Friday, April 25, 2014

Mommy First Aid

Whenever I have taken a first aid course, the first thing they always emphasize is SAFETY. It does not help anyone if you go into a dangerous situation and now there are two people in need of assistance. If someone has succumb to a fallen power line and there is water between you and them, call the professionals so they don't have to get you both. If someone is drowning and you are a moderate swimmer, get HELP don't swim out there cause they will drag you down with them.

I never realized as a kid that this is what my parents were doing when they sent me to my room to think about what I had done. They were taking a "let me settle down so I do not go totally ape shit on you" approach. In a way, it was parent first aid.. take time to be sure the rescuer is not going to make the situation worse before tackling it.

Now years later as a Mom, I have battled the ever present Mommy guilt of not being practically perfect in every way. I tried to interact with the problem head on and more often than not I learned I was ill-equipped. He would scream, I would try to be patient and he would scream more and I would start to scream and then we are both screaming at each other and NO one is safe! But I would feel incredibly guilty, or like he was "winning", if I walked away and ignored him. So I decided to be insane.. you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

Since we've moved for grad school, we've had some doozies of conflicts. And I know his lashing out is because we've moved and he is not getting the amount of attention he used to get before the move when I only worked part time and we lived with my parents. After a few blowups that ended with me crying cause we had both screamed things we didn't mean, finally, I started walking away or sending him to his room. Most of the time because we both need it, but sometimes because I need it.

I've also started telling him instead of stuffing it down and trying to be Perfect Mommy when I'm getting overwhelmed and then it building up until I snap. I can relate it to when he gets overwhelmed or bothered by something and how that feels to him, Mommy is feeling like that and just needs a little quiet. Most of the time he respects it and lets me have some time. It is slow progress and we both lose it occasionally but at least if I can start recognizing when I am overwhelmed and communicating my feelings with him, perhaps he will imitate this and be able to communicate when he is overwhelmed.

I know I am not the only one who feels overwhelmed with her kid. But most Mommys (myself included), will push forward and put kids needs above their own on a regular basis. Even if it might cause more drama later. We often ignore our own needs and/or feel our needs are insignificant compared to our kids. And while that is often true (kids need a LOT), I think there are also times where taking a break is required. There needs to be more mommy first aid going on.. so theses are my suggestions for a Mommy First Aid Course:

Mommy First Aid Flow Chart

1) Are they in any immediate danger? If no continue to step 2, If yes, interact immediately
2) Are you calm/ready to engage? If no continue to step 3, If yes, interact immediately.
3) Take a few minutes to clear your mind. Relax/Let it go/walk away/get a cup of tea, whatever you need for YOUR sanity. Trust me a few extra minutes is not going to irreversibly hurt them.
4) Ok calm and ready to engage now? If no, repeat step 3, If yes, interact immediately 

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