We’ve been in a busy and stressful phase for the last few weeks here. Little Man has been potty training, and Little Lady is completely in the “I’ll put everything in my mouth” stage, so she needs to be watched pretty much all the time. Plus, she has just recently decided that 2:30 a.m. is Baby Party Time, and she doesn’t party quietly. Those things, added to the normal everyday life of work and family commitments, take their toll after a while.

I’ve found that the more tired and stressed I get, the easier it is for me to overreact to little things and get frustrated. And when I’m stressed and frustrated, I’m not the greatest person to be around. I get impatient, snap at Big Man, and I’m not very gracious about little annoyances that I should just ignore or let go. I’ve been trying to figure out how to be a better wife and mom even during the stressful times.

The first thing I know is that I have to continue making my quiet time with God a priority. I let that slip for a couple days, and I can tell a big difference (and not a good one) in my thoughts and behavior. So as much as it feels counter-intuitive sometimes when I have a zillion things to do, I need to make sure quiet time goes to the top of that list because without that, everything else suffers.

Secondly, I’ve been finding that the quickest way for me to get over being frustrated and acting badly toward my family is to purposely be extra-nice and courteous. On a day when Little Man has had lots of accidents and I’m sick of doing extra cleaning and laundry, I get frustrated with him. If I let that frustration take its course and become impatient or angry with Little Man, it doesn’t help at all. The only result is that I feel guilty. So instead, I’ve been trying to purposely be extra kind to him. Give him a back rub while he snuggles with me, read him a couple extra books, play Fruit Ninja with him on the iPad, or give him airplane rides on my feet even if my legs are already tired. And the result is that I not only feel good about making the right choice, I also find that my frustration goes away much more quickly.

I’ve been trying to do the same with Big Man as well. Too often, I let myself take out my stress and frustration on him, and I don’t want to be that kind of wife. So if I’m feeling annoyed or angry, I try to be extra courteous. Just little things, like getting him a drink, giving him a quick shoulder rub, or telling him that he is a great dad and husband. Purposely choosing to do courteous and loving things when I don’t feel like it really goes a long way toward keeping the peace, and it also calms me down quickly. It’s hard to keep feeling frustrated with someone when you are going out of your way to be generous and kind to him.

I’m not trying to be fake, or sweep things under the rug. If there is a serious discipline issue with Little Man, or a legitimate disagreement with Big Man, then those things have to be dealt with. But those are rare compared with the little things I overreact to when I’m stressed. In most cases, I’m just getting upset about silly stuff, and the conscious decision to be generous and kind instead of grumpy really helps. There are definitely still days when I blow it and let my emotions take over, but hopefully I’ll get better as I continue to be purposely courteous, especially when I don’t feel like it.

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