A mum I once met (after I had given a talk) told me that her daughter, A, (then 5, now 17) had made her a Mother's Day gift and presented it to her after a long day at work. When she saw the gift, she couldn't recognize what it was, and bothered by her own stress, said to A, "What kind of gift is this? So ugly!" A started crying and ran away. When relating this story, this mum told me that ever since that day, she had never received a single present from A. She only realised then, that incident could be what triggered the strained relationship they now have, when I shared about how our response to our kids can either be very encouraging or dismissive.
I felt really bad for her, so I asked, 'What do you think you can do now that you know this?' She mentioned she would take baby steps to repair the relationship. Then she left.
Sometimes as mums we can get overwhelmed with our own stressors. We play many roles and have to juggle so many things. Inadvertently we don't realise that the things we say, or the response we give to our children can affect them negatively.
Tips to manage your stress:
1. After a long day, instead of rushing into all the many tasks you have to complete, take 5-10 mins to wash your face, or enjoy a drink, or simply to re-orientate yourself that you are home. This time goes a long way to you being able to respond to your child so you don't have to regret your words/actions.
2. Express your emotions to your child. This helps them to understand how you are feeling e.g. "Mummy is really tired today. I'm just going to take 5 mins to wash my face and come back to you." Even if they are very young, they somehow can understand. It also role models for them to express how they feel to you.
3. Respond actively and constructively to their excitement/joy. This means being curious and genuinely interested in what they have to say. You could ask questions, high-five them or simply join in their excitement.