I like to think of myself as a pretty patient person. It’s a quality that has helped me through some very challenging jobs and been a reoccurring strength in performance reviews. That was mostly before I had kids, though. It’s almost like the more kids I have and the less sleep I get, the harder it is not to lose my shit on a regular basis. Tell me I’m not the only one.
Overall, I can hold it together pretty well. There was the time I brought all three kids into the pharmacy to fill a prescription and one of them had a complete meltdown because I wouldn’t buy her a Beanie Boo, while another accidentally knocked down an entire display of sunglasses and the baby cried in the stroller. It was almost like I was outside of myself looking at us and thinking, “Well this is a complete disaster.” I apologized to the staff for the mess and patiently waited for the screaming child on the floor to pull it together. I didn’t give in. I didn’t give her attention. I just calmly told her, “I’ll wait over here until you’re done.” She realized her tantrum wasn’t having the desired effect and got up off the floor and quietly left the store with me. It was epic.
Overall, Hulk Mom mode is very ineffective and consumes way too much energy. I’m usually left with a great deal of guilt and regret and left to do damage control
There are a lot of other times though, that don’t look like that at all. Some of you may be familiar with this scenario. It usually goes down in the evenings. I feel like I can be a pretty good parent for most of the day, but I only have so much to give. It tends to happen when I’m exhausted and just at the absolute end of my rope and it’s usually after repeating myself just one time too many.
“OK guys, brush your teeth please.”
“Did you brush your teeth yet?”
“Why are you not in the bathroom?”
“I asked you to brush your teeth!”
And then, just like that, suddenly I’m morphing into Hulk mom mode and at that point, there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
“BRUSH YOURRRR TEEEEEEEETH!!!!” I bellow, in my deepest, loudest, angriest Hulk mom voice. The kids are staring at me wide-eyed and scrambling to brush their teeth. No, they’re not actually. They’re just staring at me and I’m getting even angrier. I want to throw things, scream obscenities and I’m one step away from tearing off my shirt in a fit of rage. This is Hulk Mom mode and it’s not pretty.
This is where unrealistic, empty threats are made, like, “I’m going to throw your iPad in the garbage and you’re never going to play it again!”
Overall, Hulk Mom mode is very ineffective and consumes way too much energy. I’m usually left with a great deal of guilt and regret and left to do damage control. Did I mention the sore throat?
So how can you avoid morphing into Hulk Mom mode?
TAKE A TIME-OUT
You can tell when you’re stressed and tense. Maybe you’re extra short and snappy and just overall on edge. That’s your cue that you need a break. Express this to your partner and take a time-out for yourself. Get out of the house and go for a walk. Maybe you just need to sit on the porch and take some deep breaths or go to Tim Horton’s and sit by yourself for a while. Just go to your happy place until you feel calmer.
I don’t have a partner to switch off with but I will literally go into the bathroom and lock the door and try to tune them out for a few minutes until I feel a little less Hulk and a little more Bruce Banner. It doesn’t take me long but it helps me to refocus. I have to give myself a little pep talk sometimes. “Okay. One more hour. You got this.” And I will think about what I can do for myself once they’re in bed.
TEXT A FRIEND
This works really well for me. I have a few people I can text when I feel like I’m losing it. My favourite combo is texting the one who will calm me down and give me encouragement and also the one who will spin the situation in a humorous way and have me laughing to myself in no time. That always helps to put things in perspective and makes feel like I’m not completely alone in what I’m dealing with.
I know it’s hard to laugh when you’re steaming mad. The key is being in tune with ourselves and being proactive enough to switch it up before we find ourselves morphing into Hulk Mom mode. I might say, “Actually, guys, I changed my mind. DON’T brush your teeth! We aren’t going to brush our teeth anymore! This is too frustrating so we’re just going to let our teeth turn black and fall out and its fine because we can just eat soup for every meal from now on. Cool? You might start to lose friends though when you start breathing that dragon breath on them that smells like a garbage bin, but at least we’ll have each other, right?”
I don’t know. This example could probably backfire but you see what I mean. Turn the tables and get silly. They won’t see it coming and even if you’re the only one who finds yourself funny, at least you’re not resisting the urge to punch through a wall.
When was the last time you ate? Even superheroes need to eat now and then. Grab a fruit or a yogurt or something that’s not a Cost-co sized bag of chips that will end up making you feel even worse. It really is important to take care of yourself and stay fueled when you’re dealing with challenging little humans.
GO TO BED EARLY
I know the dilemma when the kids are in bed and it’s your only time to yourself. What to do with that time? Binge watch your favourite show on Netflix? Scroll on social media for an endless amount of time? Tackle something on that growing to-do list? How about just take a nice shower, put on your comfiest pyjamas and call it an early night. You’ll be even less likely to morph into Hulk mode tomorrow.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.