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