Let me start out by saying that experiencing all emotions—including irritation, anger, frustration, disappointment, confusion, agitation, sadness, and anxiety—is a normal part of motherhood (a normal part of being human, really).
So, while we obviously don’t want to go around having rage all the time without taking a look at it, I do want to start off by saying there is nothing wrong with you for feeling how you’re feeling! And once you know that, you’ll remove the judgment and shame (the “I’m a bad mom” voice in your head). From there we can take a look at what’s going on for you.
While it would be amazing to feel happy, loving, appreciative, and shall we say “on cloud nine” all the time, that’s just not real life. We wouldn’t be human without negative emotions. So, it’s not feeling bad that’s the issue. It’s knowing how to process emotions instead of reacting (yell, snap, etc). that’s the issue.
When we’re taking a look at mom rage specifically, I think it’s important to define what we even mean.
What exactly is mom rage?
Mom rage is the phrase we use to describe the thoughts, feelings, and actions taken towards our family in an extreme, negative way, usually resulting in our own adult version of a tantrum (yelling, getting mad, overreacting, etc.).
Understanding what causes mom rage will be enormously helpful here.
The root cause of mom rage is your brain.
The cause of any action (like yelling at your kids) is your thoughts.
Your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings drive your actions.
For example, let’s say you’re thinking thoughts like, “I can’t handle this! They’re so bad! I’ve had enough! They don’t listen or respect me!” These thoughts will likely create the feeling of anger. And when you feel anger, you lash out and yell.
This is why taking deep breaths, using a pause, or leaving the room are only temporary fixes—they don’t solve the root cause, which is your thinking.
Start watching your feelings instead of reacting to them.
One of the best ways to get started with dealing with mom rage is to focus your attention on what’s happening internally for you (inside your mind and body).
You can feel anger, rage, irritation, agitation, and frustration without yelling, reacting, or snapping.
You probably haven’t been taught this before, but it’s 100% possible. This is what I call “processing a feeling” (one of the Core foundational practices I teach inside Grow You, my mindfulness community for moms).
Feeling your feelings starts by watching your feelings. Take a look within and allow your emotion to be there without reacting to it.
You can be very upset on the inside without reacting to that emotion.
When you master this skill it sort of feels like magic (it’s that good).
Come up with supportive thoughts to think in the moment.
Because it’s your thoughts that are creating your feelings (not what’s happening outside of you), you can create thoughts ahead of time to practice thinking in the moment when you’re experiencing strong, big emotions that typically result in you experiencing mom rage.
The best thoughts will come from your brain, so definitely get to work on thinking of a handful that feel really good to you.
That said, I don’t want to leave you hanging! Here are a few thoughts that feel good to me when I’m in the moment experiencing a big emotion and don’t want to overreact, snap, or yell.
Thoughts To Think In The Moment To Avoid Mom Rage:
- I am safe.
- My child is safe.
- Nothing has gone wrong.
- I can cope with this.
- Lessons are being learned here.
The more you practice focusing your attention on what’s happening internally for you, the less reactive you’ll be in the moment to the things that normally would trigger you.
Visualize becoming someone who stays calm when you’re out of the moment.
While the tools above are useful when you’re in the moment, the biggest transformation happens out of the moment.
This means practicing (i.e. visualizing) who you want to be (how you want to think, feel, and act) in the future when a similar circumstance happens.
For example, let’s say you have a lot of mom rage in the morning when you’re trying to get everyone out the door. Visualize your kids acting exactly how they always act (one is screaming, the other is ignoring you, and the third is being clingy). Assuming they all stay the same, how do you want to think, feel, and act? This is what you want to mentally rehearse.
Practice staying calm and becoming this next version of you.
Your brain is really in the habit of having mom rage. Your brain loves habits and doesn’t discriminate in kind. Meaning, it’s going to take some practice for you to become someone who doesn’t have a lot of mom rage.
And that’s okay! This brings me back to what the introduction was about. Overcoming mom rage doesn’t make you a better you. You are not lacking. You are not a bad mom. You’re a human being who is half amazing and half mess.
When you work on yourself (and your mom rage) from a place of love and acceptance, not only is the process much more enjoyable, but you actually will continue growing into this person instead of quitting because you won’t be shaming yourself with the mom guilt.
A Final Note
Mom rage gets a bad rap, which is understandable insofar as we all want to be moms who treat our kids with kindness and respect. And this is a good aim when it comes from loving yourself 100% of the time, including when you get it all wrong, make a mistake, and have mom rage.
Just remind yourself, this work is worth doing because of who you’ll become in the process of doing it—not because you’re unworthy and need to do it to fix yourself. You already are the exact mom you’re supposed to be. You got this, mama.
For more help with mom rage, join my mindfulness community for moms, Grow You, where we take everything from this post and apply it to your real life.