When you’re a parent, there are almost always inevitable moments of chaos. You’re cooking dinner and all of a sudden everyone needs your attention at once, you’re in the grocery store and a tantrum begins, you’re on the phone and your child chooses that moment to be the loudest he/she has been all day… Etc. Kids will be kids. But there are many ways to cope with and minimize the insanity, so you can keep your cool and keep your kiddos happy. Here are a few of my go-to methods…
Redirection is one of my number-one tactics in dealing with chaos. Johnny is upset he can’t have that cool toy/food/etc in the store? “Hey Johnny, what cool thing do you want to do when we get home?” Or, for toddlers and younger kids, a lot of times I have a couple small “distraction” toys stashed in my purse that I’ll whip out at times like these. Jenny wants your attention and your are in the middle of an important phone call/cooking dinner/etc? “Hey Jenny, could you go color me a pretty picture/build me something awesome with your Legos/make your dolls some dinner/etc?”
For littles, sometimes just putting them in a different environment is enough to stop the fussing–if my 4-month-old is starting to get upset while playing on the floor (and I know he’s not hungry or wet/poopy), I’ll replace the toys he has in front of him with different ones, or put him in the activity center/exersaucer/bumbo seat so he’s sitting or standing instead of laying down.
Music can be awesome for getting everyone in a better mood. Pick something upbeat and happy–it doesn’t have to be that grating children’s music you’ve already heard ten million times (though sometimes that’s just what will do the trick), but it definitely shouldn’t be screamo or death metal either. Several times I’ve put on something like Coldplay or Switchfoot, and my kids and I can both enjoy it, and maybe even have a little dance party while we’re making dinner. It’s never wrong to have fun with your kids, especially in the name of sanity. Which brings me to my next point…
When all else fails, just drop what you’re doing and get down on their level for a few minutes. Even in the busiest day, it’s important to make time for one-on-one moments. This can be as simple as setting your daughter on your lap and talking to her about her day, building Legos with your son, doing silly noises with your baby’s toys, reading books to your toddler… It doesn’t have to take all day, but it will help them thrive. Find out what makes them happy and make time to do it together (this is also important for maintenance of good attitudes, so you don’t get to the tantrum in the first place).
Lastly, nourish your own soul. If you don’t have peace inside you, you can’t help your children have peace. Talk with a friend, read, write, create art, play music, do something that inspires you.
Choose to think about the good in your life. If your little one just spilled something all over the freshly-cleaned floor, at least they didn’t break anything. Or if they broke something, at least they didn’t hurt themselves or you. Find the silver lining.
I’ve found it especially helpful to have encouraging notes to myself in visible places. Sometimes it’s hard to be positive, and hard to remember what’s worth being happy about. To make it a little easier on you, I’m including one of my favorite encouragements as a printable here.