It had been one of those days.

I had barely made it to the blessed hour before dinner time, that sacred time where I turned on a video for my 3 toddler boys so I could make dinner in peace.

I had nearly lost my mind multiple times through the day, but had managed to keep it together.

So much asking, squabbling, mind-changing, and rule-negotiating-noise had filled the day!

As I set up the video player, I saw their reflections behind me in the big mirror of that room. These big loud personalities were were in tiny little bodies.

“Well, you guys are just a bunch of little kids!” I thought to myself. “Who are you to boss me around and stress me out?” I’ll never forget how seeing them in the mirror for that minute gave me such a fresh perspective on my situation.

Hey! I was in charge here! I wanted to shout!

As parents is we so often want to be nice, stay polite, and stay kind. But that doesn’t mean we get to be pushed around.

Sometimes we have to say no, explain consequences, hold our ground, and let people come unglued all around us if that is what they choose to do.

And that’s hard.

It’s hard to see kids have meltdowns. It’s hard when they react as if you are the evil, torturous parent.

Often, while a child of mine was screaming, I would remind myself of the reason why the kid fell apart. “He’s upset because we are all out of juice” or whatever illogical reason. Remembering the reason helped me have that fresh-perspective again and I could look at the meltdown with compassion or perhaps even bemusement.

That’s one of the biggest challenges we have as parents: to remain calm, hold firm on the consequences, and not get caught up in the kid’s emotional reactions.

We really do well to turn the tables on our kids and put the demands on THEM. Require respect in word and deed. Require obedience for rewards and treats. They don’t get what they want until we get the behavior we want.

It’s easier to have fresh perspective when you are not in it, when it’s not your kid. Then when it’s your turn, you’ve gotta get that game face on again.

I want you to know that this is a big part of why Cafe O’Play is here and why we exist. We know it’s not easy. We know it wears you down. We know it’s constant. We wanted to give you a place where some of your kid’s energy can be released and channelled in the Play Area, so it’s not all at you, the house or a sibling.

We have a ton of fun lined up for this weekend (check it out at www.cafeoplay.com), but I want to highlight one event especially for parents who do it all alone.

Sunday Night from 4pm-7pm, we are co-hosting a special night for single parents with the Single Parents Alliance organization (SPA). SPA is providing vendors for facials, manicures, pedicures and massages as well as some light refreshments. This organization really wants to give single parents a break and the experience is through reservation only. It is $20 per adult coming alone, and $25 for any parent coming with children. (That’s a great deal!) Register: cafeoplayspanight.eventbrite.com

Last Sunday night, my family was leaving an outdoor concert and had to pack up blankets, chairs, and coolers. We were half-way to the car when I realized that all of the kids were helping carry things that were heavy, were walking as a group, and were not complaining or whining.

It was weird. And wonderful!

Parents, hang in there! Your efforts will payoff in the end.