Being a mum is wonderful much of the time. You’ve probably also had your fair share of those days when you want to throw in the towel and run screaming to the nearerst child-free beach for a permanent holiday.
There can be many causes to mummy meltdown. I usually find myself on the brink when alone with my toddler and it’s at these times when I need to remember not to take out my frustration on the innocent, impressionable soul who needs me to be her safe place.
In those moments when your usual calm and good cheer threaten to walk out the door and you are at risk of losing not only your temper but your sanity too, these quick strategies have helped me in the past and may help you too.
It may be worth taking the time now to comit these to memory in advance of any possible mummy meltdown so you can quickly regain your grip and avoid saying or doing something you might later regret.
If you are about to lose it…
- Call a friend, call your mum, call your neighbour, anyone who you are able to be yourself with and who you trust to be strong enough to help you regain perspective and remind you that you really are doing a good job and it will get better.
- Walk straight outside (making sure your child is somewhere safe first) and take a deep breath. Breathe out fully and as you do try and get a sense of your anger/hurt/frustration (fill in the blank) leaving your body. Breathe in the word calm and a soothing colour, purple or soft pink works for me. Breathe and repeat until you feel calmer. It can help to ‘put your roots down’ too. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and feel the connection to the earth extending below you so that you feel more solid and grounded with each breath.
- Throw your own tantrum to release physical tension. There’s a reason it works for toddlers, it’s the body’s natural way to discharge overwhelming emotional energy. Do this away from sight and preferably ear shot of your child, (adding to their distress won’t help you ease theirs). Move your body to dissipate pent up aggression, jump up and down, clench and unclench your fists, your jaw, clap or vigorously shake your hands to ‘throw away’ that excess energy. If you have the luxury of being away from everyone else then try a primal scream (I have been known to do this on the M25 on occasion) 😉
- Drink a glass of very cold water. Eating or drinking can change your emotional state. Sometimes the slight shock of cold water reaching the stomach is enough to help me come back to myself.
- Take 5 Flower Essence, more commonly known as rescue remedy. This is a blend of 5 Bach flowers and can soothe very quickly.
- Remember you are not alone even if it feels like it, and this too shall pass
To help reduce the likelihood of future mummy meltdowns
- Watch for feelings of resentment creeping in. Resentment can build up and if not resolved, easily lead to sudden outbursts of anger. Feelings of slight irritation or a sense of things not being fair can be your first indicator that something needs to change. Look to find the root cause of resentment and address it. You may need to ask for more help or relax your expectations a little, sometimes a small change is enough to stave off emotional overload.
- Reassess your priorities so that you are not placing unnecessary demands on yourself. Remember, what you are capable of may change moment to moment depending on how much sleep you’ve had and whether you are well or sick. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself the freedom of not having to ‘achieve’ all of the time.
- Watch your blood sugar levels, stay hydrated and remember to eat. Many a meltdown is the result of an unexpected sugar crash.
- If you are suffering the effects of sleep deprivation you may also want to read this post.
- Build a network of like-minds and be sure to stay in touch. Having the support of a circle of other mums is great. You may also find some of your other child-free friends provide valuable perspective and reason when you need it the most.
- Stay in touch with your passions. Make some time each day to get inspired and focus on your own wellbeing and interests. As your baby gets older you can begin to carve out more time but 15 minutes a day is manageable for most of us.
- Learn to accept what is. Many mums I speak to find it hard, understandably, to adjust to the demands having a child brings. The everyday freedoms you used to enjoy are gone. Your social life is probably unrecognisable. Your personal space is no longer yours. Resisting this change can cause a great deal of frustration and heartache. Longing for your life as it was can only bring disappointment and resentment. By truly accepting life as it is now you are freed to welcome the new possibilities and magic that only being a mum can bring.