8 Tips to help you stay calm when your kids drive you nuts

Mar 5, 2014, 12:32 AM
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Most moms (or dads) have been there. It's been a day filled with whining, crying, fighting, loud voices, wild laughter and just plain insanity. You try to maintain some level of patience while your kids seem to be jumping, jabbing and tampering with every one of your last nerves. You love your kids, so how can you stay calm amid the craziness of daily life?

Make sure you are listening to your children. If you feel like you're going nuts, first assess whether the needs of your children are being met. Do they need to talk to you? Are they in need of your attention? Do they need to be held, hugged or kissed? Are they hungry? Do they need a drink? Did they miss their nap? Do they just need something to do? Often, they are making you crazy because of an unmet need.

Sometimes, all you need is a good distraction. Kids, like adults, can become a little stir crazy. To help stop this, create a diversion or do something out of the norm. Have a pool party in the bathtub. Maybe build a fort with couch cushions. Play hide and seek. Send them on a scavenger hunt. You can do most of these with your children, or even send them to do it on their own. You can also make up spur-of-the-moment games to encourage them to help you clean up: All the toys on the floor are in danger because of a natural disaster like hot lava is coming, or a toy-gobbling monster eats toys that are left out, etc.

Call a friend for an emergency playdate. You are not alone in the craziness. Chances are, another friend of yours is going nuts as well. Call and see if you can arrange a last minute playdate, whether at your house or theirs. Most of the time, regardless of where the kids are, having a friend over is actually less mental hassle than just having your own kids to worry about. If they're happy, you're happy.

Take a mommy time-out. For this, you might have to lock yourself in your bedroom or bathroom (make sure the kids are safe first, of course). Taking a moment to breathe without someone touching you, screaming into a pillow, having a good cry or saying a quick prayer to make it through the rest of the day can rejuvenate your resolve to be a patient parent (or at least make it until bedtime.)

Turn on some soothing music or dance tunes. Calming, relaxing music can settle the wildness of children and your stress level. However, my experience is that this doesn't always work, so if it doesn't help switch to energetic music. Invigorate yourself with some upbeat tunes and invite your kids to join in on a dance party in your kitchen or living room. It can also double for great music to tackle some much-needed chores.

Having an emergency secret “stash” of mom treats might be a necessity. Whether your indulgence is cookies, chocolate or a beverage (mine is Dr. Pepper), sometimes a little pick-me-up will do the trick. I fondly refer to Dr. Pepper as my “happy juice.” And, I don't normally share, either! This can also work on kids using fruit snacks or graham cracker cookies or some other treat. But, I prefer to treat myself to settle my nerves when I'm about to mentally “climb the walls.” It's amazing what a little treat can do for your mental well-being.

If all else fails. . . ear plugs and a bubble bath. This is probably a little harder to achieve given that kids have an amazing radar for finding you when you want to be alone. Maybe after dad gets home or after the kids are in bed (finally!) this would work better. Or, there's always duct tape. I'm kidding! Sort of. No, really. I've never used it on my kids, but the thought may have crossed my mind in moments of desperation. Maybe you could just give them a roll of it to play with while you take a bubble bath. Perhaps you'll get 10 child-free minutes — if you're lucky.

Remember to take a break, sometimes. Just like in the instructions on an airplane to place the oxygen over your own face and then assist your children, we need to take care of ourselves before we can effectively care for everyone else. Have a girls' night, get a pedicure or a massage, take a walk alone or with a friend or anything else that fits into your schedule and personal preferences. It can help immensely to just take a couple of hours a week or month to do something for yourself. Afterwards, you will feel better equipped to handle all of your precious children and the work that comes along with them.

Being a mom is one of the best jobs in the world and is very rewarding. But, it can also be really exhausting and difficult at times. Find ways to stay calm, even when your kids are driving you nuts. It is possible to stay patient with a little effort and practice.

Email Wendy Jessen at wendyjessen26@gmail.com.

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8 Tips to help you stay calm when your kids drive you nuts