Peace in the Afternoon

When you’re dealing with kids, their current state of affairs, for better or worse, will be the ruling emotion of your day. This co-dependent state of affairs keeps us locked in patterns and routines that may or may not serve us well through dinner time. The culprits are many; yet they’re always the same. They often look like this:

  • Sudden loud noise wakes baby up from nap; baby is cranky.
  • He was picked last today for the recess football game.
  • She hated the lunch you packed. She’s starving and cranky.
  • “I wasn’t even talking – Jack was talking to me!” Still, he was the one reprimanded by the teacher.
  • The Twelve Mysterious things that happened today that your kid will never tell you about.
  • Gratitude, our society’s well-documented elixir for stress and anxiety, initially would look like a futile attempt to ease an ache in the heart. I can’t even imagine looking at my son at the end of a hard day of school and starting to sing, “These are a few of my favorite things…” Because, at that point, my son believes one thing: “Everyone hates me.” So, what difference does it make if my favorite thing is a kitten? And please, Mom, DO NOT SHARE THAT.

    We wisely push gratitude aside for now, and search for food to tame the savage beast. Once you’ve maneuvered successfully through your pantry to find something that will finally appease him (of course, this will not be the same thing that will appease the rest of the brood), you’re left with one thing: Time.

    Time that we whittle away, stepping on eggshells, hoping the sibling rivalry bomb doesn’t go off, trying to make it until Daddy comes home and we can have dinner.

    It may be easier to have a

    good time with our kids

    when they’re in a

    good mood;

    but we have the

    greatest opportunity

    to show

    them our love

    when the kids are

    at their worst.

    My first baby was colicky. My pediatrician said, “Your baby knows you’re stressed, and that’s not helping your baby calm down.” (Hence, the beginning of my yoga love.) The same thing is true for kids. If I’m stressed; they’re more likely to add more stress. Sometimes, keeping the peace is impossible. Sometimes, the only thing we can do is to do what makes us happy.

    That’s when I realized this golden nugget: If I just do what makes me happy in the afternoon, everything else will fall into place. Here’s my list of afternoon indulgences.

  • Cooking. Cooking relaxes me – but only if I’m alone. But, it does calm my kids down – when they cook. I have one son who makes no-bake cookies after school, and recently moved up to peanut butter bars. It relaxes me to watch him cook. (Use a tablecloth to catch all the spills and drips.)
  • Stop Cleaning. At first, I thought this relaxed me. But the whole, shoveling snow thing while it was snowing, made me crazy.  A tidy house does relax me — but tidying all day long is exhausting. I save the tidying up for just one time, at the end of the day when everyone’s in bed.
  • I don’t talk on the phone. Usually, she’s in the same mess as me, and we can do little to pull each other out right now. Plus, the kids know when I’m on the phone, I’m not here.
  • Stay off the computer – it’s just like the phone. Only worse.
  • Sit on the sofa and read my novel. This is like taking a tranquillizer in the afternoon. The best way to de-stress. I dare you to try this one. Aren’t the educational experts constantly telling us to let our kids see us read?! Set a good example, for Pete’s Sake.
  • Do yoga. This is a tough one, but well worth it. I used to wait until the kids were all safely tucked in bed, late at night. Then, I would be exhausted and frustrated that I had to wait so long. “Putting my life on hold,” I used to say. Now, why wait? Doing yoga while my kids are in the room is a skill that has taken me some time to learn. Try it – it changes the dynamics of a room dramatically, and my evenings are free.
  • De-clutter my junk drawer. The minute I start pulling stuff out, I have helpers. I direct them to the garbage can.
  • Writing thank you notes. My goal is to write three per day.
  • Read some fascinating story from a magazine and share it with my kids. Something like Timmy Turner.
  • Start a novel with your kids. We do this at night at the lake… it’s always Nancy Drew. Her suspense and danger always lifted us away from our own little world.
  • Drink a good bottle of Soda with my kids. This is one I don’t do often — but I truly love. I love the latest nostalgic shapes of the bottles, their unique fruity flavors — it’s hard to be grumpy in front of a bottle of soda. I insist — glasses with ice, with the soda poured on top.
  • So that’s my list. Continually evolving, always adding something new. Who knows where we’ll be at the end of the school year?

    I have a new kid DVD video review up, here.

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    2 comments to “Peace in the Afternoon”
    1. I love all of these tips. I’ve found that the restriction to not use one arm for two weeks is actually letting me catch up on just being rather than being busy or crazed.

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