Man Cub has great big emotions that are sometimes hard for either of us to control or even understand. The night we brought him home from the hospital, he woke up (again) at 3 am screaming bloody murder because he had suddenly decided that his hat (which he had never even seemed to notice before) was on and he wanted it off. RIGHT NOW. He still hates hats. Along with milestones like teeth, walking, and talking, he has been practicing the fine art of toddler tantrums. He has several styles, but his favorites are:
- The Pterodactyl Screech: good for getting mom’s attention when you’re on your last cheerio and you don’t want to run out
- The Wet Fish: lay down, thrash around violently. Good in public when mom says it’s time to go, be quiet, or some other crazy thing. Can also be paired with the pterodactyl screech for emphasis.
- The Limp Noodle: This tactic is good for when mom is trying to pick up Man Cub to go to bed or get out of the aisle at church. Simply go limp, especially in the arms to prevent a good hold, and let 30 lb of toddler and gravity do the work.
He’s really got quite a bit of flair. Sometimes it’s almost comical the energy he puts into his meltdowns. But sometimes it’s just not funny. At all. Sometimes my patience is wearing thin because the cat was at the door at 3am (what is it about 3am?) demanding to be let in for a late night snack so I’m sleep deprived, and I haven’t been able to finish my tea yet even though I’ve reheated it four times, and there are toys completely covering the floor and I just don’t want to deal with drama over the fact that while he has another full cup sitting right next to him, the cup he wants to drink out of is empty. The other day I found myself “speaking loudly and with enthusiasm” (okay, maybe it was yelling) during one of his meltdowns, “Why can’t you just CALM DOWN for FIVE MINUTES?”. …hmmm… Yes, mom, why CAN’T you just calm down for five minutes? I mean, is this really such a big deal? He is one, and in his perspective these little things are important. Maybe he wants a little more control over his environment. Maybe he wants to show that he can use the “big boy cup”. Maybe he just wants me to see him. I apologized to Man Cub, scooped him up for a hug, and sat with him for a while to play. I started thinking that day of ways I can stay calm. He will learn best from my example. After of course checking that basic needs are met (food, water, diaper/bathroom, temperature), try these out the next time you start melting down along with your kiddos (in no particular order):
- Take a Time Out! Sometimes you just need some space. Once your child is reasonably calm and they are old enough to play by themselves for a bit, take a time out for you. Go to your room and close the door. Breathe and get your bearings again. Take a shower. Reheat that tea/coffee again and actually drink a little of it. Go to the bathroom. Is your child too young to be unsupervised? Even a baby or young toddler can be left in a crib for a short time (5-30 min). Sometimes I will put man cub in his crib with a few quiet safe toys while I get a little me time. He fought it at first, but he actually enjoys some alone time when we are having a hard day. It helps him reset, too.
- Pray! You can’t do this alone. God is always with you and He will help you. One of my favorite prayers contains the line “In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all things are under Your control”. Pray in the moment or find a prayer or psalm that you like and say it when you start to get frazzled. There’s a space to write it out on the printable below.
- Eat Something! How many times do our kids get cranky at snack time or meal times? We need to fuel ourselves, too. Keep a stash or quick, healthy snacks handy. I have noticeably better days when I eat when Man Cub does. It doesn’t have to be much, but a little snack can go along way in keeping blood sugar up and tempers down. Drink some water, too. Dehydration can give you a headache.
- Laugh! Laughter truly is good medicine. Find something that will make both of you laugh. Man Cub’s laugh is my all time favorite sound in the world. Sometimes simply tickling him will relieve tension in both of us. If your child isn’t a fan of tickles, try a funny face or just being goofy. I have the most fun when I’m trying to get a laugh out of Man Cub.
- Ask for Help! Call a friend, your spouse, or a parent. You can also call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). They provide free and confidential counseling and help- they never even track information. You can find out more at their website: childhelp.org/hotline/. If you need help, especially if you feel like you might hurt your child, CALL SOMEONE! Don’t be afraid to reach out- just do what’s best for you and your family. Having those feelings doesn’t make you a bad mom. You’re tired, you’re stressed, you’re human. But you need to take care of your kids, even if that means having the humility to reach out and admit that you can’t do it alone (you were never meant to, anyway).
- Use Essential Oils! I love essential oils and use them for managing headaches*, allergies (lemon*, lavender*, and peppermint*), muscle aches*, and even PMS*. My favorite oils to de-stress are Spike Lavender Oil* (we also use this for sleep- we diffuse it in Man Cub’s room every night and sometimes in our room; Spike is a bit more fragrant than French Lavender) and Stress Relief* (aka liquid sanity. Seriously, a few deep breaths of this and I can feel my entire body- not to mention mind- relax. I typically inhale it but I’m thinking of diluting it in a roller ball* and wearing it as perfume because I could seriously use it every day!).
- Get Some Fresh Air! Now that the weather is finally nice (at least in California), going for a walk is much easier to do (and combines fresh air and exercise). You can run around in the park or your own yard. Even if it’s raining (assuming it’s not a crazy storm), you can walk in the rain for a few minutes and let the cool water cool your temper, or even just stand under an awning and breathe it in. Rain smells amazing.
- Get moving! Exercise releases endorphines and can instantly help you feel better. Pay tag with your kids, Go for a walk together, or just wiggle the fusses out (I do this when Man Cub is grumpy: hold his hands and gently wiggle his arms up and down, making funny faces or noises. Works like a charm. You know, except when it doesn’t 🙂 ).
- Put the Phone Down! So many times I get frustrated with Man Cub for being fussy, then I realize that he is just trying to get my attention because I have been busy. Now, I get it, life is busy. I don’t think having my life revolve around him is healthy for either of us, and sometimes things do have to get done (like dinner). But so many times what I’m doing could wait while I focus on him. Sometimes cars or a block tower is more important than email. I’m trying to leave my phone in the other room to focus on him. He won’t be a toddler forever!
- Take care of Yourself! Daily self-care is so important. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. You don’t need an hour-long massage every day, but how about asking hubby for a foot massage (trade off, because he’s tired too)? Get your coffee early, before anyone else is up, and drink it in peace. Color. Read a chapter of a good book. Do some little thing every day just for you. If you are running on empty, you can’t give as much to your family. You can list your favorite ideas on the printable below.
What strategy do you need to work on the most? What do you do to keep your cool?
Click here to download your FREE printable. Thank you so much for reading!
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