Here's How To Never Have A Mommy Meltdown Again

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Parenting Advice For How To Deal With Stress & Emotions As A Mom
Family, Self

Being a mom means dealing with a lot of stressful emotions that can lead to a meltdown, but once you learn how to deal with stress, you're better able to handle what goes on at home.

Do you cringe whenever you remember the last time you exploded and screeched at the top of your lungs?

Are you shocked by the intensity of your emotions when, after trying to remain calm in the face of constant frustration, disrespect, and consistent exhaustion, you just let go and lash out at those around you?  

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If you answered "yes" to the questions above, know that you are not alone.

Most mothers have their personal "meltdown sagas" that they feel so guilty about, despite trying valiantly to rationalize or push aside the painful results. 

We can't always be paragons of self-control when faced with daily parenting challenges. However, children tend to imitate their parents’ behaviors, most often, the ones we are not so proud of.

Stress management is easier said than done. So, if you indulge in yelling, slamming doors, and throwing things, you are unintentionally teaching your children that it’s OK to act out this way.

We all know there are so many reasons for you to lose your cool and then wallow in that familiar mommy guilt. However, understand that it’s up to you to take charge of your behavior and interact in ways that will teach your children how to regulate their own emotions when under stress. 

You can choose to make a commitment to learning how to manage stress and control your feelings instead of letting your emotions take you over.

The Importance Of Emotional Consistency

Emotional consistency plays a big part in creating trust between you and your children and preparing them for what may happen. Ask yourself, how can your children trust you when your responses to them sometimes swing wildly from one mood to another?

It’s very difficult for children to cope when you are upset, angry, frustrated, or emotionally drained and you allow these feelings to color your responses to them.

Have you been paying attention to how your mood fluctuations affect your relationships with your children? Ask yourself if they can trust you when one time you respond to them with a burst of anger and the next time you are tight-lipped and silent?

Here’s a scenario to consider.

Jessica normally comes home from work in a very good mood and is loving and affectionate towards her ten-year-old daughter, Emma. However, one day Jessica learns that she has been passed over for an expected promotion that she has worked very hard to earn. The promotion has gone to a younger colleague with less experience but with a higher educational degree.

Jessica gets home and is quiet and withdrawn. She hardly says one word to Emma who had been looking forward to telling her mother about the part she has been given in the upcoming school play.

Emma thinks she’s done something wrong and that her mother is upset with her. She silently reviews their recent interactions and doesn't see anything that might have caused this turn of events. Still believing her mom is unfairly upset at her or because of her, the trust she usually has in her mother is shaken.

The Cost Of Misplaced Emotions

When we are upset about issues pertaining to other areas in our lives, we often carry those feelings over to our interactions with our children, friends, and work colleagues.

It’s perfectly natural that Jessica is very disappointed over the loss of her expected promotion, but Emma has no idea that whatever is bothering her mother has nothing to do with her.

Babies begin their lives as the center of their own small worlds, and many times as the center of our larger worlds too!

As they grow, children naturally attribute the behavior of people in their lives to something they said and/or did. In their minds, they believe they are the cause of most things that transpire around them.

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So what are we, as busy moms, to do when we are aware that, way too often, our emotions are negatively impacting our interactions with our children?

At times it may be helpful to discuss the real issues (in this case being overlooked for that long-awaited promotion) with our children. By doing so, we reap the double benefit of teaching our children about the challenges that are so much a part of our daily lives and relieving them of the suspicion that they have caused our discontent.

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It goes without saying, that it's important to consider our children's ages and personalities when deciding if sharing our challenges is appropriate or beneficial. 

Another point to keep in mind is that it’s important to prepare ourselves and our children for the possibility that things won’t turn out the way we wish and that we might be disappointed. Had Jessica done this, she would not have felt so strongly that a sinkhole had suddenly appeared in the middle of her career path.

It’s difficult to regulate your emotions and reactions, but it’s vitally important to be as consistently predictable as possible with your children.

If your child knows they can trust you to prepare them for upcoming situations and they can rely on you to be emotionally consistent, they will grow up feeling more confident to face life's inevitable changes.

The Road To Parenting Success

It's so easy (and inevitable) to get hijacked by your emotions and end up driving too fast along the parenting highway.

So, when you feel emotionally overwhelmed, think of the yellow "Slippery When Wet" road sign and slow down just as you would do if you were driving. Sit with your feelings and take deep breaths until you feel calmer. Make a plan that empowers you so that you feel more in control of the situation.

When you can, once again, safely put your foot on the accelerator, drive slowly and carefully. Realistically, this would mean that you are calm enough to contain your anger or frustration and continue your day without causing unintended damage to those you love most.

Your child needs to be sure they can trust you to make the best driving/parenting decisions and avoid an emotional collision. You are now ready to enjoy the benefits of safe, guilt-free driving along the road to parenting success.

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Atara Malach PCC, author of A Working Mother’s GPS: A Guide to Parenting Success for the Modern Working Mom is the founder of the Parenting university,  and psychotherapist practicing internationally for over 30 years. Blending her professional expertise with real-life experience as a working mom raising her six children, she spearheaded using mommy guilt as a roadmap to parenting and career success and has developed a proven parenting system (GPS) which has empowered women worldwide. Reach her at The Mommy Guilt Expert or send her an email.

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.