It feels as if my life is on super-speed this season. Thanksgiving came and went, but in addition to the typical holiday excitement and stress, it also brought with it a good old-fashioned North Dakota snow storm. We had barely shoveled out of that when December came crashing in with work expectations, school expectations, social gatherings, Christmas pageants, and travel plans. With my color-coded calendar hanging up on the kitchen wall, we were prepared for the season, until sinus infections, ear infections, and other health concerns knocked us on our backs…under a blanket…with soup and tea. Sometimes it feels like I can spend all of my time running in multiple directions, thinking I am perfectly capturing every necessary adventure, when in the end I am running nowhere, my plans as stuck as the snow-covered car in the driveway. All the while, the pressure of the season is building and spurts of frustration are being taken out on those around me. Then something interesting happened that caused an ah-ha moment: my two year old got in trouble for hitting her older brother.
To clarify, the interesting part of this situation is actually what happened after the hitting: the reset. In our house, a reset is a time that our child takes away from others, to calm down, regain control of themselves, talk about what happened and how to fix it, and then move on to focus on being the calm, kind child that we know they are. We have spent a lot of energy explaining to our kids what resets are and how they work, so both kids know that if they are doing something hurtful, a reset will happen next.
On this day, the day of my ah-ha moment, my two year old walked over and calmly hit her brother on the head. I looked at her sternly and said, “No! If we hit we have to reset.” She smiled sweetly and said “I just need a break,” and walked calmly to her room.
Here’s the thing, she is pretty much a mini-me. Her need to fill her bucket in her own space, far from others, listening to nothing but the sound of her own self-chatter, I get that. Feeling overwhelmed by another human who has minimal recognition of personal space, whose voice comes out in pretty much one volume, loud, and whose bucket is filled by laughter, connection, and physical contact (her brother), yes, I understand being overwhelmed by that too. However, having a sweet, strong-willed child who believes that “resets” are the best way to log necessary alone space, that I was not expecting.
This got me thinking: how can I teach her that she can take a break without hitting someone? If she is craving alone time to reset, she, as an independent little human, can decide to take a break. Then I chuckled to myself, the ah-ha moment – how am I supposed to teach a two year old to take a break when she needs one, when I am living in this busy season and modeling no such thing. She felt the need to walk over and hit her brother across the head to take her break, and I acted shocked. Why is it that I wait until I hit someone (typically with harsh words) before I realize I am at my breaking point? Just like the lesson I would like to teach my toddler, why should I wait until I am taking someone down with me, through hurtful words, lack of follow through, or misdirected anger, to recognize my bucket is empty?
So, I am going to take my own advice. I am going to make sure that I give myself some much needed time to “reset” when needed (ideally before hitting someone on the head). Think about it: if every frustrated adult “reset” – took time away from others to calm down, regain control, talk about what happened and how to fix it, and then focused on being their typical calm, kind selves, wouldn’t that change everything? This entire season of busy could be just a little less heavy. So, if you need me and you can’t find me in the busy, I am likely resetting; just ask my daughter, she’ll know what that means.
Author: Jessica is a wife, mom, school social worker, and aspiring writer. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters.