How You Can Avoid Going Into A Rage With Your Children
Something is amiss
I wasn't thinking what I would do next as I turned into the driveway. I wasn't thinking of totaling my car and hurting my two young sons, cringing in the backseat or myself. In fact, I just wasn't thinking. All I felt at that moment was an unspeakable rage. I nosed my car toward the garage and I floored it.
Fortunately, my senses returned and I braked just short of crunching my washer and dryer. I gasped, horrified and ashamed of what I had almost done. Still angry though, I turned to my boys and barked at them, ordering them to get to their room. After depositing the crying, frightened boys in their room, I threw myself on my bed where I completely fell apart. I had reached the lowest of lows in my ten years of parenting.
What set me off that day pales in comparison to the response I gave. Why did I react the way I did? Was I experiencing PMS or was I just overwhelmed? Did I have a problem? All I knew was that my reaction told me something was amiss and I needed to fix it.
What to do?
Every good mother, whether or not she'll admit it, has come to a similar point. As mothers, there is so much pull on us that we forget to take care of the one who takes care of the others -- ourselves. My moment of rage had several roots, all of which are simple and easily treatable, if you are aware of them. Read on to find out if you are in danger of going haywire and what you can do to avoid it:
Chart your anger.
For years, I dismissed premenstrual symptom (PMS) as a scapegoat. It wasn't until I began to chart my irritability that I discovered there really was a pattern. As I've aged and had more children, the symptoms have only become more pronounced.
Doctors at the Premenstrual Institute in Lathrup Village, Michigan, cite research showing that forty percent of women of childbearing age have PMS. Wide-ranging symptoms can include mood swings, frustration, anger and aggression. Taking the initiative to take care of yourself seems to be the impetus to controlling PMS. Getting enough rest, exercising each day, and eliminating salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol can help immensely. Calcium, vitamin and progesterone therapy can also alleviate symptoms. Chart your anger and mood swings for a month or two. If you see a pattern, contact your gynecologist.
Check your diet.
Marianna Cerulli, University Dietitician at Salisbury State University, Maryland, suggests doing a quick (but honest) nutritional self-assessment. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you eat at least three balanced meals a day? Do you get your "five-a-day" of fruits and vegetables? Do you over do it with fatty foods and sweets? Do you meet your body's fluid requirement each day?
Since I've always hated vegetables, I wasn't coming close to my "five-a-day" and, as a busy mom, much of our diet consisted of less-than-nutritious fast food. I've had to teach myself to find creative ways of adding important nutritious elements to my diet. I shred zucchini into casseroles and make fruit smoothies with all sorts of fruits, grains and yogurts. I've also found a soy-based product to substitute for ground meat in dishes like tacos and spaghetti (check your local health food store). Being creative and involving the kids makes the task more fun and teaches good nutrition by example.
Take a walk.
Much has been written about the benefits of exercise, yet when you have small children and a full calendar, it's the first activity to go. Make a habit of walking the few blocks to school with your child rather than driving each day or find a park during your lunch hour and take a few laps. Check out your local gyms. Some have surprisingly reasonable rates.
You need help
I realized I had not been away from my kids for months because we didn't have the funds to hire a babysitter. Without any time of my own, I hadn't completed a train of thought in months, which left me feeling frustrated and scattered. I had to forego my pride and ask for a break. A friend whose kids are in school all day might not mind watching your little ones for one morning while you visit a library or get a massage. If all your friends have small children, trade babysitting time, check out morning preschools or look for a parenting co-op. I couldn't afford to send my son to preschool but I could afford to join a gym that offered free childcare. My preschooler gets to socialize while I get to exercise and have time to myself -- a triple bonus!
Reel in the troops.
When was the last time you updated the chore charts? Over time, my discipline system had lost effectiveness and my kids knew it. To regain control of my household, I wrote my expectations of each of my kids and made a checklist of fresh consequences for infractions so we would all know what to expect. We made new charts and discussed each child's parameters. This meant less nagging for me and more accountability for them.
Each step I've outlined has made me feel healthier and more in control of myself. I've learned to listen to my body and keep inventory of my mental state. Fortunately for all of us, the results have paid off and that blinding rage of which I was so ashamed has not returned.
The truth is that no one but you can take the steps to positive health. Start today using these steps as a base from which to begin. Give the gift of a healthy you to yourself and your family. Believe me, you will all appreciate it.