Let me paint a picture of something we are all familiar with.
You’ve been up with someone all night long.
And that someone was probably either throwing up, pooping, or wanting to suck on your boob every 5 minutes.
The sun finally peeks over the horizon and your other children are now awake and demanding food, squeezing toothpaste all over the countertops, and bringing out every toy in their closets.
Someone gets hurt climbing on the couch.
Siblings argue over the the last waffle.
The How-to-Homeschool book you recently bought is gathering dust on the counter.
You check Facebook in between kissing booboos, wiping up syrup spills, and throwing your hair in a messy bun and you see that all your friends have gone for a jog at 4 am, actually taken showers, dressed their children in adorable matching outfits, and shared photos of their morning smoothie #kale.
Someone discovers a trail of sugar ants in the pantry.
You hear what sounds like a box of toothpicks being dropped on the floor in the next room.
You discover that the dog has eaten your favorite pair of shoes.
A child that might belong to the neighbors comes barreling through the kitchen with muddy feet.
You go through an old pile of mail to find a bill that is now past due.
Finally, you sit down to breathe for a minute, reach for your coffeemaker and…
That is the moment where the tears start piling up in your eyes and spilling over like the mountain of laundry that is overflowing in the upstairs hallway.
You yell at the next little person who walks in the room to ask for a banana (which you know you will find later in the week under someone’s bed).
You race to the bathroom for a full out ugly cry session, but as you sit on the toilet, 3 sets of hands start poking their way under the door crack.
How is a woman supposed to deal with these moments without pulling out what’s left of her post-natal head of hair or spending a child’s college fund on a therapy shopping trip to Target?
Here are some ways that I have learned to cope on those days when ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST.
#1 – Take a 5 minute Time-Out
When I feel my insides bubbling like a bottle of Diet Coke with a Mentos in it, I try to stop things before the big explode. I will announce loudly that Mommy (not them) needs a time-out and then head to a spot in the house to be alone for 5 minutes. Usually this is the bathroom.
*Note – If seeing hands poking under the door bothers you, climb into the shower and close the curtain.*
The hardest part is sticking to 5 minutes. Be careful not to fall asleep in there or get lost checking email (and don’t – I repeat – DON’T get on Instagram or Facebook during a mommy meltdown – scrolling through everyone’s ‘best’ moments will not help your current situation) because for every minute past 5, a child will probably be doing something in the house that will create more work and drama for you later – like getting into the china cabinet or playing with your favorite pieces of jewelry in the kitchen sink.
#2 – Get dressed
If you are still in your pajamas – put some clothes on.
Sometimes just putting a bra or mascara on gives me that extra umph to think clearly.
#3 – Make contact with the outside world
Often we need to get out of our 4 walls and be reminded that there are other women out there having rough mornings too. A few days ago when a solo trip to Ikea went really bad – like one kid screaming hysterically through the store for 15 minutes straight because his flip flop felt sticky??? And the other kid throwing a tantrum because we’d already gone on the elevator 503 times and he wanted 504??? She promptly responded with her own tale of a child just having a massive meltdown in the library. The library, people. We were able to encourage each other to keep persevering and I felt loads better. Not because I was happy about my friend’s bad experience, I was just relieved to know that I wasn’t alone.
#4 – Turn on some worship music
When my spirit is in turmoil, I reach for my CD player (I am slightly Amish and don’t have an iPod). :-)
Listening to worship music (Hillsong, Elevation, Jesus Culture) or any Kari Jobe album (which is the equivalent of listening to angels sing) is an essential tool in my mommy meltdown arsenal.
Every once in awhile I will even scoop up my kids, buckle them in the car, give them a bag of Goldfish, set up the worship music and go for a drive. Sometimes just driving around listening to songs about the Lord’s faithful, loving hand – with no destination in mind – can create an unexpected peace.
Just make sure that your turbulent mental state isn’t going to cause you to hit the gas pedal too hard. Adding a speeding ticket to your already ‘perfect’ day will not be amusing.
Plus, it’s not safe.
#5 – Have a ‘Do Over’
On days when nothing is going right, attitudes are stinky, and situations keep circling from bad to worse, I tell my children that we are having a Do Over. We all climb in bed and pretend to start the day over. We ‘wake up’, greet each other happily and begin the day again with all our normal morning routines. You can even go as far as serving breakfast a second time. Whip up a batch of homemade waffles to redeem that argument from earlier. :-)
This usually gets everyone smiling and is a great demonstration of that verse from Lamentations about His mercies being new every morning…
#6 – Do something nice for someone else
Having a bad mommy day? Go Ding Dong Diaper Ditch a new mom. Or leave a new doormat on someone’s doorstep. Or head to Starbucks and pay for the order of the person behind you. Text a friend an encouraging word. Send someone an E-card.
You will feel better. I promise.
#7 – Bedtime Redemption
When all else fails and the day is ending and you reflect back on a whole lot of tense situations, angry glares, and harsh words, I like to use bedtime as a place to seek my childrens’ forgiveness for the ways I failed to honor the Lord (and them) with my behavior that day. There is something special about those moments before bed – their little hearts are open a bit more (possibly because they know hanging out with me allows them to stay up later – ha!), but nonetheless, they are a bit more subdued than during the waking hours and it makes for a quiet pocket to reconnect.
**End the day well.**
#8 – The only thing that will REALLY work
The above suggestions are great, but managing a mommy meltdown can truly only be solved with the powerful words of God.
Because often a mommy meltdown is fueled by overwhelming feelings of weakness, unrealistic expectations, inadequacy, failure, self-condemnation, and other destructive lies.
And the only way to destroy lies is to replace them with truth.
Speak to yourself Psalm 18:32 – “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”
Or Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Or Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Or a favorite of mine – Deuteronomy 33:12, “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”
Those are the words that will wash over your soul and remove away the anger and stress and 100,000 tiny things that led you to the point of critical mass.
So when you’re headed to the bathroom for your 5-minute time-out, grab the Bible on your way.
Use those precious minutes to get filled up with all the wonderful promises He has for you in that Good Book.
And when your 5 minutes are up, let Him lift you up on His shoulders and carry you out of the bathroom and through your house (stepping over the laundry and discarded banana and yes, toothpicks) to continue pressing on in the calling of motherhood.
Being a mom is tough. Days like the one I described above are probably going to happen and you will probably struggle to manage it well (unless you happen to be in the Duggar family).
But grace is about His strength being made perfect in weakness.
So let your mommy meltdown be the thing that draws you closer to Him instead of closer to bankruptcy.
Because Target ain’t got nothing on Jesus.
How do you manage a Mommy Meltdown?
– Julie :-)
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16