Q: I totally lost it this morning. Parenting and working is a lot to handle, and I am almost always living life right at the edge of my limit. I was pushed over my limit this morning. I yelled at my kid because he was taking too long and making us late. How can I keep my cool and enjoy life more? — Michelle, 40, client support team
A: First of all, don’t be hard on yourself.
Truly, think about what you would say to your sister or your friend.
You would be kind and comforting, right? There would probably be hugs involved, and then you would think about prevention and managing the next time you are going over your limit.
Let’s talk about root causes. What is going on in your life that is pushing you, besides the obvious? Get down to details.
Work, for example. To what extent does it invade your personal time and encroach on your family’s needs? Consider ways to time-box it so you are not taking calls during peak family times, for example.
Also consider ways work can be enhanced to give you energy. If you commute, can you use that time for inspiration from music, podcasts or books?
If you work from home, develop a community of other work-from-home people for support to avoid isolation, which can add to the emotional intensity of a situation.
In family life, there are a few predictably fraught times of day, and morning can be one of the toughest. Think about ways to cut the expected conflict points and break some of the destructive patterns you may have fallen into.
Don’t do this alone — this is a family project. Get together for a family discussion and set a positive tone. Apologizing for losing it goes a long way to teaching kids that not even their mom is perfect, and opens the door to finding solutions together.
Be specific and age appropriate. Talk about “what can we each do to get out the door in time.” Solutions may be simple (not necessarily easy), like getting clothes and backpacks ready the night before.
Make plans for how to make that happen that include actions on their part. Vagueness will foil these good intentions.
Then do family follow-ups to track how you are doing in a fun and unifying way.
Find parent mentors. People who have adult kids can have good ideas and be a source of hope. This too shall pass, and it’s good to see what other people have done to make it through the challenges.
Most important, think about your whole life outside of work and family — the “you” in it all. What do you need to replenish?
Look at your health. Have you been to a doctor lately? Make sure all is well, including your mental health. Do you eat foods that energize you? Get fresh air and sunshine?
Have other sources of meaning in your life. Use your precious spare time on activities that are enriching to you outside work and family.
In all of it, love them and love yourself.