life Parenting

Attitude, Energy, Essence

January 19, 2021

We have had some good nights and some bad nights with the kids recently. And it has made me think. Why do the kids respond so differently to the same circumstances sometimes? Why is getting ready for bed effortless one night and as demanding and complicated as an advanced military operation the next?

I am realizing more and more how much of it depends on my attitude. My energy. My ability to . . . steer the ship, so to speak.

When I see this it just makes me so happy.
Even though I don’t actually know the rules.

Sometimes I’m tired and it just feels so hard. Other times it flows and just feels so good. In those moments I am so grateful for my life and the way it has turned out.

In the low moments, I often get to feeling like some sort of victim, which let’s face it — is a ridiculous story to be telling myself. (or you all!)

beautiful day + moment

It DOES FEEL hard sometimes though. Sometimes the overwhelming feeling is loneliness. Sometimes I just don’t feel that great (last couple days — due to catching a mild version of a cold that G managed to bring home from school after being back an entire 3 days). Sometimes I just feel like I just want a break from it all, and that urge can be distracting and tinged with misplaced resentment.

I’m not sure what my thesis is here except to say I have become more aware of how my energy contributes to the way our family life feels, and I very much want to continue to work on that. I think self-compassion and self-care are important, and they both contribute to my ability to be wholly present, both at home (and at work, for that matter).

There’s no easy package or SMART goal to package this up neatly, but it’s something I want to keep at the top of mind in this new year. (And hopefully beyond that!).

Okay, Deep Work break over!


  • Reply Jan January 19, 2021 at 11:16 am

    Parenting days are just like work days. Ups and downs, good and bad. Take it one day at a time.

  • Reply Hannah N. January 19, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Nothing more to add other than – ME TOO! All of this resonates so much with me. Some evenings are SO good and fun and other days I just feel like the kids are totally bouncing off the walls and I have basically zero ability or patience to deal with their behavior – usually lots of yelling, which I hate afterwards. I have been trying to make a real conscious effort to be just cognizant of my own mental state/exhaustion/stress levels during these times and I do feel like it’s helping me be less reactive.

  • Reply Amanda January 19, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Something really interesting I’ve noticed as I transition to an attending (peds neuro) and mom role that aligns so much with BOBW mindset is that I actually often enjoy my evenings with my daughter more when I have been at work all day. When I’m home all day I’m usually more drained and ready for bedtime at the end of the day than when I come home from work. Some of this is pandemic – we can’t get out and do fun stuff. But it has been interesting because I used to always say “I don’t know how ppl come home from work all day and then play with their kids!” But in general I’m happy at work and feel pretty good about spending a solid 2-3 hours with her when I get home. Not exactly aligned with your post but something I’ve been thinking about that has surprised me, and is an argument against reducing/quitting work to have better time with kids, at least for me.

  • Reply Elizabeth January 19, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    I 100% relate to this. It’s really hard to have to focus your own energy to keep everyone else positive! It’s, frankly, not always achievable. But at least knowing that’s contributing can help in the moment–you can say to yourself, “Well, I’m not 100% right now, either, but I’ve just got to get through this and then it will be over, and tomorrow will be better.”

    Also, your sentence about why do they react differently to the same circumstances made me chuckle, because–don’t we all? Sometimes I wake up for my workout and am so excited for it. Other days it’s a slog. Still others I ignore the alarm. Same circumstances, different reaction…in short, we’re human and such is life.

    Here’s hoping bedtime goes well tonight!

  • Reply Jen January 19, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    So much commiseration! I know i have a very good life but it doesn’t mean i am not feeling all the drudgery of these days. My husband and i were sitting while the kids were playing on Saturday (probably after some bickering and whining) both of us just feeling tired. And i said, when we can we are just going to a take a weekend away without the kids and basically do nothing. Sleep in, not cook, maybe just laze around and read. Make no real plans. That sounds so delightful and rejuvenating at the moment. Who knows when that might actually be though ….

  • Reply Megan January 19, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve been trying to read up a little on self-regulation, in the context of ME becoming better at it. When I’m not doing a good job of regulating myself, then I see everything start to disintegrate with the kids. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this…I think you hit the nail on the head.

    • Reply Erin January 19, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      yes!! I admit I’m biased because I study self-regulation for a living, but I think it’s one of the major components of dealing with kids: both recognizing when we need to exercise better self-regulatory skills AND understanding the limits of our children to do so (especially young children). I find I can defuse particularly frustrating moments when I can stop for a beat and recognize that I am expecting my kids to do something (regulate their behavior/emotions) that I am not currently doing. That contradiction is often enough to snap me out of it! There are a few good popular press books that I’ve found helpful (aka I make my non-psychologist husband read them): Self-Reg by Stuart Shanker, No-Drama Discipline, and the Whole-Brain Child (latter two by Daniel Siegel/Tina Payne Bryson). I also liked How not to lose your s*&! with your kids, but I know a lot of people felt otherwise. If you follow @drbeckyathome on instagram, she also has some great tips!

      • Reply Amy January 20, 2021 at 6:44 am

        Yes!!! This is major.

  • Reply Coco January 19, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    same here. and it’s more pronounced during second half of the period cycle. I’ve been tracking my energy/mood level throughout the cycle and it’s true. now that i have oura ring it confirms it, my readiness is lower than first half of the cycle due to hormonal changes. having this knowledge makes me less critical about my thoughts and my actions.

  • Reply Jennifer M January 19, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Hang in there mama! I only have one kiddo, so the thought of juggling three littles with a full time job and a husband with a crazy schedule seems overwhelming. And while I don’t know you, I feel kinda like I do a little from your blog and podcasts – and it seems like you’re a pretty great mom. Just breathe!

  • Reply Sarah January 20, 2021 at 6:13 am

    I don’t remember if I read it in the comments here or at Cup of Jo, but I recently learned the phrase, “be the thermostat in the room, not the thermometer.” The more I practice this with my kids, the more I realize my mood/responses/reactions really are my own, and do have influence over the “room”; not foolproof of course, but like your phrase about making your own energy, it helps!

    • Reply Amy January 20, 2021 at 6:45 am

      Yes!! I said the same thing below. This mindset has absolutely transformed my parenting and experience of motherhood.

  • Reply Amy January 20, 2021 at 6:42 am

    Yep! The best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten is to be the thermostat, not the thermometer. You set the temperature and tone in your home. A lot of the time it comes from me just getting outside myself. Feeling like I have “my share” of “me time”, breaks, etc only goes so far, honestly; these kids are mine, they’re the people in front of me, they need *me* to care for them and model life for them, and it really doesn’t matter that it’s not always my first choice of activity or that they don’t like that I’m telling them it’s time for dinner or whatever. I have to set my own desires aside for a time and live out what it means to be a mother.

    Thought provoking post — thanks! I hope this mindset is helpful for you in the coming year. It’s been transformative for me.

  • Reply Karen January 20, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    I empathise entirely with your comment about feeling like a bit of a victim sometimes. A framework which helped me to understand this a bit more is the psychological concept of ‘the drama triangle’. It’s basically the idea that when we’re emotionally involved in something we can tend towards three personas in our relationships with others: we can feel like the victim, a sort of ‘this is so unfair’ feeling and wait to be rescued, we can be the rescuer, focusing too much on others and feeling we need to ‘rescue’ them from what is happening (exhausting and ultimately not good for them as it is not empowering at all) or we can become a persecutor, blaming others and criticising them. We can tend towards different personas at different times, and often which personas we tend to lean towards are to do with our upbringing etc. The aim is in the moment to try and recognise that you’ve been dragged in to the drama triangle and consciously step out of it. Very hard! I’m just a lay person (not a therapist!) so may not have explained very well: more info here

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