We celebrate our moms this time of year, and they are pretty amazing! But it can also be a really stressful time for moms dealing with young children’s grandiose ideas and maybe their own high expectations.
My children were so sweet when they were young, working hard to deliver amazing gifts. But the excitement and new skills they were practicing were often beyond them, leading to some not so fun memories.
So, I learned to adjust my expectations for celebrations, not just Mother’s Day, but all events that increase anticipation and decrease self-control. Rather than taking it personally when everything went south, I learned to examine the elements that led to meltdowns.
First, I took time afterward to think about what signs had happened that I wish I had noticed earlier that someone might need some help calming down. Then thought about strategies for picking up on those signs and having a plan of action if I saw those signs again.
Next, I had to talk with my family when planning these events. It is easier to keep things fun if the work has been done beforehand. I talk with the adults first about realistic expectations, because often we want more than what we can realistically do. No one wants to make the people they love miserable, but when we plan more than what time and resources, we have we create stress for everyone. I try to ask everyone for their ideas and talk about what is most important and what we can do without. I learned that reducing the number of elements led to a greater time overall for everyone. Some of the elements may be missed, but I never miss the emotional turmoil.
When smaller children are involved, I try to have activities that they can do by themselves, because we all have times when we just need to back away from the social interactions. I also try to plan time outside for them to run around. I arrange seats for adult visiting and we have fun watching and playing with the children who are doing things that interest them while still interacting with the adults. This increased freedom seems to reduce the stress for everyone.
Finally, I understand that no matter how great my planning is someone can have an off day. Flexibility with the arrangements and being supportive goes a long way towards diffusing uncomfortable moments.
Here are some titles to enjoy with other parents’ less than stellar moments and books with tips for parenting challenges.