The way you make me feel
(good when surrounded by sheepskin in an Ikea trolly!)
When I worked full-time, I spent most days chasing my tail and trying to keep my head above water. I dreaded the predictable flash-points in the day: getting the kids dressed, breakfast, shoes on, getting out and so on. I was convinced that it was stressful because I was always in hurry, because I was working. Which I now know is utter shite.
It’s stressful because, well, it just is. I would expect most parents to relate when I say that between 7–8:30am (ish) and then 6–7:30pm (ish) it’s a continuous conveyor belt of nagging, tears and wishing you were elsewhere.
But, and I am hoping that working parent friends might thank me for saying this: it can still be utterly horrendous, even when you have the luxury of ‘time’.
One thing I am allowing myself to do just a bit more, is stop rushing. I have nearly always been the person (mum/friend/wife) that although late for everything, is continuously chivvying “quick, we’re going to be late”, “please can you cycle just a bit faster”, and so on. Some days just pass by in a blur of road-rage and swearing at the children.
On the days when I catch myself, it’s so much better. This evening was the perfect example: I let the boys watch ‘in the night garden’ — despite wanting to switch off the baby programme and drag them up for a bath at 7pm. I waited until Wilf asked to get out of the bath — when I would usually be trying to get them out quickly to get them in jammies and reading a book. And they both got dressed beautifully and then went down without a peep. 15 minutes later than usual, but no fuss. We all felt happy — when I said “thank you for being amazing, you’ve made mummy so happy, I love you so much”, I really meant it.
Which brings me on to this amazing Maya Angelou quote that I am sure many have seen before:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Throughout my career in communication, I have learned to trust my instincts when making decisions; envisaging how words or actions will make people feel. As a parent, I need to do that more. When my children aren’t rushed, are allowed to make their own choices (within reason) and given more time to do so, they feel happier. When I speak to them calmly, use words that are empowering and praise/support them, they are more compliant.
For a while now I have separated work & parenting but I am beginning to realise that my aptitude for one applies to the other. Whilst I feel proud of my professional legacy — I love the thought that things that I have done have made people feel good — making sure my children feel good is paramount.
I need to stop rushing. I need to accept that at certain times of the day it’s hectic. And I need to give the boys more space because I know that makes us all feel so much better.