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Feeling Elevated?

Getting through those hard parenting moments.

I'm not really into astrologic signs, but do identify with being an Aries. When I was in the ER, my caregiver, who was a traveling nurse from New York with an awesome bedside manner, noticed my birthday on her chart. She mentioned that she was a fellow Aries and I asked her "do you have that fire burning inside of you too?". With her quick wit, she responded with "inside, outside, all around," which made me laugh and forget for a moment where I was.

I bring this up, because when the kiddos are testing me or acting out, I have many times felt like that fire is spreading from inside to outside and all around. After talking to other mamas, I know I'm not alone. The term I use to describe this is "feeling elevated". When frustration ignites the spark, the nervous system goes into overdrive, and you can actually feel the emotions rising up within you.

As adults, we've (hopefully) mastered controlling our emotions. I never lash out, don't yell, but find myself clenching my fists and wanting to run away. Here's what I've found to help:

  1. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, stop for a moment and take deep breaths.

  2. Tell your partner, or other support person, that you need a break and walk away for a few minutes (or more if needed).

  3. Try to deescalate or change the situation that is causing the stress.

  4. Try to focus on all the times your kids made your heart happy and use gratitude as a calming mechanism.

  5. Remind yourself that every parenting stage/situation is temporary.

  6. Plan some time for self-care, in other words, something to look forward to.

  7. Have a cocktail (proven to work, but not a healthy long-term solution :).

Now this happens to me not just when the littles are being challenging, it can also happen when they want my full attention (physical, emotional and mental) for an extended period of time. When you feel so overstimulated and drained that your nervous system is triggered.

I have also noticed that loud noises, such as happy or mad yelling (and even my dogs' barking or loud music) can cause this response. My therapist has recommended wearing earplugs at times, and as ridiculous as that sounds, it might just help.

As I'm writing this on Superbowl Sunday, when I was elevated to the max by both my teen and toddler, I realize getting it out has helped. So maybe the answer is that all moms should start a blog? I joke, but perhaps writing in a journal might actually help.

Staying calm in difficult parenting situations is obviously ideal, but not always realistic. Give yourself grace for those times you just can't keep it together. Motherhood is a rollercoaster with fun twists and turns, but also big loops that make you want to put one hand over your mouth and the other in the air to get off this ride. Hang in there. It's all about how we react to, and learn from, these hard times that help us grow as parents.


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