Last night was a mommy-meltdown kind of night.
I got upset over things that were not getting done in this house, burdens that were falling squarely on me though I live with two other people who are wholly capable of taking on some of them. Seriously, am I the only one who can pick up a towel or load the toilet paper?
I let my people know my frustrations. Then I let them know again. And again. And, then I lost my audience entirely and that also ticked me off. So, I told them again, in a little louder tone, how displeased I was. Yes, it was that kind of night.
Finally, I shut up (mostly because nobody was listening anymore) and I took a timeout And by the time I settled and brushed my teeth and put on my pajamas and decided NOT to run off to the Bahamas – yet, I didn’t feel better. Not at all. In fact I felt worse. Because when the quiet descended in the bedroom while I brushed my teeth alone, I realized what a crackpot I’d been. I felt disappointment and hurt and upset that I’d taken such a crash-and-burn approach to family management.
While I feel like I had valid complaints — I need more support and help around here so we can work as a team to accomplish what we want as a family – I didn’t need to nag, harangue, play the part of the woe-is-me victim, harass, or otherwise combust emotionally.
I could have done something like, you know, talked in a calm voice. Stated my case. Then shut-up. I certainly would have accomplished more without all the bad feelings that followed me around the rest of the night.
4 Ways to Be Heard and Avoid the Mama Freak-out
Ultimately, my approach resulted in a setback. Instead of clearly sharing my concerns, I came off sounding crotchety and confused and petty and immature. Nobody could hear what I was trying to say because I was so repetitive and uptight. They had to stop listening as a matter of self-preservation. Seriously, people. By the end, even I was sick of hearing myself. And, instead of solving the pesky, little things that have been bugging me, I created a bigger problem that distracted us from the original issue.
And I certainly didn’t like the communication hangover I woke up with.
Next time, I’ll do it waaay differently. Here’s how:
1. Take a deep breath and calm down, sister.
2. Share concerns in a single sentence using “I feel…”
“When, people don’t do what they say they will do around the house, like pay the bills or clean up after the cats I feel tired, and stressed and frustrated.
3. Make a clear request that others can accomplish.
“I would like to request that…each night before dinner Sweet P feeds that cat.”
Or, “I’m requesting that you take care of the bills by the 28th of each month or ask me to help.”
4. Get quiet to hear any feedback. Ask for a response to your request, and be open to whatever comes. You might not get the answer you’d like, but with this kind of calm approach there can be a discussion, one that makes room for other ideas and solutions that will work better or just as well.
Instead of freaking out then, I’m hoping to foster dialogue, connection and even a feeling of teamwork. At least we are all bound to feel better and that might just be enough to get the toilet paper rolls changed.