Let me share a moment I personally had not too long ago...I was in the playroom, baby in my arms; I was bouncing, singing, patting, trying the side-lying position, swaying, dancing, cuddling and comforting them near my cheek, going over the checklist in my head, "have they been fed recently, is their diaper clean, are they tired, are they in uncomfortable?" All their needs had been met to the best of my knowledge; it was not their nap time (they woke up from a good nap 30 minutes prior) yet they were still screaming at the top of their lungs.
"Whyyyyyyyyy?" I ask myself in a very unpleasant tone. I feel my body getting hotter and the voice in my head is getting more and more frustrated. Then my thoughts shift, "how can I be so upset and frustrated with this adorable, wonderfully amazing, tiny human?" And then I start to feel sad, and angrier with myself, that I have these feelings about someone who is innocent and helpless.
And the worst part is? I am all alone in this moment, with a screaming baby, and no one around to comfort me (as selfish as that may sound). What did I do? After a moment of sitting on the hard floor, joining in on the crying, and feeling sorry for myself, I remembered this will pass. It is just a moment, not forever, and I am doing the best I can.
Listening to your child's crying can be very frustrating, especially when you feel like you have tried everything you can think of to calm and sooth them. All babies cry, especially while going through the Period of PURPLE Crying. If you are unfamiliar with The Purple Crying Period, I encourage you to educate yourself. A great article on this topic can be found here. Even after this newborn PURPLE crying period, there will be times where your baby has big emotions. So big they seem irrational, excessive, possibly manipulative, and downright ridiculous.
When your baby is crying excessively, yet "all of their needs have been met", you can't help but to feel a bit frustrated. I want you to know, you are not alone. It is completely normal to feel like you’re going to lose control of your emotions right along with your child. It is ok to feel upset, frustrated, mad, or sad during bouts of intense crying. It is also important to acknowledge these feelings, and deal with your anger and frustration in a healthy way.
When you are caring for your baby, and you begin to feel frustrated or angry, it is time to take a break. A break can look like taking your child outside of the house, so you both can get some fresh air and a have a change of scenery. Never mind what others will think about your baby crying. I can assure you; you are more concerned about the crying than they are. You may also need to just get away from the crying for a decompress. This does not mean you are a bad parent. It means you are NORMAL! Taking a break away from the crying means you are caring for yourself, which helps you care for your baby. Ask your spouse, partner, a relative, friend, or hired professional if they could help you with your baby for a while. If these options are not available to you, set your baby in a safe place and walk away to calm yourself down. It is important to take some time to calm yourself, before returning to care for your baby. You may be surprised how having a moment of quiet, even for just a minute or two, can greatly improve your ability to relax and think more clearly about how to help your baby. To help yourself even more during these challenging times, I have a list of tips below written by Marilyn Barr, Founder/Former Executive Director for the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. These are great suggestions for things you can do during intense moments to feel calmer.
Things you can do to help you relax and eliminate your frustration:
· Listen to music. Even just one song. Use headphones or play the volume loudly so you can no longer hear the crying.
· Take a warm bath. Close the door, indulge in bubbles, and play soft music.
· Watch TV. Watch an episode of your favorite show.
· Exercise. Turn on a workout video. Exercise hard. Every few minutes, walk into your crying baby’s room and announce that you are sorry, but you are in an exercise class right now and you will come back when you are finished. Even better, ask your spouse or relative to stay with the baby while you walk around the block. In the evening, this can be very therapeutic.
· Take a nap. This can be hard when there is a baby crying, but if you can ask a neighbor to go to their house while they come and watch your baby for even 20 minutes while you go to their house and have a nap, it can help. Most people are surprised how happy a good neighbor is to offer this relief to a parent.
· Engage in a hobby, craft or activity that you find enjoyable. You may feel guilty doing this with your baby crying, but this can really help. Convince yourself that you are entitled to have some time for yourself, keep saying this over and over to yourself. Every so often go into your crying baby’s room and announce, “I am making something for your room right now, please wait until I am finished."
· Keep a thought journal. Writing your feelings in a journal can help you get things off your chest. This type of journal is not meant to be a personal history but rather an expression of your inner feelings.
· Talk to someone. It helps to share your frustrations with others who will listen. Talk to a trusted friend or family member.
· Don’t try to do too much. Practice time management skills. Decide what needs to be done and prioritize. If it doesn’t get done, don’t sweat the small stuff.
· Organize. Put things in their place. Stress can develop in a cluttered environment. Take a few moments at the end of the day to pick up.
· Volunteer. Service to others can quickly make you forget your own problems.
· Laugh and Laugh Often. Enjoy a comedy, tell a joke, or share good times with family and friends.
· Clarify your values and live by them. Identify your values, goals, and priorities. Evaluate where you are now in relation to them and develop a plan to move to values and goals that are important to you.
Seek Help. Sometimes we need help to deal with stresses that are too overwhelming to handle alone. Remember, it is okay to ask for help.
Child Help is 24/7 toll free number that you can call and talk to a professionally trained counselor and get help on dealing with your infants crying as well as other development topics which you may find frustrating.
CHILD HELP HOTLINE: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
If you would like additional help, tips, or support, please reach out to me.
My name is Keri Robbins and I own Robbins Nest Child Care Services. Robbins Nest was founded to offer quality child care services to families, especially first-time parents, who need a little help. I provide Gentle Sleep Coaching services to help your family obtain more consistent, quality sleep. I also provide infant daycare services so you can return to work knowing your child is being cared for by a qualified professional. A list of all my services can be found here.
It takes a village, let me be part of yours.