How A Regulated Nervous System Improves Our Parenting

A regulated nervous system is the real flex.  It’s everything, and will literally transform how you relate to the world around you.

The small wins, as we know, make up the sum total of a lifetime, so keep collecting those micro moments and they will add up to something you can be very proud of.

This is how it looked this morning:

A very relatable morning of stimuli and chaos for our little family getting out of the door and attempting to be on time for school. One little one, who has a track record for being “the lagger” was struggling to fit her morning routine into our limited time. The same suggestions were made: wake up earlier, set things aside, put things in the rightful order of importance and so on, to no avail.

This little tardy cutie rushed to the car, that already inhabited her two sisters, mama and pup, juggling her things and looking disgruntled. “How dare we leave her?!” was the sentiment. That’s right, she was scolding us for being punctual and sitting in the car awaiting her arrival to complete our departure.

As we drove to school, it occurred to her, just a mere few kilometres from school, that she had forgotten her water bottle and it was a trip day for her class. Once again, she became dismayed by the lot of us and accusations flew once more that we had rushed her and caused this forgetfulness to occur. As I went to kiss her goodbye and wish her a wonderful day, also willing to problem solve with her, she slammed the car door shut, accepting none of it and ushered a sarcastic “thanks a lot, Mom”.

Now, here’s the thing.  This whole situation is no picnic for yours truly either.  Not like I’m kicking my feet up, experiencing the best and most easy breezy morning of my life, either.

It’s a quick assessment, isn’t it mamas? Do we react to the behavior? Can we control our own? Are we regulated enough to do a fair assessment of what’s needed?

The thing is, we know our kid.  What looks like rudeness is often overwhelm.  What can seem like aloofness, is sometimes embarrassment and when the blame flies, we can usually determine our little one has lost the plot and is struggling through their own projections.

My mom win was that I was able to see the child before me, rather than react from my own inner child, who was yelping in discomfort at the triggering morning that she somehow was supposed to have “control” over. I didn’t go head-to-head that morning.  I spared us both the lectures and the indignation. I softened and I responded.

I drove to the nearby corner store and I bought her a really big water bottle and a pack of Mentos (she likes them for long car rides), and a pack of Mentos for each of her sisters. When I drove back to the school I was able to catch her in the hallway and give them to her directly instead of to the office for her to pick up. She was appreciative, receptive, and even reflective of her behaviour and had the ability to apologize.

Trust me, this is a practice for me.  As someone who lives by ideals rather than reality, I often mess myself up by parenting from a place of what I believe should be happening, rather than what is.

Those moments will and do happen too. And in those moments, I have longed for this version of myself, that is grounded.  The contrast between these versions of myself are no longer so vast because they are both integrated.

I brought the metaphorical flowers to that version of myself.  I continue to. I validate her. How tired she is, how activating her children can be, how hard she is trying and how unsure things can feel. She’s there too for the mom win, measuring it by the regulation we feel inside.  The connection it brings about and how it in turn regulates those in the relating dynamic with us.

I want more moments like these. Of simply being present for life as it’s unfolding in real-time and moving with it in a way that feels as though it’s serving what I want most of all: to be connecting and relating considerately, compassionately, and kindly to my loved ones.

Please hear me, this is not about getting it perfect. It’s about celebrating how you integrated your feelings of frustration, disappointment, irritation and anger and allowed yourself to feel that while simultaneously responding in a way that you can feel proud of.

This time.

Plus, you know what?  Best of all, I got a kiss and a hug.  And it was so meaningful under these circumstances. We held it a little longer and sunk into it a little deeper.  We both felt grateful and completely present for it. We’d just been through something together and we both had felt it. It wasn’t a perfect morning, but despite our imperfections, we navigated it pretty perfectly/alright.

As I write this, I kid you not, my dog has just barfed black gobbly goop onto the rug.  A result, I can only imagine, from eating mud-caked wood chips at the dog park. As the Universe often does, with that wicked sense of humour of hers, I am presented with yet another opportunity to practice regulation under stress, once again.

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