So it is Saturday night, too early for bed and too late for the playground. You’re sitting on the couch while your kids play in front of you. Toys are everywhere. The living room looks like a construction zone. The older one makes the younger one cry for the hundredth time, waits until he calms down, and does it again. An episode of Spongebob Squarepants is on television and you’ve seen it enough that you can recite line by line.
A ball knocks your cup of coffee to the floor. You look at the liquid as it soaks into the rug. You look at your kids and the thought crosses your mind.
How did we get here?
I mean, you know how it happened, those early days of romance and mystery, when it was you and your spouse. Friday nights were dinner and movies. You had friends. You had money. You had time.
You could take a freakin nap.
Now the tank is empty. Pressure builds behind your temples. You shut your eyes.
These times happen as parents. They can’t be avoided but you can fight them.
Stay Active: Have a plan and structure. Stay ahead of the game. Be active physically and mentally. Hit the playground, the walking trail, the forest. Go over homework. Read together. Idle time breeds pressure. That doesn’t mean to avoid resting, just to make the most of each night. Kids need structure, even if it is structured play. Have a plan and the courage to break it every once in a while for something special.
Stay Open: Listen. When we get stressed, we close ourselves off in defense. Your attention is valuable and the kids are worth it. There are times they need an ear. Show them their opinions are valuable and their stories are interesting. You’ll be surprised at what you hear.
Stay Loose: We have our own agendas. Don’t take your work home. Yes, we have our own issues but, for a moment, put them aside. Know that kids can’t be put in a box. They will push your limits and carry you outside of yourself. That is the beauty of children. They make you better and teach you about life as you try your best to figure out the mystery of parenting.
When you find yourself at the limit, step back. Take a breath. Reset and recognize the angels in front of you. Children are blessings and, even with all the stress, they are worth every second. You will always love your kids and you can actually like them too.
How do you handle the hard times when the tank is empty? Let us know.
~Matt and Val