It was a CRAZY afternoon with too many appointments, kid drop-offs and pick-ups to sport and what-not, topped off by a forgotten jumper we had to return to find and the fact that the neighbour had just called to say our chickens had escaped and were roaming the street - I was STRESSED!
Ideally we eat at around 7pm so the kids get to bed by 8.30-ish so they have proper sleep for their early starts, and I feel like an ok parent.
The time was already 8.15pm and we were just arriving home. My partner was working till very late and I hadn’t planned dinner at all (but I hoped there were some sausages in the fridge that were still in date!)
The kids found the chickens (alive!) but they could see the stress building up and about to turn me into a blithering, cranky, resentful and snappy mother. Perhaps you know the feeling?
Instead, I made a different choice.
“Let’s teach you how to BBQ”, I said to one.
“Be creative and make any salad you like out of the fridge”, I said to the other.
It wasn’t all plain sailing as the BBQ gas ran out after 5 minutes and we had to dash to the servo to get a refill. Normally this would have been the final straw…but by then, my attitude had changed. The kids were involved, we were solving it all together.
Dinner was wonderful, the salad was indeed creative and the sausages divine!
More delightful though, was the pride the kids felt in bringing this all together and how empowered they were by the experience.
By re-framing the situation from one where I was overloaded and heading for anger, to one where we all got to pitch in together, we were all able to actually enjoy the experience.
The tale is told in a different way to how it might have usually turned out… the kids now often ask to help with the BBQ and making the salad. They have greater independence, self-esteem and have learned some life skills.
Perhaps more importantly, they saw me make a different choice - rather than rushing to angry martyrdom, I asked for help and we made it work together.
Yes, they were very late to bed that night, but I actually felt like a good parent!
Vanessa Steele: counsellor, mum, partner, blogger... listening and learning every day.