This week the twins are back at Kindy, and…. Honestly it is a bit of a relief.
Thankfully this time around I took my own advice about What I’ll Do Differently Next School Holidays.
There was definitely more down time, and not as much “busyness”. We also managed to spend some good quality family time together and get away for a couple of days.
I even managed to pull off a pyjama day and read a couple of books that were not about child development.
So, basically, Yay Me!
On the other hand the kids behaviour over the past 4 or 5 days has not been what I would like.
- They have not been listening well
- There has just been this level of “silly” energy
- They have been arguing with each other…. And me!
- They have been using a really nasty tone of voice with each other…. And me!
- They have been finding it even more difficult than usual to cope with their emotions… And so have I!
I imagine a part of it is that they are tired. This is their first year in any type of “school” setting (even though they attend a play based community focused Kindergarten for just 5 days per fortnight).
I can also safely say that the transition from “school time” to “holiday time” and vice versa is a difficult one for them (more so for my daughter with ASD).
So, needless to say it’s been a bit like a bubbling billy.
Cut to this morning:
My amazing husband worked a night shift and the kids ended up sleeping in my room.
I hadn’t made it to bed until 1:30am, and then they were up and rearing to go at 5:45am.
Already, that in itself does not bode well for how the day is going to go.
I already used my cranky voice before 7am.
We headed down to breakfast where my daughter decided to tip out her cup of water onto the placemat so she could play with it.
She then dropped some of her Wheetbix on the table and the footstool of her chair and rubbed her feet all through it with a look of joyful abandon on her face.
By now, I’m definitely in the Yellow Zone (frustrated, irritated) and heading to the Red Zone (angry, mad, out of control)
But, I’m the grown up in this situation I remind myself.
So, I take a few deep breaths and remain outwardly calm.
I say outwardly because inside that billy is bubbling away and just waiting for a chance to spill over the edges!
In my head I’m at that place between “Not today Satan!” and “Jesus, take the wheel”
As I’m clearing away my things from breakfast, my two munchkins are running around the house like little tornadoes, screaming at each other, trying to snatch a toy from one another, and basically just creating chaos.
Unless it gets physical or I can see that they are struggling with communication, I have been trying to take a step back and let them negotiate their relationship more by themselves.
It’s not particularly helpful for me to always be the referee and we have some areas of concern around my son sacrificing his own needs for his sisters
And of course in doing so, it’s not helping bring me back down into the Green Zone (calm, focused, relaxed).
Long story short, after a couple of chances to change their behaviour without any improvement we sat down to really think about what we all needed emotionally.
We discussed where each person was on the Zones of Regulation:
Mr 4 was in the Blue Zone (sad, bored, low energy)
Miss 4 was in the Red Zone, and Mumma was starting to make her way there too.
After some discussion we worked out that rather than heading out as planned on a bus adventure or going to the park and adding more “busyness” and activity, we all needed to have some quiet calm down time.
Honestly, I needed this just as much, if not more, than them.
We decided on our own areas for taking a break, and giving ourselves a chance to get back to the Green Zone individually.
This didn’t last long as they both clamoured to my area within 5 minutes, but that 5 minutes of quiet solitude was enough for me to be ready to be the calm to their chaos again.
We spent a further 15 minutes just quietly being with each other and reading to ourselves.
And in those peaceful moments of taking care of ourselves and yet still being connected, it really reinforced for me something that I often struggle with….
The concept of self care!
The idea that I need to get myself back to the Green Zone before I can really help them get back there, or just even interact with them the way that I want to: in a loving, nurturing, calm and engaged manner.
The Calm Down / Quiet Corner has been a technique that I have used to great effect with the kids.
And now, I’m giving myself permission to use it too!