I am writing today in partnership with Responsibility.org and their #TalkEarly campaign. I am honored to be an ambassador and am being paid for my involvement. As always, the opinions here are my own.
As I type out an email, the timer on the oven goes off – alerting me with it’s too-high-to-be-comfortable beeping that the french bread is done.
BEEP BEEP BEEP
I make my way toward the oven while typing the last lines of the email on my phone. I nearly trip as my five year old plops down in my path, throws his head back and bellows, “I’m huuuuungry”.
“I know, bud. I’m working on it.”
BEEP BEEP BEEP
I go back to my email as I step over him, and just make it to the kitchen before a paper airplane (launched by my eight year old) hits me in the temple. Now, paper doesn’t hurt… but a plane to the temple is unexpected enough to jar me, and shift my finger right over to that “send” button on the email I WAS NOT finished writing. “No, no, no!” I tell my phone, as my oldest runs into the kitchen chasing his airplane. He accidentally steps on the five year old’s pinky (because he is still on the ground starving), and my youngest scream-cries while attempting to punch his brother in the calf.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
“STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER”, I yell over my shoulder as I toss my phone on the kitchen counter, pull my five year old up off the floor, inspect the pinky quickly, open the oven, pull out the bread, and finally turn that too-loud-to-be-comfortable oven timer off.
I exhale a gurgling/sighing/choking sound and march right over to the refrigerator while whispering, “I think mommy needs a little glass of wine.”
The above scene may be a familiar one to many parents. I can remember many occasions last year where I said “I need a glass of wine” to a friend… or my husband… or out loud to myself in the kitchen while my kids are around. I’m trying to change that this year, though.
You see, I’m trying to be conscious about what I say I need. My kids are absorbing all the little messages I’m sending (even the ones I don’t mean to), and I never want them to think that I need alcohol to cope with a problem, or manage stress, or even to deal with them.
I personally do not struggle with addiction, but for the past 20 years, for some reason or another, I have always had at least one alcoholic in my life.
When Responsibility.org asked if I would be interested in joining their team, I did not hesitate. I had already been following the work they had been doing with their #TalkEarly campaign, and very much wanted to be a part of it. The organization is a national not-for-profit organization working to eliminate drunk driving, underage drinking, and to promote responsible decision making regarding alcohol consumption. The #TalkEarly campaign specifically targets parents with children as young as 6 -9. The campaign aims to “empower parents to be confident about their own decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.”
Several months ago, the organization invited me to their summit in DC to meet the team. There they shared some valuable research, information, and tools that I’ll be passing along to you in the coming year. One of the speakers we heard from was Dr. Shefali Tsabary – clinical psychologist and author of the book “The Awakened Family.”
Dr. Shefali talked a lot about being a “conscious parent”, and about how we set the emotional tone in our households. There was a big focus on connection and our children. In fact, the quote that stayed with me the most started with these words, “Connection comes before correction…”
I’ve found that to be incredibly true. When I am at odds with my children, we are usually suffering from a disconnect. When I am feeling crushed by stress, I am also typically disconnected from my kids, from my spouse, from my breath, from my body…
How often do we try to manage our stress or fill an emotional disconnect with alcohol, or food, or video games?
Parents often joke with each other about how our kids are such stressors in our lives, but the truth is they are also our biggest de-stressors. Laughing around the family dinner table helps me let go of my work day. Lingering for snuggles before leaving their bedrooms lowers my cortisol levels. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been holding my breath all day until a giant hug from my child reminds me to exhale.
I’m realistic enough to know that I won’t be able to keep work emails form barging into our family life… and that with busy work schedules, busy school and extra curricular schedules, that emotional disconnect will happen. It will. It is a byproduct of modern day life.
I will however try to tip the scales. I am going to focus on creating and enjoying more opportunities to connect with my family…
Whether it’s exploring together…
Hugging the daylights out of each other…
Or doing absolutely nothing together…
From emotional connection comes open communication. From connection comes empathy and compassion. From connection comes trust.
I can’t wait to share with you more blog posts in partnership with Responsibility.org.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to seek connection.
Connection is my new de-stressor!