While I’ve tried to be honest and transparent about my life (particularly as a mum), there have been some things I haven’t spoken about. Things like my experiences growing up. Due to a number of factors through my childhood and adolescence, I’ve developed a lot of deep-seeded anger that can boil over. It usually happens during inconsequential events, such as being stuck in traffic or playing video games (where I perceive myself to have been wronged or something doesn’t seem ‘fair’). It results in a barrage of angry words (usually expletives). However, since becoming a mum, I’ve found that my anger has started to rear its big, ugly head around my son – either inadvertently or purposefully. I’m becoming an angry parent.
For example, driving with my son has become a landmine of opportunities for anger to spill over. And especially now more than ever, as my son has started to mimic the words we say, I have to watch what words (or expletives!) I use around him. But it is hard. Being angry for so long means that in certain situations, it becomes second nature. It means that I have to rewire and retrain my brain to respond to those triggers in a different way to avoid the anger boiling over and affecting my son.
I’ve spoken to my husband numerous times about the kind of mother I don’t want to be – and most importantly, that I DO want to be. I don’t want him to remember his mum as someone who was always angry or yelling because she got annoyed with traffic or with games. I want my son to remember me as a loving, caring, nurturing mum who made him feel safe, protected and loved. In order to be the mum I want to be, it means that I need to change some of those responses, and more importantly, the underlying issues that trigger those angry responses. I recently posted on my Instagram about wanting to be a good role model for my boy, and that all starts now.
Of course, I have spoken to many parents who have been angry with their children – who doesn’t get frustrated when their child doesn’t listen, doesn’t behave, won’t go to sleep (guilty!), does the wrong thing, puts themselves or someone else in danger? We’ve all been there as mothers – it, unfortunately, is natural human instinct to be frustrated around those things (even as a teacher I am working on my frustration with some of those things). However there are ways we can work towards minimising our frustration to the point where it doesn’t boil over around our children. We need to work on keeping a ‘calmness’ in situations where our children are involved, as we are the adults. Are there times when you are an angry parent too? Do you struggle with controlling your anger or responses around your children?
Before I go on with some suggestions, I would like to state right here and right now that in no way am I talking about anger AT a child. My son is 13 months old – I have never yelled at him (he’s too young to understand) or done anything detrimental to him in any way. I am talking about situations where I have been angry near him but where he is not actually involved).
Find something that relaxes you
Some people commit to mindfulness practises, others yoga. Some pray (if that fits their belief systems), others go for a walk and exercise. Whatever it is that works for you to relax and unwind your body and mind, make sure you do this regularly. A little while back I was getting into adult colouring books because it helped me to focus on something else. While I love my work, and blogging helps exercise my mind, it can be stressful and provoke anger in me about not getting things done. Choose something that helps you to feel relaxed, as well as removes pressure and stress on you.
Find relaxation techniques to de-stress
I’ve had many people suggest that meditation or simple counting and breathing techniques can help your body to physically relax, ultimately leading to mental relaxation as well. Things such as ‘hold counting’ (Breathe in – 1, 2, 3 – Hold – 1, 2, 3 – Breathe out – 1, 2, 3 – Hold – 1, 2, 3 – Repeat) or unclenching your body (clench your fists together, then unclench your fists; clench your brows, then unclench; clench your shoulders, then unclench). Even a simple counting to 10, when presented with an anger-provoking trigger, will give you some extra time to relax and handle the situation in a different way.
Have a time-out
When something particularly maddens you (if related to the kids), give yourself a time-out so you don’t explode in front or around the children. Go find the activity that relaxes your or the techniques to destress you, and practise them for 5 minutes before returning to the situation and sorting it out. This will be more beneficial in the long term than responding angrily to a brief situation.
Find a support network
I am very fortunate that my husband is supportive and knows my struggles. He is my accountability partner and reminds me when I need some time to cool off and relax. Find your support network – whether it is your partner, friends or family – to help you in those heated moments and remind you of the need to relax. They will provide you accountability, support and encouragement when you need it. If you’re like me, after you have a brief moment of anger, you then get upset about your anger and break down (we don’t mean to get angry!). Our support network encourages us and reminds us of our positive traits and our mission to be the best parents we can be.
Talk to a Professional
If you’re concerned about your anger or would like to speak to someone about more advanced techniques, I’d encourage you to see your GP to get a referral to speak to a professional. There’s no shame in seeking out professional help for ways to deal with anger triggers. They can help you unpack why you respond the way you do, and how you can respond differently. Ultimately, it is about doing what is best for our family, so if this involves talkignt o a psychologist, then don’t delay in making that choice.
As I mentioned earlier, anger is a natural response for everyone. Everyone has bad days. Everyone has a particular habit or scenario that ticks them off. What is important is how we manage those situations in front of our kids (or if they involve our kids), to ensure that we can be the best possible parent and role model for them.
Is there a certain scenario or habit that really frustrates you? How do you manage your anger in those situations? I’d love to hear from you below xx
I’ve been pretty honest about the last couple of weeks. They’ve sucked. There have been lots of things going on (including new changes) that I have not dealt with very well. Last week was especially tough, because I had a few comments that were directly degrading my character. I’ve tried pretty hard to be a good person – and especially now more than ever, a good role model for Starfish. I know I have many downfalls (don’t we all), but I was pretty hurt by some of the comments I received last week that suggested that I’m not a good person. As a teacher, we always talk about the importance of being a role model for kids – they look up to you and see what you’re doing. They admire you, want to copy you. Now as a mother, I know that this is amplified 100 times over. I hope that he sees that I’m a hard worker; I hope he sees that I’m true to my word; I hope he sees I try to help others as much as I’m able. But I also hope he sees that I take time to look after myself (still a work in process!). I hope he sees that I look after my physical and mental health. Above all, I hope he sees what my priorities are – that he is my world and I’d do anything for him. Like taking this day off last Wednesday to just hang out. This is my commitment to you, little Starfish – I will try and be the best role model I can be for you (no matter what anyone else says), and you, plus daddy, will always be my priority ❤️