The Five Pillars to Positive Parenting / 4
Embracing chaos with calm is a skill that every parent can develop
By Mona Andrei
September 21, 2023
She didn’t have a name. And yet she was mine. I wanted her name to be perfect… to reflect the wisdom her gaze projected when our eyes met. She was only days old, but I could see her see me. Her eyeballs didn’t flail uncontrollably like other newborns.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. She became more demanding by the minute and by the time she reached her teens, she had become my beloved train wreck.
From the moment you become a parent, life as you know it does a 360. One minute you’re partying like it’s 1999, the next you’re in the eye of diapers, laundry, and homework. And when did you start planning meals four days in advance?
From carefree to chaos, “me time” and lazy Saturday mornings are now a thing of the past.
When you’re responsible for tiny humans, your days have their fair share of chaos. But as I’ve learned, in the midst of the chaos, there exists a path of positivity and calm that can lead to a more harmonious family life. In this fourth installment of our series on positive parenting, we explore the art of embracing chaos with calm.
… as I’ve learned, in the midst of the chaos, there exists a path of positivity and calm that can lead to a more harmonious family life.
Chaos as defined from a parent’s perspective
Before diving into the how-tos of embracing chaos with calm, let’s take a closer look at what it means in the parenting world. Chaos in this context refers to the unpredictable, messy, and sometimes overwhelming aspects of raising children.
Daily routine disruptions
Children are notorious for disrupting routines. They might decide they don’t want to eat their favourite breakfast anymore, or they might throw a tantrum just as you’re about to leave for an important appointment.
Mess and clutter
Toys everywhere, spilled juice on the kitchen floor, and crayon drawings on the walls are part of a balanced parenting life.
Whether it’s a toddler’s temper tantrum or a teenager’s mood swings, emotional outbursts and slamming doors are common occurrences in family life.
Newborns and young children often wake up during the night. And don’t even get me started on worrying about teenagers when they’re out with friends until who knows what time it is. (It’s after curfew, that’s what time it is!)
‘Chaos in this context refers to the unpredictable, messy, and sometimes overwhelming aspects of raising children.’
OMG, the homework. As children grow, academic challenges and school-related issues can bring their own brand of chaos. And who even understands the math these days? (Not me, that’s who.)
When my kids were young, listening to them fight was one of my biggest frustrations, and I KNOW you know what I’m talking… er, writing about.
While these examples may seem daunting, they are also part of the beautiful mess that is parenting. Embracing chaos with calm is about finding a way to navigate these challenges while maintaining a sense of peace and positivity.
Benefits to embracing chaos with calm
Why is it so crucial to embrace chaos with calm in your parenting journey? Here are five reasons:
1. Role modeling
Children learn by example. If they see you reacting to chaos with anger and frustration, they are more likely to mimic these negative emotions. So, calm the f— down.
2. Stress reduction
Parenting is stressful enough without adding anger and frustration to the mix. Embracing chaos with calm can significantly reduce your stress levels and help you maintain better mental health.
‘Embracing chaos with calm is about finding a way to navigate these challenges while maintaining a sense of peace and positivity.’
3. Improved family dynamics
When parents remain calm in the face of chaos, it fosters a more peaceful home environment. This, in turn, can lead to better family relationships and better communication.
4. Resilient children
Teaching your children how to handle chaos with calm equips them with essential life skills. They will be better prepared to face challenges and adversity as they grow up.
5. Problem solving
Approaching chaos with a calm mindset enables you to think more clearly and find effective solutions to problems and challenges.
Now that we understand why embracing chaos with calm is essential, let’s explore some practical strategies for achieving this.
Strategies for embracing chaos with calm
1. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and without judgment. It can help you stay calm and composed when chaos erupts. Take a deep breath and ground yourself in the present when things get overwhelming. This simple, three-second action will make a significant difference in how you respond to situations.
‘Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and without judgment. It can help you stay calm and composed when chaos erupts.’
2. Set realistic expectations
Understand that chaos is a part of parenting. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly all the time. Setting realistic expectations can prevent frustration when things don’t go as planned.
3. Keep your sense of humour
Sometimes, the best way to deal with chaos is to laugh it off. Children often do unpredictable and funny things, so instead of getting upset, try to find humour in the moment. A good laugh can diffuse tension and create great memories. (Remember the time when… )
4. Establish routines
While routines can be disrupted, they provide a sense of stability for both you and your children. Stick to basic routines like mealtimes and bedtime, even when chaos reigns in other aspects of your day.
5. Practice self-care
Taking care of yourself is crucial for staying calm amidst chaos. Make time for activities that rejuvenate you, whether it’s reading, going for a walk, or enjoying a hot bath. A well-rested and relaxed parent is better equipped to handle chaos any day of the week.
6. Effective communication
When chaos arises due to conflicts or emotional outbursts, practice effective communication. Listen to your child’s feelings and thoughts, validate their emotions, and then calmly discuss solutions or consequences.
‘Amidst the chaos, take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for in your parenting journey. This practice can shift your focus from the chaos itself and put a positive spin on the moment.’
7. Seek support
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help or support when needed. Whether it’s leaning on your partner, talking to friends, or seeking guidance from a therapist, seeking support can make a world of difference in the way you cope and respond.
8. Learn from mistakes
Embracing chaos with calm doesn’t mean you’ll never make mistakes. When you do lose your temper or react negatively, use it as an opportunity to model the importance of apologizing and making amends. This teaches your children valuable lessons about owning up to their actions and making things right.
9. Flexibility and adaptability
Use flexibility and adaptability as your parenting superpowers. Chaos often requires thinking on your feet and adjusting to unexpected situations. The ability to adapt calmly can turn a potentially chaotic moment into a manageable one.
10. Practice gratitude
Amidst the chaos, take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for in your parenting journey. This practice can shift your focus from the chaos itself and put a positive spin on the moment.
Embracing chaos with calm is a skill that every parent can develop. It’s about recognizing that chaos is a natural part of parenting and responding to it with positivity and composure. By doing so, you not only create a more peaceful and harmonious family environment but also teach your children valuable life skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
So, take a deep breath, smile through the mess, and remember that, in the end, it’s all part of the beautiful tapestry of parenthood.
Image: Ketut Subiyanto – Pexels
Mona Andrei is an award-winning humour blogger, columnist, and author. In her most recent book, SUPERWOMAN: A Funny and Reflective Look at Single Motherhood, she shares her challenges and triumphs as a single mother as well as those of other single mothers. You can connect with Mona on Twitter.