Sometimes I can be a bit of a mom-ster. I really hate to say it, but it’s true. When I’m not on top of making sure I get regular self care my own emotional regulation just gets away from me. Here are some practical, real life, I’ve-tried-them-and-they-work sort of tips for taming the mommy monster.
That Mommy Monster Zone
“Mommy just needs a minute!”
Man, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that, I could go through the Starbucks drive-thru like a whole lotta times….
Anyone else out there get me???
For me, it’s in those times where things escalated quickly and before I know it I’m totally stressed out and on the verge of a breakdown when ten minutes ago things were fine. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about.
It’s those times when I want “Calm Mom” to be the one in charge, but the Mom-ster is about to take over if hear one more “MOMMMMMMM” or have one more kid ask me for something while I’m just trying to shove at least one bite of lunch into my mouth. Please tell me you have times where the Mom-ster wants to take over your usual sweet and charming demeanor.
This year I’ve gotten lots of opportunities to practice keeping “Calm Mom” in charge even when Mom-ster is raring to go. I mean, I’m certainly not perfect by any means… but I’m making progress for sure.
The Mom-ster and Cortisol…
Not to geek out, but I’m going to talk about cortisol for a minute…stay with me. It won’t last long, I promise.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases in times of stress. The role of cortisol is to help protect us and keep us safe. It controls the body’s “fight or flight” response… but too much of it can get overwhelming!
Taming the Mommy Monster Step 1: Assess the Situation
The next time that you feel stressed take a few moments to become self aware and identify what it is that is making the moment stressful.
Are you rushed?
Are you running late to get somewhere?
Is your house a mess?
Is there too much noise and activity going on around you while you are trying to think?
Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
Are you going somewhere new?
Did you meet your limit of how many kid questions you can answer for one morning?
Did you just have a stressful or frustrating encounter with a friend or family member?
Did your kid just have a meltdown in front of the store that embarrassed you?
Many times our bodies give us physical symptoms that we are dysregulated before our minds actually catch up. We can be sitting there with our blood pressure and heart rate up, getting warm and maybe even sweating, or maybe having our stomach in knots, without even realizing what it is that is making us feel that way.
Taming the Mommy Monster Step 2: Assess Your Feelings
Take a moment and become aware of how you are feeling and ask yourself why you are feeling that way.
What just happened?
Why did it bother you?
Taming the Mommy Monster Step 3: Identify Your Needs
Ask yourself what do you need right now in order to come back to a place of being regulated and at peace?
Taming the Mommy Monster Step 4: Meet Your Need
Take a moment to try and meet your need. It is not selfish to meet your own needs. It is a necessity.
Once you have developed the habit of becoming self aware and you know your triggers, you can make an effort to structure your days so that you can prevent or minimize those triggers. There are times when it’s just not possible to eliminate those triggers, but if you are aware of them you can at least take a moment to take inventory of the situation the next time you are feeling stressed. If you know your triggers, you can identify that the stress you are feeling is because you are being triggered by X, Y, or Z and you can take steps to monitor and calm yourself in the middle of the situation so that you don’t lose your cool.
Talk about triggers with your kids. When you are feeling dysregulated and you need to take a moment to calm yourself down, model self-regulation by telling your kids how you feel and that you are going to take a moment to meet your needs. When you are regulated again, use it as a teaching moment with your kids.
Begin to teach your children how to recognize their own triggers and how to meet their own needs. The next time that you see your child starting to get wound up, interrupt the cycle and ask them to become aware of what they need. Help them meet that need. Read more about how to begin teaching children emotional regulation here and about managing the meltdown monster here.
So what about you? What are your Mom-ster triggers? What are your tried and true ways for chilling out and getting back into the “Calm Mom” zone.
P.S. Before you go…
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