It’s another of those fantabulous times of year where baby bears are released from their school duties and their lovely structured routines and set instead on their multi-tasking, over tired, mega stretched parents, who in their fantasy head ‘look forward’ to beautiful quality family time but in reality find something quite different. If your household includes any form of additional need added to the mix I’m guessing it’s not all plain sailing and you too may be disheartened by the neurotypical family shots splattered all over Facebook that do not appear to have required expletives or bribes to capture a wonderful family moment!
(Disclaimer… I completely get that a) neurotypical families have their fair share of shit parenting moments and sibling issues and b) I am not, in any way, distinguishing between working parents and homemakers… full time mumma house bears (with children with special needs or otherwise)… I take my hat off to you and finally c) I love my kids and have no intention of selling them/ running away despite how the rest of this may read!)
Mummagrizzlybear has the task of entertaining brother bears who complain if one another breathes near them, who would happily spend continuous hours staring at screens (turning them into hypersensitive hulks), who wish to take the world and their son on any suggested outing (who’d wanna spend time with just a mum?) and who would much rather it if daddybear were the one home with them this glorious afternoon. Plus did I mention, they moan and fall out A LOT! Fortunately (apparently) my work load has reduced owing to my resignation from half my contract to be available more as a carer to youngest baby bear. Something i’m still in resentful mode about, more so as there isnt any sight of carers allowance coming through to relieve the financial blow… But anyways I’m available 7.5 days out of the 9 they are home on this particular occasion.
I’ve been watching my own well-being for some weeks and unwittingly noticing the waves of emotions of other friends and relatives too. My word I connect with some like-minded women and man can we do the ‘hump!’
The face sometimes gives it away. It’s that resting Bitch face I’ve spoken of before but slapped with a wet kipper for good measure. It says ‘go on, I dare ya, push me once more’. Any other adult can see it. They get it. Some (the good) offer wine and sympathy. Then there’s the sigh. That sigh you try and inhale so the precious baby bears don’t actually detect that you are this close to losing your shit altogether. The sigh when your offerings are rejected or the carefully planned trip turns into another scene from some horror movie or the baby bear moans the fateful ‘I’m bored’ just one more time or worst of all the babybears behaviour mortifies you in public. The face and the sigh… great indicators of the impending hump. (There’s others, the ‘is it wine o clock yet mum’, the ‘go and ask your father’ mum, the ‘if i have to tell you one more time’ mum to name but a few…and I’d love to know your hump indicators!)
It’s the impact of the hump that got me thinking…how do we recover? Or even avoid it? Why is it so powerful?
Likely outcome in mummagrizzlybear house can include; being shitty with the daddybear on his return from work, lack of desire to prepare anything spectacular for tea, grouchyness with babybears and feeling mighty shit about my parenting blunders of the day, massively reflecting over my life choices and errors along the way, silently ignoring the spouse once babybears are banished to their beds, hours wasted staring at a screen looking for solutions and torturing myself with happy pictures from other well rounded successful mumma’s and lastly going to bed with no real fresh perspective, a shit nights sleep and waking to start round whatever we are on today.
So I’ve concluded. The hump, although inevitable, warranted and justified, is unhelpful. Unhelpful to my well-being, my babybears and my husband and it’s a perpetuating cycle. Each day fuelling the next. It’s a magnet. A shit magnet. A mental filter that prevents us from acknowledging the positives or even noticing them at all. There lies it’s power.
‘Disqualifying the positives’ in CBT language describribes one of the unhelpful thinking errors that we often make. It’s non-discriminative. Anyone can develop these thinking errors. Many of us live with them unknowingly. Or unaware at least that we can take control back and reshape our thinking. With effort. With time. We can work towards a more rational thinking style and learn to appreciate, notice and focus in on the positives instead of dismissing them.
Now… if you have reached this point thinking ‘but in my life there simply are no positives’ you’ll be pleased to know you are not alone in this thinking but that this too is an example of an unhelpful thought; a negative automatic thought or NAT (for anyone wanting to research more on CBT… start with NATs). Perhaps nobody has ever helped you to focus in on the small stuff. The bits that we take for granted (or our children/partners may do). The parts of our day we could celebrate or rejoice in or feel proud about. Perhaps this concept is new to you. It might feel strange. To praise oneself? Surely that’s self indulgent? However, if you are a mumma (who does or does not do the hump!) Or a daddybear for that matter, teaching yourself this skill is important. Important to your well-being but doubly important to your babybears as you model to them just how to appreciate, recognise and be proud of accomplishments no matter how big or small, completing goals and feeling positive.
Top quick tip is to throw yourself into this… grab a piece of paper and start penning yourself a list of 3 things each day that you can feel good about…
Today I felt proud when…
Today I enjoyed…
Today I achieved…
Here’s my self esteem journal for ideas
So, you still might be thinking, ‘some days I don’t accomplish anything’ but on those days if I were to share that I’ve been known to write ‘today I accomplished getting dressed’ and ‘I had a positive experience when I managed to wash and put the dishes away in the same day’ and lastly ‘ something I did positive today for someone was NOT murder the kids’… you can see how you can start small and work up to bigger things to feel good about. I’d emphasize though that the beauty from this comes from being pleased with yourself for the small stuff. If every time you completed a chore someone thanked you and reminded you how appreciated you are, you’d start to feel pretty loved and noticed. We can do this for ourselves. Equally if we celebrate what the universe throws our way it’s far easier to feel good about the weather; it’s sunny, I’m enjoying the warmth; it’s wet, I’m watering my garden that I love to sit in when it’s hot. The traffic jam is a welcome chance to enjoy more songs on the radio or take same deep breaths and ‘me’ time; the early rising kiddies means we can fit more into a day, my babybears 765th argument today prompted me to reach out for 10 minutes of help and I’m proud that I did!…etc etc… even mumma having the hump brought about time to reflect and more importantly to stop procrastinating over what to blog about!
Most people I share this with struggle most with allowing themselves to feel proud. I ask parents to then list the things they are proud of their children for…then hold up the mirror and help them see how they have facilitated in those triumphs and just how they too deserve to feel proud. Remember, you can start small. I’ve been proud of myself for committing to my journal/ having an early night/ finishing a course/ speaking my mind…its so varied!
Step one, start a self esteem journal,
Step two, Turning negatives into positives
Step three, pass it on, recommend it, share it, help someone else, ask your kids to do it.
Practising this, will inevitably help your self awareness grow, increase the likelihood of you being able to reframe negative unhelpful thinking and will hopefully help you ground yourself enough allowing you to recharge in preparation for another day of hurdles.
Half terms and holidays can be mummagrizzlybear’s biggest challenge but that in itself opens up heaps to feel proud about… cos lets face it, another day has passed and 2 x babybears are still alive and I’m currently sat in the sun drinking just one small, very civilised glass of vino and not being hurled off to the nut house….just yet!
Let me know how you get on. And if you need help, tap into the #virtualvillage (see my previous post https://mummagrizzlybear.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/jumping-on-the-solidaritea-bandwagon-and-expanding-my-virtualvillage-support-network/?preview=true ) of your support network…talk about it…ask for help.