Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mommy Melt-Down Moments

This a long post and hope it ends up being worth reading - thanks to my husband for giving me the extra time on this important subject - love you Matt!

We got a comment on how to reduce the "Mommy Meltdown Moments" or those moments when we become the wicked witch of the house.  Oh, this is both very hard to comment on and also a easy.  The hard part comes from not knowing what it is that sets you off so to make a specific comment isn't easy but there in lies the easy part.  

The first thing you need to do is take a hard look at your day and make a quick list of the when, where, and why.  Our first reply is often - every day, every moment!!  Anything can set us off and often does depending on so much.   Think about it - controlling your anger is a subject that many folks better than me have written huge numbers of books on.  Therapists base their entire practices on anger management.  So, here's some guidelines.  

IF - you find yourself getting angry all the time, over every little detail, offense or interruption then you may need professional help.

IF - your anger results in violence against your kids or spouse please seek professional help.  If you know me at all - and I know I am risking a great deal to put this out there - you know I am not a fan of spanking as a discipline technique.  I am not talking about the occassional swat on the bottom either as a result of losing one's temper or a child's acting up but I am not a fan of daily or weekly spankings.  I am not a fan of spanking as the first and preferred response to any situation.  So, if you find that this is you - again find some help.

BUT - if you are like me (and so many others) and your moments flare up and down depending on how much sleep you got, your child got, when you last ate, how busy the day is, how soon the mother-in-law is making a 'surprise' visit, your husband is late from work, the dog ate a diaper, your stubbed your foot on a toy, etc., etc.  Those are the moments for which I can offer some ideas as I am that Mom.  On most of my days I am 'a good' mom but on any given moment, on any given day I can melt down and become my worst self.  I am an admitted "recovering screamer" and just like a recovering alcoholic (all respect to those) I fight the temptation to resort to screaming almost every day.

How to reduce the moments??
1.  Think about a regular day and when you are most likely to lose it.  Make it a list.  Is it mealtimes?  Just before naptimes?  Just before your husband comes home?  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the times you are most vulnerable.
2.  Think about your kids.  Is there one child more than another who can get you going?  Are they like that all the time or is it new?  
3.  Think about yourself.  How are you feeling when you meltdown?  Very tired, overwhelmed, hungry, all three?  
4.  Take this information and place yourself in a prayerful moment.  Ask again for wisdom and grace to see yourself as God does.  Pretty hard to do.  We want to think that God sees us as perfect (and He does) but that won't come until heaven so be brave enough to see yourself as you are now.
5.  In conversation w/ God first ask for his forgiveness for losing your temper as often as you do.  It is not in His plan that our fatigue or lack of planning results in a meltdown.  It is our action, our responsibility and ours to fix.  Go to confession and take your anger w/ you.
6.  Now, take another look at your list and highlight the when/where that bothers you the most.  For example, I have/had the terrible habit of losing it during the school day.  They aren't learning fast enough, or paying attention, they aren't doing it the way I want them to, etc., etc. and I raise my voice.  SO, I had to come up with a solution - first, I realized certain subjects (math and teaching reading) caused it more than others so I now try to teach those first when I am rested and not sick of teaching for the day :-).  
So, you can target the worst offenders try to come up w/ a solution.  Mealtimes?? Maybe plan easier meals for awhile until the toddler can better stand being away from you.  Plan a video or reading time w/ an older child to keep the little one happy for that time.  
It is getting out the door?  Become a better planner and set out your stuff the night before when the kids are in bed, set out clothes, shoes, everything by the door.  Write yourself a list of what you need and - most importantly - start out the door 10 minutes earlier than you think.  It is better to sit w/ the kids in the car w/out the screaming waiting for the library to open than to scream at them because of a lack of planning.
7.  Tackle one moment at a time and you may find you gain patience for several others.  I have found that on a day when I don't scream I have more patience than I ever imagined I could and on days when I lose it once, I lose it more than once.  It is almost as if screaming once breaks the dam of my emotions and I end up flooding the house and mopping up the mess the rest of the day.  But if I can keep myself under control for one moment when I really, really want to lose it I gain fortitude and self-control that reinforces me for the rest of the day.
8.  Ask your kids to pray for you as you start to gain self-control.  Tell them you are sorry for screaming in the past (and ask for that same forgiveness each and every time you fall) and w/ their prayers and God's grace you'll be better.
9. Ask the Holy Spirit for an extra dose of self-control and the Blessed Mother for the wisdom to use it.  Remember we all have it as a part our confirmation but as with any other gift we can't use it if we haven't opened it.  Make a real act of opening your own self-control each and every morning.  Say it out loud, "Thank you Holy Spirit for the gift of self-control.  Help me to use it well.  Dear Mother, help me to be a mother as you are." 
10. Anticipate the backdraft.  Huh??  Know that once you have set something like anger back in God's hands Satan is not going to be happy.  The Enemy of our souls thrives when we act without love.   And when we work hard on being the saint  he will try to push back - either by temptation to return to paths of destruction.  Isn't it like that - we decide to say a rosary every day and once we decide to we can't seem to find five minutes to go the bathroom!  But, persevere and know that it takes 21 days to build a good habit.  So, keep trying and know that if God wants it - and you know that God wants this - He will make it happen as long as we are willing to let Him.

Hope this helps - if there is a specific situation that I can offer more specific help with let me know!  God BLess and may St. Therese watch over you and all of your little flowers.


1 comment:

Sherrie (RCMama) said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been having a terrible time with my toddler and with my second-grader. In fact, just a short while ago, I was searching websites for help with a horrible toddler. I cannot wait to become a "recovering screamer". I am going to print out this post and find some time to really think and pray about it.