Do you feel like an angry mom and don’t know what to do? Trying to figure out the right keywords or phrases in search of solutions? Read on as I share what I’ve found.
I remember a time when I was definitely googling how-not-to-be-angry-as-a-sahm (Stay At Home Mom). There were articles and blogs offering 8 or 12 or 40 ways to “stay joyful” or to “love being a SAHM”. And I read them all! Though the bullet points landed on a spectrum between common sense and “that’s fantasy talk”, they didn’t inspire me toward a better attitude. If anything, I just felt guilty for being so angry despite “knowing” what I needed to do to not be angry!
Well, here I am a few years later, three kids deep, and yeah… sometimes I still feel like an angry mom. Those times are shorter and further apart than before (and way less guilt-ridden). So have I got it all figured out? Of course not. But, if I were to write my own version of a How-Not-To-Be-An-Angry-Parent post, it would probably go something like this…
Yup. You’re welcome.
If you are take care of children for any length of time, you’re gonna get angry, and that’s okay. (Renatta says so.) 😉 Feeling anger is not a problem because it’s a sign that something important to you isn’t in alignment. It’s what you do on the other side of the emotion that makes a difference. So when you sense anger coming, make a quick check that your kids are safe, then go somewhere and let it all out. If that’s not possible in the moment, wrap up your obligations as best you can, excuse yourself, and let the anger be felt. Make a point to allow space for it.
Understand Why You’re Angry
Once you’ve made it through, check in with your mind and body. What stand out to you? Are you hungry? Dehydrated? Sleep-deprived? Lacking personal time? Lonely and lacking adult connection? Stressed? Overstimulated? Needing support? Each of these alone are legit reasons for someone to feel angry. And none of them imply that you hate your kids or hate being a parent.
*Side rant* What is it about being a caregiver that makes us think it’s okay to let our basic needs go unmet? Seriously? Who of us would let our kids complain about being hungry for hours before feeding them, or make them stay awake far past bedtime to make sure all the chores get done? And yet we constantly do it to ourselves! (If you could use some help in figuring out how to put your basic needs first, check out my post on What Prioritizing You Looks Like.)
Okay, just needed to get that out of my system.
Identify What You Need
Now you’ve allowed yourself to experience the anger and made space to determine the root cause(s), you can identify what you need. This is probably going to pretty easy. Mind you, I’m not talking about what triggered your anger (that’s coming later) but what you need. So this isn’t the point where you say “I need those kids to pick up after themselves!” But perhaps, instead, where you might say “I need a nap”. Take a minute to think about what those most common root issues are for you.
Build a Plan or System to Get What You Need
This part is a little harder. Here, you decide what you will change or adjust so that you can consistently get those needs meet. I’ve learned that – for me – having a daily rhythm to loosely follow makes a big difference for enabling me to take time for my needs. (I’ll share more on that later. Maybe I’ll call it The Angry Mom’s reset rhythm).
Think about what a plan might look like for you. Maybe you schedule an afternoon nap or block out a no-meetings hour so you can have a quiet meal. It may take some practice and tweaking to find what works for you. But once you’ve found a system that feels right, try to follow it as best you can.
So far, all of these points have focused on what you can do. And hopefully you’re not feeling blame or extra burden but, instead, a sense of control over an area that feels expressly out of control.
Know Your “Angry Mom” Triggers
Okay, so we begin to look outward. The factors you identified above may be the root cause of your constant irritation, but it always seems to be something external that sets you into angry mom mode. Some examples might be:
- Clutter and mess
- Shouting or constant crying
- Being ignored
- Relentless invasion of personal space
- Endless chatter
I guess I just exposed all of my triggers. So, what does it for you?
Communicate What You Need
Now’s the part where we turn to those around us. My entire household knows if I’m getting snappy to sit me down with a snack. That’s because I told my spouse, long ago that I get irritable when hungry. And though he was skeptical at first, after this many years, he just knows the impact of the pre- and post- hanger. In fact, my 5 & 4 year-olds already know the word “hanger”!
But it also turns out if I don’t get 20 minutes of quiet me-centered time in the morning, I’m just not going to respond well to the situations and challenges my kiddos will present to me that day. And since I’ve come up with a rhythm for being my best, it’s up to me to communicate that in the same way.
Now is when you get to say “It helps me when someone else cleans up the mess” or “We’re going to have no talking at the dinner table for 3 minutes”, or “I’m all touched out this evening.” It means some things will have to shift for your family members. But they love you and are willing to support something that’s important to you. It’s worth it to communicate. You’re worth it.
After you’ve spent some time practicing these things, I encourage you to check back in. Are you moving through frustration more quickly after three months? Does the motion feel more resolved after six months? How about nine months later? Are you still feeling like an angry mom? And if the answer is “Yeah, sometimes,” know that it’s okay. You’re allowed to be angry. Allow yourself space and grace because you are still a wonderful parent and an amazing human being.
Now, I’m curious: what’s the common culprit when you find yourself in an “angry parent” pattern? And do you have a go-to plan return to self in those times? Let me know in the comments.