Motherhood can be stressful! We recently ran a post about how to put the Zen back into Motherhood with the 10 Step Mommy Zen Plan. Today, Bethany Drysdale shares her remedies for the Mommy Ragers.
My hands gripped the steering wheel and my teeth clenched while a small voice rose from the back seat: “Mommy, when we get home, maybe you should take a nap.”
From the mouths of babes, huh?
But nap time would have to wait, because we had a shopping list a mile long, and two kids (and mom) approaching nuclear meltdown on empty stomachs. We had stuff to do, and collapsing on my bed wasn’t an option.
My temper is short these days, and my patience almost nonexistent. It’s true: I go a little crazy when I catch my daughter bouncing a ball off my picture-lined wall after I’ve told her no fewer than 85 times NOT to do that! Is it bad that I almost want her to hit a frame so it crashes to the ground and shatters at her feet? Maybe then she’ll listen to me? Is that wrong?
I obviously don’t have the magic cure for Grumpy Mommy-itis, but I’ve found some things that seem to help me simmer at a lower temperature, and I thought I’d share them here. And I’d love to hear your remedies for the mommy ragers, too.
Ok, maybe I’m a little bit Earth Mama, but I really do believe that most of life’s remedies can be found in nature. And when my friend who sells essential oils tipped me off to doTerra’s Balance blend, I fell in love. This isn’t to plug one particular brand; there are probably similar blends from other brands, I just happen to like this one.
The oil smells like a wet redwood forest, and I find it extremely relaxing. My kids hate it, so using it around them defeats the purpose because then I have to try to chill while hearing “Mom, that’s nasty! What is that smell? Oh, ick! Open a window!” Not exactly conducive to peacefulness.
You’re supposed to put a few drops in your palms and then rub them together, cup your nose, and inhale. I tried the inhalation without the oil, thinking that maybe just deep breathing would do the trick, but I swear the oil actually made the difference. When I feel myself getting wound up and needing to come back down to earth, I inhale the Balance oil for a few minutes and feel like maybe I can carry on without blowing up.
Essential oils are the new Tupperware: You probably have a friend who sells them and wants you to book a party with your friends. This is one party that I actually recommend going to.
About a year ago, I wandered into our local homeopathic/herb store and said I needed something for stress that wouldn’t mess up my body chemistry or do anything freaky to my brain (I’m an eloquent shopper, aren’t I?). Have you ever read the side effects of some supposedly natural stress pills? Scary! I didn’t want to take anything that messes with hormones or alters my brain chemistry.
The clerk sold me a package of rhodiola capsules, so took it home and referred to Dr. Google to find out exactly what it’s about. It’s basically purported to help with mental clarity, like ginseng. And an added benefit is that it regulates your adrenal glands.
The theory is that your adrenal glands that release balancing hormones when you’re stressed out can get worn out, and your body becomes less able to physically deal with stress. This is a totally debatable theory, and I’m not claiming it’s fact. But the theory makes sense to me, and since I couldn’t find any horror stories about side effects, I gave it a go. I took it religiously for about six months, and I do feel like my temper became just a little less touchy. I found myself in situations that ordinarily would have evoked an explosion from me (seriously? spilled milk… again???) and I dealt with them like a normal human being. That’s a good feeling. There was absolutely no “high” or change in mood, just an overall better ability to negotiate the emotional minefield that is motherhood.
Again, I’m not endorsing the theory, and I wouldn’t recommend taking anything on the advice of a blog post, but I felt so noticeably better in those six months of taking rhodiola that I’m now wondering why I didn’t buy more. Note to self: order a refill on Amazon when you’re done here.
Ugh, I hate to say it, but sometimes the best medicine is simply a vigorous
walk around the block. You’ve probably heard all about the emotional benefits of exercise: it releases endorphins that make you feel better in the moment, and it makes you look better so you feel better about yourself in the long run. It’s amazing what fitting into a tight pair of jeans will do to lift your mood!
I’ve really been slacking on exercising lately, and that’s probably the culprit behind my hair-trigger temper today. My kids aren’t actually that bad, so no, it was probably the lack of exercise. I think I owe them an apology.
A really great glass of wine
No, I’m not saying you need to go hit the bottle to relieve stress. I’m saying you need to hit a really great bottle – something you’ve been saving for a special occasion – to relieve stress. At least for me, there’s such a feeling of “I EARNED this!” when I indulge in a glass of great wine that the day’s troubles just melt away. It really has nothing to do with the alcohol content (well, not much anyway), it’s all about spoiling myself a little.
By the way, you don’t have to blow a bundle to get the feeling: sometimes I forgo quality for a great label that will cheer me up. Mad Housewife merlot, Murder on My Mind pinot grigio, and Mischief Maker cabernet sauvignon just crack me up and feel like a big middle-finger to my bad day. It’s a reward for cleaning up yet another spill, or stepping on yet another Lego, or biting my tongue when my daughter falls off the table I told her not to stand on. “I told you so” would feel soooo good, but it’s not nearly as helpful as an ice pack and kiss on the boo-boo.
So yes, when I am absolutely ready to blow a gasket, I send the kids to bed early, take a book and a really great glass of wine outside, and I enjoy them both. Every sip and every word. Because I deserve it!
I love the idea of chanting along with Deepak Chopra for an hour-long guided meditation in my own little zen corner of my garden. Some day maybe that’ll happen. For now, the best I can muster is an app on my iPhone that guides me through about 10 minutes of deep breathing and happy thoughts. And what do you know? It works!
Closing my eyes and focusing on nothing but my own breathing is extremely hard to do, and extremely rewarding. It takes some practice to sit still, but the great thing about meditation is that there is no succeeding or failing – you just do it.
When all else fails, sometimes I really do just need a good nap. And when that isn’t possible (that jobbedy-job thing gets in the way of my nap time), sometimes I have to just turn off the computer, turn off the TV, close my book, be willing to ignore my to-do list, and go to bed.
Tonight is one of those nights. After trying all of the above, I’m going to follow my daughter’s advice and get some sleep. And maybe tomorrow my inner Hulk will stay asleep so I can treat my kids with love and patience instead of anger and aggravation.
What do you do to tame the temper in you?