Originally Posted by LaughingRedhead
Maybe it helps to realize what our triggers are and focus on something like, "The next time _____ happens, I will not react with rage. Instead, I will do _____." Try to plan your response (a calmer response) to whatever sets you off.
One way I have managed to keep myself from ever spanking (and I am almost afraid to write that, as though I will jinx myself) is to give myself this rule: I will not touch my child when I am angry. That gives you "permission" to be angry, but not permission to touch your child out of anger.
My enemy has been yelling-- and to a child, "yelling" is not necessarily about raising your voice. Yelling can mean criticizing, blaming, and all of those horrible things. I used to think, well, at least I've never spanked, but honestly, I think the verbal stuff is WORSE. So, I think it's wise to not even talk (for me) when I am mad. I tell my children that I need a time out, and I go away for a few minutes for something mindless.
What has really, really, really helped me is the following:
(1) Developing appropriate expectations for my children (which is always hardest with your first-born, I think
(2) Noticing when I am on the VERGE of getting mad. Sometimes it is just so hard to stop myself once I am already mad (not saying it is impossible, but it just 1000 times harder). Over time, I have found patterns . . .not anything the kids do, but patterns within myself (esp. being hungry, so I eat often!) and that has been extremely helpful. I am so predictable, thank goodness.
(3) Humor and hugging. If I can force myself to make a joke, even when I feel like crying instead of laughing, miracles happen. Truly. It doesn't even have to be really funny. It can be something ridiculous. Playing, playing, playing-- being so silly even when I don't feel like it brings us all to a good place. Sometimes, I force myself to SMILE if I can't think of anything. That helps a lot. It is hard to be mad with a stupid grin on my face! And the hugging . . .it is very hard to be mad at anyone when I have a kid on my lap snuggled up. (The hugging is better left for on the verge of being mad, not actually mad.)
(4) The reminder: Does whatever is happening now really matter? Usually the answer is no.
(5) The awareness that problems tend to arise when I am not present in some way with my children. Generally, when I am truly present with them, we all feel better. I kind of look at labor as an analogy. Say you are in labor but don't feel the contractions. Then all of a sudden, BOOM, BOOM-- they are full force. You had no time to "ease" into them, to prepare, and to plan. Same with being present . . .if you are not with your kids (I don't mean just physically) and a problem arises, you are thrown into the situation and have not had time to plan what you'll do, or even better, prevent the problem from becoming a problem. I find I am more likely to go from 0 to 60 in a few seconds when I have not been really present. So, if I sense something coming on, I remind myself-- "Hey, if I just spend some time BEING THERE right now with my child(ren), this situation will diffuse." If we go read a book, I hug them, or we turn on the radio and dance, that usually helps.
(6) The realization that to my kids, nothing else really matters except having parents who are loving. Nothing. Not a spotless house, not activities, new "anything", etc. This is not to say that I don't strive for a clean house, plan things, get them things, but if ANY of these things interfere with our relationship, then it's time to step back and put things into perspective.
(7) Babysteps. Don't worry about yesterday or tomorrow, just focus on this minute-- again, becoming PRESENT. I think presence is the best present, if I may be so corny!
(8) Apologizing. When I've yelled (again, this does not have to even mean raising my voice), I apologize. I clearly say "Look, I did X, and that was wrong. I was wrong. I am so sorry. Next time I will do ___."
forestrymom, re: the no sleeping thing. Oh, mama. I have been there with all three of my kids and am there now with my youngest. My best advice is to not fight it. If he stays up late, set yourself up so that you can be with him, but that you can have a mindless distraction like TV. Don't even expect him to sleep. That sounds ridiculous, but that mindset completely changed my life. Once I stopped expecting my oldest to sleep, life changed. She still didn't sleep (she sleeps great now!) but I made peace with it. Ditto for my toddler . . . who sleeps well now, too (but still co-sleeps). I had to stop reading any sort of books, even AP ones about sleep. And I got really good at finding little ways to nap!