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Living the Chaos Life | How to self-regulate during parenting stress











Season 1 Episode 6

Summary


Like Batman standing arms outstretched while the bats swirl around him, we share our own origin stories of living through moments of utter chaos to emerge more regulated, experienced parents and teachers. We talk about when lack of sleep becomes an emergency for a new mom, asking for help from your support system and how to prioritize emotional regulation while caring for children.

From food to environment to community and mental health, taking care of yourself IS taking care of your child! And for those moments when you lose it (like everyone does) we talk through how to apologize to children and repair the relationship.


Join Very Good Mother's Club to be a part of our community and get your questions answered on a future episode!


Find Jess at Jessica Hover on Youtube and @jess_hover on Instagram


Find Layne @enquiryco on Instagram



Transcription


Jessica:

Okay we're wearing the same outfits just for the YouTube friends who are watching. We are taking it easy. It's one of the days where we just didn't have it in us to change but in the future, we probably will/


Layne:

Just not today it's not today.


Jessica:

Yeah. So hi, welcome back. My name is Jessica Hover.


Layne:

And I’m Layne Deyling Cherland and this is Very Good Enough a podcast from the Very Good Mothers Club. My craziest day in preschool, I had more children than you're legally allowed. So this is a three year old classroom so I can have 12 but I have said yes to some parents or something. I don't know what happened. There are 13 kids in there. And it's just like a big personality class. So we have more chaos. Someone has fallen. There's blood. I have a bleeding child. I'm holding bleeding child so there's blood on my shoulder and you know how a bleeding child is also a crying child. So there's like there's mucus from the nose. There's also just saliva, yelling so many liquids- very fluid over here. So I'm basically holding the extra bleeding child and sort of calling down the hallway for somebody can't leave no all these children in this room. Yeah, so I just have to care for this person who's not dying. Just bleeding. There's a difference.You don't want to have to parse but sometimes you do. This one's yelling. Somebody else is also touching me. And in my memory there's someone else over here. Oh, there are so many kids in that room. There's so many kids in that room. There are art supplies out, there building supplies ou,t we're like, well into a play time. So all materials are on the floor and I'm counting 2…3…4…5 6..7…8…9…10…11…12… Oh, no. Where's James? Okay, wait, we wait. Madison have you seen James? Have you seen James?

Can you check? Okay.


Jessica:

You lost a child.


Layne:

Yeah. So I'm like, in my mind I can see the room spinning. We're freaking. That's kind of the only thing- I'm pretty capable in a classroom but not if one of them's gone. I can't take care of the one that's out there. Now, so I'm like, James? And then someone laughs and I'm looking around for what's wrong with this picture? Because someone has left and in a corner in a dressing room is one of my favorite children I've ever spent any time with and he's like, sitting with his little legs crossed. He's in the dressing room. So he's got a little like a little flower headband on. And he's criss cross legged on top of a basket. Jacob, where's James? And he says nothing and a little tiny voice goes down. “I’m here.” Oh little buddy.


Jessica:

Oh my gosh. If Jame’s mom is listening right now she’s like that's what happened to James.


Layne:

James is fine.The bleeding child is fine. Everyone has recovered.


Jessica:

The real question is how are you? Because you're the one in the story who is losing it.


Layne:

That's why I don't teach preschool. And now I have a podcast.


Jessica:

Podcast chaos. That's I think gonna be the theme of today's episode is like, how do you stay okay, enough in the midst of the chaos to keep everybody alive? And okay. Yeah, yeah, I have a moment like that, that I can remember where we were getting our carpet redone. And so I had to move everything from all of the bedrooms into the hallway in our house. And that's a big feat. Like kids or no kids to move all of your stuff out of a bedroom. Yeah, it's not fun. You try to do that like almost no time better. And Shaun was out of town. I don't know why I chose to do that. I think looking back that was a flawed plan. I removed all of this stuff into the hall but at least I had this hope of a new carpet and our carpet was very bad. So I think that was the motivating piece. And then the carpet people called after I had done all of the moving of all the furniture out of four bedrooms. I'm holding Wilson I'm holding Jules. I actually think I have a video from this moment because it was so wild that Becca filmed like a true one. She's like we're gonna need to remember that this happened. And Wilson's crying Jule’s is crying- got both my arms full and furniture everywhere. I'm holding on to hope that new carpet is on the horizon. And they call and say, nevermind, we're not able to come today. We're going to reschedule and the reschedule is not like the next day. It's like into the future. So I have to put everything back and I'm just like, oh no. How do I keep parenting today? I don't know that I'm going to be able to take any further steps to be alright. And I think there is something about humor if you can find humor but in that moment I didn't find humor. I think I found humor even hours later when I'm recalling it and being like, oh, what that was wild. But inside you're in the spinning room. That's so real. It feels like things are spinning and falling and dying and it's miserable. Something you taught on our channel and you've since taught inside of the very good mother's club community- membership community- when you speak in there it’s about a de escalated parent not being able to regulate the situation right? You say it really beautifully. I'm not going to steal your line so you do it.


Layne:

This is it. An escalated adult cannot de escalate an escalated child. So it's this thing of being like, when the child is like way up here and intense. If the adult also matches that energy with the way up intense even if your intensity is of a different flavor from theirs then there's like no one's left to bring the situation back down to a manageable level. So that's kind of like the preschool teacher training quote.


Jessica:

Yeah, that's really good. Many moments in my life have I been de escalated? No, I'm sorry. Wow, I'm getting this wrong. Have I been very escalated. That's what I meant to say. Yeah, there's so many times where I know rationally I need to calm down and keep my calm, even if my kids are going nuts. But I just don't do it. And sometimes it's not even what's going on in the room. It could be I'm getting stressful texts, or I realized I've messed up something at work. And I'm thinking about that and the stress in me is then being catapulted into a really horrible place because my kids are doing what kids do, which is freaking out over a toy that they want or fighting over something or they're very hungry and they're crying. And I find myself snapping or shouting or whatever it is just being really rude. And then I have to bring it back and I have Eloise who's seven so with her I can usually quickly be like, Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I really blew it with you. I can do it with the kids but it's not the same type of interaction because with Eloise she at least understands what it feels like to lose your mind right there.


Layne:

You have to have this extra layer of uncovering now that you have to do because now they're scared or upset or first that only after you repair this thing now you get to the…


Jessica:

Mom is a monster and they never knew mom was a monster and now they've seen it. You're like a monster and it's or worse.


Layne:

It's horrible.


Jessica:

Yeah, it is. Yeah. What does it look like for you? Your experience of this with so many children and they're not your children. Whether I don't know if that helps you or or makes this harder but what do you teach? You've been in a position of teaching other new preschool teachers? Could you tell us about that and how to take it into our own lives.


Layne:

Yeah, it is interesting to note the way that when it isn't your children, like there are ways that it really helps them and there are also it's just so tricky, because you have this level of professionalism, where yelling at a small child who doesn't belong to you, like there are repercussions for that. But then also, it's not your child. It’s like none of it's quite so personal. There's nothing like a child who lives with you and belongs with you to know how to really push your buttons. So they set you off that way.


Jessica:

It's like they're crying is different. My own kids crying can set my insides on fire. I'm like something is really wrong. I can't even focus. I don't know what's wrong.


Layne:

That sounds biological or evolutionary.


Jessica:

Yeah, that makes sense. There is also the ability to ignore your own kid but it seems like some of my friends don't have where if someone's saying “mommy mommy mommy” but I know that actually they just want to be in my conversation. They're just interrupting mebecause they want my attention. And my friends like do you need to…? And I'm like Wilson's gonna do that our whole conversation. I'm so sorry. Oh, okay. Three years of adapting to this.


Layne:

Yeah, yeah, I do feel like education is an interesting breed of people who have become sort of inoculated to like, a lot of noise and a lot of movements and a lot of things that would maybe otherwise maybe feel crazy. I'm like, I do jobs now and people are like, I'm so sorry. That was so stressful. And I have to like not laugh. I particularly have had some experience training toddler teachers, which you say like I teach toddlers and everyone goes, That's so cute. And those people I have come the closest to like murdering. Because yes, it is. It also is like absolute carnage. Like it's wild. It's a wild space. So you have to try and hire people you think are going to be able to be like, really emotionally attuned to but also like, really pretty tough. I mean, there's like, it's just like, visceral. There's like fluids and yelling and people like there's so few jobs where people bite each other and fight one another. And I need you to be calm about it. So I bring in these beautiful intelligent connected tough women and I’m like listen whatever you think this is going to be it’s not. What is going to happen is probably this week at preschool, is that you're going to have a moment where you're like, the world goes into slow motion. And that weird movie sound happens where you can still hear all the sounds, but it's like you're underwater, but there's also a ringing in your ears. You can see this like liquid watercolor flying over here. You can see the open mouth, this child, that child and you can see that this other person is climbing. One is going up and one is going down and it's so loud, and you're going to feel like they're all dead. And I’m also dead.

None of us are going to survive this moment. You're going to feel like oh, this is it. This is how we go. This is how we all go as though like the door got ripped off from the plane. You're all going out. What I need you to do in that moment is to let it all fall. You know, like outside of like some real danger. Like you're just gonna feel this crazy thing and let it just happen because that has already fallen and that bite has already happened and also that kid didn't fall off that thing and for sure they want to get down but you know, like it has already.


Jessica:

It's as bad as you think. And it's not at all


Layne:

Yes, right. And yet you could feel the feeling of like, alive. Alive and crying. Totally alive. Me. Still alive. Still alive. Like wow, everybody's alive and you made it. Yeah, you let it fall. Take a breath. And you also like, I guess it's like sort of standing the feeling of there's stuff on the floor and everyone's crying and also it's, I did it and everything's okay, through that feeling in my brain that hot fire feeling. I'm still standing here. And just like have that experience. Be Batman in the cave with the bats rising around all around you at your moment of ultimate fear. And just know that like, I'm still here. Because really, like we have this sort of existential fear that we may blink out of existence or that we may fall off of the earth that we're just not going to be able to handle this moment. And everybody feels that in their lives in some ways and other ways. And it gets real escalated when it's with children. But like, really letting that sort of existential fear wash through you and be there and then not be real like, at minimum. Here I am. That’s my first lesson. I mean, not my very first thing I tell them.


Jessica:

I appreciate that you say that this might happen in the first week because that's so real even to the parents of the kids of like, hey, really soon this person who you love more than life itself, we didn't even know was possible to love this much. might make you feel like you are going to start with that feeling of panic. Why won't they stop crying? Why is this so loud? How come I can't figure this moment out? And yeah, it's a confusing feeling. To be honest. I've heard moms be like, and that's when the shame washed over me of, oh my gosh, how could I possibly feel this towards this little person who I just made? Maybe I'm not cut out for this or something must be wrong. And I think like, it's really important that we realize if you are caring for a child there are going to be moments where you feel completely unregulated inside towards the chaos sound, whatever stress is going on in the room. And so there needs to be coping mechanisms taught and practiced right to keep us okay. So the first thing sounds like let the feeling happen just let it. It's okay.


Layne:

Yeah, let it fall is the thing that is the script for myself as though like papers went up in the air and they're all coming down and being like, It's the same as like, take a beat or just like, be there outside of like real moments of crisis. You almost always do have like a beat to really take. I'm just a human having experience on Earth. I live here in my body. I belong in this moment. Just like really allowing yourself to have that but then also, like we spent so much time trying to push away the chaos and pretend like I'm gonna hold it all together. I'm gonna be the one who can keep it organized and everyone's gonna have a lovely day. And we can't always be the one to hold it all together and force everyone through our sheer willpower to have a lovely day. So letting that superhero idea fall away. In that moment, letting all the papers land, and then deciding, because now you can decide which thing do I want to address here first? Is it the blowout,is it that the fan fell over and is sucking in the curtain?


Jessica:

And if you're in the new mom stage, there's like, sometimes that happens, where it feels like, I mean, I'll be really vulnerable. Not everyone feels this, but there are certain moments where you're like, I can't hold my baby, I need to stand outside for a second and like, I don't know what to do. I'm going crazy. And a lot of that too, is they're entirely sleep deprived, right. So then they're having to try and regulate themselves, but their body is not even in their normal capacity for functioning. And so sometimes it's take a moment but if there is someone, especially in early baby life, usually there's somebody else around that you can be like, can you please hold the baby for a second? I need to go take some deep breaths, or lay the baby down safely in a crib or someplace where you know baby is okay, baby might be crying so hard. But the priority at the moment is that you get yourself back to a place where you can handle this. Sometimes going outside and just taking the baby outside, whether it's very sunny or it was cold or something the shift in environment can sometimes either calm the baby down or just give you the transition that somehow you need to regroup. My friend called me- she is one of the best people if she was here in the room, you would absolutely adore her and she'd had her first child and she called me sobbing and she was like, I yelled at a baby to go to sleep. That is the most illogical thing. And I've never experienced that kind of outburst of anger. And like, basically her question is like, can I still do this? Like can you come back from a moment like that? And I felt like wow, that's so relatable and things that are scary to talk about on the internet because you're gonna get feedback of like, How dare you, but in my circle of people I love, those are the real things that come up. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I did that to this tender little bee who I would die for like that's the love I feel. But then the reaction towards the stress of the moment. Now I've just yelled at them. That doesn't make any sense. And yet, here we are.


Layne:

So at wanting to be sort of confessional about that in the interest of letting everyone know that you're not a monster. You're a person who's very overstimulated. Yeah, very overstimulated. And obviously that's not how we want to be I'm not saying like, do you what you want to do. You may yell sometimes. We feel awful. And also so is everyone else. So has everyone else.


Jessica:

A cool thing about being human is that just kind of across the board, there are some general health related things we can do that will keep us well, and they will apply for our whole life. They'll apply to our kids, they apply to us when we're older. And it's basic things it's making sure we're nourished nutritionally, it's making sure we're doing what we can to get good sleep, which I know sounds totally unfair to the new mom. But if you are a new mom listening and you're entirely sleep deprived, and you feel like you have no capacity for coping with stress, I encourage you to call in reinforcements. When it comes to sleep there are doctors I listened to stuff just like for fun about postpartum depression and things that can send somebody really south mentally and a lot of times what they'll do for the mom who's really suffering is say tonight, I need you to get as much sleep as you can possibly get this is an emergency. What do we need to do in your life to get you sleep? And they do it because once you call it an emergency, people get stuff done. If you're at the end of yourself emotionally and you're a new parent who's not getting any sleep, it's time to call it an emergency and get some stretch of sleep somewhere. Making sure you're staying hydrated. Movement in any way- going for a walk can really help create endorphins that help you be well. Even having a social life is important. Connecting in some way where somebody knows what's going on inside of you. What are you thinking, what are you feeling, how are you doing? And it's fair to hope that your partner, your significant other is a piece of that- that is totally fair and I hope that for you as well. I also recognize that they're a parent too. They are the new parent alongside you or maybe this is your third or fourth or fifth kid- they are also experiencing this stage alongside you. So it would be probably the healthiest thing for both of you to have other outlets along with the connection that happens between the two of you. So like he foundational things that if we do them we'll be in a better place overall to be able to cope with the really tough stuff that comes up and the really triggering moments. If those things are out of balance. It's going to be a lot harder to tap into our own.


Layne:

I would add an environmental factor into that for teachers in the classroom. That's kind of one of their first tasks they have to do in the new year is to put together the way they want their classroom flow. And I'm very insistent that there's like a place for your belongings where they're up and safe. There's a place for you to sit in this room with adult sized furniture and love that same kind of thing in your home of being like children live here. So it's going to look like children live here for sure. But also you live here. Like there are adults who live in this house. And each person who lives in this home needs to have space in this home. And that doesn't mean that you have adult space where children never go but just knowing that the things that are important to you and your home also have to be prioritized. Whether it's countertop or a desk somewhere for you to write, or like you're making sure that your art really does get hung that like all those photos that you super love, like making sure that it's beautiful if that's what's important to you, but whatever you need inside of your space, whatever like each parent needs, like the adults are also there.


Jessica:

That’s beautiful. I think we need that as a mom listening to that. I'm like, Oh my gosh, to be given permission to make sure the space that you spend a lot of your time and a lot of those stressful moments to make sure that space reflects who you are and what you love and reminds you of things that are true to your heart like art or beautiful photographs that remind you of happy seasons of your life. Yeah, it was really good. Oh, my gosh, that's so good you guys. I hope you're doing that. too.


Layne:

Yeah, there's like a sort of moment to moment level of taking a beat where I guess it's more like assessing, like taking a moment to really think about the thing that you're in with this kid. Especially when a child is escalated, right? If we're talking about like, escalated moments and not wanting your heart rate to rise with there's, actually maybe I'll shift a little bit to the idea of like tantrum moments real quick because those can be so intense. They can be so intense and they can come as such a surprise, particularly if you had a more mild mannered baby or early toddler.


Jessica:

Or if you yourself are a mild mannered grown up I've heard that being shocking like but I am so calm and my child's wild right.


Layne:

Or if you're a person who is for any reason like a little bit more constricted inside this make display of emotions can feel so crazy. And also like it's kind of supposed to those sounds are supposed to be like alert sounds for your brain. So recognizing for yourself like part of the stealing inside is that the back of my brain is saying danger. Like it's just sending me a message that says like, oh, danger, danger, danger, and you can feel it. I hear that I'm actually looking around and no one is in danger that you were not in a dangerous circumstance. If you look and make sure that this child is not in danger that you are not in a safety or emergency circumstance like a tantrum is not an emergency. And it is okay that it's happening. Being able to look around and decide, like is there danger? No. Okay. Then what do I want to do about this? Bring you into a place of again more of that response rather.


Jessica:

Yeah, that's so good. Also, mom, have you eaten? Because the same question I was going to ask first about the toddler because a lot of times in my house toddler tantrums are correlated to like when have they last eaten they're probably a bit hungry. But I've noticed I have a way harder time responding appropriately. If I am hungry. Those really basic things will help us to do a good job. Sometimes it also helps to figure out your why. Because day to day inside of raising little babies and little kids. You don't always feel like you're producing anything. So then it can be hard to have a big picture of like, oh, I need to respond really appropriately because this is meaningful work. And this makes a huge impact in their future. You know, when you're inside of it, you're just like, well, everything's messy and I'm tired and now they're freaking out again and stop freaking out. And you know, versus all of the big like, this is really beautiful. You do this, you're producing something amazing.


Layne:

That's the thing of taking down the de escalation inside yourself so that you can then take down like you can de escalate inside of the child and this is kind of key to the circle back when you have been in that really escalated state and especially when you made a mistake. Nobody who is in a super escalated state can learn anything in that state. You as the adult can’t and the child can't either and you also can't reconcile and recover and repair when you're still in the emergency state inside of your brain. So I just wanted to put a lot of encouragement to handling the kind of like bodily and physical and moment of chaos leads as they're presented. And then later when their husband, food or everyone is now back in a calm, more calm like breathing space, you know everything is like okay, we're out of it. You can feel that wave has subsided for yourself and for your child. That's when you do either the instruction or if necessary, be like apology. I don't like the way that I handled that. I think. Can I talk to you about that a little bit. I don't like to use my voice that way when I'm with you. What I want to be able to do is voice like this and just tell you what I need you to do. And I wasn't able to do that. I'm really sorry. Yeah, like you can forgive me and I can try again.


Jessica:

That was really good. What I like about that too, that I think about with my kids is there's like such an ownership versus what sometimes I have seen is like I'm sorry, I did that. I did it because you did this. And when you do that, I yell. I just think that you could accidentally be doing something destructive by shifting it to like, I did that because you did that. Versus I did that because I didn't practice what I love, which is I felt this and I'm sorry, honey. And it would be good for for you to you know, like somehow you can talk about both things without making it that I did this because you did this. Does that makes sense?


Layne:

Absolutely. A real apology in any relationship of any size. Includes like taking full ownership of your action. And then an easy segue is can we talk about some ways that could go differently? Because now like there's like, a conversation. Yeah, like we're both gonna neither of us like that. I'm sorry for my part. Let's make a plan now moving forward. Now that these were in that nice call is smooth waters again.


Jessica:

I'm probably speaking from a place I think with Eloise one time, not that long ago. I did an apology and then I felt like I apologized. I was like wait a second did I make it sound like I did it because you did something. So I like went back. But this is older kids stuff now where I'm so aware of the things I say like directly affecting her versus with my little little ones. It's more about like, your like the energy of our absolute communication versus them being like, Oh, that is right, I do forgive you. Thank you.


Layne:

And you can use the same words when them but I think I would use the same words with small children as they do with adults as much as possible. But what is being transferred to them is more your emotional positioning and your intention.


Jessica:

Yeah. I had a mom recently that I met up with for coffee. She's in the very good mother's club community. But I met her outside of it, which was really special and real. And she cried over something that happened with her baby. And she was like, yeah, so that's why I don't think I should be in very good mother's club because I'm not a very good mom. I made a mistake. And she made a mistake that so many moms make it was basically life happened and something happened to her baby that she didn't mean for it to happen. And she was beating yourself up over it. And I was like, Oh my gosh. Did you know that same thing happened to me? And it was it was like, all of a sudden the feelings were lowered. And I was like, that's why you need to be in this community. it's a bunch of moms being like, Hey, I did this and I feel terrible. And maybe they're crying and then other moms like oh, I didn't do that. But I did this one. And then and it's not like we're all gathered around to speak about all the times when you've harmed our kid but there's something very powerful about the vulnerability and confession of like, oh my gosh, this person I love so much I did something that hurt them. And then everybody being like, Yeah, I know. We try so hard and we all mess up. And in that transaction or communication it also enables you to do it differently in the future because you have this normalcy and the shame is gone and it's not tense oh my gosh, don't fail. Yeah, it's just you do your best and somehow that's more energizing. So I think it's really important for you guys to know that you're always welcome to come and be in a group of people that are like, yeah, we blow it too. And in doing that, it will help you to not blow it or to blow it differently.


Layne:

Yeah, and one of the things that your child is going to need to super desperately when they are an adult is to know how to handle moments of chaos, how to regulate themselves through things that feel really overwhelming and how to reconcile when they've made mistakes.


Jessica:

Yeah, how to recover from failure that's so powerful.


Layne:

Watching you do those things is the singular way that your child gets those skills.


Jessica:

Yeah, I love that. You guys are amazing parents. Thanks for hanging out with us for these times. We always want to add value to your life. Never want to waste your time, we respect you so much and know that you are working really hard, not only at raising your kids, but also just being a person and doing all the other stuff that you think about. So thank you for spending time with us- always know that you can submit questions if you want us to answer them. We'll get to them most of the time, not today, and just even if there's a topic on your heart that you're like, oh, because you guys talk about this, this would really be interesting to listen to you. We would love to cover that. And you can check the show notes for all the different ways to connect with us. Yeah. Thanks so much for being here. You're an amazing mom or parent caretaker child lover.



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