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5 Steps Toward Managing Your Parenting Triggers

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

deep breath mindfulness for managing triggers

When you’re aiming to be a calm mom, it’s remarkably valuable to manage your triggers! One of my biggest triggers is PAIN! And of course a few days ago I broke my toe and it was just throbbing. It turned a beautiful shade of purple and I knew that it would take a while to heal. Then the next day, I kicked the large wooden Learning Tower and yelled loud enough to startle the kids in the next room as I held the toe next to the original toe and burst into tears. REALLY??!! But life goes on and it seemed to be getting better until this morning when my whole foot now aches! Because I know this situation is a massive trigger for me, I know I must factor that into my day. Game Plan: 1) Clue my family in. Because I know my potential for a grumpy mood, I let my kids know right away, “My foot hurts really bad today guys, so I’m going to need to take it easy.” Now this is fairly vague intentionally because I don’t fully know what all this will entail. But from here I can build on their understanding with things like, “I will not jump on the trampoline today, I have to take it easy because of my foot.” “I need to sit down because of my foot, let’s read together instead of race.” They usually respond pretty well to this. 2) Recognize other triggers. Interesting fun fact: When I’m in pain, noise becomes a trigger too even though normally it doesn’t bug me too much. With this in mind, I put on headphones to dull the noise of shrieking tiny humans as they transform from snakes to squids and tumble around like they’re in a high school wrestling match. In a normal day this is just kids playing. In a pain-filled day this is a violent offense to my ears. So rather than getting after them for doing something they are certainly allowed to do, I control me. I put in my earbuds and listen to a book or a youtube video and I make sure to let my kids know when I really need some quiet. Like when X was singing the same 5 words over and over and over again and I could feel my blood pressure rising. I took a breath and said, “X, you want me to build this and I want to build this for you. My foot hurts so bad and it makes me feel kinda mean. Please be really quiet while I work so I can focus and be nice at the same time.” He got it. He started wiggling and I asked what he was doing and he said “I’m still singing, just so quiet you can’t hear me.” *BIG smile*. God, I love this kid. 3) Mitigate what I can.

I don’t love taking pills but when my pain is impacting my day, it’s time for some ibuprofen. A heating pad on my calf the pain is radiating up to, even on a 100+ degree day, and say “no” to the deep cleaning my shower is calling for. 4) Get help - Honor myself. In this particular situation I didn’t bring anyone else in, but in other moments I’ve given my husband a specific task that would help me or called in a friend to come over for a playdate so my kids could be more distracted and she could do some of the day-to-day stuff like make snacks. Pamper yourself and make yourself feel loved and cared for. I drank kombucha and ate pistachios. Maybe that’s not your thing, but it made me feel good. 5) Reframe - change my perspective. “This is so unfair, my foot hurts so bad, my whole leg is throbbing.” “I can’t handle kids today, leave me alone, gaaahhhhhh.” This may be true, it may be hyperbole, but either way, it does nothing to serve me or my kids. So I reframe. “Healing sometimes seems to get worse before it gets better. This means I’m going to be much better tomorrow.” “The ibuprofen will kick in within 20 minutes.” And most helpful for me: “My boys are learning how to handle hard days by watching what I do today. I’m going to do my absolute best and apologize when I need to.”

This is how I get through trigger-days. What tips do you have for getting through those hard days?

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