We were doing ok, my two sons, my husband and I. We had our share of sibling arguments, the universal family struggles of getting the kids out of the door on time, with teeth brushed, coats on, water bottles and everything. No huge issues. But SURELY family life could be better than mildly (or hugely) irritating?
It was the relentless nature of it, the repeated requests for simple things I felt we SHOULD have gotten over by now. I mean, they were 4 and 6!
SURELY, they could put their clothes on without me handed them each piece of clothing separately.
SURELY, we could have a weekend cuddle in bed which didn’t result in a brotherly meltdown and a heel to someone’s nose!
Well, as my step-father loves to say “Don’t call me Shirley!”
(Yes, we were fans of the 80’s classic Airplane.)
If it was just those low-level irritations maybe I would have shrugged it off and decided it was just how family life was, after all my friends reported similar stories.
But SURELY, I wasn’t supposed to be so filled with anger just trying to get out the door in the morning.
SURELY all those parenting books I’d read should be able to help me feel more generous towards my children as they fell asleep every evening, rather than the stricken feeling of desperation to get downstairs to a cup of tea, or something stronger.
Listening to a Hand in Hand parenting podcast one day, Abigail and Elle described how children’s biological need for connection in order to thrive is being threatened when they go to bed every night. The never-ending list of things that NEEDS to be done before sleep is a way of signalling the emergency state their brain is in, and their desperate response is to stave off the hours of disconnection, even for five minutes.
That would explain the begging for a drink of water before bed, the lengthy negotiations for one more story/cuddle/kiss/aeroplane spin (yes honestly!) before I could escape the room.
Learning the Hand in Hand tools has revolutionised our family life. We now have a “Whatever you do, DON’T get into your PJs” game, for example, which makes all of us roar with genuine laughter, connecting us before the long night ahead. (with PJs successfully on, of course)
Hand in Hand parenting has given me good information as to what is going on for my children in those moments. And it’s given me space to offload the frustrations of working hard all day and NEEDING space in the evening, making me lighter when I’m putting the children to bed at night.
And my rage at getting out the door in the morning? I can’t say it NEVER flairs up, but when it does, I know where to go with it, and have the confidence that I’ll figure it out.
Mostly I just enjoy being with my children a lot more. Not every minute. But a lot more.
SURELY that’s got to be worth it.
My next 6-Week introductory Parent Support Group is running on Tuesday evenings (8.15pm-9.45pm) starting on 29th October, Lancaster city centre location.