Sunday, 14 October 2012

Time to stop yelling.

I've been a bit remiss about writing this blog since The Boy started school and The Feral One started preschool.  They've both settled in well and I thought I would have loads of time to get things done.  Well I don't.  I won't say that I have less and it's certainly easier to get things done when they are at school, but I still seem to be chasing my tail most of the time.  Still, time really to try to get back to the blog.

I would generally say that I am a good parent.  My children are happy, reasonably well behaved, bright and interested in the world around them.  Of course we have our ups and downs, some days they are more polite than others - all four of them played a blinder today whilst out at lunch with friends - some days they squabble and fight more than others, but all in all, they are good, sweet kids.  However, I do have an area that I really need to work on.  Where I really fall down is my tendency to shout when stressed.  I'm not talking about when I shout "Stop!" across the field, or raising my voice to make a point or to be heard above the general insurrection, I'm talking proper screaming harpy, about to burst a blood vessel loss of control.

What is so baffling about this complete loss of temper is that it never happens with anyone except the children.  I don't shout at my husband (I prefer to snipe), I don't shout at my parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances or even random strangers, however rude they may be to me.  I certainly don't shout at children who come round to play, or even in front of them.  I don't shout at the baby, and it is rare for me to shout at the Feral One (although she is sometimes caught in the cross fire).  Mainly, it is The Eldest who gets it in the neck, followed in second place by The Boy.  So why do I lose it with the children?  Those little beings who really are the most important things in the world to me?

I recently read THIS blog about stopping what she refers to as a "Mama Tantrum" and I can relate to it.  I've sat down (well, I haven't, but I've thought about it whilst doing other stuff) and tried to work out where my triggers are and I think I have it.  It's not children wetting themselves.  It's not drawing on the walls.  It's not treading mud (and other unmentionable stuff) into the house.  It's not attempting to cook dinner with The Boy wrapped around my legs.  It's not refusing to eat their dinner and throwing it on the floor.  It's not them having a tantrum in the supermarket.  Most of the time it's not even them beating each other around the head with toys (although that is close to being a trigger point, especially if I'm trying to get something done at the time). All those trials of parenthood are met (normally anyway) with equanimity and calmness.

My trigger for a loss of control screaming tantrum from me is when the baby is screaming and I cannot pick her up to stop her because I have my hands full of other children.  As soon as the baby starts to cry, my stress levels soar, I get hurried and impatient with the older children which flusters them as well and then it all goes downhill as fingers start to fumble with seat belts, water bottles get dropped, bags get forgotten, time starts to tick on and we're not ready to depart for the school run (see, it's that time of the day again, oh how I hate it) - cue Mummy having a hissy fit.  Of course, me screaming does NOT make fingers any less fumbly, or find bags and pick up bottles, it just ends with a stunned silence (except from The Baby, who just ignores me and carries on with her own woes) and possibly tears.  It does not help the situation in any way, shape, or form, and I need to stop doing it.

Don't be fooled by the innocent exteriors,
they are perfectly capable of throwing at least as big a tantrum as I am!
So armed with the knowledge of my trigger point, I am going to follow her STOP strategy.  Wish me luck, I will report back in a week.

Here is a short UPDATE on how it's going so far.

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