Let’s be clear: I am human and I am imperfect. I am definitely no Instagram mama with abs of steels, perky boobs, an apple bottom, blonde hair, and perfectly-applied makeup. I’m not at the gym before my kids wake up. My house ain’t a perfect minimalist scheme of white and grey (I don’t understand how this is practical?). My kids aren’t dressed in super cute little frocks that, oh, totally matches with my outfit of course. We have a house of anti-Montessori plastic toys with flashy colours that make lots of noise, and my kids are definitely not eating sugar-free, salt-free, totally organic dinners and going to bed at 7pm (and staying there till 7am the next day).
I’m a real, average mom. Some days I just don’t want to play with my kids. Some days I’m tired of all the crying and screaming. Some days I give them nuggets and chips for dinner. Some days I don’t even want to put on a bra or pants, let alone wear coordinated outfit. Most days my house looks like a bomb hit it. I have plenty of days where I just feel mentally defeated and don’t want to adult. Can’t the bills just magically pay themselves and my house be cleaned by little fairies and elves that come out in secret at night?
Real moms don’t always have it all together. Real moms have meltdowns, just like their real kids. If you’re having a total mental breakdown right now, just know it is normal. You are normal. Parenting is tough. Kids are a**holes. You are not alone.
These are some things I do when my kids are driving me bonkers and I’m feeling like I’m deep in the sh*thole.
1. Forget the chores
Your house is a mess and that’s okay. Stop the pressure. Ditch the guilt. The dishes can wait. This is an emotional emergency. Do only what has to be done. For example, pick up the older kids from school…well, obviously. Cook them a nutritionally-balanced dinner you know they will turn their nose up to? Nope. Hit the drive-thru instead.
2. Ask for help
If you have a family member or friend you can call on to help, do it. Ask them if they can come over to help or if you can drop the kids off at their place for a little bit. Sometimes you might feel embarrassed or feel bad that you’re troubling them, but if you really need it, you need it. There is nothing to be ashamed about. We’re all human. Everyone has gone through moments like this even if they’ve never talked about it so they will be understanding (and if they’re not, um, maybe reconsider your relationship).
It takes a village to raise a child. If the friend has kids, even better. Their kids can keep yours occupied. Sometimes I know socialising is the last thing you feel like doing when you’re having a mental breakdown, but just having a conversation with another adult while the kids are happy playing will often make you feel human again.
3. Distract your kids
If like me, you don’t have close family or friends near you, distract the kids to give yourself a moment to breathe. Forget the nice little educational crafty activities you feel like you’re supposed to be making them do. Put on the TV. Give them the iPad. Bribe them. Give them the junk food. Whatever works! Now is not the time to wallow in the guilt of not being a perfect mom. Mommy’s sanity is at stake. An hour (or three?) of TV ain’t gonna hurt them. Tomorrow will be a new day and you’ll make it up to them. (Pssssttt chances are they will be thrilled with the loosened reins and definitely not feel abandoned in any way. Might as well let them feel it’s a party while you’re at it.)
4. Be honest
If your kids are at a talking age, you can be honest with how you feel. Tell them you’re feeling tired and have a lot of things on your mind, and need them to be quiet and cooperative today. It will do them good to see that adults have real emotions and that you have to be honest with how you feel and find practical solutions. If you feel guilty for yelling or being negative, say sorry to them and forgive yourself.
Put a positive spin on things and turn it into a bit of a challenge to be a “mommy helper”. Do they watch those Youtube challenge videos about the kids being in charge? Tell them it’s their day to be in control! They are the mommy for the day and can look after themselves and each other whoooo…you can now throw a tantrum and whinge and pretend it’s part of the game of you being the kid. Get them to give suggestions or make a list of (quiet, non-bothering) things they can do today. Make sure to give them lots of positive reinforcement for being so independent and such great helpers. A reward at the end of the day might help too.
5. Step away from social media
Not all social media is bad for sure, but most is when you’re feeling pretty crummy about yourself. So just stop it…you don’t need to compare yourself to all that fake perfection. Stop scrolling through Instagram. Stop checking out celebrities. Stop reading your friends’ Facebook statuses and seeing where they’re having the holiday of their lives, or admiring your young, single friends’ child-free freedom. Give your brain a break. You don’t need that information/sensory overload now.
6. Get out of the house
It sounds so tiring to get everyone dressed and out of the house, but often once you’re out, just the fresh air and the change of scenery will make you feel so much better already. Just get the basics done. Pants on? Yes. Those pants are pajamas? Who cares. Go to the park or the playground let the kids run around. Go to the cafe and cake and fun drinks. Interact with another adult, even if it’s just to order food.
7. Have a drink.
If you can’t muster up the strength to get out of the house, make yourself a time-out drink at home. Pause and have a coffee, tea, hot chocolate…or wine…or vodka. No one is watching.
8. Talk to someone
Text or call your partner, your best friend, your sister, your mother…whoever you trust. Unload any emotions that you need to get off your chest and feel the weight lift off your shoulders.
9. Lift your spirits
Take a moment while the kids are distracted to have a breather. Lock yourself in the bathroom, toilet, bedroom, closet, or step outside. Take a few deep breaths. Tell yourself it’s okay to have a weak moment. Not being afraid to show weakness is a strength. Don’t repress it. You are strong for being able to confront your emotions. You are still awesome. Take a little rest and come back better than ever.
For the few short minutes you have before one of the kids yells for you, watch something funny on Youtube or Netflix. Read or listen to a book. Listen to a podcast. Have that drink. If you’re religious, pray or read the bible. Look up some positive quotes. Do a quick workout. Eat chocolate. Put on makeup and some nice clothes if it will make you feel better. Just forget about being a mom for a moment and do something for yourself.
10. Write down your thoughts or things to do
Sometimes we get overwhelmed just thinking of all endless things we need to get done. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for a busy mom, hey? When I’m feeling totally bogged down and that I’m losing my mind, sometimes it helps to just make a list of things I need to do or draw up a realistic schedule. This just helps me feel that things are manageable and actually less stressful than they seem. Or you can just write your emotions down. The paper doesn’t judge your ranting and raging the way your partner or mother might. It can be cathartic getting your emotions out and also help you put things in perspective. I’m an introvert who feels more release talking to a piece of paper than a person. You might be someone who needs to listen to music, draw, paint, cook, bake, sew, exercise, dance…Know what outlet you need to get your emotions out.
So these are some of my tips to recovering from mommy madness. To be honest, sometimes I find it really difficult to climb out of the hole I’m in and nothing I do makes it feel better. On those days, I just need to wait the day out, tell myself “this too shall pass”, go to bed without procrastinating after getting the kids to sleep, and start afresh the next day.
If the dark cloud over you is really persisting over the days and weeks, please consider seeking professional help. Call a helpline. Visit your doctor. Lots of moms go through depression and there is help there if you reach to it. You are not the only one in this.
What do you do to recover from a mommy meltdown? Please leave a comment below- I would love to hear your stories! We are all in this together. If you’re a working mom, I would also love to know how you cope with the craziness as I can only write this article from my own perspective as a stay-at-home mom.