- Leslie Mathews
You and your kids need more than usual right now.
Yesterday we set our butterflies free. We had been looking forward to it since we got the tiny little caterpillars two weeks ago. We thought they would be so excited to fly away! Some escaped quickly while others had to be convinced to go. I was filming and capturing the moments, waiting for the kids' faces to light up. In the end, one kid did get pretty excited. The other was a little sad. So was I.
I write this post feeling not like a failure, but a survivor doing my best who realizes I have forgotten something that might seem obvious to everyone else. In these weird and difficult times, I suspect that I am not alone. I forgot that my kid is human, just like me. Instead of seeing her behavior as normal under these circumstances, I used the behavior to feed my own fears and anxiety.
It makes sense because basically everything is scary now, right? The freaking groceries are scary! Getting a delivery brings excitement and terror simultaneously. I want my snacks, but I don't want my snacks to infect my family with a pandemic causing virus that could send one of us to the hospital. Speaking of snacks... I have read countless adult posts on Facebook about the constant snacking. I myself have been trying to wean off the snack box. So why did I get so upset when I realized my 9 year old daughter was sneaking snacks and leaving wrappers and food in her room? She was also leaving her room in a total disorganized mess, each day. Why???
I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to forget my kids are human when I am extremely stressed. I also forget that they are SMALL humans who do not understand they are stressed. They just deal with it and show us through their behavior. When my head is clear, I know out of character behaviors are always caused by something. Let's face it my head is not on straight right now!
So after handling this situation in the worst possible way, I got help. I knew enough to ask my life coach to look at this situation with unbiased eyes. Lesson 1, asking for help is critical in these times. If you take nothing else away from this blog post, get that. Help is out there, and when a kid's messy room and stolen snacks are pushing you to the edge, it is time to reach out to someone. Call your partner, bestie, or a professional. Thank you Kendra for giving Ella and I what we needed. GRACE.
After speaking to Kendra, I went to Ella to tell her I messed up. Lesson 2, tell your kids you are not perfect. They need to know we are all human and this time is hard for everyone. If you act like superwoman, your daughter will think she has to carry all of the burdens you do. We don't want that for our kids. Nothing is perfect right now. It is okay to be imperfect.
Next put yourself in her shoes. Lesson 3, your kid may react to stress like you do. Why do I raid the sweets cabinet like a psycho? I do it because I have anxiety, stress or worry. I am an emotional eater. So is she. Did I think about that? Nope. When I asked her if she was okay instead of yelling at her for eating all of the cookies she told me she has been having two nightmares. In one all of her friends get sick and die. In the other her friends have forgotten her. Just writing that brings tears to my eyes and rips my heart out. Even little humans feel the weight of what is happening right now. My girl has been strong. She has tried so hard to keep life easy for me. She is a pleaser. She wants to be superwoman. I have taught her to hold in her feelings and push through. It is time to change that.
My final lesson follows the same idea as the last. I am an extravert. I need people. Extravert kids need their people too. I moved my office to the kitchen table so I could be close to the kids when I work in the evening. I hate being in my office away from them right now. I group Zoom my family after the kids go to bed. When distance learning started, it was hard to have both kids out in the dining room. I put a computer in Ella's room and made her a cute little work space. I thought she must love it in there. I was wrong. Again. She needs people. Leaving it a mess gets me in there to either nag at her to clean it or to clean it for her while I am nagging. Today I asked if she wants to be out with us in the dining room. She lit up! Nobody wants to be more alone than they have to be right now. It all makes so much sense, but I didn't think of it. We are going to start Ella's Lunch'nZoom too. She needs unstructured friend time.
So why am I blogging about this? This is where the grace comes in. We need to give ourselves and our kids some grace right now. We are stressed. Things are not clear. We have to disinfect our packages before we bring them in the house, wear masks in public and we cannot freaking hug anyone! This is a time of unimaginable stress, for adults and kids.
So I give you, myself and our children permission to feel what we feel. I encourage you to get help when it feels like too much. I encourage you to ask your kids questions instead of yelling. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Does that help? What could be causing the behavior? Stress, fear, anxiety... Forgive yourself if you don't handle it right the first time. Take a minute. Phone a friend. Meditate. Take a bath. Play music really loud in the car even though you can't go anywhere!
If you don't have a professional to help you through this time, here are some resources that might help. I wish you well. I wish you good health, and I give you grace.
Dedicated to my beautiful Ella Grace
My life coach Kendra and her partner Oriana are taking new clients for virtual sessions. They are amazing. You can reach them via their website https://www.stellarlifecoaching.com/ . They are currently offering an amazing special on their group online coaching program, EVOLVE, that makes powerful and transformational personal development work accessible to everyone.
Resources for Helping Kids
"Plan to check in with younger children periodically and give them the chance to process any worries they may be having.Children who are tantruming more than usual, being defiant or acting out may actually be feeling anxious. Pick a calm, undistracted time and gently ask how they’re feeling and make sure torespond to outburstsin a calm, consistent, comforting way."