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When Mama Loses Her Cool: Practical Tips for Tough Moments

abykm91 January 26, 2013

There is no need to feel guilty if you get overwhelmed. Motherhood is a very stressful, demanding job! Here are some tips to help with tough moments.

By Joanna Rodriguez, Contributing Writer

A new year is here. You’ve created goals and started working towards them. You’ve been organizing your homes, fine-tuning your schedules, and planning healthy meals. You want everything to run smoothly in your life so peace can reign instead if chaos.

We All Lose Our Cool Sometimes

But you are human, and so is your family. And things rarely go just the way we want them to, especially as mothers. We get frustrated with the mess in the house. Annoyed with our children for constantly needing our attention. We are often sleep deprived, our bodies are drained from pregnancy and breastfeeding, and we never have enough time in the day.

Sometimes, when our circumstances mingle with our fluctuating emotions, we lose it. You know the feeling. You begin to come unhinged: pulse racing, room swirling. Maybe you feel like you need to scream or run or punch and you’re pretty sure there’s not enough air in the room for all of you.

First I want to tell you this: these feelings are normal. There is no need to feel guilty that you get overwhelmed sometimes. Motherhood is a very stressful, demanding job! It is also more rewarding and fulfilling than anything else you could possibly do, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Note: If you feel like your emotions are completely out of control and it is becoming a problem in your relationships or keeping you from fulfilling your roles as a mother, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Also, begin to seek healing by following the long-term tips later in this post.

7 Cooling Off  Tips For Stressful Mom Moments

1. Step Away

Make sure your kids are safe and then remove yourself from the situation. I’ve often retreated to the furthest corner of my kitchen (which is not very far in my small house, but it’s as far as I can go on our lower level) or to my bed upstairs. Sometimes I need to cry or clench my fists for a few seconds before I can start to calm down.

2. Get Some Fresh Air

If you can, step outside for a minute or go for a walk. If you need someone to be with the kids, do not hesitate to call a friend or family member.

3. Breathe Deeply

Yogic breathing is very helpful and can be done wherever you are. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hollowing your throat, allowing your chest, ribcage, and abdomen to expand. Then let the air slowly out through the nose, hearing the air make a “haaaaa” sound in your hollow throat. Repeat several times, until you have calmed down enough to think straight.

4. Pray

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

In the heat of the moment, ask God for peace. And then ask him for strength and wisdom to get through whatever is overwhelming you. If you don’t know what to pray, open up the Psalms and pray one back to God. Call a friend or your mom and ask them to pray for you.

5. Use Calming Herbs

Open up your lavender oil and take a deep breath. Dilute some in a carrier oil such as almond oil and massage it onto your temples or chest. Make yourself (or ask your husband to make you) a cup of chamomile tea. Or spray some Bach Rescue Remedy Spray on your tongue; it’s made from flower essences and has major calming properties.

6. Apologize

This isn’t really a way to help you cool off, but it does provide necessary closure after a tough situation. If you yelled at your child or your spouse in your frustration, apologize. Even if you felt like your actions were out of your control, it is still good for them to hear that you know it wasn’t right of you to act the way you did. This can also be a good teaching moment: talk about emotions with your children and explain what they can do when they feel frustrated or angry.

7. Reflect on the Situation

If my husband is around when I lose it, after I’ve calmed down a bit I talk to him about what set me off. We determine what we need to do to make the day better right now. Do I need to leave for a little while? Can he help by doing the dishes that were overwhelming me? Does he need to take the kids to the library so I can have some quiet time to cook dinner? If he is not home I do my best to face one thing at a time, and if I’m struggling I call my mom or a good friend.

If you are having “lose your cool” episodes frequently, try to determine the underlying cause. Try the following tips to improve your emotional health.

Image by mrgreen09

Long-Term Preventative Solutions

1. Find Support

Make sure your husband understands your needs and supports you. If you are carrying too heavy of a burden, see if he can help with some of your duties or if you can cut something from your family’s schedule.

Also, think about which friends you can call when you are stressed and need help. Do you need someone to watch your kids once a week so you can go to a coffee shop and read a book? Do you need to schedule a weekly play date so you can talk to another mom about your parenting challenges?

If you are involved at a church, do not hesitate to express to an elder or pastor that you need help. If you are in an especially difficult season, see if you can have some meals set up or if there is anyone who would be willing to help you clean or take care of your kids. You don’t have to do this alone.

2. Take Time for Yourself

Is there something that you love doing but you haven’t had time to do it since having children? Are you an artist? A dancer? A writer? A volleyball player? It may seem like too much work to find time to do those things that you love. I’m telling you right now that it’s worth it. Find a couple hours a week to spend doing something that you love. You will come home refreshed and delighted to see your family again.

3. Get Outside Regularly

When I don’t get outside all day, I tend to get short-tempered and more easily frustrated. Something about the freedom of the great outdoors, even for a few minutes a day, brings things into perspective and helps prevent meltdowns. And of course, giving your kids a little while to run free each day – even in the winter – is good medicine for their bodies and souls.

4. Balance Your Hormones

There are whole books written about this, so I will not attempt to write one here. Unbalanced hormones can mess up all sorts of things, including your emotions. Here are some resources: Top 5 Tips for Balancing Hormones, The Truth About Recovering From Pregnancy, 9 Tips to Help Balance Hormones. And if you are pregnant or hoping to be pregnant soon, you may want to consider placenta encapsulation to balance those postpartum hormones. There. I said it.

5. Nourish Your Body

Good food does wonders. Take seriously the task of nourishing your body. Could your mood swings be a result of too much caffeine or sugar? Or blood sugar fluctuations from skipping meals? Eat well, eat often. Get enough protein. And enough fat. Get enough healthy carbohydrates.

6. Prioritize Sleep

The roughest time I’ve ever had emotionally was the few months that my infant daughter was waking frequently at night and not napping during the day. I didn’t have the strength to complete normal tasks like doing the dishes or folding laundry. I felt helpless. Once we got her sleep under control (that’s another topic, for another day!), my world was so much better. Lack of sleep makes everything seem exponentially more difficult. If you are in the throes of the sleep-deprived phase of parenting young children, do what you can to get more sleep. Find a solution that works for your family. Take naps. Rest on the couch while the kids play. Go to bed early whenever you can.

7. Remember that you belong to God

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

If you feel like you are failing as a mother, remember that in Christ you are a new creation! Your sin, your failures, your shortfalls do not rule your life anymore. The old you is dead as a doornail, and you can live each day as a child of God. You are still human, you are still going to fail sometimes, but live into your new identity in Christ and make this your daily prayer:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” Psalm 43:5

What do you do when you lose your cool? Do you have any tips for long term emotional health?

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4 Comments

  1. I just recovered from 6 months of extreme pain. The biggest battle was in the mind and not losing it. What kept me emotionally healthy is to constantly renew my mind with God’s Truth…I can do ALL things through Christ who strenthens me and ALL things work together to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Then believe them! These verses pulled me through and kept my hope alive.

    Reply

  2. Such great thoughts! Thank you for sharing. You’re right – there is a whole lot that goes into the mix. I think most often it just gets lumped into the “I’m overwhelmed therefore I’m losing it” category, but there might be many underlying causes. I love how you look at it holistically and list out several potential remedies. Thank you!

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  3. Thank you so much for just bringing up the topic… then extra kudos for providing needed solutions. We all face this at some time or another and it needs to be discussed, especially with new moms. I felt guilty for a long time until a few friends were honest enough to say that they experience the same thing. I go to a quiet place, pray to God and then go and ask for forgiveness from my children. God is always faithful and will make up for my shortcomings. Thanks again!

    Reply

  4. […] a mama is the toughest job I’ve ever -or will ever- have. I have bad days. Days when I yell; I lose my cool; I mess […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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