8 Tips For Killing It As A WAHM
If you were paid $1 for every time your child interrupted your work… how RICH would you be right now?!
All moms know that going to the bathroom alone, taking a shower, or getting through a phone call without a zillion “MOM!!!”s is basically impossible. This can be enervating to any mom… but then you add in the fact that you are an entrepreneur and working from home, it adds a whole new level of irritation! Your kids are so self sufficient and want to do everything their way… until you are preoccupied. Now, you know this is true. However, you may not know why it happens.
Depending on how many times this has already happened since your eyes opened this morning, you may be thinking, “Who cares, why?! Just make it stop!” But, let me explain to you why it is worth your time to understand the why behind the countless interruptions. When you understand the why behind a child’s behavior two amazing things are possible:
1. You are able to empathize with them… aka know where they are coming from and see things from their point of view. This helps you to react in a way that doesn’t leave you with mom guilt or feel quite so stressed by their behaviors.
2. You are able to address the presenting issue appropriately, not just with a band-aid approach, but create a solution that resolves the root cause of the behavior.
Let me tell you, in my work with parents, it doesn’t matter what behavior struggle we are addressing with their kids… knowing the why behind the behavior, empathizing with their child, and finding a solution that actually works are things all my clients appreciate. BECAUSE IT WORKS.
One of my favorite things about the work I do in helping parents learn to manage their children’s behavior is providing sound psychoeducation on how their child’s brain works. We may remember some things from our childhood, but remembering what it is like to live with a partially developed brain is something we just can’t do (the brain fully develops around age 25). We forget what it is like to live with the urgency, stress and lack of logical insight that comes with being a child.
Children are vulnerable… and they know it. So much of a child’s emotional state and exhibited behavior is based on whether or not they feel safe and secure. This is why it is critical for them to be so well attended to in those first few months of their life! When they are snuggled, kissed, fed, clothed, changed, and in a comfortable environment they are learning that the world is safe and there are people here to help keep them safe and provide for their needs. Of course, as time goes on, children become more self-sufficient and are not so incredibly dependent on you for things like getting dressed, being cleaned/clothed, eating, etc. However, they are still heavily relying on you for their emotional stability and sense of safety and security. All those moments of bonding have led them to know you as the most safe person they know.
Do you see how beautiful that is?! You are the most safe person your child knows.
If your child doesn’t feel safe or has a sense that they are at risk… they will reach out to the person who is the most reliable… YOU.
Now, one of the most obvious ways for your child to know that you are there for them (you and I know that you ALWAYS are there for them… but they interpret things differently!) is that you are either in the midst of meeting their needs OR you are giving them your undivided attention. Which means, as soon as you divert your attention away, they lose a sense of their safety and security. Normal tasks or activities that they would normally feel confident doing, all of a sudden may seem more daunting; because mom is distracted and invested in something else.
So what do they do? They ask you to get them a cheese stick, to wipe their butt (yup, said it), to watch another episode, to answer their off-the-wall or super obvious questions… anything to make sure that you are still there for them. Again, YOU know that you are there for them… but to them, it’s not so obvious.
So let’s step back and see what we can glean from this…
Your child wants to feel safe and secure. They associate feeling safe and secure with you and when you are actively caring for them. They know you are caring for them when you pay attention to them. When you don’t pay attention to them, their sense of safety and security is compromised (even though this is not the case!). Therefore, they interrupt you!
They aren’t trying to annoy you. They aren’t being helpless. They aren’t inconveniencing you. They just want to feel safe and secure. And THAT is much easier to empathize with!
So now that you know this, what is the solution? Now that we know their motivation is to feel safe and secure and to feel connected to the person that is essentially the embodiment of those feelings, we can tailor a response that is a solution to their problem.
Here are some tips to try with your kiddos when you have to get work done (or just pee…):
1. Communicate to them where you are going to be and how long you need to be occupied. You can even give them a visual timer to help them know when to expect you back (this will also help you with productivity!).
2. Talk up how independent you know they can be and that you are going to allow them some alone time, instead of spinning it as mom can’t be with you right now.
3. Give them a list of things they can do to fill their time. For kids that can’t read yet, you can draw pictures of the activities or lay them out in different areas (kind of like centers they need to complete).
4. Provide incentives for solving their own problems/not interrupting. This could even be as simple as a special game or book or time you can spend together when you are done.
5. Create boundaries around your work space/have dedicated workspace. This will help them know when you are and are not available.
6. Define very specific reasons for them to interrupt you. Get specific; don’t just say “only for an emergency” … many things feel like emergencies to them.
7. Don’t do what they ask! Kids keep doing behaviors because they yield the results they want. If you don’t want them to interrupt, encourage them to problem solve on their own. It may be a pain at first, but in time it will yield the results you want.
8. Don’t explain to them why you can’t do something, ask them what they are supposed to be doing in that moment.
In my professional experience, I know that a one-size-fits-all approach does not always work and that there are varying degrees of challenging behaviors. If your child’s behavior is causing you stress or these tips just don’t seem to cut it, I would love to talk with you. I always provide a free consultation to meet the needs of parents who just want to restore some peace to their homes. Now go pay attention to your child… because they are about to interrupt you anyway!
Jillian is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and creator of Fly on the Wall Counseling. She provides online services to parents who want some support in managing their child(ren)’s behavior. This allows for busy parents to finally get the support and care they desire, without even having to leave home. Utilizing video chat sessions, Jillian becomes a “fly on the wall” in her clients’ homes allowing her to be able to provide the most relevant behavior modification plans that meet the unique needs of the parents and children she works with… which means faster and sustainable results.
FREE E-COURSE OFFER! Ali is amazing, so I am offering all of her clients FREE access to my latest e-course, “Taking the Struggle Out of Bedtime.” This is a learn-at-your-own-pace course that many parents have found to make a huge difference in their evening routines!
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