We’ve probably all done it. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been guilty of it. I’ll be on the playground or out for coffee with friends, and without even thinking I’ll begin a story with, “I was a horrible mother yesterday” or “I felt like the worst mom ever.”
That needs to stop.
Language matters, and the words we use reinforce our beliefs. The more we call ourselves terrible mothers, the more certain we can be that we’ll feel like terrible mothers in the future.
Hard weeks are going to happen, and we can be sure that we’re going to screw up.
We can call it what it is, without placing blame or heaping shame on ourselves. It’s A HARD DAY: a day where someone probably pooped on the floor or drew on the wall, and you probably yelled.
When we’re feeling like complete and utter failures, destined to spend our retirement funds on future therapy for our kids, we need a plan.
We need perspective, and we need support.
Here are 6 things to do the next time you feel like a horrible mother:
Take some deep breaths.
It really does help; science says so. Deep breathing slows down your heart rate and calms the stress response in your brain. Deep breathing can remind your body that while you’re having a bad day, it’s not actually a crisis.
You might also need a good cry- probably while locked in the bathroom or hiding in the pantry. Possibly with donuts, too.
Reassess your behavior.
Are you more stressed than usual? Are you more sleep deprived than usual? Is there something in your life that needs to be addressed? Are there factors contributing to how you’re feeling that might be worth evaluating?
PMS is real, and for many of us it gets worse as we age. If PMS throws your world off kilter one week every month, mark it on your calendar. Make sure you’re aware that it’s coming. If it feels unmanageable, consider talking to your doctor.
Evaluate your children’s behavior.
Is one of your kids going through a growth spurt, developmental leap, or some sort of transition? Are your kids in one of those clingy phases where they try desperately to transport themselves back into the womb?
Sometimes our kids are going through something and demand more of us than we feel capable of giving. It puts enormous strain on all of us, and it’s hard not to crack under the pressure.
Up your self-care game.
Hard times call for good self-care. Make sure you’re eating well and taking advantage of breaks whenever possible. When the kids are occupied for ten minutes, don’t waste that time just waiting for them to inevitably need you again. Take every possible opportunity to recharge your battery.
Focus on connection.
Sometimes when I’m struggling and my son acts out, I think, “Why is he doing this to me?” In reality, he’s not doing anything to me. He’s struggling, too.
Instead of pulling away from him, what will really help most is drawing closer. The more connected our kids feel to us, the more secure and cooperative they will be.
Call upon your village.
Call that friend who loves you at your worst- the one who won’t judge you for being a hot mess. You need help, but you also need a reminder that this is one week, maybe even only one day, in your entire life. You aren’t defined by your worst moments.
Your kids won’t remember the morning you yelled at them for leaving their socks in the hallway. Those moments are more than compensated for by the times you cuddled them a few extra minutes at bedtime and the way you slipped a note into their lunch boxes so they knew you were thinking of them.
Rough patches happen to all of us, and they don’t make us terrible mothers.