We were sitting at the dinner table, Pebble and I munching on our food and chatting, Rocky in his high chair, stuffing his face. The three of us often eat dinner before Paul gets home, the kids are always hungry earlier than Daddy’s home time.
“Remember when you were angry today, Mummy?”, Pebble asked.
I stopped eating and looked at her carefully. Yes, I remembered.
“Yes”, I said, slowly, wondering where this was going, mama guilt rising.
Pebble just nodded and kept eating. “Yeah”, she said, nodding to herself. She didn’t look upset. Just thoughtful.
Here was an opportunity. I could shove this uncomfortable feeling in my belly away, change the subject, continue with our dinner. Or we could talk about it.
“Do you remember why I got angry?”, I asked. She shook her head. “It was because I was feeling frustrated. I was doing too many things at once. And then I lost my temper”.
“Oh, yes”, she nodded.
“I was cooking dinner, and helping you paint, and Owen was crying, and the paint wouldn’t open. So I yelled at the paint! Did it help the paint open?”, I gave her a smile.
She laughed, “No!”.
“What else could I have done, instead of yelling?”.
Pebble thought for a second. “You could count a bit”.
“That’s a good idea”, and we counted together, to show how it’s done.
“Or I could have taken some big breaths, like this”, I said, and I did.
We munched on our dinner a little bit more.
“Or I could go and be by myself for a minute, – “, I started.
“Hey, can we play outside after dinner?”, she interrupted, excitedly. She’d moved on. She was fine. I hadn’t scarred her for life, after all. But I was glad that we’d talked about it.
I wanted to share this moment with you, because it might help others when they’re feeling angry too. I’m no parenting expert. I’m getting through each day with highs and lows like the rest of the world. But I do know this. It’s ok to be angry. What matters is what you do with that anger. Here’s how I’ve been managing my anger lately, I hope it helps you too.
Tips for Managing Anger
- writing lists – and crossing things off those lists! Ahhh, I love that feeling. Being organised helps avoid frustration and feeling overwhelmed.
- saying no to things – trying not to take on too much (most of the time….)
- planning ahead – if I have a busy day ahead I’ll try to plan or cook dinner in advance, even if that means planning to throw fish fingers and chips in the oven or buy take away.
- laughing out loud – when I feel my blood start to boil over small things I force out a laugh. It sounds a bit manic, but it helps release the tension!
- playing a little tune in my head – a very simple, repetitive tune that blocks everything out for a few minutes. This is especially helpful in the middle of the night when I’m losing my mind over losing sleep (thanks Dad).
- forgiving myself – I’m not perfect, and that’s ok. I’m trying my best.
- remembering what’s important – sometimes I get frustrated that I haven’t got time to clean/cook/work/exercise/make a phone call because the kids need me. But, yes, my kids need me! Sometimes other things have to wait. If I stop and enjoy the kids that makes the ‘waiting’ much more fun.
- taking care of myself – when I slip into chocolate munching, meal skipping, frazzled mama mode I am much more likely to lose my ‘nana over small things. I’m really making an effort to eat better, lots of fresh fruit and veg and whole foods. Nothing fancy (no time for that!), just real food. And lots of water.
- talking to friends, and professionals – talking with my mates about their highs and lows really helps me to realise that I’m not alone in all of this. Sometimes I need to talk to my GP too. If you need to talk to someone try your local GP or these support services.
Have you yelled at any paint lately?
If you need help with your anger try these tips.