Weekends are stressful for me as a parent, more stressful in some ways than weekdays. After a particularly stressful weekend, I was at my wits end.
I had this romantic notion that picking apples in the fall with my family (which included a very young infant) would be fun and outdoorsy and help us remember where we get our food from and all that touchy feely stuff, but it ended up being comedy of errors.
The farm I picked was about a 45 minute drive away, not far, but the baby cried the entire way. Ok, no big deal, I thought, as we finally pulled into the driveway. I was determined to enjoy it. It was the end of October and the weather was unseasonably warm (82), which we were unprepared for. We waited about an hour in the hot sun until we finally started picking apples, when we were surprised to be greeted by thousands of bees swarming the apples that had fallen off the trees. Ok, another road block, I thought, let’s just cowgirl up and put on a brave face even though I am terrified of bees.
Five minutes into apple picking, my 7 year old started screaming that she had been stung. After drying her tears and checking the sting, we soldiered on. Then, we tried to find some apples to pick, but as they have all fallen off the trees and are covered in bees, we had to use a ladder to reach the higher apples. My older child jetted up the ladder and hogged it the whole time to the chagrin of my middle child, who effectively got to pick nothing.
Meanwhile, the baby had not stopped screaming bloody murder since we left the car and was overheating in the ergo. I looked at my husband apologetically as we grabbed as many apples as fast as we could while dodging the bees and then head back to the car, fancy apple cider slushees in hand. We were almost home free when my middle child started screaming that a bee has stung him on the cheek while attempting to get at his slushee.
We finally made it back to the car with all three children crying. While I fed and changed the baby as best I can while dying of heat exhaustion (we were over dressed), my husband tried to allay the screaming of my older two by making some mud and slathering it on their bee stings. Dirty, sweaty, and tear streaked, we all trudged back home, exhausted from all the “fun”.
I’m sure we all have a story like this one, but for some reason this single Saturday was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I was so wound up and stressed about everyone having a good time that I was miserable – and so was my family! I decided that something had to change about my approach to situations like this, especially on the weekends, where expectations are high and everyone is together for two whole days with no plans.
When I got home that night, I sat down and wrote down all of my thoughts I had during the day. And there it was! The one thought that caused all the stress for me. I just needed to change that thought and I was sure I would feel better.
And that thought was –
IT IS MY JOB TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.
Now it may seem obvious to some of you that this thought would cause stress, and that I was ridiculous to even be thinking it, but the problem was I didn’t even know it was thereuntil I wrote it down. It was just sitting unconsciously in the back of my mind – and this one thought was single-handedly making my weekends miserable! It wasn’t the fact that the day was stressful or that things didn’t go as planned, it was how I was thinking about the day and my high expectations of what I wanted it to be like. This thought was causing my FEELING of stress and frustration, which then was causing the RESULT of making me a mean and unhappy mom. It wasn’t my job to make everyone happy because that’s not something I can control. I can only control my thoughts. I felt free and happy when I realized what was causing all my frustration!
The good news is that you can use this method for anything that is a problem in your life to figure out what you have control over and what you don’t.
I will be sharing in my next post more specifically how to solve any problem using this approach.
For now, if you want to have less stressful, more fun weekends, sign up below for my “Parents’ Guide to Low Stress, Fun-Filled Weekends”, with a tip to start with TONIGHT!