Yesterday I completely lost it with my child. Yes, it was over potty training. After being so good the previous day and using the big toilet, he pooped in his pants. I was just angry. How can he be so good and we are back to square one the very next day? I was so frustrated and angry as I did all the cleaning up it took me a while to calm down and say sorry to him.
Sorry that I lost my temper.
Sorry that I expect you to grow up all at once.
Sorry that I expect things to go smoothly: that I expect you to learn this thing immediately.
Sorry that I get frustrated cleaning up the sh** life throws at me, that I expect it all to be clean and neat. When in reality life is messy, confusing and it takes time for me to learn something, just like you.
I’ve written about toddler tantrums before, and I think we accept that tantrums are part and parcel of this time, that little brains are still developing and can’t process emotions like we can.
What is really humbling through, is that as adults we are every bit as vulnerable to loosing our tempers. We shouldn’t, but we do. And how terrifying would it be for a little kid to see Mom yelling and losing it, when we are meant to be the role models regulating our emotions?
So I’ve put together some pointers for a Mommy Meltdown: when you feel yourself losing it, follow these pointers, maybe you’ll have more success than me.
1) Breathe. Count. Pray. Exit. Give yourself space – if you need to leave the room to calm down, do it. If you need to distract yourself with something else e.g. a book or your phone, do it. Just give yourself the space you need to calm down.
2) Change your expectations. A lot of my problems are because I am incorrectly assuming things about my son’s ability at this age. Yesterday I woke him up from his nap for swimming. Big mistake. All he wanted to do was sleep and I actually had to go home. Should I really be expecting perfection with potty training? Probably not.
3) Track your triggers. I wrote a post about the Orange Rhino project before and how I drew up a chart and tracked what was making me mad. I found out that the later in the day it was, the more I was losing it. This helped for structuring my day (e.g. cooking in the morning).
4) Me time. This is the most important. I went away for most of Saturday for the SA Mom blog relaunch. I came back and I had so much more energy to give to him!
5) Don’t lose it, use it. Anger can be an opportunity to see why you are getting so upset. Chat to another mom, have a vent, figure out why this is bothering you so much. Often there is a connection to yourself. I have recently been so irritated with Nicky’s clingy behaviour but it has also opened me up to my own helicopter parenting tendencies.
6) Apologise: Even if we do lose it, it’s a chance for us to show our kids that we do make mistakes and we are capable of saying sorry. In the same way we expect them to say sorry too.
If you’re having a mommy meltdown, take heart: you are not the only one. Just remember to learn from it so that you can do better than a tantrum toddler next time!