Kids going crazy? Try seeing them through your spouse’s eyes.
It was mid-afternoon, but it had already been a long day. The toddler was having another meltdown tantrum. The preschooler was running through the house half-naked, whining for snacks. And the older kids were giggling loudly in the next room—which I knew meant some kind of horrible mess or mischief. I was out of energy, out of patience, and very much fed up with my kids.
Yet somehow, in that moment of kids going crazy, I discovered a parenting secret that changed my life.
Being a solo parent during military deployments is not an easy task. Especially if the children are not yet in school and you never, ever get a break. There are moments I love being a stay at home mom and having quality time with my kids. Then there are days when they drive me crazy, and it just feels like I am taking care of someone whining or someone’s mess. all. day. long.
But the flip side of being a solo parent is that the other parent is away all day long. Every moment I spend with my kids during deployment is a moment that my husband misses with his kids. As much as I hate the tantrums and whining, he wishes he could just hear their little voices for a moment sometime during his day.
As I gripped the chubby hand of my angry toddler, I was struck with a sudden realization: my husband would give anything to hold her hand right now, no matter how much she was throwing a fit. The kids don’t seem quite so much of a burden when I view them through my husband’s eyes. Instead of seeing them with my own worn-out mom’s perspective, I needed to view them as he does.
Instead of complaining about what I am dealing with, I can rejoice that at least I am experiencing it. Even in their worst moments, my kids are still a treasure. Parenting them is my privilege. This magical secret has been changing the way I handle tough moments.
You can find more encouraging messages for military life in my book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses. From solo parenting and deployment issues, to all the frustration of PCS moves, I am here for you with supportive messages for many common challenges along your military journey! This is a great gift for military spouses, whether they are brand new or more “seasoned.” You can buy Open When on Amazon, directly from the publisher, or order an autographed copy here.
The attitude change that helps me with kids going crazy:
- When the toddler is throwing a tantrum, I realize that my husband would still find her adorable, and he would make her laugh.
- When she is grubby and dirty, I think how my husband would love to hold her sticky little hands.
- When the kids are asking for snacks, I remember that he would love to sit down and share a treat with them.
- When they are whining, I remind myself that he said their voices are so cute and high-pitched over the phone.
- When they ask me to play a game when I am tired, I think about how much Dad loves to teach them new sports and board games.
- When they ask for another book, I remember that he is so proud of how smart they are, so I settle in and read them another one.
- When I would rather have some quiet moments on social media, I remember that my husband would put down his phone and enjoy their golden afternoons.
- When they aren’t quieting down at bedtime, I remind myself that he is good at laughing at their ridiculous requests for more water and stories.
- When they are whining about homework, I realize that he would be happy to read their scrawled sentences and see their stick figure drawings.
- Each time they struggle to learn a new skill, I think about how much he would love to be there and help them master it.
It is a huge challenge to be both parents at once. When Dad is deployed, I have to fill in and be both Mom and Dad to our kids. I have all my mom chores and responsibilities, plus all of Dad’s discipline and playful moments, too. So when I am worn out from being mom, it can be a refreshing relief to see things the way Dad does. This small shift has helped me through many challenging deployment moments.
There are more parenting tips and free resources for military kids in my Ultimate Deployment Guide. Download the guide here.
How do you deal when the kids are going crazy? If you liked this article, you may also be encouraged by Hitting the Deployment Wall.