A big part of the unaccompanied tour is frankly how infuriating it can be. I say this half-joking. For example, in my normal life whenever I need reassurance or to bounce ideas off someone I just call or text Gman or simply turn to him and ask. He's there and he's my sounding board. Suddenly now he's not there and not even available to send a text to in a moment of desperation when Noah is just too much for me to handle. My partner is not there when the cards start to fall or even to tell me I'm beautiful in a moment when I sure as hell don't feel like it. I am often alone in dealing with bills, taking care of our home, and meeting the needs of Noah and myself on a daily basis.
I don't get a break when Gman would normally come home from work. Fellow stay-at-home moms know, it's like the magically hour from 4 - 5 or 5 - 6 when everyone is ready for something new and Daddy will be home any minute to take over for just a little while. Well I don't have that. I just have to keep going. It can be exhausting and just getting through a night where Noah fights me on everything, like "time to brush your teeth" "no! not brush teeth!" and he holds his mouth closed and puts his hands on his face. And then "time to read a story" "no! not story!" and tries to throw himself out of my arms and I'm already ready to pass out myself. Yeah, those days are rough. And long. And lonely. Those are the days when burn out turns to rage and I have to keep myself in check.
Here are some things I do to help manage my anger in a healthy way. And some I should be doing more often... I hope you find this helpful, too!
1. Take time for myself every day. This one is really much harder than you would imagine. Like before I had Noah, this was not a problem. I spent hours doing my hair every week. Now I can't tell you the last time I used a blow dryer. In fact, I didn't have one for several months. I even cut my own hair for two years. But when I take a few minutes to just have quiet time and file my nails it helps to calm me down. Whatever it is that helps you rejuvenate, do it. Maybe a cup of coffee when the kids go down for a nap or watching stand-up on Netflix for a few minutes at night. I am trying a new routine where I set my alarm and get up every morning to exercise before breakfast. It's difficult because Noah wakes up with me but so far it has helped make our mornings smoother and given me a little boost of energy. Which leads me to...
2. Exercise. Exercise really helps soften anger. It gives you a place to put that energy and can lessen stress and anxiety also. It's hard for me to make this a priority, but the more I do it the more I notice a difference in my mood.
3. Talk to a therapist. Trying to figure out what my trigger points are and how to deal with them really gets to the source of the anger. You're going to have to deal with that eventually and talking to a therapist is a great place to start sorting through your thoughts and feelings.
4. Walking away and then talking it through. Sometimes I get so furious that I need a timeout more than Noah. I need to teach him that its OK to be angry and show him ways to deal with it. Walking away and taking a time out is a great physically obvious way to calm down. I teach Noah to count to 10 and take 3 deep breaths. Then we talk about why we are angry. I tried this recently with Gman too and it prevented a fight. I walked away then came back when I collected my thoughts. Walking away is not to be confused with the silent treatment which is passive aggressive and not helpful in resolving conflict. I mean saying, "I need a break" or "Give me a minute" and disengaging. In my frustration with Gman I came back after calming down and said, "This is why I'm angry with you." We were able to talk through it without either of us being defensive. We even laughed about it later.
5. Find the humor. The best way to defuse angry is with humor. Finding levity in your life will help bring you back to center. One night I was so furious with Noah I thought I was going to hurt him. I was scared of my rage and told him, "mommy's very very angry right now and I need to take some deep breaths. I need you to be nice to me while I'm angry, Noah." He replied by basically mocking me. He clenched his fists, gritted his teeth, and growled! It was both insulting and totally adorable. I had to laugh at his attempt to show me he understood what I was saying. Soon laughter completely diffused my anger. After I put him to bed I thought about why I was angry and tried to find a solution to my issue.
6. Ask for help. Ask friends, family, parents, babysitters to help you get through this really difficult time. It's hard for me to reach out sometimes because I don't even know what to ask for. So here are some ideas: ask your parents to watch your children for a night and you go to a hotel and order room service. Or maybe it's a girls night out or a coffee date with a good book. Maybe you ask someone to cook with you once a week or invite friends over for a small party or a glass of wine. Socializing and taking breaks from the daily grind stop me from being all consumed with all the things that are pissing me off. Sometimes simply voicing my frustration helps diffuse it. Sending a text to my sister like, ugh you won't believe the night I've had and her responding with a ridiculous meme or just saying, that sucks, really helps.
One last note on anger. Don't be afraid of anger. It's a healthy, normal feeling to have. And it's a powerful one too. We have seen far too many examples lately on the news of blind, ignorant rage destroying lives. But anger has lead to some incredibly positive changes in the world too like cures for cancer, fights against poverty and injustice and hunger. If you think of it this way, you can use your anger to make some positive changes in your life too.
Previous posts on The Unaccompanied Tour: // 01, // 02
Previous posts on The Unaccompanied Tour: // 01, // 02