Having four children under five years of age is no joke. But in all reality, having just one child is a challenge. It’s all relative. I don’t know one mama out there that doesn’t experience moments where they feel like they’re physically + emotionally pushed to the edge.
My research has taught me about the nervous system + this natural (survival) response that is called Fight or Flight. The Sympathetic Nervous system engages + physiological responses take place with one primary goal in mind: to keep you safe + alive. These responses include increased heart rate, a slow in digestion, shallow breath, and the release of adrenaline used to fight off a predator or flee one.
Let me break down this complex brain/body science into basic (parenting) examples:
⚪️Your toddler is melting down again + you want to explode.
⚪️The baby won’t let you put her down + you feel suffocated.
⚪️Your children’s spat has turned into a high pitched screaming match + the noise level makes you want to lock yourself in your room, forever.
Of course we know cognitively that our children aren’t a threat or predator, but your body tends to disagree. I am not exaggerating. The proof is in the stress response.
Knowing this doesn’t make you a bad parent. In fact, it’s helped me become a better one. We can appreciate our body for doing its primal job, but since we are more evolved creatures with higher functioning brains, we can rationalize that no, my kid isn’t a predator + thus respond in ways that aren’t motivated by attacking, defending, or escaping.
So since I’m in the thick of it, I feel my body on this “over drive” response often. My toddlers fighting, babies crying, everyone crawling on me… ugh, breathe.
My body can feel under threat, but I can bring it back down to calm. These ways I share here are practical + actual anchors I use through out my day. Changing diapers, eating, driving, playing outside— all common/frequent moments to engage my PNS. When I feel safe in my body, I can give them the best of me. My regulation then becomes theirs. This is how we break cycles.