Mum meltdowns are the absolute worst. When they’ve happened to me, I’ve felt guilty and ashamed of myself for not being able to stay calm. As the parent, it is my job to model the kind of behaviour that I want my kids to learn so that they can grow up and have a decent grip on their emotions and reactions. But a meltdown still happens from time to time.
The truth is, sometimes mums lose their shit. But make no mistake, I’m a damn good mum and so are all the other mums who rage in silence when their stress gets bigger than they are.
I once slammed a salad plate down on the dining room table harder than I meant to and it shattered into a thousand pieces. Another time, I screamed while using a blender that was only slightly louder than me in order to get my rage out. I’ve punched the laundry when no one was looking, cursed under my breath when no one could hear me, and I’ve unloaded on my husband moments after the poor man walked through the door at the end of a day.
During these mum meltdowns, I was enraged. Over what? I can’t even say now. But as I march ever forward on my journey through motherhood, I can tell you with no uncertainty that there are times when the expectations and demands of parenting are enough to push one beyond a reasonable amount of shit that anyone could possibly handle with a straight face and a kind voice.
Meltdown Management, Step by Step
The first step in dealing with a mum tantrum is to understand that when they happen, they happen. For the longest time, I felt like a failure as a parent until I started talking to other mums – those totally put-together mums – and I was astounded to find that they too struggle with feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by their kids, their spouses, and partners, or just the avalanche of boring ass chores that are required for everyone to just live.
The next step is to create boundaries for your rage. I know, that sounds kind of bizarre, but I swear it helps. If you give your emotions space to work themselves out in a safe way that won’t harm you or your family then go to town and launch those eff bombs.
For me, when I get angry, I know that I have to stop what I am doing and march my butt outside to take a deep breath of fresh air. My boundary is to not lose my shit in front of my children. I can do that in private, but when they are an audience to my growing rage, I say things, “Guys, mum needs a timeout for five minutes to change my attitude.” They don’t need to see me slam a cupboard door and scream about how much I hate cooking dinner for five people who will complain about it.
I have mantras, like canned responses, at the ready for the different shades of frustration that percolate to the surface during the day. I tell myself things like they’re just kids and the dishes can wait.
Call a Friend
When these steps feel like they may not work in a particularly heated moment, call a friend. I have a few mum friends on speed dial and when I am feeling claustrophobic by the amount of work I have in front of me or the amount of stress my kids are throwing at me, I call one of these women up and just indulge in adult conversation. Yes, even with little kids interrupting me. Something about dragging another perspective into my disaster of a day can help me pull my head out of a meltdown.
Parenting is truly the hardest job on the planet. It never ends, it’s exhausting and expensive and slathered in worry. So, of course, parents are going to occasionally flip out. Knowing that this is totally ok to do and having a plan for how to deal with it makes a world of difference.