When we're triggered by our child's behavior, it is so easy for us to forget to remain present. Remaining present is important for us as parents because it allows us to fully feel, process, and learn from our parenting triggers. And it is important for our children because it reinforces connection and models healthy coping skills.
The thing is, sometimes (for me: oftentimes), we don't even recognize that we aren't fully present! When we start to become dysregulated, we may physically be with our child, but emotionally and mentally we're distant and unavilable
SIGNS YOU'RE NOT FULLY PRESENT
- You distract yourself or dissociate (example: scrolling your phone with no purpose)
- You think "My child will always act this way."
- You worry about how this will affect your later plans.
- You avoid your child when you're triggered (longer than it takes for you to reclaim your calm).
- You count down the minutes until nap time/Dad or Mom gets home/bedtime.
These signals are just that: signals. Counting down the minutes until nap time is a signal that you're struggling to remain present. Scrolling your phone is a signal that you're having a hard time being fully present. When you notice these signals, you don't have to beat yourself up! You can recognize the struggle and be patient and compassionate with yourself as you work to come back to this moment.
HOW TO STAY PRESENT WHEN YOU'RE TRIGGERED AS A PARENT
- Put your phone away and out of reach.
- Ask, "What does my child need in this moment?"
- Ask "What do I need in this moment?"
- Connect with your child in ways that will help calm you both.
- Breathe slowly, pausing to notice how your stomach, chest, and lungs feel as you breathe in and out
MANTRAS FOR STAYING PRESENT WHEN YOU'RE TRIGGERED
- "This is not an emergency, I am safe, my child is safe."
- "Peace begins with me."
- "I have everything I need for this moment."
- "Love is patient and kind. I am patient and kind with myself and my child."
- "Our love is stronger than our struggle."
- "Holy Spirit, you are welcome here."
- "A gentle answer turns away wrath."
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And here's why you want to do this hard work: because this moment is fleeting! While it may be hard, overwhelming, messy, and unpleasant, it's a part of YOUR story - don't miss it!
LOOKING FOR MORE HELP?
These books helped me cultivate peace and learn to regulate my own emotions when triggered by specific behaviors.
Self care is a a pretty popular topic these days. And like many topics, there’s plenty of disagreement and controversy within Christianity on the benefits and/or dangers of self care.
Some argue that as Christians we’re called to a life of service and sacrifice, which means self care is entirely selfish and antithetical to Christian living.
While I understand the Biblical argument behind this, Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends, etc. I think in practice it requires healthy boundaries that are often nuanced and specific to unique relationships and situations.
We are not called to sacrifice our mental, emotional, or physical health for our family. A woman can easily wear herself so thin that she develops depression and/or anxiety and at that point she is likely to become emotionally neglectful to the most important relationships in her life. Add to this vitamin and nutrition deficiencies that leave her feeling depleted and fatigued, and there is very little of herself left to give to anyone.
WOMEN ARE INHERENTLY WORTHY OF REST BECAUSE GOD DESIGNED US FOR IT.
Women are inherently worthy of self-nurturing and rest because God designed us for rest. He modeled rest in the creation narrative, resting on the seventh day. He required it in the giving of the Law, expecting His people to sabbath on the seventh day. He modeled it in the person of Jesus Christ, taking time away from His ministry and relationships to be with His Father. In Jewish culture, the day begins with rest, not productivity! We must switch our mindset to recognize that we do not have to earn rest - it is a gift and part of God's created order.
WHY MODERN WOMEN NEED SELF CARE
The problem we have today is that we live in a profoundly individualistic fear-based society that leaves many women feeling like they cannot trust anyone. For mamas in particular, they often wrestle with a fear of having no one to watch their little ones while they rest. Womanhood, and motherhood specifically, is now removed from the tribal and community-centric cultures humanity enjoyed for thousands of years. Western women are expected to do the work that used to be done by multiple nurturers and generations within a community, as well as balance home life and work life.
Taking care of ourselves in today’s Western culture is necessary because we’ve abandoned ancient ways of doing life that supported and nurtured mothers more effectively.
Taking care of ourselves in today’s Western culture is necessary because we’ve abandoned ancient ways of doing life that supported and nurtured mothers more effectively. (Of course with that we’ve also abandoned some pretty horrific abuses of women too.)
For the Christian woman, self care is the choice to faithfully steward your emotional, spiritual, and physical health and well-being for God’s glory and your good.
DON’T SACRIFICE SOUL CARE FOR SELF CARE
We can do all the self care things available on Pinterest, but if we aren’t doing soul care, we will continue to find ourselves worn out, stretched thin, and overwhelmed.
Incorporating soul care into self care will help us nurture our whole person. Instead of focusing on pampering yourself, focus on nurturing yourself. Here are a few ideas:
- Take a gratitude walk in nature. Enjoy a hike or walk outdoors and focus your energy on gratitude. When your mind wanders bring it back to the present and offer thanks for the opportunity to breathe clean air.
- Meditate on Scripture. Find an app or YouTube channel that will play Scripture and soothing music, and take a few moments out of your day to meditate. (The Abide App is one of our favorites)
- Give up trendy self care for actual self care. This may mean choosing to sleep an extra half hour instead of taking a long bath, or choosing nourishing foods rather than a cappuccino. Make the choice to prioritize the things that restore your body.
- Laugh. “A joyful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22). Find ways to really and truly laugh. Find a stand up comedian that you enjoy and take time to watch it. Or reach out to the people in your life who make you laugh and plan a lunch or dinner date.
- Turn on praise and worship music and don’t clean. Dance and sing along, or sit and soak in the words and music. Allow yourself to enjoy just worshiping, with no multi-tasking allowed.