Being a mom can sometimes feel like you’re living inside a pressure cooker. You’re trying to make dinner, and your phone is pinging with texts from your girlfriends at happy hour. Meanwhile, Paw Patrol is on volume 50 on the TV while your toddler is insisting on pressing all the buttons on the noisiest toy you own. The baby in the highchair is about to throw oatmeal everywhere while the dog patiently awaits their payday while simultaneously managing to be underfoot every time you need to take a step. By the time your oldest starts to complain about the TV, you feel like you’re ready to blow.
If this sounds familiar or is a variation on this theme, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s not just one thing that sends you over the edge but a hundred little things that add up over the day. Or maybe it is one big thing that suddenly causes you to blow your lid. If this is you, don’t worry. We have some tips and techniques you can use to calm down instead of blow up.
Take a deep breath
You knew this was going to be on here. It’s practically a cliche at this point to take a deep breath and count to ten when you’re feeling frustrated. But there’s actually a reason why this is such popular advice. The science behind it says that “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”
In the moment of frustration or to calm a busy or anxious mind, you can try the 4-7-8 breathing method for some chill. Start by emptying your lungs of air and then inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, followed by exhaling forcefully through pursed lips, making a whoosh sound for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle up to four times.
Have a snack
You’ve probably seen that Snickers commercial with the tagline about not being yourself when you’re hungry, but it’s true. There’s a reason hangry is a word. If you’re feeling at your max and you’re ready to snap, step back and grab a glass of water and a small snack. You may just be dealing with low blood sugar, which can be causing you to feel more irritable. Plus, stepping out of the hot zone to grab a snack may just be the break you need to diffuse the situation.
Put yourself in timeout
Go to your room, the bathroom, the garage, wherever you can get five or ten minutes alone and lock the door and give yourself the room to just be with whatever you’re feeling. Cry, yell, hit a pillow, listen to music, or just scroll your phone for just long enough to reset your brain. Let everyone in your family know that it’s ok to take a few minutes to get themselves back under control. This is big for new moms, too. When that baby won’t stop crying and you’re at your max, put them in the crib or somewhere safe and go cry it out yourself, get composed and start over.
Go for a walk
Kids driving you crazy? Get everyone out of the house and go on a family walk or bike ride until you’re feeling less stressed and tense. The exercise and fresh air will get those feel-good endorphins going and bonus, will tire out the kids! Or if you have your partner or another caregiver you can take in for childcare, go for a walk by yourself until you feel calm again.
Create solutions for your hot-button issues
If dinnertime is a hot mess every night because everyone comes home from work and school ravenous and tired, maybe you have a bowl of grab-and-go snacks on the counter or in your car that everyone can eat that won’t ruin their dinner, but will take that hangry edge off. Or if mornings are a disaster because no one can ever figure out what to wear or where their shoes are, maybe you set up a routine the night before to set out clothes and shoes and anything else that might be needed in the morning.
Schedule you time
Get out of the house. Seriously. Write it down, commit to it and do it. Schedule a date night with your spouse and a girl’s night with the friends you haven’t seen in months. Or schedule a massage for yourself. Do something just for you that doesn’t involve being a mom. We all need time to reconnect to ourselves, to the people we were before we were called Mom. By putting time on your calendar to get back to yourself, you might find yourself less stressed overall.
Lastly, give yourself all the grace. This mom life isn’t easy and sometimes we blow up…at our kids, our spouses, our friends and family members. It happens. And when it does, an apology goes a long way. So take a deep breath, apologize and move on because you’re doing a great job.