Every mom gets pushed to the edge sometimes. I know I do! It starts small and then builds little by little until all of a sudden I find myself on the edge and falling fast. In a split second, something flies out of my mouth in a tone that is far from patient and loving. I feel the heat of my frustration all over. A few seconds later, I feel the desire to shrink and hide from the shame. I am an overwhelmed mom.
How could I have said that? I think. What will that do to my kids’ tender hearts? As regret overtakes me, I rapidly think of all the woulda, coulda, shouldas of that moment. I know I am not alone. Most moms find themselves in this place at some point.
When you reach the edge, here are a few quick tips to help decrease your frustration and keep you free of the regrets of an overwhelmed mom.
1. Take a mommy timeout.
Why should kids be the only ones to sit and have a moment when their emotions are out of control? Moms need to take one sometimes too! When I take a mommy time out, I usually hide in the bathroom in silence and breathe. It helps to get away from the craziness and get recentered to handle the incident like an adult. These 9 killer mommy breaks can help.
2. Ask: Is what I’m about to say or do going to help?
Asking this question helps you take a step back and think through what you are actually doing. When we get caught up in the moment, we often act on our emotion and lose some of our analytical mindset. Pausing and answering this question helps you slow down and be more intentional.
3. Is this really that big of a deal?
Everyone knows that part of parenting is picking your battles. If you don’t, you might find yourself fighting most of the day! Assessing if this is a battle worth picking can help you not fall off the edge.
4. Ask: Will I need to apologize for this later?
Ouch, this one stings! As much as I value the opportunity to model a genuine apology to my kids, I hate that I’ve done something I need to apologize for. Having the forethought before a comment slips out of my mouth can avoid those moments. Slowing down and being more aware makes this possible.
Motherhood is not easy and I am continually reminded that I can’t do it alone. As much as I white knuckle it, I don’t have the strength. Relying on God for help and wisdom keeps me calm and composed as I feel the edge coming on. Try these 10 mom prayers to add some strength, wisdom, and self-control to your day.
6. Talk very quietly.
This is one of my FAVORITE de-escalation techniques. Usually when you feel the anger coming on, you get louder. But when you intentionally talk with the tone of a whisper, you start to feel calmer. Plus, if the kids are being loud and can’t hear you, they tend to quiet down to hear what you have to say when they see your lips moving.
7. Get your body cool.
Anger is a hot emotion. When you intentionally get your body cold, it starts to counterbalance the heat from your anger. Grab an ice cube and let is melt in your hands over the sink while you breathe. This will start to calm you down quickly.
8. Practice regular self-care.
Often, we get so close to the edge because we are not doing a good job at prevention. A way to keep you far from the edge is taking care of yourself. Pause your crazy life to relax and enjoy, exercise—even if it is for 10 minutes a day. Also consider these tips in how to handle Tired Mom Syndrome.
Pause your crazy life to relax and enjoy, exercise—even if it is for 10 minutes a day.
Be encouraged, fellow mommies, we all get here. But what makes you a better mom is that you admit it, learn from it, and work towards change so it doesn’t become an unhealthy cycle in your family. Anyone else have some go-to tips to calm down when you are close to losing it?
Teri Claassen is a Jesus follower, wife to Dan, mommy to one boy and one girl, a foster mom to kids in need, and a therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling in Tampa, FL.