I stayed up too late last night. Again. Bad idea when you’re the mom of two, one of which is a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. An even worse idea when you are also battling a cold and facing a work deadline.
And so this morning, I hit “snooze” a couple of times. Then when it was time to wake my kindergartner for school, I didn’t have the patience (or time!) to do it lovingly and gently. As he whined while getting dressed, I yelled to my husband to wake up so he could take the kid to school. Actually, it may have been more of a bark than a yell.. The baby was crying, but she couldn’t be fed until I gave my son his cereal and made his lunch.
Thirty minutes later, I had yelled, my husband had yelled, the baby had cried, the kindergartner had a timeout, and we were all cranky. And the day had barely begun.
I realized this morning that as the mom, I set the tone for our entire household’s mood. It’s a big responsibility and not entirely fair.
And so I started thinking… what are the bad habits that make me a cranky mom?
The first, obviously, is not getting enough sleep. Most of the time this is out of my hands. But not always. At night, when the kids are in bed, I’m so happy to have a few minutes to myself, that I tend to stay up too late, online shopping, watching TV, or reading when I should probably just go to bed.
Not eating also makes me really cranky. Sometimes our schedule is so crazy that every one else gets fed before me and I end up “lunching” on stale Cheesits in the car while shuttling kids around. I’ve taken to keeping a supply of healthy-ish fiber bars in the car and diaper bag. I know, fruit would probably be healthier, but I hate fruit. Unless it’s fermented.
There always seems to be something more important to do than play with my kids. Even with repeated, “Mommy, play with me” pleas, I often opt for not playing with my kids in order to tackle the cleaning, organizing, and work piling up. But sometimes I have the presence of mind to stop and think about what’s really important. When I’m having trouble with this, I think back to the time before my first child was born. When after a significant late pregnancy loss, we were trying to conceive again for months. I wanted a child so desperately. Remember that feeling always makes me appreciate my children and want to spend more time in the moment with them.
Which brings me to another cranky-causing behavior, not living in the moment. I’m a very future-oriented person. Which makes me a great student or employee, but not always such a great mom. Because if I’m always thinking about the next thing to prepare for, I miss out on what is happening right now. And there is always more stuff to do. There always will be. It’s not like my to-do list will ever be done. Expecting it to be is unrealistic.
Over-scheduling myself and the kids is also a major source of stress. I keep having to remind myself not to schedule more than one “thing” per day. I just can’t handle more than one doctor appointment or work meeting in one day. Maybe some other moms can. But that’s my limit.
When my children are grown, I want them to remember me playing with them in the yard, not stressing out about to-dos that will be forgotten in the future. I’m going to try much hard to avoid the cranky-makers above. So if you see me on Facebook tonight after 10 pm, send me a gentle nudge to GO TO BED.