Experienced moms have many sharply-honed skills — stretching a dollar; whipping up a meal out of random ingredients like leftover spaghetti, a few eggs, and a couple of soy sauce packets; discerning between actual sickness and math-test-itis. You know what else they’re fantastic at? Tuning things out.
A veteran mom is the one you’ll see calmly sipping coffee as Nerf bullets whiz past her head close enough to ruffle her ‘do. You’ll find her standing at the stove, cooking up some mac and cheese as children (and possibly pets) orbit around her feet, yet her concentration is still so steady that she doesn’t even have to dig the box out of the trash to re-read the directions.
We adore our kids more than anything, but we also value our peace. And anybody with children knows that they are typically the antithesis of tranquility (bless their needy, whiny, dare-devilish little hearts). So for the sake of their own mental well-being, mothers master the fine art of closing their ears to the near-constant racket: a skillful combination of ignoring and still being present.
If you’re a novice mom or know one — or maybe just find yourself unable to keep calm amidst the chaos — this guide is for you. It will help you master the fine art of tuning out the everyday pandemonium and keeping your nerves intact, even if you’re down to your last one.
Shut that shit down.
Pestering is typically accompanied by whining, both of which are the enemy of a mom’s sense of calm. When your kid won’t stop harping on something, give a clear answer, then tell them you’re done talking about it. They’ll ask again — probably louder and whinier at first — but when you respond with either 1) silence, or 2) “I’m done talking about it,” they’ll realize that bugging you relentlessly is not going to get them anything, and they’ll stop. Or at least, they will go bug someone else. This technique will take a while to be fully effective, but eventually they’ll pester you a little less.
Weed out the legit needs.
One skill that the majority of moms possess is the ability to distinguish between their kids’ noises, so put that to good use. When you can recognize an “I’m hurt” cry from a “this Lego won’t snap together” or “I’m pissed off at my sister” wail, you can confidently ignore the less important stuff, because kids work things out fairly well by themselves if you don’t rush to intervene — at least most of the time.
The more they can do on their own, the less kids need to ask for — which means Mom gets at least a few less requests for help. There’s a bit of a catch to this one, though, because sometimes you’ve got to…
Relax your standards a notch (or three).
Self-sufficiency is fabulous, but it may come at a cost. Your kid might be able to fix his own lunch, but it’ll be, like, a pudding cup and a fistful of raisins or a bowl of cereal. On the plus side, they won’t be ravenous; on the downside, it might not be the nutritionally complete meal you would (probably) prepare. But hey! They’re proud of themselves, and that’s one less thing that needs your attention, so it’s great once in a while. You can work on teaching them to make healthier choices. Baby steps!
Set quiet hours.
If your kids are old enough to understand the concept of “quiet time,” then you can take advantage of it. Designate an hour (or even just 30 precious minutes) where all devices are either off or at a very low volume, and everyone does their own (blessedly silent) thing. Give them a heads up a few minutes beforehand, then set a timer. Once the time is over, they can go back to being loud and obnoxious.
Turn off the extras.
At any given moment in a typical house (okay, mine at least), there’s noise from a TV no one is really watching…and a too-loud video game…and a blaring YouTube gaming tutorial or unboxing video (WTF is up with those, anyway?). Switching off the stuff nobody’s using takes the noise level down a smidgen, making it easier to concentrate, and less necessary to yell over the madness.
Get yourself some noise-canceling headphones.
Seriously, the next time someone asks you what you want for your birthday, put these puppies on your wish list. Let your kids know that when you’ve got them on, you can’t hear — so they’ll have to actually approach you if they need you, as opposed to just bellowing from another room. Wear them for a little while and revel in a few moments of complete soundlessness. Whoosah.
Less noise, less noise to ignore. If you speak to your kids in a low tone, they’ll have to shut up in order to hear you.
Watch your mood.
This is a big one. The more edgy and pissed off you are, the more likely any little noise is to push you into total shit-losing territory. Some days, even normal kid ruckus can be super-grating, and it’s harder to keep your cool. On those days, recognize that you’re touchier than usual and try to be a little more forgiving (you know, an “it’s not you, it’s me” mentality). Take care of yourself because the more content you are, the more tolerant you’ll be of the annoyances that come your way — which they will, because kids.
Your kids might be your favorite people on earth, but there’s no shame in wishing they’d STFU once in a while. Too much togetherness can wear on a person, no matter how much you love them. So on the days when it feels like you’re burdened by bedlam and within spitting distance of your wit’s end, refer to these tips and commence to chill right on through the chaos.