There is a term in our home that when spoken, everyone knows what it means and how to proceed. That term is “survival mode”. When Mike and I first became parents, and started to experience what true stress was like, my wise mother would say “you need to go into survival mode.”
Survival mode is when you are going through a particularly stressful time, and you have to dump any extra things in your life that isn’t 100% necessary. For example, when our twins were three weeks old and having chronic diarrhea from a fructose intolerance, we survived that sleep deprivation and stress by cutting back on whatever we could. Laundry would get washed, but only make it as far as the laundry basket, never put away. Meals were quick and easy, often being take-out. Our friends and family found that we had suddenly disappeared. Many of us parents tend to strive for this perfection that we naively think is going on behind the closed door of every other household where children reside. Truth: that is not the case.
Sure, we all have weeks when we think, “damn, I am killing it as a parent.” But beware, as soon as those thoughts flood your well-meaning OCD head, your child will wake up vomiting and you will find yourself under strict quarentine with strategically placed “puke bowls” scattered around your home in hopes that your little one might actually learn to aim this time.Your family has to define what “survival mode” means for you, and when it is required. We have had “survival mode” last anywhere from a day to months. Six years in, we know that there will always be moments of crisis or extreme stress. It is part of the package.
My husband and I are seasoned enough now to know that these stressful moment of illness, family crisis, behavioural problems, work deadlines and so on… will always come. But the key is to know when the storm has calmed and it is time to re-enter life and enjoy the moments in between.
Let your family master the art of “survival mode”. Give yourself permission to be like every other family out there. Let things slide and focus on managing the stress level in your home.
Parenthood is suddenly going to look a lot less scary.