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How to Manage Mommy Rage

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When my child triggers my anxiety, I don’t know how to manage my mommy rage. Maybe you feel the same? I noticed my anxiety caused so much anger. Below you’ll find tips for managing your mommy rage.

“Eat your food, or you will starve. I DON’T CARE.”

Tears begin to stream down his face, and anger rises in mine. Screaming at my children first thing in the morning isn’t exactly how I was hoping to start my day. 

I cooked his favorite breakfast for him, and instead of eating, he saw his plate and flopped onto the floor and began sobbing. 

This is the second breakfast I made for my little dude this morning and the second meal he’s straight up refused.

It’s not even 7am, and I’m done. 

So done. 

Sound familiar?

Maybe you’ve gotten in arguments you later regret because your ungrateful children just refuse to even try their food. 

Who are these children?

Who is this person inside of me screaming at my children?

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Managing Mommy Rage

Rage. 

I am so angry. You’re so angry.  Our kids are so angry. 

Why should we care?

We don’t really want our children to remember us as always being angry. 

Or be known as the angry mom

Moreso, I want my child to grow up and still like me when they’re done being assholes in my house. 

Why are we doing all this hard work of child-rearing if we can’t even enjoy it when they’re out of that crazy teenager phase?

Why Do I Have So Much Rage?

Anxiety often shows up in our lives as anger, and so often as moms we don’t have control over our situations and kids are unpredictable. 

As a mom with anxiety, you’ll see it present as anger in certain situations. It’s important to understand what they are so you can recognize and avoid being triggered by it

The most common triggers of anger in moms:

Depleted Mom Syndrome

Your cup is always empty. You’re out of energy to deal with children often.

When I decided it was time to do the research to put together this post, I was at the end of my rope every day before 7am.

I realized I can’t get up after the children wake up and expect to have any sanity.

Even when my husband–who is wonderful, my rock, and so completely level headed–was home to help alleviate the stress . . . I still couldn’t control my anger.

Sound familiar? You aren’t even out of bed yet, and your cup is already empty.

When you’re pouring from an empty cup what you’re giving is not a gift. No one wants that.

What Can You Do?

Make a list of 20 things that can cheer you up right now.

My list is usually things like “being alone for an hour”, “painting” or “taking an epsom salt bath”.

Once I write out my twenty things, I do three. Right now! If you wait until you feel up to doing them, you’ll never get them done.

Self Care is not selfish, and it’s so necessary as a mom.

My Child Triggers My Anxiety

This is so huge with mental health.

Oftentimes, I take my child’s disobedience personally.

I can’t be the only one.

Take a second when you’re feeling your anger rise and ask yourself “am I only angry because they didn’t do what I asked?”

They’re people too. I don’t do everything ANYONE asks.

Leading by fear rarely gets the results we want.
I don’t want my children to be afraid of my angry outbursts.

When is the last time you made a good decision based on fear?

I can confidently say I never have.

Related: Why Every Mom Needs a Daily Planner

Consistency with expectations is a thousand times more effective than leading through fear.

I want to dig into some of the reasons why our children trigger our anxiety, the most common reasons are:

I Have Unrealistic Expectations

It’s great to think our kids are always going to listen to us, or that’s something we could ever achieve.

But they’re tiny humans, with thoughts and feelings and desires, just like us.

Do you do everything you’re ever asked to do, willingly, without question? I haven’t. And I don’t want to expect my daughter, who I want to be independent and a leader when she grows up to follow everything I say blindly.

But on the other side of that coin, I do want her to at least try to listen. For my sanity.

You can’t expect your household to have a great attitude all day when you’re angry, or when you’re blind with anxious rage.

This one is hard for me to accept.

I fight with it, and my children so much.

How can they KNOW my expectations, and do what they want anyway? It’s like the ultimate betrayal. 

My husband is very level headed, so I have learned when he is calm and not worried about them doing certain things, maybe I should take the cue and relax that expectation.

I’ve Slipped in Consistency With My Children

This happens so much with me.
I get comfortable with how well my children are behaving– or more often I get overwhelmed enough I stop caring, and I let some things go.

If they don’t want to eat their dinner, I tell them that’s fine.

If I ask them to do something and they don’t do it, I do it for them, or get up and walk away.

This is the root of all my problems with my children.

Being inconsistent, and letting things go “this time” or “because they’re being so good” leads to children who don’t understand where the line is, and they’ll keep pushing until they find that line.

When this happens to us, we make sure we know our core ruleset, and we stick to it.

Be as strict as you can for a few weeks, and then you’ll see the difference.

They’ll stop turning into floppy piles of mush when you put dinner on the table every night and begin to look like normal civilized children again.

Hey, a girl can dream.

I’m Exhausted

Children. Are. Exhausting.

Are you getting enough sleep? 

If this is your case, go someplace where they can go crazy and you can sit. Like a playground, or put a movie on.

Because girl, it’s okay to let the TV babysit your kids when you’re burnt out.

PBS Kids is educational, so it’s basically like sending them to school.

I’m Being Too Proud

Remember when I made breakfast for my son, and then screamed at him for not eating it?

I make the GREATEST breakfasts of all time, I have no idea why he would insult me so much and NOT eat it. HE ASKED FOR IT.

Whoa.

Not as quickly as I would have liked, I realized I needed to step back and re-evaluate.

I got down to his level, look him right in his eyes, and I said: “I’m sorry”. 

Because I was wrong.

Who is the adult? I am, and I’m acting like an asshole.

No wonder he didn’t want to eat the food I made.

No wonder he screamed and flopped around on the floor.

I was there showing him how to be an asshole.

How can we expect our children to listen and talk nicely when we talk to them like they’re an inconvenience?

Don’t Be An Angry Mom

Well, that’s easy. I’ll just do that.

Here are some tips for you, because if you’re like me, you need a solid plan before you can make a change. 

How to Be a Less Anxious, Less Angry Mom:

Manage Your Expectations

Children learn how to manage their emotions from their parents. It’s unrealistic to expect they can be on this earth for a short amount of time and have complete control over their emotions.

Let’s be real, I don’t even have control over my emotions.

Related: Everything You Need to Know about Rotating Toys, and How it Will Save Your Sanity

I still flip out on SO MANY occasions. 

Be Their Teacher

You know when your middle child flops around on the floor and sobs, and you have no idea why?

That’s how your children feel when you fly off the handle at them.

Use your words, Mommy.

They can’t read your mind. They don’t just know why you can’t rub food all over their hair, or color the walls with a permanent marker. Tell them. Teach them.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Children are notoriously slow.

No matter what you do, those little sloths are going to go at the slowest speed possible. Especially when we are running late.

Your time management is much more important here than their skills.

They will always be slow, you are in control of getting them from point A to point B, if they always take ten minutes to get into the car, allot ten minutes of time to put them in the car in the morning before you need to leave. 

Not sure how long they take? Time yourself to see.

Is Positive Parenting Possible When I’m So Angry?

When you’re always angry, and always at the end of your rope, you might think this is it. You’re an angry mom. Nothing to do about it.

But there is.

Accept Where You Are In Your Journey with Anger

It’s okay to be angry.

You have to start where you are, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably currently pissed off.

You have to accept where you are and understand what that means for your family.

Right now, I have a problem with yelling. I don’t like yelling, or how it makes me feel and how it makes my children behave.

Like the little mirrors they are, they have begun screaming at each other at the drop of a hat.

This is my fault.

The reason they’re acting like this is a direct result of the way I act towards them.

I am at a place in my life where I need to change because I don’t like where I am right now. 

Accept Where They Are In Life

Homework drives me nuts.

My middle child is in kindergarten and gets one hour of homework a week. He is fully capable of doing all of it.

We split it up over the week, and he spends about fifteen minutes a night on homework.

He’s so flipping slow.

I say “write your name here” and he takes his sweet time, talking about each letter, telling me a story about why he loves his name, and even about how someone in his class has a three-letter name, so he can write his name super fast. Like Gekko super fast.

He has always been my sweet child who enjoys beautiful things in life.
He is the Ferdinand in our house.

He appreciates the flowers, bees, and the pink and orange hues the sunrise tosses across the sky.

It turns out that it also means he meanders around all tasks. He takes his sweet time, but he always gets it done, as long as we are patient.

My anger will not change that. My rushing him will not change that.

I don’t want to turn him from the happy and peaceful little boy he is into an angry little boy with a short fuse.

So I have to be patient and go at his pace, and when I mess up, I own it. 

Apologize When You Need To

Read this again.

Apologize.

You are a human. Your child is a human.

We all make mistakes, and that’s okay.

We don’t have to live in a world where parents are perfect and never make mistakes, because that will lead to feeling like you have to be perfect all the time. It’s not possible.

Remember when I screamed at my son for not eating the breakfast I hand crafted for him and I felt AWFUL?

I owned up to my mistake and I fixed it.

I gave my son a good apology, skipped the excuses, and told him I wanted to do better. Just like I want him to do better.

How can we expect our children to be good people when they grow up if we treat them badly?

They’ll think adults treat others like you treat them, and is that something you want for them?

Plan Ahead

The best way to avoid triggering your anxiety and lighting the fuse on the dynamite of your anger is to plan ahead.

Figure out how long it takes for your children to do certain tasks, like getting in the car, eating all of their food, or cleaning up the 4,000,000 legos they dump out every morning.

Then allow them a little more time than that when you expect them to perform that task. 

What Can I Do Right Now?

Connect With Your Children.

When you’re feeling frustrated about them doing something, ask them “What’s your plan?” you’ll see something you wouldn’t think of.

I was getting frustrated with my son about his homework.

I walked away and decided I was going to let him do it himself.
He kept getting up and walking away from his homework.

Not even a minute would pass and this kid would get up.

Right after I told him to sit down and work on his homework.

I specifically told him to write his name. He’s written it a MILLION times, he KNOWS how to do it, why isn’t he doing it?!

I could feel my anger rising. What is wrong with this kid?!

I took a second and took a breath before talking to him. I was fuming at his insubordinate behavior. How dare he.

Once I took my breath I could see he was genuinely upset because he saw how mad I was getting. 

So I asked him what I could do.

Through his tears he said barely over a whisper “I just want you to sit by me”. My heart shattered, and my anger disappeared.

I sat down next to him, ashamed of myself . . . and he wrote his name without me having to ask him at all.

I apologized for getting so frustrated with him.

This story hurts my heart. I hate admitting that I was that person to my child.

Know Your Triggers

Does being late make you crazy?

Understanding and seeing what will make you angry will help you be able to avoid it.

Planning ahead does wonders for avoiding angry outbursts that you’ll end up regretting at the end of the day.

Understand Children Are People Too.

You were a kid once, remember?

This is the best thing I can remind myself of when I’m feeling frustrated. If I’m frustrated, they probably are too.

What can you control in your life?
It’s not your kids.

Yes, you.

You can control you, and how you respond to your children. 

Have A Few Key Grounding Techniques

No matter how many techniques you put in place to avoid your anger, you will inevitably still get angry at some time in your life, and you’re going to need steps to take or a key technique to calm yourself so you can get out of a bad situation for yourself.

For me, it’s taking some deep breaths, or rubbing my fingers against my thumb.

Anger Management is a Process

You can put all of this plan into your life right now, and still feel angry, or out of control.

This is a process.

It’s unreasonable to expect you’ll be able to implement all of this overnight and be completely “cured” of anger after one day.

Give yourself grace, especially when things are crazy, like they are right now. You can do this.

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31 thoughts on “How to Manage Mommy Rage”

  1. Heartbreaking. Been there, done that. Noticing what triggered me was helpful. There are always internal warnings before you explode. Once I was aware of these, I had an easier time talking myself down and trying to walk away. For example, instead of continuing the lesson, we stopped. So hard when you just want to get things done. But you will not go wrong putting the relationship first. Above all else.

    1. Wow! I feel like you were talking to me in this write up. You are so right on. Thank you so much for writing this. So true and so insightful. You are amazing!!!

    2. This is such a great tip, thank you for sharing it.

      I think that’s a wonderful question to ask ourselves. Is it worth the fight? Is it worth what it will do the relationship I have with my child?

      We are all just trying to do our best, and I think it’s so easy for us to take those good intentions, and hold onto them so tight that we can’t seem to let them go, even if it’s what’s best for our children at the time.

      Fantastic thing to think about, thank you!

  2. Beth,
    Wow. This whole post is incredibly raw and reflective. It must have taken you forever to write it and things like this – about how we fail as mothers are so hard to write. Just yesterday, I was DONE with my youngest son. It’s not even that he did anything wrong – he was just being him and asking 10,000 questions and moving through his work like a turtle. That’s just him some days. I can’t count the number of times that I have exploded on him for things just like this – and you are right. It does not help one little bit and it makes me an angry mom. That’s not how I want my kids to remember me either. I told both kids that Momma needed a time out and I went to the walking track next door and I jogged and walked. It took 2 miles, but after I felt better I was able to come back and we finished up. It sounds like you have done a ton of research and reflecting and you know what you need to do in order for things to get better. That’s the first step. Sending you virtual hugs!

  3. Wow! I feel like you were talking to me in this write up. You are so right on. Thank you so much for writing this. So true and so insightful. You are amazing Beth!!!

  4. Parenting can be so challenging. I feel that my anxiety manifests similar to this. I’ll have rage but then many tear filled moments afterwards. It’s a process but I’m learning to change that.

  5. Wow, thank you for posting this! I think the realities of momma-hood should be talked about more. Thank you for these tips and real talk.

  6. I found your post on point for me. Thank you for being open about mental health, and raising kids with our own emotions in the mix. It takes so much “good” and real work to not be reactive in stressful parenting situations. I look forward to following you along on your blogging journey!!

  7. I totally understand. As the mom of four girls and one with special needs, this is why I plan so much. So much to do and when things are not organized I am frustrated.

  8. Great article! I have to say that Epsom salt baths are truly a great way to soothe stress and anxiety. This was a very honest article. As a mom of 10, I can identify with a lot of what you have shared.

  9. You hit the nail right on the head! Your post even triggered anxieties that I have as a parent and teacher regularly. Thank you for being vulnerable and bringing awareness to such an important issue!

  10. Yes, yes, and yes. It’s amazing to know I’m not alone in this. I always feel so awful after (and sometimes during) yelling at my boys. But boy oh boy do they know how to push. I loved your tips to help battle the anger and I can’t wait to put them to use for me. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing with us.

  11. Heart-wrenchingly honest post ❤️
    I love your tip about knowing how much time it takes for our kids to do certain tasks..it helps to plan…I use this same concept when my children misbehave, I have a preset of responses in order to NOT overreact.
    I have spent the better part of the past 5 years learning about myself, my triggers, my fears (aka: anxiety)…and I have seen tremendous change in my children, specifically my oldest.
    Way to go momma, thanks for sharing.

  12. Consistency in expectations and consequences is everything! You’re so on point! My husband and I always make sure we are on the same page as far as the rules go and we work hard at staying consistent. I really like your suggestion on making the list of 20 things that would cheer you up and actually doing a few of those things! Bravo.

  13. Ha Ha! Mommy rage is indeed real. Over the years I’ve SLOWLY learned to go there less. These days having a punching bag in my garage is pretty much the best. I also run 3 days a week. Um, hello! Best. Thing. Ever! You’ve got some good points here. We have to fine ways to fill our cups and let ourselves be human. Letting our little ones be human too can be ridiculously difficult. I think probably one of the biggest factors here is that we recognize there’s a problem, accept it, like you said, and then learn from it. Mommy rage can lead to some of the absolute worst mommy guilt. And who needs that? Neither help me be a better mom, not sure about you. Forward ho!

  14. The day my son was scared to come talk to me about something that happened at school…and started out “Don’t go all ‘angry mom’ on me” I knew I was in trouble. I really appreciate this article and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there!

  15. I am right there. I am a teacher and deal with kids all day. Then I am a new mom and when I get home its hard to contain myself. Everything seems to bother me. My husband works opposite so I don’t get a break but I do break. My son is not even 2 and I swear I get so angry with him and then later feel so bad. I nearly always apologize afterwards but it is hard. When you said that you heard your kid say that he just wanted you to sit by him that got me. I try to occupy my time, being stuck in the house so much these days and I forget to occupy him at times. He is so young but it is so hard to just sit on the floor with him all day everyday and doing the same things over and over. It is to hot to go outside (110 degrees) so we are just in the small apartment. I love him but yes, I have a rage. I have recently started to do better. Leaving my phone on the counter, turning my computer off and even started to recognize he just wants to do what I do, but I have that rage. I applaud you for putting it out there, I know how hard that is. I am trying to do that as well.

  16. This really hit home for me. I find that I have a lot of anger and anxiety when it comes to my daughters disobedience and I often take it personally. Thank you so much for being brutally honest and reminding me that I am not alone.

    1. Isn’t that so refreshing to finally see? When I realized this, it was a gamechanger. She’s not acting out because she was “getting back at me” or whatever my silly brain was saying. She was telling me she needed me. Sometimes I look back at my actions and cringe. I’m sure you feel the same way.

      It’s okay. Just keep trying. 🙂

  17. I still remember those times in my life as a young mom, I was frustrated often. I finally learned to take a deep breath and pray. Thank you for your honesty and all the good insight!

  18. YES!! To all of this. I can so relate because my anxiety does often manifest as anger. Then I just cry thinking I am wasting so much precious time lashing out for something so minor. Right now I feel like my cup is completely empty. Thank you for this.

    1. YES!

      I too have cried so so so much when I think about what my anxiety has done to my relationships with my children. What’s important is we keep trying. It’s okay to fall off the horse. Let’s make sure we get back on.

      You’re doing great!

    1. Well thank you for reading through and commenting. Parenting has been such a hard journey for me. I love my children so much.

      I remember when my daughter was born, and I first held her in my arms. I felt so much potential in here. She’s an artist in front of a blank canvas. I cannot paint her life’s work for her, but I can teach her. I can show her the way I painted mine, I can show her what I see other people doing, and what I’ve liked and disliked about others. Selfishly, I’ve wanted to be the only teacher, and I’ve wanted to show her step by step how to create the perfect painting.

      But she is the painter. Not me. This was the lesson hardest for me to learn at first.

      I can try to sculpt her into the image I think she should be, but she’s the tiny human who can turn into anything. It’s what she wants, not what I want.

      I think this mindset shift helped me the most in my parenting.
      Her actions aren’t a reflection on me as a human, they’re on her. She’s the incredible painter of her own painting.

      I’m so glad I get to watch.

  19. Hey Bethann! Thank you for writing about raw motherhood at its finest. Like others, I am very gulity of doing a lot of the things you mention. After I scold my child, I feel guilty about it and just think about how I can unlearn this unhealthy parenting habbit. A good thing to point out is that when we talk negativley like this, we are passing on how our parents talked to us when we were not being obedient. Let’s unlearn this toxic generational language!

    1. I’ll admit, it was hard to write this post. It’s hard to admit you’re doing it wrong sometimes. Even with the very best ideas, we can still fall short, and that hurts.

      As for unlearning the unhealthy parent habit, I think it’s important to let our children see that we are constantly trying. It’s okay to lose your cool sometimes. Someday, your kids will lose their cool, and they’ll remember what we did. Do we want them to remember stomping off and slamming our door to sulk in our room? Or would we rather they remember taking deep breaths, and trying again. Or apologizing when we’re wrong.

      Apologizing was a big one for me. As you mentioned, we often pass down what our parents did with us, and our children will do the same. I hope my children pass down some patience. We may not be perfect, but every step in the right direction will help future generations.

      My parents did a wonderful job raising me, I feel. But I also have things that I didn’t like about the way they raised me that I have changed in my parenting journey, and my kids will raise their kids differently too.

      I can only hope they understand I’ve always done the best I can.

  20. Wow! Convicting! You are defiantly NOT alone! Thank you for this post because it is easy to feel alone in this journey! My husband works crazy long hours so that I can stay home. It can be a really long day with five children. Some days it defiantly takes a toll on me an I often feel like I take it out on the children. It’s such a short season in life and I don’t want them to remember me as the crazy mom that lost it on the regular!

    1. It is so lonely! You’re right.

      I think that loneliness can lead to less than desirable behavior too. It’s such a gift when we can stay home with our children, but it can also feel like such a burden at times. We do the best we can, and sometimes those good intentions turn to rage when we feel like we are pulling all the weight and they can’t seem to budge. “Just clean up the blocks!!” can quickly turn to rage when we aren’t being listened to.

      But we are the adults, so we should be able to handle a little disobedience. It’s a rough place to be. I wish I could say I was the patient mom, or the calm mom. It’s a process every day. I hope I can get there soon. It’s important to keep going towards that goal, even when we fall.

      Thank you for the comment!

    1. You’re welcome! I’m glad you’re here. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone, right?

      But it’s also important to remember we need to stop this rage, so we can be the best mom for our children. I don’t want my children to remember me and think “my mom has anger issues”. I want them to look back on the time they shared with me under my roof as the time they felt most loved and adored. 🙂

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