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Candle in the Night

Friday, January 13, 2012

When Frustration Hits

I posted about a week ago about M's sleep training and how well that was going.  Well, over the course of the week, things have gone drastically downhill.  She had several good nights, but she's growing and with that growing, she's figured out how to wrestle her way out of her Miracle Blanket.  The past few nights, she has wakened with both arms out (I let her sleep with one arm free to self comfort) and she startles herself awake.  Last night, every couple hours, she'd be out of the swaddle completely and on her tummy crying helplessly.  And I'm tired.  I'm not just tired, I'm beat!

I could insert any one of the following words into how I've been feeling in the past few days, disappointed, frustrated, irritable, whiny, pooped.

These feelings aren't just about the lack of sleep.  They're about the things that don't get done when I'm feeling this way.  They're about me being at the end of my ropes.  I'm sure every mother has felt them.  When your child asks for something over and over and you finally burst and yell at them.  When your baby squirms awake in your arms...again...and you want to just tell them to go to sleep!  When your husband is late coming home from work and you haven't used the bathroom all day and you can't wait for him to get home so you can close the door and pee in peace.  When you just get one child down for a nap and the other one wakes up.  When you clean all the floors just to have someone track snow in on their shoes.

So what do we do when these feeling surface?  Maybe the better question is, how to we prevent them in the first place?

First and foremost, prayer.  I've found that if I start my morning with prayer and devotion, the whole day goes better, sleep deprived or not!  Then, throughout the day, whenever I start to feel frustrated, I pray.  "Lord, give me patience," and "Father, help me", are probably the most common prayers that are on my heart.

Be proactive.  When I know that I'm tired and irritable, I find I benefit greatly if I plan to relax during the day. Instead of cooking dinner, I plan to order pizza.  Instead of having dishes to do, I plan to use paper plates.  Instead of worrying about the house not getting clean, I plan to just clean one thing...or not clean at all.  I don't do ALL these things in one day (unless it's a really extreme case), but planning to not worry about things so much really helps my stress level throughout the day.

Take a nap.  Okay, so this one hasn't happened pretty much since M was born, but when I just had one baby, I was able to nap when she napped.  It was really great and really helped my energy.

Eat lots of healthy foods and have a little caffeine.  Now I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but when I need a burst of energy, I will have a cappuccino.  It gets me through the really bad days when a nap is not an option. The healthy foods help too and give me some energy.  I've found that I feel FAR better if I eat healthy than if I don't.

Eat!  Okay, this may sound redundant, but eating SOMETHING (healthy or not) is better than going hungry.  Today, I was heading home and both girls were fussing in the car.  I knew that when I got home, they would both need to be put down for naps and I would be incredibly hungry by the time I was able to eat something. So I drove through a fast food restaurant.  I knew that if I didn't eat then, I wouldn't be eating for a long time and I needed some food in my system to give me the energy I was going to need to take care of my girls.

But what if the feelings DO surface?  That's a little harder.  As much as I try, there are still times when feelings of frustration, anger, irritation, or disappointment bubble up inside of me.

The first answer is the same.  Prayer.  It's never too late to ask God for help.

Take a break from the situation.  This is easier said than done when the things you might be needing a break from are babies, but it can be done when necessary.  There are times when H is in her high chair and M is playing on the floor or in her jumper that I just go to my room, shut the door, and have a few minutes to recover.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I scream into a pillow, sometimes I eat a snack, sometimes I just lay quietly with my eyes closed, but I always feel better (and am able to be a better mom) when I go back to my girls.  It's never a long time, but that little bit of time makes a big difference.

Go for a drive.  This can be done either with or without children.  If Brian is home, I can leave him with the girls and run up to the store.  When I come home, I feel like a new person.  Time doing something out of the house, alone, can make all the difference.  If Brian isn't home, I can load up the girls and just drive.  I can go get a snack somewhere, drop off library books, get gas, or just drive.  It just makes a difference to get out of the house sometimes.  (This only works if neither of the girls is crying.  I often have to play little kid music, but I can put it into the back speakers only.  M is getting better about riding in the car, so that helps!)

Call a friend.  I most commonly call my mom, but anyone you're close to who would at least sort of understand the situation will do.  Vent to them.  Often, once it's all out in the open, I realize that it all sounds pretty silly and I'm going to be okay after all.

Have your child spend some alone time.  One of the things that really gets my emotions fired up is when I'm nursing M, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, or any other number of things and H wants me to hold her.  I know that some mothers wear their children everywhere and more power to them, but I suffer from sensory overload at times and NEED to not be touched.  H will whine if I don't pick her up when she wants to be held and often that whining will turn into a full-fledged fit.  Thus, the fit spot.  If H is throwing a fit (one of the things that used to really upset me), she sits in her fit spot until she's done.  She knows that when she's ready to be "nice", or stop whining and crying, she can get up.  Sometimes it just takes her a minute and sometimes it takes her five minutes, but when she's done, she's done and I am not nearly as worn out as if she'd been throwing that same fit at my feet!

What are some things you do to "survive" when frustration hits?

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