Finding Solitude

Today I saw a T-shirt that said “choose hope over fear.” It caught my eye because my name was all sparkly and walking down the sidewalk. I didn’t realize it was an Obama slogan. It’s interesting the different things HOPE can stand for and it’s a powerful thing, isn’t it?

I’ve recently decided to stop complaining in an effort to change my thinking. In a place where I feel like an unwelcome outsider, I have found that I must cling to the positives and encourage happiness in everything. It’s why I write one thing in my gratitude journal everyday all year long (and not just during November on Facebook). It’s all terribly difficult, but the tiny glimmer of hope is an essential part of staying on the wire above despair when you’ve already fallen into the pit before.

When you’re trying to walk the balance beam (gymnasts aside) you hold your arms out to increase your moment of inertia. Getting in alone time can be immensely helpful when warding off depression and trying to stay happy. Being a stay at home mom can be a lonely business, but are you ever really alone? It’s so important to carve out time for yourself everyday, but when?

Here are a few ways I find solitude:

  • On the drive home from dropping off Greg I get to listen to all the uncensored American music I want
  • During nap time I get to write this blog
  • After the kids go to bed I get to read in the hammock outside

How do you find solitude?

Happiness Habits

When I read Raising Happiness, one of the steps was forming happiness habits. This step was not initially revolutionary for me. I read the section, took my notes, and moved on. When nap time got so bad I couldn’t stand it I decided to take action.

First, I took a look at Dr. Christine Carter’s worksheet and made my own spiffy version with lots of colors and space for stickers. I filled everything out, talked about turtle steps, and taped them on the wall just outside the boys’ room. I had a plan and it was going to work!

L's Happiness Habit Chart

I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know what it was going to do to my expectations. By breaking down my big goal of an easy nap time into tiny easily accomplished goals, or turtle steps, I lowered my expectations and didn’t get upset when the boys were using their normal diversionary tactics to delay actually going to sleep. I didn’t even get upset when they didn’t heed to their turtle goal that day. I simply said: Oh bummer, looks like you don’t get a star on your chart today…and kept going.

Let me be clear about this, my and the boys’ behavior didn’t actually change that much; my expectations of our behavior changed. And while it took lots of prayers, time and some tweaking to our routine, I am happy to say that we have an easy nap time! For the first time ever, really.

Celebrations are in order!

Wild Horses

During one of our many discussions about discipline, G likened the boys to wild horses. The full quote was something to the effect of:

Sometimes our kids are like wild horses. They just need to be bridled until they stop kicking.

I just read the book Raising Happiness by Christine Carter. Her ideas about how to discipline children in it are what prompted the discussion that led to the quote. It’s a pretty good parenting/personal improvement book about teaching your kids how to be happy (because it’s truly a skill) and teaching yourself as well. I’ve battled with post-partum depression and bad therapists, but this book actually taught me some things that I don’t think I ever truly learned. Not that I wasn’t taught, but I think I had to be beat over the head with it for it to really sink in.

I’ve always been a fairly emotional, wear my heart on my sleeve type of gal. Very in touch with my emotions and what they are and how they make me feel. I’ve never been very good at coping with them. I can very easily turn into a grouch or blubbering mess who shouldn’t talk because things always come out wrong or I say things that I regret or don’t mean.

Let’s go back…(and these are just a few)
…to middle school (did anyone have a good time in 7th grade?) when I would scream and cry two year old tantrum style on the floor of my room because I couldn’t go to a friend’s house.
…to high school when I was grounded through getting my driver’s license and my 16th birthday for mouthing off to my mom on a particularly grumpy day.
…to after college when food, messes, and dogs turned me into a ghost of a roommate who coped with it all by cleaning incessantly (not a bad coping mechanism?).

…and now? I’ve definitely had my fair share of clench your jaw, bite your tongue and walk away moments with the kids. Who hasn’t? Aren’t we all just wild horses that need bridling?

The book helped me learn a lot of things (coping appropriately being one of them), but one gem stuck out a lot (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Don’t ruminate when you’ve been offended-CHOOSE to feel better.” I had myself convinced I couldn’t control how I felt or how things made me feel. But I’m the only one who CAN control that. Lightbulb! Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Only took me over a quarter of a century. The silver lining on top of the silver lining here is that if I choose to feel better–that’s a whole lot less emotions I have to cope with. Double win.

Tell me about one of your wild horse moments…and since this post started out with the intention of being about child discipline, tell me about a parenting discipline win, too 😉