When Irritability Hits as a Mom

Yesterday was a rough day.

The kids were difficult all morning–getting into things and throwing tantrums. After dealing with this behavior all morning, we decided to go to the library. I thought I would get some time to sit down while the kids played with the train set in the kids’ area. Instead, I ended up having to mediate multiple fights between the kids and also make sure my youngest wasn’t pulling books off the shelves. There were even more tantrums as they fought over a specific train and I had to take it away. Then the last straw was that our oldest had an accident. This was after I had asked him a couple times if he had to go potty and had even taken him to the bathroom to try. Thankfully I had a change of clothes in the car and took him out there to get him changed. But it was just too much, I was overwhelmed, and to top it off my pregnancy hormones were going crazy. I am not proud of how I responded to the kids–I was not very patient. I told my son how disappointed I was in him for having an accident. I am not proud to admit I was harsh with my words. Once I got both of the kids buckled into their carseats I just broke down. Thankfully we were able to turn around our day, and the remainder of the day went much more smoothly and with better attitudes all around. Below are some things that help when I’m having a rough day or am feeling irritable:

  1. Evaluate if there are physical reasons for the way you are feeling. Have you been getting enough sleep? Could there be something you’re deficient in? I don’t think that any of these give us an excuse to be irritable or snappy, but it does help to know why we are more high-strung and to find out if there is something that can be done to correct the physical problem like getting more sleep or taking a specific vitamin.
  2. Apologize if you have snapped at your kids or been a bad example with your impatience. It is extremely humbling to apologize to your kids but it not only sets a good example to them but helps smooth over any harshness that you may have shown them. I did just that after we got back from the library and asked both kids to forgive me and gave them hugs. My son who had been acting a little nervous around me since the accident was beaming after I apologized.
  3. Evaluate your priorities. I also try to remember to ask myself why I’m upset and if this is more important than the person I am irritated or frustrated with. Usually when I am upset it is because I am losing control or things aren’t going my way. I initially feel justified in my emotions–the kids or my husband aren’t appreciating me or are making my job harder than it needs to be. But when I take time to really think about why I am being snappy or irritable, I often realize I am just being controlling and whatever I am upset about is in no way as important as my husband and children. My husband travels a lot for work and when he is gone on a long trip, I almost miss the dirty clothes he tends to leave laying around. These times help me see and understand that the person and relationship are more important than their annoying habits/tendencies.
  4. Say a prayer. Take a deep breath and pray for patience. I don’t do this as often as I should, but lately I have found myself convicted when I start to get snappy and then I pray for peace, patience, and gentleness. It does not always take the irritableness away completely, but it has definitely helped me turn the moment around and act more gently faster than I did in the past.
  5. Reset your focus. I love turning on some praise music in the background. The music soothes me and the words help me to reset my focus and get my eyes back on Christ instead of myself and my rough day. If you have time to sit down and read a verse or two, this also really helps me calm down and gives me peace. The following are some of my favorite verses to dwell on when I am feeling irritable.
    • Colossians 1:11– Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience.
    • Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient; bearing with one another in love.
    • Colossians 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
    • James 1:3-4 – Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
    • Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
    • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  6. Find some time for yourself and some time for self care. A couple of things that help me to not get irritable as often is to have personal quiet time every morning and a set nap/quiet time for the kids every day. I try to wake up about an hour before the kids to have my personal quiet time. Starting the day with God helps me to have more peace throughout the day. Also having a set nap/quiet time in the middle of the day allows me some rest so I don’t get overwhelmed or burnt out as easily. I feel that these two things are instrumental in me being less irritable. Yesterday was an example of a time that the kids’ nap time helped me reset. After the rough morning, I took it easy during their naps and felt refreshed and relaxed by the time they both got up. Now, saying all that, if I don’t get either of these times to myself throughout the day, it is not an excuse to be irritable. For some ideas of things to do during self care and how to make time for it, visit this post.

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