We all have those moments, right? Our child talks back, or hits someone (maybe us). We fumble our coffee cup and it crashes to the floor, spraying that precious liquid everywhere. The cat throws up in the middle of the kitchen and then we step in it. Our child whines, “I’m bored,” or “Can I watch TV?” for the 11 millionth time since breakfast.
In those moments, it is so easy to lose it. It is those moments that cause me to yell, stomp, make threats. Those are the ones that crack me.
But when I catch myself just before the cracking happens and use a mama mantra to center myself, I can unwind myself and make a better choice of response. One I won’t regret in the next instant.
How do I do that? First, I take a breath. Taking a breath always helps. Second, I find a mantra that will take me out of the moment and into a calmer place. Once I’m in that calmer place, I can choose how I want to respond, not just respond without thinking.
What’s a mantra?
Originally from spiritual traditions, a mantra is a series of words or sounds intended to align the practitioner with the divine. The “Om” intoned at the beginning of a yoga class is a mantra. A repetition of the Lord’s Prayer or Ave Maria is a mantra. Chanting “Om Mani Padre Om” during meditation is a mantra.
As co-opted by the West, a mantra is a phrase intended to help you deal with a difficult situation. They are very useful to help you keep a positive attitude during an extended hard period, and also to shift you out of anger, fear, defense – all those not-fun lizard brain defense responses to a critical moment – into a calmer, more sensible place.
A mama mantra is a phrase that will help you recover from those specific responses only our kids can trigger in us. No one knows our buttons like our kids. These mantras will help you through those pushed-button moments.
Here are 5 mama mantras I come back to when I need to shake myself out of a moment when I’m going to say or do something I may regret. They won’t help you clean up the coffee, but they will help you not yell at your kid.
Do what you can, let the rest go.
This is my go to in the morning before school and at bedtime. Or any time I just feel like there is not enough time or energy to be the perfect mother I always want to be (related: “Nobody is perfect.” is also a good one).
Love is almost always the answer.
This is the one I use when my child is throwing a fit. My instinct is to push her away, send her to her room, walk away. But that’s usually the last thing she needs. Your child may have a different personality, but mine almost always needs me to hold her in my arms and tell her I love her no matter what, even when she’s yelling at me. These words help me to calm down enough to open my arms to her.
What do I want her to remember?
Do I want my daughter to remember me yelling every morning before school? Do I want her to remember me saying no every time she asks to play? Do I want her to remember my phone between my face and hers? No, I don’t. This mama mantra brings me back to my values, helps me make better choices, and get more creative about how to get her needs and mine both met.
You’ve got this.
This mama mantra is something my friend Liz says a lot. It is such a good one. Use it when that voice comes up saying, “I can’t do this!” Because mama, you can. You are strong enough, brave enough, tough enough. You might need to call in some help, or step away for a moment to gather yourself, but you’ve really got this.
Age cures everything.
This one comes from my friend Melissa’s mom. Use it when your child won’t eat anything that isn’t white. When he is in a sleep regression. When potty training feels like it will never ever happen. When she starts talking back and she’s only five. When you’ve tried everything to make bedtime easier and it just isn’t getting easier. Because if there’s anything consistent about parenting it is that everything changes. But that’s hard to remember when you are in the thick of a really snarly issue. These words will help. This stage won’t last forever.
If you like these mantras, check out the 100-day project I’m doing on Instagram right now. One Post-It note every day with a nurturing note for mamas. You can read all of them under the hashtag #100nurturingnotes.
Print out the image above and post it where you’ll see it. Use one of these mama mantras to shift your head from exploding to resolving. Do you have other mantras that you find helpful? Leave a comment and tell us about them!