already understand and acknowledge that young children will be noisy, messy, and they will most assuredly push your buttons.  Their brains are still developing; they are still learning how the world works, how their own emotions work.

You’re the emotionally mature one, mama, in this scenario.

Day 4

You need to take care of yourself and your own needs. If your anger and frustration consistently stay between 5 and 10, I invite you to entertain the thought that you are communicating a message to the world.  You might be communicating, “I need a break! I need support!  I need to rest!  I need solitude!”

There’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about needing to be away from your children now and again!  In fact, it is absurd of you to expect yourself not to have regular times away in order for you to refuel, to re-energize.

If you don’t have regular dates with your spouse, schedule one sooner rather than later.

If  childcare is a problem preventing you from taking a break when you need one, connect with some other moms and create a babysitting co-op.  When my first child was just a baby we had a co-op with a few other families in our neighborhood.  It was amazing!  I would sit for a mom while her kids slept so she could go out with her husband and then she would do the same for me on another night for me and mine.

Another great way to recharge regularly is creating an early bedtime for your little ones.  One of the best ways I refuel is knowing that my nights belong to me.  I value a 7 or 7:30pm bedtime for my kids.  I value it so much that I actually get disappointed when we have things scheduled in the evenings that will hinder me from getting them to bed early!  From 7:30pm until 11pm, I can attend a mom’s night out, read, blog, scrapbook, watch a show, call a friend, snuggle with my hubby… the possibilities are endless.

Moms tell me all the time that their kids won’t go to sleep early. I’m sure there are exceptions, but this past summer when I took care of my niece and nephew for 3 weeks along with my own 2, I wasn’t surprised when I had them bathed, jammied, storied, and beded by 8pm.  That was exceptional considering that they don’t have a regular early bedtime at their own house.

I LOVE the bedtime routine. It means restorative, healthy, sweet quiet is on its way.  I truly believe that all mothers can have this, especially once your children are 2.5 or older. We started both of our kids on an early bedtime since birth.  It evolved since nursing and fears and sickness and teething – all of these things do play a part in interrupted evening time for awhile.   I forged through and there was a time when my oldest actually needed to go to bed by 6:30pm in order to sleep well!  It was amazing!

But I digress…

The bottom line? If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  And if you’re pulling your hair out most of the day with your kids, then  you aren’t happy and it means you are in desperate need of some personal, daily respite.  It’s not a guilty pleasure, it’s a necessity.  I invite you to pursue it!