This is one phrase moms really need to teach the kids for those moments when they are on the verge of losing it.
They really were trying to be helpful while we were assembling our homemade instant oatmeal packets.
I know this because they kept repeating, “I am helping! We are really doing great work. After this we can get our superhero glasses from the store!“
I spooned the oats into the sandwich bags.
My 4 year old spooned some brown sugar onto the oats.
Meanwhile, my 3 year old was getting handfuls of chocolate granola and putting a few in the bag, some on the counter, and shaking all the crumbs on the floor to keep his hands clean.
You can’t make this stuff up
Simultaneously, My 2 year old was shrieking because I wouldn’t let him dip the oats into the bag for obvious reasons.
All the shrieking converges. The baby cries through the monitor. And the phone rings…
Let’s just say I’m On The Verge. Instead of screaming in frustration (which is not necessarily bad unless you’re screaming at your kids) or telling all the kids to go sit in a closet and leave you alone, I’ve found a better way.
We’ve not perfected it yet, but “we’re working on it.“
“Give me a minute.”
When I ask for the kids to give me a minute, I usually need some or all of these things.
- uninterrupted time alone
- kids to play independently and not stand beside me saying “mommy, mommy, mommy”
(Note: I know that a minute is only 60 seconds, but I’ve chosen not to use this phrase literally. “Give me a few minutes” just doesn’t have the same ring to it).
- Fun + Energetic moms will rock at this because though they have a short fuse, they get over things quickly
- Confident + Take Charge moms will find this helpful during times when the kids are uncooperative or defiant as this is a big trigger for them
- Strong + Deliberate moms might not get to a point of explosion quickly, but if you start to feel resentment or slow rumblings of a grudge, this can help you turn your mood back in the right direction
- Calm + Steady moms, you rarely ever get On The Verge, but use this when you start to feel helpless or run down by the kids
Don’t overuse it
If you use this phrase every time you want the kids to go do something else and leave you be, it won’t be nearly as effective.
I’ve reserved this phrase for when I am truly On The Verge.
Now, this may come every day – depends on how much of a tired mom you are – but try to reserve it for when the kids also realize you are losing patience.
The kids can tell the signs of an impending mommy explosion in our house, so when I say “give me a minute” they nod their heads in understanding.
Establish some ground rules
I don’t necessarily leave the room during this time, but I just need time and space to cool down. For example, I may go into another room to sit in a chair or even go stand outside.
I tell the kids to be quiet, stay where they are, and not call for me until I come back. If they break these rules there are consequences.
I say that when I’m finished calming down I’ll come back. We’re not fully there yet (particularly my 2 year old) but we’re closer.
Read: How To Live Within Your Limits And Boundaries
Do you forget to sleep, bathe, eat, relax, etc.? NO MORE. This tracker will help you consistently live within your limits so you have more love to give to your family.
Use the time wisely
If you are truly On The Verge, I would not recommend using this time to scroll on your phone.
That’ll help you escape the tension, but not release or process it. That’s just pushing it under the rug and in an hour or two you’ll explode anyway.
Pray, read your Bible, stare at the wall, or think of things you’re grateful for. Use the time to try and get calm again, not just to escape.
By actually releasing some of the tension you’ll come back in a better place.
Read: The Habit Moms Start — But Wish They Hadn’t
This workbook will help you break the escape that comes with grabbing your phone. Use this to start living in the present.Learn More
Come back and explain
There is usually something that trigger my need for a bit of space. And let’s be honest, the kids usually know what that is because they are usually responsible for it.
I try to get calm and come back to have a little talk with the kids. If I’ve exploded pre-minute, I start with apologizing for losing my cool.
If not, I recap what happened.
It might be like this, “You guys were fighting so much this morning and screaming. I get frustrated when you are rude to each other and I needed to calm down. Instead of screaming because your brother didn’t share, why don’t you…..“
It’s harder for children to listen and grasp your lesson if you’re still fuming.
Read: 5 Angry Mom Triggers — And Solutions
If you need a minute, take a minute
For more success, start practicing this before you actually need to use it. The next time you think you’re going to lose it the kids will understand what’s expected of them.
If you think you’re going to blow your top, then take a few minutes. Whether you need to use a timer (our fave here) or just sit until you’ve cooled off.
Don’t start screaming and throwing or having a tantrum.
Or, if you need to, give yourself a minute, and go do it in another room.
Read: Why Moms Lose Their Identity & How To Get It Back
Want More Genius Phrases to Start Using Now?
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Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
Want some Helpful Phrases Printables?
Because helpful phrases make life with kids *so much easier* and they work – even science says so! – we have created a book chock full of printables for various situations.
Whether it’s mealtime, tantrums, how to listen, bedtime, etc. we’ve got a book full of phrases to help you be the parent you want to be.
Check it out here in both digital and paperback.
I love the play by play in the beginning :) I have two kids, just about 4 and 17 months and I’m having a hard time figuring out how to occupy my 17 month old when my 4 year old is doing something too old for him (like painting, wanting to play a board game or a puzzle, or ‘preschool’ type things). He knows he’s missing out now and I’ve been wanting to maybe get the Fruit of the Spirit curriculum you talk about, but the ‘give me a minute’ type situations increase tremendously during those situations so it doesn’t sound like fun… How do you do it?
Rachel Norman says
Jessie, to be honest. It’s a struggle. It’s always a struggle to keep the youngest one (particularly at that 18 month stage) entertained and I just do the best I can. I try to really prepare ahead of time and say “do this, don’t do that” etc. so that when we’er mid-activity I can just remind. Also, I find that I either need to do more activities with the older ones when the younger one is occupied elsewhere, or I just gotta let him help and deal with the mess :)
What a wonderful post. I couldn’t have found it at a better time. I’m a single, stay at home mom with a 4.5 year old. Very, intelligent, energetic, 4.5 year old.
I have definitely been trying this “give me a minute” idea, though I am having some problems with it. My son will NOT give me a minute.
And when I ask for it and try to leave the room, step outside, take deep breaths, it’s as if this provokes him to act worse… Then that’s when I tend to lose my temper.
I’ll raise my voice about whatever the issue was added with the frustration that I’m utterly worn out, usually followed by tears of remorse and sadness that this could’ve all been avoided had I just got a minute to recoup.
Do you have any suggestions for a single mom with no family or friends close by to help reach out to for support?
Maybe some techniques that have worked in helping your child understand the importance of mommy needing a minute?
Thank you! And you’re amazing by the way, I mean I almost feel ungrateful complaining I cannot handle one and you confidently, selflessly, even comically handle 4! You are a superhero. Thanks for being brave, honest and genuine.
Rachel Norman says
Tori, bless you girl for being so strong! What I would suggest, however, if he starts to act worse is to tune him out when you are having your “minute.” Take the minute and don’t worry about his tantrum or meltdown unless he is physically harming himself or household objects. If that’s the case you might need to put him in his room and close the door. If you do it consistently you can show him that it will truly be just a little bit and that you won’t stop what you’re doing just for a fit. I hope that helps! If you have a big problem with anger (which it doesn’t seem like you do) read my post 5 anger triggers for moms!