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 Mummy Tantrums 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post Mummy Tantrums
by: Amanda Alexander

Last Tuesday morning between 8 and 9 a.m. was not my proudest hour. In fact it serves as an excellent example of the sort of uptight, stressed pickle working mums often get ourselves into. It was the sort of morning where I didn't get my own balance right, to say the least, and instead I ended up acting a bit like my two year old son Freddie when he doesn't get his own way. Yes, I had a full blown Mummy Tantrum.

I know that I'm not the first mum to have a morning like this so I'm taking a deep breath to share the whole sorry tale with you. I hope that by being upfront about my own experience, it could help you if you ever throw Mummy Tantrums yourself.

And so, the story begins. The boys and I ended up leaving the house late last Tuesday morning, so Max was ten minutes late for his holiday club football. My working day started at 9.15am instead of 9.05am as planned. Ten minutes later really isn't a big deal is it?! Who would have thought that starting the day 10 minutes late would cause such trauma?

My heart was beating fast, my adrenaline racing around at 8.30am. I took it out on Max, when, at 8.45am he said "Where's my tracksuit top?", followed by "Can I wear my new shoes?" and "I don't know where my trainers are".

I blew. I really blew. Mount Etna had nothing on me. I shouted at him, "You are old enough to make sure you've got your tracksuit top. I'm not your servant" and "find your own shoes. No, you can't wear your new walking boots. It's not fair! You should be ready to go!"

I grudgingly found his trainers for him and threw them on the floor in front of him, slammed a couple of doors and sat in the car with the engine running and a face like thunder whilst I waited for him to put his trainers and his shin guards on. In short, I did a fair imitation of Freddie in one of his tantrums. Ok, so I didn't lie down on the floor thrashing my arms and legs around and screaming at the top of my voice, but I threw my own grown-up version of a toddler tantrum.

Poor Max - my little helper, my Freddie-tamer, my patient, thoughtful, kind and funny seven year old - copped for it.

Clearly, being a coach doesn't make me superhuman or perfect mummy. However, it does allow me to ask myself useful questions so that I can reach a better balance in future. Once I'd emerged from my tantrum, I asked myself:

What were the clues and warning signs this morning that I didn't notice?

After some reflection time, here are clues and warnings that I didn't take notice of at the time:

1. I hadn't had enough sleep (only 6 ½ hours... I need a minimum of 8).

2. Freddie has entered the “terrible twos” with relish over the past couple of weeks, and has been testing his newfound theory of "I'm a separate human being from you and I want to do what I want to do and it's mine, all mine, everything is mine HA HA HA!" at every opportunity. As a result, my calm and patient parental reserves are low.

3. I started weeping at the news on the radio that a media personality, Clement Freud, had died, aged 84. What's that about then? Hmmmm, I'm not usually this emotionally volatile. Anyone suspecting that it could have been that time of the month?

4. I tried to do it all that Tuesday morning:

- Tidy the house
- Make all the beds
- Make Max's packed lunch
- Do 10 mins. of yoga (Ha! That clearly didn't help, did it?!)
- Made porridge for the three of us
- Cleaned the porridge pan (after having burnt the porridge)
- Arranged an appointment

The lesson that I learned from last week's Mummy Tantrum can be summarised in one word: RESERVES.

If you read over my self-reflection answers above, you might notice that there is a theme running through: I hadn't created enough reserves for myself.

A reserve is exactly what it implies: Something left over as spare. For example, we might have a reserve of cash that we keep in our car in case of emergency. We might have a reserve of food in the freezer or in the kitchen cupboard for those times when we might not have fresh food available for a quick meal.

In my case, and I know these are absolutely typical neglected reserves for most mums, I had run low on reserves of:

- Energy
- Sleep
- Time
- Health
- Support

So, what could I do about this? Again, here are my inner ramblings. Having identified the triggers, I looked at what the corresponding low reserves might have been:

Well, the sleep is easy enough - make sure I get 8 hours tonight!

What about health? The hay fever gets me down every year at this time (interestingly enough, a less welcome legacy of becoming a mum 7 years ago!) and I find that it has a dramatically negative knock on effect to my energy. I've investigated an alternative treatment (Bowen Technique) and I'm waiting for confirmation of an appointment. A little too late to prevent the hay fever this year, but I can set a reminder for myself in February every year to start treatment, thus creating a health and an energy reserve for spring in future years.

>From today's episode, clearly there are times (!) when I'm a bit emotionally volatile, so I could mark this time in my diary as well, to act as a reminder in future, so that I can take steps to make sure that I'm rested and give myself more space.

I thought I'd done well by putting my clothes out and Max's lunch box out the night before, but I'd forgotten to get him to check he had everything he needed for football. All I need to do is a simple time tracking exercise and face up to just how long it takes to get the three of us launched in the morning, and allow myself 10 minutes reserve of time to allow for lost trainers, forgotten tops, missing Doggily etc, etc!

I always cope well on the outside with challenging behaviour from my kids, but clearly the classic toddler boundary-pushing behaviour is getting to me! I'm going to email mum and ask her to send me some reassuring "don't worry, it won't last forever, you'll cope, I remember this" type words about coping with the demands of a two year old!

The purpose of me wearing my heart on my sleeve and writing about my very flawed and very imperfect morning is to prompt you into thinking about the times when you have run low on reserves.

Coach Yourself on Mummy Tantrums and Build Your Reserves

Have you ever had a mummy tantrum? Whether you have or you haven't, the point of this article is to show you how important it is for you to create reserves in your life.

Grab a pen and paper and ponder on the following 7 questions:

1. What are the general causes of your mummy tantrums? What happened during your mummy tantrum(s)?

2. What did you learn from your last mummy tantrum?

3. What didn't you learn? In other words, what is the same mistake that you keep on repeating?

4. When will you say "enough is enough" about this and try a different approach for this mistake?

5. What reserves were you running low on at the time of your mummy tantrum? List them …

6. What can you do to create super-reserves in the future?

7. What will you do today to create one of those reserves?

By taking a little time to identify where you are low on reserves, you will identify triggers and come up with new ideas that will certainly be invisible to you when you are in mid-tantrum.

Happy tantrum taming!

Amanda x

About The Author
Amanda Alexander is the founder and Director of and has supported hundreds of mothers in the UK, Europe and USA to achieve success with balance for over five years.

Amanda runs Mumpreneurs workshops for mothers who want to start their own business and to date has inspired over 200 women to become self-employed. She features regularly in the media, and is called upon to comment on many topics ranging from work-life balance, parenting, relationships, time management, women’s careers and business issues. She has featured in and written for numerous and varied publications such as the Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Practical Parenting, Eve, Family Circle, Executive Woman, Weightwatchers, Prima Mother and Baby and BBC

Visit the author's web site at:

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Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:35 am
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