Have you ever found yourself wanting to curl up in a ball on the kitchen floor or yearning to scream at the top of your lungs into the universe out of anger and frustration? Have your kids pushed you to your limit when it comes to all the duties, responsibilities, and day-to-day droll of motherhood?
The postpartum period can be an amazing, wonderful time, but as the mother’s hormones adjust back to standard levels after pregnancy and giving birth, it can be a tumultuous time for mental health. The power to combat “mom rage” and other mental health issues during the postpartum period is beyond just taking some deep breaths and getting more sleep. By understanding a few key concepts and making some minor adjustments to everyday life, mothers can shift from merely surviving to being happy and thriving.
Acknowledge that “mom rage” comes from unmet needs.
One of the biggest symptoms of mom rage and other postpartum mental health problems, including postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, is the feeling that your needs as a mom don’t matter.
If you feel like you’re reaching a breaking point, remind yourself that you must have important unmet needs. Beyond feeling overwhelming, strong, chaotic emotions, you are more than just a mother. You are a person with a sense of self – and that “self” deserves attention and care.
Mom rage and other mood problems often stem from not being grounded. When you are calm and grounded, your urges are separate from your actions. You are able to acknowledge how you feel and stop yourself from following through on an urge (like the urge to yell and scream at your kids). When you feel out of control, there is no buffer period between an urge and an action. Your nervous system is so wound up that it is always ready to react.
When a parent has unmet needs, their world feels out of control. It can be difficult to overcome this spiral, but with the right support and community, a mother can embrace her feelings and needs because she will realize that she is an important person.
Acknowledge that guilt has a helpful purpose.
Guilt has a purpose, and it is a normal part of being human. It can signal something that you want to work on. Guilt helps people feel accountable for their actions and think about what would be helpful in their life to make a positive change.
Life is not about being a perfect parent, so it is important to not let guilt lead to feelings of shame. Instead, remember that guilt prompts you into thinking about deeper unmet needs. Guilt reminds you of your values and reorients you. It allows you to see clearly where your behavior doesn’t line up with your values.
Guilt is one of the first symptoms that moms need a break. Stress from the day-to-day responsibilities of parenthood can lead to a breaking point where a mother resorts to yelling or other forms of rage. Stories of mothers being pushed beyond their capacity are not uncommon. It’s important for moms to talk about their feelings and find resources and support to help them through difficult times.
Acknowledge that you are not the sum of your bad decisions.
You are not a bad parent just because you made a mistake. Maybe you let your emotions get the best of you and you began yelling at your kids. Maybe you felt angry and threw away one of your kids’ favorite toys because they were acting up. Maybe you got sick of the kids’ endless crying and fighting and decided to lock yourself in the bedroom so you could have a break. Maybe you didn’t get enough time for self-care and felt resentment towards your children because their needs always come first.
Motherhood is not about always making the right choice. You are not the sum of your mistakes. A good mom is not a perfect mom. A good mom is someone who takes care of her mental health, takes time for self-care, seeks pathways of support, and carves out boundaries that support meeting her own needs.
Acknowledge that your needs are just as important as your family’s.
Resentment toward children is a sign that a mother didn’t hold a boundary and it has started to weigh on her. Anxiety, depression, and other maternal mental health issues can make motherhood so much harder. Setting up firm boundaries where your own needs are taken care of can be a helpful tool in dealing with mental health problems, especially “mom rage.”
Check-in with yourself periodically. Ask yourself what you need. Validate your feelings and needs, and remind yourself that you matter just as much as your child.
Acknowledge that you are more than just a mom.
Get rid of feelings of shame and inadequacy. The popular societal construct claims that mothers should be selfless. But the happiest moms don’t subscribe to that theory. To truly love a child doesn’t mean to give yourself away. Kids need parents that retain a sense of self. Your emotions and needs don’t end the second you step into motherhood. The very idea of maternal image of perfection as being selfless or self-sacrificial is a theory that doesn’t serve most people.
You are more than just a mom. How do you convince yourself that you have needs that are just as important as taking care of your child? By doing things that take care of yourself. Self-care is actually a way of loving your children. Moms shouldn’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves – there is a big difference between self-care and basic human rights. Taking a shower is not self-care. Going to the gym once a month is not self-care. Doing the laundry is not self-care.
Motherhood is a part of you, not your entire identity. Your children might put up a fight when you begin to take time for yourself, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. You’ve already told yourself you’re doing the right thing – taking care of your own needs – because this is a way of loving your children and showing them that their mom is a person who values herself.
Motherhood is a journey that should not be traveled alone.
Mothers, despite their unique family backgrounds, need and deserve physical and emotional support and resources from those around them. It truly does take a “village” to raise children, and the world of parenting can be daunting and lonely. With a support system of family and friends, women can become happier and more empowered in their role as mothers.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you’re at a breaking point, ask yourself about those feelings. What do you feel? What need is that feeling connected to? Ask yourself what parts of you are important besides your role as a mom? You are a person that matters. Lastly, when you feel guilty feelings creep in, remind yourself that guilt is meant to prompt you into action, not cause you to feel guilty.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.