Do you want to learn how to Manage “Mummy Rage”? How often do you feel agitated, irritated or frustrated? Lots of mums experience these big emotions. It’s a very common and universal experience that most parents experience. Parenting can bring out overwhelming emotions like anger and rage. But how can we manage these emotions?
Founder of Spilt Milk Psychology, Amanda Donnet, helps us understand “mummy rage” and gives us strategies for managing and reducing strong emotions for parents.
Why We Experience Mummy Rage
The front part of our brain is where we do a lot of our thinking, problem solving and contextualising. In the middle of our brain is our limbic system, the emotional centre, it does a whole lot of feeling.
So sometimes when something happens, we flip from problem solving to feeling, it goes from grey to black and white, and we catastrophize. Problems become bigger than they are.
It’s the fight or flight centre of our brain. Its job is to keep you safe, so when we feel vulnerable or threatened, we can act based on how we’re feeling. We have tricky brains that are hijacked by strong emotions.
Early parenting is a time of strong emotions. We don’t need to police our emotions but police our behaviour. While we don’t want our kids to see our unregulated emotions, we do want them to see that things aren’t always right, but we can calm ourselves down when we need to. We learn how to be human by recognising all things break and we can put them back together.
How to Manage Mummy Rage
Start with your emotions. Let your emotions sit on the surface. We need to be able to learn to see hard emotions. Anger is a bodyguard, it protects us. So, look at what is it trying to protect us from? The most powerful thing for combating feelings of rage and anger is validation and feeling seen. If we name our emotions, it helps us to dig deeper, anger can mean feelings of inadequacy, unimportance, out of control – the anger isn’t just anger. Look into your deeper emotions.
Recognising the reason you struggle is because you’re human. Acknowledging other people would feel the same as you in the same situation, you’re not alone. Don’t carry shame and guilt, shame feeds overwhelm. What we can do is choose how we recognise and respond to our emotions. Find the middle ground and acknowledge you’re a good parent but you messed up. We need to let ourselves off the hook and understand it’s not who you are and apologising well when you need to helps humanise the emotions.
Self-care is not optional, its necessary. You need fuel in the tank. When you are busy you generally neglect the things that you need over your children. You can’t get anywhere in your car if you don’t have any fuel. Take a beat when you need one, take a moment to catch your breath and fill your cup.
4. Apologise well
If we do experience anger and we yell, we need to be able to know how to apologise well. A good apology has 4 steps:
1. I’m sorry for..
2. It happened because..
3. This is what I needed..
4. This is how I’m going to meet that need..
eg. I’m sorry I yelled, it happened because I felt unheard, this is what I need you to hear, this is what I need to do and what I need you to do.
5. Tag out
If you’re feeling overwhelm come on, leave your baby with a supervising adult or put them in a safe place and take a second to calm down. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from situations to calm down and refocus.
6. Ask for help when needed
When it goes from a normal experience of mixed emotions and overwhelm to something more is potentially going on, ask for help. There is a difference between struggling a little bit and having this be ongoing. Look at the frequency, duration and intensity of your rage and negative emotions. How often, how long and how intense. If it’s happening every day for maybe over 2 weeks and you wouldn’t want anyone else to see you behaving like this, these can be signs you may want to reach out for help and there is never any shame in asking for help.