We all have angry moments as moms. Ugly moments. Tense moments. Moments that if we were on a camera might make us cringe when we are at the end of ourselves. And certainly, moments that don’t make us feel like super mom. But while we like to beat ourselves up for having these moments, it’s better to focus on what is causing them to occur and then take action.
Because while it is normal to lose your temper at your children, especially when you are tired, stressed, or feeling unsupported, there is a time when we can rage and cross the line of what is healthy for our children or our own selves in expressing anger. And it’s important to know when we might be in a place in need of help.
What is mom rage?
What is the difference between rage and anger? Rage is when you feel your anger is uncontrollable, and you may do things or say things that are above and beyond the normal reaction for a circumstance. Another good indicator of rage is when this happens regularly instead of every once in a while.
For example, your toddler spills their milk for the sixth time that week. It’s almost like a switch inside you gets flipped, and instead of cleaning up the milk, you throw the milk carton across the room. Or maybe you yell something toward your child that is drastically more severe than, “I need you to use two hands next time, or we will not be able to use a cup without a lid.” Instead, you might say, “You are the clumsiest kid I have ever met! I can’t stand it!”
It is also a sign that you may be struggling with rage if others have said that your reactions make them uncomfortable when they are around. Children often adapt to the way they are treated, even if it is wrong. But other adults or children who are not normally in the home can often identify when a person is living in an overly emotional state.
Why does it happen?
More often than not, mom rage is not a diagnosis. Instead, it is merely a symptom of a mom in need of self-care. Moms are often tired. Isolated. Overworked. Overextended. And stressed. And often, they cannot remember the last time they did something for themselves.
Instead of feeling guilty that you are struggling, it’s important to take steps to become healthy both physically and emotionally so that you can be in a place to deal well with your anger. Here are some steps to get healthy.
How to Combat Mom Rage
Step 1. Admit you are struggling to a spouse, friend, or support person.
Decide together if your anger is something that may benefit from seeing a professional. There is no shame in seeing a therapist. More often than not, once a relationship is developed, people are happy to say how much they love therapy.
Step 2: Release your guilt for struggling.
Guilt will only cause you to remain stuck in negativity and inaction. No one wants to struggle with anger. Instead of feeling guilty, make the decision that you are ready to make a change and move forward.
Step 3. Make a list of things that are causing you stress.
Once you’ve made a list of your stressors, you can identify what things can be changed and what things cannot. For example, poor eating can be improved. But having a husband that works night shifts may not be able to be changed. Sometimes it is enlightening to see how many stressors we have going on around us, and hopeful to see that there are easy changes that can be made to help our mood. For example, even though you may love watching late-night TV, it may not be the best choice if you wake up cranky and tired every morning.
Step 4. Identify at least two new habits you can add to your life for self-care.
Once you’ve identified these habits, then schedule them into your daily life. If you know you love running, find a time that you can make sure this happens. If you know warm baths allow you to relax, then figure out the best way to fit this into your schedule. Often there is time for self-care, we don’t prioritize it, and that has to stop. Self-care has to be a priority when dealing with explosive emotions.
Step 5. Develop a plan to figure what triggers your mom rage.
Often it is the same patterns happening over and over that cause our emotions to build and build. But if we do not have a plan to react differently, we often continue in the same patterns. So write down at least three scenarios where you find yourself becoming triggered. Then write down a way to respond that is more effective and not rageful. Often, just doing anything differently can break a bad pattern with children.
For example, if you get outraged when you see your house is messy, then help your children develop a chore system or way to pick up their area in a proactive way. Often, small proactive changes in the home can make a huge difference in the home’s emotional climate.
Step 6: Lastly, develop a plan to calm yourself down when triggered.
Inevitably, even with all of these things in place, there will be times where you find yourself triggered by situations with your children. So the most important thing you can do is develop a plan for calming down in a healthy way. Often this means leaving the room and telling the kids that you are going to calm down and reset for a moment.
You can talk about this openly beforehand and let them know that when you are doing this. It is because you do not want to yell and get mad. You can also come up with an activity they do during this time or a show they watch, so everyone has a plan in place. And slowly but surely, everyone will see the benefit of this plan. You can even make a name for it like, “Mommy’s Time Out Time.”
Mom rage is something that is not meant to be bottled up. Instead, address it and let it go! If you are struggling today, reach out to a friend and ask for help. There are therapists in every state that offer online therapy, and you can easily find a therapist near you.