sangfroid, noun: the ability to stay calm in difficult or dangerous situations. Also: self-possession or imperturbability especially under strain.
Remember that from your SAT vocab days?? Oh sweet memories. I thought about this word the other day because being a new mom of two under three requires A LOT of sangfroid. Like when you think your toddler is choking, but he’s really just faking you out (true story). Or, when he fails to reach a developmental milestone, which he probably should have mastered by now (also a true story). Even if you’re not a parent, I think there a ton of situations in which you can practice to become better at sangfroid. We are beyond blessed as a family to never had to deal with something truly traumatic or excruciating. However (and not to be too much of a debby downer, but you know where I’m going here…), I know that someday I’m going to be thinking about how glad I was that I practiced sangfroid, because it will prepare me a tad bit better for that gloomy day….Are you pumped yet? 😉
Even if you’re not preparing for doom and gloom, I’m still sharing my best sangfroid tips because I hope you may be able to use them on a daily basis. Here they go:
- Get really good at task switching. A few weeks ago, I woke up at 2:30 am to nurse the (crying) baby. I then got ready, went to the airport, pumped breastmilk in the restroom at RDU, ate breakfast, jumped on a plane, landed, pumped again at the Chicago Midway nursing room, jumped on the metro, arrived at our SAS office in Chicago at 8:45 am, and presented to a packed room of people at 9:00 am. I jumped back on a plane at 3:50 pm, came back from the airport, walked into our house, took off my heels and nursed our baby to sleep in my work attire at 7:20 pm. Crazy days like that make me feel empowered and lucky to have a mini village (daycare teachers and daddy) to watch the kids while I’m gone. They also make me realize how important it is to be able to switch gears in your head effectively. They prepare you for chaos, even if there is none in sight yet. No one does task switching better on a daily basis than Anil. He’s a startup CEO and a fantastic dad at the same time. It’s my secret goal to be as good as him, one day.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Here’s the funny thing: I have to admit that I’m not always prepared, so I won’t preach too much here. But, on the days that I am, things definitely run smoother and I feel so much less stressed. One of the biggest things I do with having two small kids is making sure that I always have water and snacks nearby for everyone. Dilan and I get HANGRY and can’t think straight when our blood sugar levels runs low. Always having something to nibble on makes a big difference in tantrums and everyone’s stress levels. So does carrying the right size diapers and wipes that aren’t dried out ::darts eyes::
- Be mindful. When I’m at work or home and things start to get tense, I try to stop myself and think about what the other person must be thinking. Could they possibly be having bad day? Sure, they get snappy at you, but what’s the real reason behind this? You can’t go and over-analyze this in every situation (because you simply won’t have time), but it often does help to think about how everyone is fighting a tough battle and everyone has rough days. A little kindness never hurts and could just make the situation a little better. Unless, you’re dealing with a jerk. Stay away from jerks.
- Get personal – down at “eye level”. I’ve been practicing this with Dilan a lot. Whenever I can’t catch his attention (which happens a lot since he is two, after all), I get down at his level and tell him to look me in the eye. I then ask my question or ask him to calm down and this works way better than when I’m simply
yellingtalking down to him. Great way to interact with kids, not lose your cool, and prevent things from blowing out of proportion.
Now I know I have some seriously
hippie yogi talented friends out there. What are some practical things you guys do to keep your sangfroid?