The Mommy Meltdown

When you find yourself losing your cool, whatever the reason, don’t forget to breathe.

Cheryl Butler,
May 3, 2008
Episode #063

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Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting.

The Mommy Meltdown. That’s what I’m going to call it. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s that moment where you just … can’t … take it anymore. Your kids woke you up before your alarm went off and they were loud about it. They wanted milk. So, you opened the refrigerator and found an empty milk carton. When it’s time to take the tykes to school, your daughter can’t find her favorite shoes and refuses to wear a different pair. Did I mention that you didn’t get to sleep until after midnight because you desperately wanted to spend some time with your husband? So, here it is, less than eight hours since you fell asleep and you already want to crawl back under the covers. You don’t know who to blame: yourself for not going to bed earlier, your son for trying to flush his Matchbox cars down the toilet, your husband for drinking the last of the milk, or the shoe fairy. You try to shake it off and make the most of the day, but nothing seems to be in your favor. Sometime later that day, you end up in the line at the grocery store where you burst into tears telling the cashier that you forgot your wallet out in the car. You know it’s coming and that just makes it worse when it does. So, when you get to that point of no return, what do you do? How do you cope? How do you get past the moment and get on with your day? Well, I started by paying for my groceries, apologizing to the cashier, and remembering to breathe.

When you find yourself losing your cool, whatever the reason, don’t forget to breathe. If possible, find help. Whether you need someone to watch the kids or just move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, ask for help if it’s available. The kids can’t wait, but the wet clothes can. If you are worried about your children seeing you cry, stop worrying. It’s okay to cry. Kids will understand that you aren’t always super-human. When they ask you what’s wrong, be honest, but avoid blame. “Mommy’s had a difficult day and needs to take a break. She’s doing too much.” You may be surprised when your kids offer to help. If you need to lie down for a bit, see if the kids want to join you for a quiet movie. If your stress has given you a headache, maybe the kids could help hold a cool washcloth against your forehead. You may think that you are angry with the kids and don’t want to spend time with them, but you might find it easier to relax when you know exactly what they are doing. Of course, if they start jumping on the bed, you’ll need to try a different location. If you can lie down or at least sit and relax in your child’s room while he plays nearby, you might be able to get the timeout you need that way.

Another thing your children can do to help you is share their bubbles. If you heard my previous episode about taming temper tantrums, then you know what I’m talking about. Blowing bubbles helps us to breathe deeply and they are fun. Taking a bubble-blowing break may not solve all of your problems, but it could lower your rising blood pressure during a meltdown. If you are dealing with a baby whose fussiness is part of your stress, put on some soft music and try rocking both of you into a relaxed state. Remember, your goal is to relax so that you can move on. If you are continually worried about the amount of time you feel like you are wasting, stop and remember that your health, both physical and mental, is more important than whatever task is on your “to-do” list right now. If you are in a time crunch that absolutely can’t wait, such as the need to pick your child up from school on time, then figure out which task CAN wait. There is always something that can wait.


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