My five-year-old daughter Kate woke up at 5:42 am. And, as if waking up at 5:42 am wasn’t enough, she also decided to roll out of the wrong side of the bed at 5:42 am, so by the time I drug myself out of bed at 5:47 am, she had been whining shrilly at the foot of my bed for five minutes about who knows what. And, what my whiney early-bird hasn’t yet learned is that when mommy is up at 5:47 am and hasn’t had her coffee yet, mommy isn’t exactly patient and kind when it comes to whining and throwing yourself on the floor in a fit of hysteria because you want chocolate milk.
The morning got worse from there. My son lost a piece from his Lego Star Wars and couldn’t comprehend when I didn’t drop everything—including feeding the baby—to look for it. My daughter helped him look, but instead of finding the piece, she found his dinosaur book, which he suddenly wanted to read, which led to a full-on wrestling match on the living room floor. And I still hadn’t had the chance to turn on the Keurig.
My point in telling you all this (aside from giving you the reassurance that your household is totally normal): Godly character isn’t inherent. In anyone. Especially kids. And as a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in mixing chocolate milk and finding Lego pieces and forget to be intentional about what matters most: raising your children up to follow Jesus. That’s why I need a plan. I need a way to regroup when things start spiraling downhill so I can get back to being the mom that my kids need. Here are a few ideas:
1. Stop, Drop, and Pray. When things start to go south, the best thing you can do both for yourself and for your kids is stop and give yourself some perspective. This morning, I turned my Keurig on (finally), set the timer for ten minutes, grabbed the baby on my lap and told my kids we were having ten minutes of silence so I could pray. Ten minutes later, the buzzer went off and I was ready again to face the day.
2. Laugh about it. I know that in the moment, it’s not funny, but trust me, fourteen years from now when you wake up in a quiet house, you’re going to look back on these days and laugh. After my little mommy time-out, I turned to my my kids and said “We have had a bad morning, haven’t we? Can you believe we all melted down that badly?” And we laughed about it. And we moved on.
3. Apologize and forgive. Not to blame a five-year-old for my own personal meltdown, but if she hadn’t woken up at 5:42, none of this would’ve happened. Right? Right? But perhaps the best way we can teach our kids about Godly interpersonal relationships is to be quick to apologize and quick to forgive. And so I did. I apologized to my kids and asked them to forgive me. And then, we sat down to breakfast (not Fruit Loops) and moved on.
Question for you: How do you show your kids Jesus on those I-can’t-take-it-anymore days?