The early days were crazy days. As we live with my in-laws, it didn’t help that there were a total of 13 people living in our small condo apartment, so there was no space to take a breather and calm down. There were some days where I told them (and probably meant it then) that if they didn’t stop misbehaving, I would just go away. I was that near losing my sanity that I felt I had to walk away. I kept dreaming of rolling hills and green fields. There were days when I wanted to run away and be alone. I was dumbfounded when #3 told me recently that she remembered me saying that to them. She was probably only 4 or 5 then. I can imagine what those words would have meant to a child. It probably brought out all sorts of insecurities in them. It probably made them so afraid that one day they would wake up and find their mummy gone.
So no matter how difficult things are and no matter how much you want to escape from it all, don’t ever, ever, threaten your child that you will go away if they continue to misbehave. It is better to remove yourself from the situation, tell them you need to go for a walk to clear your mind. If you don’t have the option of leaving the house, lock the bathroom door and have a soak in the tub. No tub? Sitting on the floor with some chocolate works too. But the best place I found to take a break from the screaming kids? The stairs right outside my house. I realised that if I locked myself in the room, I can still hear them quarrelling outside which doesn’t help me to calm down. Worse, they would sometimes keep on banging on the door (I’m not sure if it was to irritate me more or to see if I was still alive in there). So I would leave the house, shut the door, and sit at the stairs. That way, I got a chance to get away from whatever was driving me nuts and yet I was still close enough to know what was going on in there. And you know what? The kids will immediately stop their nonsense when they see mummy leaving. But before you walk out the door, tell them that you need to take a 10-minute break so they don’t think you are going for good.
It is very important to take time out to care for yourself. We tend to keep on sacrificing and putting the needs of our kids above our own. Before we know it, we have turned into grumpy old women and I realised I was constantly simmering just under the surface. #4 who is very sensitive, gets upset when I’m in a bad mood. Now, we make a pact and she would tell me “mum, you are getting very grumpy” and that’s her sign that I need to chill. I have a good friend who goes away by herself once every year while her wonderful husband takes care of the kids. That is one smart husband, if you ask me!
But not everyone is so fortunate to be able to take a few days and scoot off. If you do have enough family support, checking into a hotel for a night would be a great option too. That was my birthday wish for many years, which never materialised. I felt that I couldn’t leave them and because there was always a child who needed me in the middle of the night, I never gave myself permission to put my own needs above theirs. And in the end, I was like a wound up toy that would jump at any slight provocation.
So what do I do when things get really bad? Like when you are pregnant and 4 other little kids are sick or/and misbehaving and you are about to go mad? I take one day at a time and keep reminding myself that “This too, shall pass.”
And above all, always keep love in your heart. Only if you love yourself, can you love your family well. To all the mummies out there, you are doing the best you can, so give yourselves a pat on the back!
Discipline #6: Ban books? What are you gonna do about phones?
Discipline #7: 10 House Rules for Gadget Use
Discipline #11: Who has the energy to discipline our kids