That idiot at work. That jerk of a neighbor. That contractor who has repeatedly lied and misled you. These are realities of life, of course, but as a parent, they are also an extra layer of crap you have to deal with on top of bedtimes and colds and getting the kids off to school and making sure they are fed.
The question we have to answer for ourselves in those moments is: Can we keep the frustrations of the former from affecting our attention to the latter? Especially when the latter becomes the former.
Like when you’re fresh off an obnoxious email from someone who needs to be fired. You just had to pick up more trash that blew over from your neighbor’s yard. The bills from the house project are piling up and up…and now your kid isn’t listening. Now they’re running around like a crazy person yelling. Your teenager won’t pick up after themselves or stop hoarding dirty dishes under their bed.
You have to be able to compartmentalize these frustrations, regardless of their source. It’s not your kids’ fault that work sucks. They have no ability to understand you have it hard. They have no idea that this outburst is just an outburst, it has nothing to do with them, nothing to do with your feelings about them. It’s not fair to let the idiot at work do damage at home too—you have to leave them and their nonsense at the office.
This is why we’ve talked about the danger of multitasking. It brings the outside world into your home, it makes it hard to switch between the loving, patient, present mode of parenting and the hard nosed, take-no-crap attitude of the adult professional.
We can’t let a bad day or a bad person get in the way of being a good parent. And we definitely can’t let them make us a bad parent. We can’t let these outside factors do more damage than they already do. Leave them at the front door. Away from the things and the people you really love.