A Mom Sets the Tone


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Do you ever get so fed up with your husband or kids that you feel like you might explode? While sometimes it is hard to admit, a mom really does set the tone for her family. Don't miss these 5 practical tips for resetting your mood when anger strikes!

Though it has been a few years, I can still remember the conversation like it was yesterday.  In one of our marathon phone sessions, I poured out all my frustration to my sister:

Chuck is such a jerk!  I’m so tired of feeling like I can’t do anything right!  And the girls are driving me absolutely crazy!  No sooner do I get one mess cleaned up than they make another one.  Annie still won’t sleep through the night and Maggie refuses to sit on the potty and they both just won’t. stop. whining.  I feel so tired and crabby and angry! I just want to scream!

Although she was 3,000 miles away, her response stopped me dead in my tracks, and she may as well have slapped me across the face.  Six years older, with kids that were now in high school, she had already made it through those exasperating preschool years.  She quietly said, I know how hard it is, but you have to remember that a mom sets the tone for her household.  The mood of your family will ultimately reflect your own.  If you are crabby, they will be too.


We’re all amazing moms in our own right. So hey amazing mom: give yourself a break! If you want to be an amazing mom, chances are, you’re probably already there. Find out a few other things that amazing moms (like you) do with this cheat sheet.

My kids are a little older now, both potty trained and sleeping through the night.  They pick up after themselves, at least some of the time, and I’m not quite as exhausted as I was when they were babies.  While I still struggle with crabbiness far more than I would like to admit, over the years I have discovered a few surefire ways to improve my mood and my attitude when I am feeling on edge.  They might just work for you too:

  • Play a game.  I can honestly tell you that there is nothing I feel like doing less when I am crabby than playing a game with my kids.  Even so, I have discovered that there is nothing that will reset my mood or snap me out of a funk quicker than a rousing game of hide-and-seek.  There is just something so silly about a full-grown adult trying to squeeze into a tight space!  Other games that always seem to get us laughing include Spot It and Go Fish.  (Or check out our other favorite family games here.)
  • Clean something.  I don’t know about you but I get some of the best cleaning done when I am really ticked off!  If you really feel like you might explode, why not channel all that anger into a power Speed Cleaning session, something that will actually make you feel a whole lot better when you are done rather than something that will make you feel a whole lot worse, like yelling at your kids or husband.  If you haven’t already, try creating a cleaning schedule that works for you, or use chore cards to make cleaning a game the whole family can play.
  • Breathe.  I love yoga, if for no other reason than it has taught me the importance of learning how to breathe.  The next time you feel tense, try this exercise:  Close your eyes and take a long deep breath in through your nose, then exhale very slowly through your mouth.  Do this ten more times, or until you have calmed down.  I’ve also discovered that this is a great exercise to teach your kids when they are upset!
  • Take a time-out.  If your kids or husband are truly driving you nuts and you feel like you might snap, do whatever necessary to remove yourself from the situation.  Put your kids in their room for quiet time, take a hot bath or a long shower, or go for a walk around the block.
  • Give yourself grace.  None of us are perfect.  Every mom gets angry sometimes, and we all make mistakes.  Acknowledge your feelings in the moment, tell yourself, “I am angry right now, and that is okay,” then also give yourself permission to let it go and to move on.


A mom sets the tone so controlling your mood is vital.

Originally published at The Better Mom; as part of Grouchy to Great: Finding Joy in the Journey of Motherhood.


  1. Holly
    January 21 at 10:57AM

    I so, so, sooooooo needed to read this today! Thanks Ruth!

    • January 23 at 08:14AM

      ME too! (Nice to know we are not alone on this one!)

    • Alicia
      June 1 at 07:01PM

      Wow! I needed this too today. Thank you

  2. Darlene
    January 21 at 03:44PM

    Gotta love a sister for telling it like it is! Loved this post.

  3. Anonymous
    January 21 at 04:07PM

    So true. My oldest of 3 is 19 now and I remember those days of preschool age:). It’s just a different kind if stress. Great message:)

  4. January 21 at 04:09PM

    Forgot to leave my name above… Oops:)

  5. Taylor
    January 21 at 10:46PM

    I literally had a “moment.” I read your post and thought to myself…those aren’t her girls’ names. Bahahaha! So used of you calling them Princess and Trouble, that it completely caught me off guard!

  6. January 22 at 08:36AM

    I never actually thought about it that way!! I guess maybe I should start “checking” my attitude before the kids & husband get home from school/work so maybe everyone will be happier!! Thanks for this post.

  7. January 22 at 11:46AM

    This is so true. I can literally feel my mood radiate through my house! If I am mad, the little ones act crazy and fight and my big one sulks around. If I’m happy, the kids get along SO MUCH BETTER and they laugh and play well. I have to remember to check the attitude!

  8. January 22 at 10:48PM

    LOVE this. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Crystal Beamon
    January 26 at 03:04PM

    This post was so encouraging to me, Thank you for reminding me of the accountability I need to have when it comes to my attitude. Right thinking ,Right Receiving

  10. Marina
    January 27 at 09:34PM

    Thank you. All struck home almost too true. Needed to hear this.

  11. Felicia Nelson
    June 12 at 06:47PM

    Exactly what I needed right now, trying to potty train my 3 yo son while he is going through a defiant stage and refusing to obey, feed himself (which he did very well for several weeks), and help dress himself (also did it for a while then quit).

  12. amber
    July 7 at 11:28PM

    Found this on pinterest and i loved it what a good reminder! When i a really slipping in to a bad mood we turn on some music and have a dance party nothing like dancing and a little work out to get my mood up but watching my boys dance 🙂 nothing better!

  13. August 6 at 10:39PM

    I LOVE this post Ruth! I was just explaining this to my husband. I read a post on a popular mommy website about a woman who wrote how her toddler ruins her day. I wish I could explain the idea that your household is a mirror of your attitude. Treat a tantruming toddler with love and patience and see how quickly they turn around. I appreciate your tips to get into a better state of mind and will be using them! 🙂

  14. August 6 at 11:16PM

    Prayer. I spend time in prayer. Or I pick up my Bible and just start reading. I also sing a praise song. It’s amazing how a song can change your mood. Spending time with God gives me a whole new perspective on the situation and myself.

  15. August 7 at 03:52AM
  16. Betty
    August 24 at 12:03AM

    For about a week, I have been feeling angry and sad. My 3-year old is whining as soon as she gets up, and by the time we have to eat lunch I am so ticked that I could go off like a bomb. I needed this post, I will remember in the morning that mom sets the tone and everything reflects if I am all upset.

    Thank you ladies.

  17. September 17 at 08:05PM

    This is what I needed today! I had a crazy day with the kids and next time I will keep all these tips in mind!!

  18. Devon
    November 10 at 11:37PM

    We like to have a “Dance Off”! We turn up the jams and everyone cheeres on one another as we sing and dance

  19. Dana
    January 1 at 02:46PM

    I try to remember the old adage, “If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” My husband and I say it jokingly but it is absolutely true. When I am upset or stressed everyone in the house mirrors me. Sometimes it is frustrating bc I am very vocal about my feelings but it is something to keep in mind.

  20. Natalie
    May 21 at 11:21AM

    Oh will you look at that-the very first most recent pin on my home page/news feed (whatever it’s called), as I’m still clenching my jaw from all that the 2yr old has managed to undo in the past half hour (one thing after another every time I turn around). Thank you. And thank God for the reminder that just because my children don’t behave the way I would like and I get frustrated, doesn’t mean I’m a failure-I just need to honor Him in how I respond to the situation.

  21. Val
    May 29 at 11:45AM

    I know when I’m upset my kids feel the negative energy I feed them; it piles up on them and bounces back on me again so I throw it back at them etc. It’s all about being conscious of the energy we let out and the reasons why we’re upset (most of the time it’s a mix between having to clean up the house or lunch and being tired right). Nevertheless, they don’t deserve to feel our anger… they’re innocent and they don’t understand. Plus, we feel super bad when they’re silently asleep, all cute looking and all! Remind yourselves how lucky we are to have children – gifts from life, the joy they bring us, and remember they look up to us. xo

    • January 5 at 11:34PM

      You couldn’t have said this any better. I so needed to read this post tonight right here and now. I have been so cranky for awhile now and it’s not pleasant. Not only do I not like myself, but I’m starting to run my husband off and my kids seem like they are happier without me sometimes. Motherhood, marriage and life is just so overwhelming sometimes and we all feel like running away, but where else would we go? What life alone could be more enjoyable then a chaotic one?
      Thanks for listening.

  22. February 18 at 03:50AM

    It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. With a energetic one year older, I have my moments of exasperation. Reading this challenged me to stay calm and positive when hot moments come.

  23. Lisa
    May 3 at 08:34AM

    Thank you

  24. March 29 at 12:42AM

    I needed this soo much today! My daughter has been coming home from daycare in the worst moods! I automatically get angry back and even while I tell myself to calm down, I still get angry! Then we just go around and around! Thanks for bringing reason to this season I’m in!

  25. Val
    October 8 at 04:37PM

    Wish I had known this years ago. Maybe my girls would still be speaking to me now if I had. Kicked the sorry husband to the curb!

  26. August 6 at 10:51AM

    Really love this. I agree…playing a game is the last thing I want to do when I’m in a bad mood, but it does help! These are really great tips. My boys definitely feed off of my attitude.

  27. Anonymous
    August 31 at 03:27AM

    Nice one. Thank you for the simple tips. Really appreciate it.

  28. Dizz
    August 31 at 03:28AM

    Nice one. Thank you for the simple tips. Really appreciate it.

  29. Stine
    January 13 at 09:32AM

    Thank you! I really needed this. I have 3 kids, the oldest has just turned 5 answers the youngest just turned 2. I’m a full time student and my husband workes a lot. I’m soooo stressed at the moment and I have been so angry and unfair to the kids these past days. Reading this helped me, both the tips, but also reading the comments and knowing I’m not alone in this

  30. March 29 at 05:58PM

    Great tips. A mom does totally set the mood. We need all the help we can get.

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