I was recently inspired by Cuddle Fairy to take part in the #NoComplaints challenge – trying to go a whole day without complaints, criticism or negative thinking. Whilst I try to be quite a positive person, I know that I can also get quickly sucked into a spiral of negativity (especially when tired) and this sounded like a good challenge to try.
Tuesday was the day set for the challenge and from the moment the girls woke me up in the morning, I was determined to be positive and upbeat. Normally, I’m quite grumpy in the morning until I’ve had coffee but having already decided not to grumble made it a lot easier to get up and get on with the day. The beautiful sunrise outside the window also helped to keep me cheerful.
Mornings are often a little challenging with the stress of trying to get everyone dressed, fed and out of the door in time for Jessica to go to preschool. Knowing that I needed to stay positive made me pre-empt the stressful moments and consequently I was much more organised and prepared than usual. It was still a mad rush at the end but without the stress which made a big difference!
Mid-morning saw the first hiccup – catching myself mid-grumble about the traffic when heading out to the shops. I’d been making a conscious effort to be positive but I’d slipped into auto-pilot for a few minutes whilst in the car. It made me realise just how automatic some of those grumbles really are!
Throughout the day, I found myself becoming much more aware of my triggers – the things that start that spiral of negativity. Those moments when the girls are whining, or being demanding, or fighting with each other – the normal, everyday challenges of parenting. And as with the morning, I found myself thinking ahead, trying to nip things in the bud before they got to the stage of triggering that negative spiral. It meant that I was responding more quickly to the girls’ needs, was more consciously aware of them and was less distracted by other things. It wasn’t too surprising that the girls also seemed happier as a result.
The evening was by far the most challenging time of the day. From dinnertime to bedtime is often tough – the girls are tired and grumpy, I’m tired and grumpy and it’s not a good combination! It became a little harder to try and tread the line between encouraging them to help tidy up/get ready for bed/settle down to sleep without being negative or critical. I managed to mostly keep smiling although I confess it was somewhat forced at times!
Whilst I did find it quite difficult at times to stay positive, doing so made a big difference to my stress levels and the children were so much happier for it too. I was more organised, more aware of things happening around me, more attentive with regards to the children’s needs and the day went a little more smoothly as a result.
The #NoComplaints challenge made me realise though just how automatic those grumbles are; how easily they slip out if I’m not consciously trying to hold them back. It’s made me more aware of my thought processes and the things I say. I did find it took a lot of effort at times to stay positive and whilst it’s not something I could manage to do every day, I think it is something that would be well worth doing on a regular basis. I have a feeling that if I try it more often, those automatic grumbles will become less and less automatic and the positive thoughts will come a little more easily.