The holidays have began………
I am a mum that loves the start of the holidays; not because I’m one of these super moms or a netmum mom that has total control and an organised plan of home crafts and home baking all day long. I love the holidays because there is no routine, no crazy school run, no nagging 30 times a minute to get dressed. We have 6 weeks of freedom from being told what to do and where to be. We have days out planned to spend outside, enjoying park hopping in the sunshine. I start every holiday with a summer bucket list. It’s not all expensive days out, from park hopping, to garden hopping, picnicking, and making up games.
Monday we went to Belton Hall!!
I am I newly joined member of the national trust, and determined to visit as many places as possible. With the promise of an adventure play ground to die for we were all set.
I was so aware that with it being the first day in the first week of the holidays George probably would be a nightmare. I predicted he would be grumpy, unpredictable, and impulsive!!! It takes a good week generally for him to get used to not having the structure of school. He was all of those things, however he was responsive, engaging, and warm.
They climbed, played, made up games all day. I have never been or seen my children so filthy. By the end of the day Peony looked like a street urchin.
It was peony that brought the most surprise to the table. She was a little monkey!! Her mood and volatility was at times beyond my control. When something didn’t go her way, or she felt an injustice she went up like a rocket. No warning, no build up!!
By the end of the day I felt like a really crap parent, I had no control over Peony, I couldn’t calm her down. I couldn’t believe that the child I had most faith in to ‘behave’, to help me, was doing the total opposite.
Walking back to the car we were both so cross with each other we could hardly remember any good parts of the day.
I went home and I did what I would tell anyone never to do, but I googled why can my daughter not control her temper!!
So much information came up, information that I knew from working with adults but hadn’t transferred to children.
I learnt that it is ok for Peony to feel angry, cross, to feel totally raging. My job isn’t to meet her cross with my cross; my job is to de-escalate her cross. I knew this from working within psychiatry. Still I can’t believe that I hadn’t transferred this skill to a 5 year old that has little emotional control.
That night I spoke to Peony about relaxation methods (in a child friendly way), we spoke about regulating breathing, counting to 10, moving away. I ask her what made her cross. This was when she was tired, hot and annoyed by George. I felt I could then block the chain of events when she started to loose control of her emotions. We have designed a sticker chart, to give her that moment of success that is visual and measurable on a piece of paper.
I have sat and spoken to her about emotions; what they mean, how we get them and what triggers them.
Since this day she has had the most fantastic days. We both have identified when she was about to feel her temper rising and could immediately put strategies in place. Praising her for how well she is doing with her temper is giving such a sense of pride that I’m not sure that anything else could do.
I can’t believe that a day out where I thought I had it all covered and planned I got it so wrong. It wasn’t George that would struggle; it was Peony. I am guilty of expecting so much from her. She is the middle sibling but in development she is overtaking George now. I am guilty of seeing her as the eldest, and expecting her to behave as the eldest.
Parenting is so full of surprises, you think that you have everything in your minds eye, yet it’s easy to miss something, its also easy to cast the figure of blame to your self, and feel you should have done more, seen more, acted better.