Updated: May 1, 2020
As a homeschooling parent, I know you have so much to get done. Each situation is a little different, but the sheer volume of things to do can feel overwhelming, are you with me?
Keeping up a house involves so much time- some tasks are daily and some are weekly. And then you complete (some of) those and realize one of those big once-a-month or twice-a-year tasks is looming. As a homeschool mom with four young kids, I definitely get it and have been there. In fact, I’m there a lot of days.
Yesterday one of those twice-a-year tasks finally caught up with me. A beautiful Spring has just about sprung here in southeast Missouri, and my almost 6-year-old daughter had been periodically begging me to swap out their winter clothes for summer clothes. I was right there with her, I got sweaty just watching her and her siblings playing outside in pants and long-sleeved shirts when it was 75 degrees out.
So yesterday I finally dug all the totes out with the “Summer” clothes, and yesterday was the day. It was an important task and thankfully school and lunch were done for the day, but there was a wreck of a living room where we were trying to work, three younger rambunctious kids who weren’t particularly interested in swapping their clothes out, and a very sleepy (and increasingly grumpy) Mama Bear. Thankfully Papa Bear was there to assist and was a huge help, as always.
But I could start to feel it- I could feel the anger starting to rise. The budding headache didn’t help.
In times like that, which happen for me more often than I’d like to admit, I can get so angry. More and more, I realize that my anger is trying to do something for me. The anger (personified) sees all the unaccomplished tasks and writhes inside. The anger is trying to get something done, make something happen. But the anger can also spill over into hurtful words towards my kids or husband. Sometimes that anger feels like it’s going to get out of control, like I’m going to totally lose it.
Counseling has been part of my life’s journey recently as well as one of our children, who is adopted. It’s been through counseling both our counseling as well as other classes on physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness that I’ve been introduced to the idea of ‘grounding.’
When we start to get stressed and angry (not to mention the compounding effect of tiredness), it’s like the wide focus on a lens starts zooming in. We lose sight of the big picture- what a blessing our kids are, how much we love them, why we wanted to homeschool in the first place, etc. We can only see a sliver of what we normally see, and it’s marred.
That’s where grounding comes in. Grounding helps reopen that “lens” of who we are and what we see. Grounding reconnects us to who we really are.
A while back I stumbled upon an awesome way to do that. I don’t know the source or I would gladly give credit, but they gave five steps to “ground” yourself. The post was actually titled, “How to Prevent an Anxiety Attack,” but it has become a tool I use often to diffuse anger. And it seems to me that the physical and emotional effects of an anxiety attack and anger have a lot in common.
So here it is, one key practice my family and I use to diffuse anger in our homeschool day:
Take big, slow breaths (in through nose, out through mouth)
Slowly look around you and identify…
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell (or 2 smells you like)
1 emotion you feel
This is now a tool I use pretty regularly with myself or my kids. In the midst of the anger, it can feel impossible to take a step back, walk away, close the door, and take 2 minutes to do this. I get it. But each and every time that I have, the situation in my heart, and therefore in my home, improves dramatically.
I also want to guide our kids in addressing their emotions and handling them in a healthy way. I’ve used this technique with all but our youngest daughter (who is 2). And I’d say that the times when I give the kids a chance to express how they’re feeling (no matter how ugly) and meet them there and walk them through these steps, 100% of the time we both walk away feeling much better. Normally they go from crying or screaming (if not a full-blown fit) to giggling and snuggling.
The next time you start feeling angry or stressed or overwhelmed, I encourage you to take 2 minutes to do some grounding.
You’re doing such an important job, and you’re doing great.