How to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Motherhood is hard. Anyone who says otherwise is either: 1) a robot, 2) an alien, or 3) an alien robot here to supplant you. Some days your frustrations are boiling over, and it feels like exploding isn’t such a terrible option. That’s OK! It’s perfectly normal to struggle with these things as a mom. The important thing is realizing that it can get better, then taking steps to make it so. No one expects you to figure out how to stop being an angry mom in one day or to have all the answers, (except maybe for those aliens.)
Do you find yourself asking: “Why am I so angry as a parent?” We have, too, and it’s really simple: Parenting is hard. It’s probably the most significant challenge we face in life because it’s so all-encompassing and important and, at times, overwhelming. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the myriad of difficulties associated with being a parent, and being a mom is even harder still. We place expectations on ourselves that others don’t. As mothers, we are supposed to be a nurturing force in our children’s lives, but we can’t live their lives for them, either. You can’t force them to grow up, and none of us would want them to, even if we could.
Okay… So What Do I Do?
What’s a mom to do? Stop, take a deep breath, and then consider these tips to stop being an angry mom. Remember, it’s OK to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or even angry, as long as you do something to improve the situation. Sometimes, just knowing where to start can be the hardest part to master.
(That and—praying to whatever gods are listening—someone remembered to set the coffee pot or so help you…)
This article presents a lot of tips and guidelines gleaned from motherhood experiences across the world, but keep in mind these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. You have to be willing to give yourself a break and understand it won’t be an instant fix, and it won’t always be easy. However, if you commit to recognizing what’s making you angriest and take steps to improve the situation, you’ll get there.
Unless you really are one of those alien robots or planning to take a vacation to outer space, you’ll find that proper mental health care for moms starts with understanding: yourself, your kids, and what’s making you angry. With that in mind, let’s talk about some ways that you can defuse the anger and channel it into more productive parenting, shall we?
Don’t forget the coffee!
Decide What Matters
“Pick your battles.” How often have you heard this phrase? Do you actually understand what it means? If not, we don’t blame you because it’s one of those things that’s easy to say but harder to understand. Unfortunately, we don’t all have a Yoda to help us make sense of these cryptic sayings, but this one is applicable to even us non-Jedi moms.
To your child, everything will be a big deal. Every want is a must-have; every moment is everything. It’s exhausting! But not everything is a big deal. In the long run, it’s just not that important. Fighting a pitched battle over a pitched fit over something that just isn’t worth it is a great way to contribute to your anger. Conversely, deciding what’s important enough to truly matter is how you keep everything from feeling like it’s a life-or-death affair.
Flexibility Is A Good Thing
This isn’t to say you should just cave in and give your child everything they demand, of course. That way lies madness. That way lies the dark side. However, some things may be more important for your kiddo than they are for you. Is it really necessary that they wear what you picked out for them instead of what they want to wear today? Is the five or 10 extra minutes that their movie or show ran over bedtime going to kill you? So your child is playing with their food a little bit. Think of it as exercising their imagination and having a good time.
As with all things in motherhood, there’s a balance to be struck here. No, you don’t want your child habitually pushing their bedtime, but once in a while, it’s OK. One of our best parenting tips for moms is simply to learn to ease up a little. Structure is good, but it doesn’t have to be absolute. Decide when it’s worth holding your ground and when you can budge a little, and both parties will be happier for it.
Understand What Causes Your Anger to Learn How to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Right, so all those “Soup for the Soul” books never seemed to really touch on the trials and tribulations of parenthood, did they? It’s one thing to write some cushy advice for bettering yourself as a person, but it’s another entirely to fully grasp that concept.
Now try understanding it when your 3-year-old is screaming at the top of their lungs for the better part of an hour. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
The truth is that we get angry sometimes without really understanding why. That’s the question: Why? Why am I so angry as a parent? Why am I an “angry mom?” It’s kind of a scary title, honestly. “Angry mom” carries with it all sorts of connotations: judgment, failure, etc. That doesn’t make it true. You’re not a failure just because you got angry. That doesn’t define you and doesn’t mean you can’t change.
Start by trying to understand your triggers. Does something upset you because it’s genuinely upsetting, or is it a culmination of all the other stresses you’re dealing with? Maybe it only bothers you because it bugged the heck out of your parents, so by osmosis, it’s now your problem. If you stop and think about it, maybe it doesn’t bug you all that much. One of the most essential tips to stop being an angry mom is to take the time to understand your anger.
Here are a few of the most common triggers. Do any of these sound like you?
This one counts double: one for your child, one for you! Being hungry, dehydrated, or feeling bad because you’re not eating properly will up those crankiness levels fast. If both of you are “hangry,” that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s not just about eating, either. Don’t get us wrong, something is better than nothing, but proper nutrition will help you feel better and less high-strung.
Lack of Sleep
We know, we know. We might as well be asking for the moon here, but it’s critical to try. Catch naps where you can. Even if you can’t doze off, taking five minutes to lie down and close your eyes can significantly impact your mood. Make sure you’re taking enough downtime. Try to plan out your day and budget your time accordingly so you know you will get enough sleep at night (at least seven hours for optimal health, according to the Centers for Disease Control). We’ve been there, and we know that’s easier said than done, especially with a baby, but getting as much quality sleep as you can squeeze in is essential. Those reports may just have to wait until tomorrow. Your mental and physical health are important to help you keep calm and confident as a mom!
Generational Anger: Or it’s all YOUR Parent’s Fault
Were your parents angry? Was your mom strict about a particular thing, and now you harp on your children about that same thing? It’s not uncommon to emulate our parents—even when we told ourselves that we would do better—since they were our role models for parenting. Stop. Breathe. Evaluate the situation. Is it something that truly upsets you, or is it something you’re mad about “because that’s how it’s supposed to be?”
Personal Neglect – Why Does Mom Always Come Last?
If you neglect yourself to take care of your children and push yourself too hard, guess who suffers? The kids. You. That poor kid bagging your groceries. The neighbor’s yappy dog. And … well, you see the point. To be a good parent, you have to take care of yourself. In fact, mental healthcare for moms is so important it merits its very own discussion….
Taking Care of Yourself
Parenting is about sacrifice. Motherhood is noble. You give of yourself so that your child can have a better life.
Blah, blah, blah…yeah, we’ve heard it all before, too. Now, we’re not saying it’s untrue because, yes, you absolutely do give up a lot to be a mom. However, (and we need you to hear this): YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE UP ON YOURSELF.
However you were born, however you became a mom, you were a woman first. You don’t stop being a woman with her own goals, dreams, and needs just because you became a mom. There’s a reason why every list of tips on how to stop being an angry mom includes taking time for yourself.
Do Things That Are Just For You
Pursue your own interests and goals. Take up or renew some hobbies. They’re great outlets for personal stress and give you a sense of accomplishment (they also remind you you do have a life outside of your children). While the kids might be shocked to hear this, you’re not defined solely by your maternal responsibilities. Who says Mom doesn’t deserve a spa day, a day out with friends, or even just some peace and quiet at the local park?
These moments are vital to your peace of mind. Motherhood is a big responsibility, but few people can just focus on duty all the time. Unless you’re one of those robots we mentioned, it’s good to take some personal time. Do the things that make you happy, and that happiness will shine through for your children. You’ll be less angry, and they’ll see that it’s important to always express oneself in the ways that make us happy. Boom.
Stress relief and life lesson all in one!
Understanding Your Child is key is How to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Children don’t typically do things “wrong” just to spite their parents and set their teeth on edge. Yes, it may feel like this, but a lot of the time, disobedience doesn’t stem from defiance. Instead, children are just being the mercurial little creatures that they are. This is why providing children with structure and discipline is so important.
It’s also important to remember they are children, and they aren’t going to stick to routines flawlessly. If you’re being honest with yourself, do you? Few among us live a truly regimented life without fail, and if you do, more power to you! For the rest of us, understanding that children are learning and don’t always consider the consequences of their actions is key.
Adjust your expectations, Mom. We often demand more out of others than we are or were able to reach. Were you perfectly well-behaved and tidy when you were a child? (Don’t answer that: It’s “no.”)
Your Child Might Have Other Things Going On
Your child may be tired, hungry, or stressed about something, just like you were. They have less emotional maturity to help guide their reactions, less experience with them. It can be easy to forget this in the heat of the moment, but would you rather have a perfect household that is unhappy or a happy household that isn’t perfect?
We’d go with the latter every time because there are no robots here. No, ma’am!
One of the best tips to stop being an angry mom is simply to remember your kid is still a kid and is not always going to behave like a rational adult. Then again, you can probably recall many times that so-called “rational adults” behaved like children, so remember what your child has as examples here and be kind.
Reach Out – It Takes More than a Village. It takes a MOM-fia.
Part of mastering your anger as a mom is accepting you’re not perfect. You got angry. You may have even said things you didn’t mean. That doesn’t make you a monster, a failure as a mom, or any other such thing. You’re a person, just like your child, which means learning as you go—which goes double when you’re a mom!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to tell yourself you need help. Support groups, other moms in your friend circle, or even therapy are all valuable resources for your mental health. Other moms and therapists can give advice and tips to stop being an angry mom, provide an outlet for the stress that has built up, and even offer you a safe space to confront your own worries.
Journals can also be a great way to help organize your thoughts and realize what you could have handled better. It’s good to get your thoughts out; seeing them laid out for you plainly can help you contextualize the events and your reactions to them. Maybe you realize, looking at your writing, that the argument in the crowded mall was over something pretty unimportant, and next time you could avoid that by refocusing your energies, for example.
Focus Less on the “Angry,” and More on the “Mom”
To summarize, acceptance and understanding are your best defense against being the dreaded “angry mom.” Understand why you are angry and what triggers you. Consider why your child behaves the way they do and remind yourself they are simply a child. They have not yet mastered the communication skills needed to help diffuse a situation.
Respond, don’t react. Step away, breathe some fresh air, call a timeout, then get back in there. Meeting anger and frustration with more of the same won’t reduce the amount of it in your life; it just increases it.
Take time to pursue the things that make you happy, too, so you feel less like you gave up your whole life to raise offspring who can be unhappy, disobedient, and irrational one minute, then turn around and do some of the sweetest things you’ve ever seen in your life. Give yourself a break. Maybe give them one, too.
There’s no easy solution, but try some of these tips to stop being an angry mom and apply them to your life. You’ll find that things can and do get better with a little bit of kindness, empathy, patience, and understanding toward your child — and yourself.
She Went 365 Days without Yelling!!! – The Expert on How to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Listen to the podcast interview below with the Author of The Orange Rhino Challenge. Shelia McCraith, The Orange Rhino challenged herself to go 365 days without yelling at her kids… and succeeded!
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