12 ways to stay calm and keep your temper this half-term

15th Feb 19 | Lifestyle

Having kids home for the holidays can be expensive, stressful and really hard work. These Mumsnet-approved tips can make life a whole lot easier.

feet happy family

As much as we all love our children, there are times when they can make even the most mild-mannered parents fly off the handle. And those times are never more likely than during school holidays, when parents get little respite from their darlings and devils.

It is, of course, perfectly normal to lose your temper with your kids, and it’s just as normal to feel bad about it afterwards.

“There’s a line between being justifiably cross with your child and completely losing your rag, and parents tend to know when they’ve crossed it. Unfortunately, this realisation usually occurs just after it’s happened,” says Justine Roberts, founder of the parents’ social networking site Mumsnet

“The February half-term, with its miserable weather and dark evenings, can see everyone cooped up together in suboptimal conditions, and few of us feel at our best – with potentially explosive results.”

Here are Mumsnet users’ top tips for holding on to the threads of your temper during the holidays…

1. Remove yourself from the situation
If you’re suddenly in the middle of what you know is a heated situation, walk away (so long as you’re sure the children are in a safe place). Put a locked door between you and the child in question and give yourself 10-15 minutes to calm down.

2. Try reverse psychology

Homer Simpson Episode 13 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Instead of just reacting to whatever it is your child’s doing that’s making you mad, try using reverse psychology. For example, your child might be more willing to put on her shoes if she thinks you really don’t mind whether she does or not (even though the truth is you do mind. A lot…).

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Try not to overreact to smaller things. If you normally end up shouting and screaming because your child won’t put their coat on, try to take a step back and ask if it really matters. After all, your child will learn from the consequences of their actions by getting cold, so they may be more inclined to wear their coat next time.

4. Avoid a battle of wills

Try not to frame everything as a battle of wills. Instead, see if you can get your child to help you find a good solution, for example, by saying: ‘This room is really messy and if all the toys stay on the floor like this, they’re going to get broken or lost. What can we do about it?’

5. Pummel a pillow!
Roberts says some Mumsnet users swear by a few minutes of really vigorous activity to dispel the rising adrenaline; try star jumps, sprinting, or pummelling a pillow.

6. Try mindfulness
Check out some online mindfulness courses; lots of apps and sites will give you the first few sessions free. It can help you learn how to recognise your temper’s rising, and give you techniques, such as relaxation breathing, to put you back in control. Remember, it’s important to look after yourself, as well as looking after your children.

7. Keep an anger diary
Write down all the things that make you angry, and see if you can spot any patterns in what provokes you – physical mess, loud noises, lack of sleep, monotony. Then try to think of solutions. Put some time aside to work out how you’re going to address the things that bother you, and brainstorm difficult scenarios before they arise. “It doesn’t have to be only about the kids,” explains Roberts, “goodness knows there are probably other things in your life that wind you up.”

8. Read up
While Roberts says Mumsnet users “don’t go a bundle on parenting manuals”, she admits one book that gets mentioned a lot is How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Templar Publishing, £12.99), which she describes as “a genius guide to changing how you communicate with everyone, from toddlers to teens”.

9. Apologise
While an apology is often not necessary, if you know you overreacted, then saying sorry can feel really good for both of you. Knowing when to admit you’ve done something wrong and apologising is a great example to set for your child, too.

10. Talk it over

women chatting and laughing in a coffee shop
(Thinkstock/PA)

After you’ve calmed down, Mumsnet users suggest having a cup of tea (or glass of wine) with a good friend or confidante, and letting all your angst out. But Roberts warns: “This should not be a person who’ll tell you they would have handled it all brilliantly, not least because they’re almost certainly lying.”

11. Learn from your reaction
Chewing things over in retrospect is fine, especially if you can think of better ways to handle the same thing next time around. However, beating yourself up about your reaction and wallowing in guilt isn’t helpful, and Roberts says: “You’re human and you stuffed up. Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting.”

12. Consider seeking help
If you lose your temper with the kids a lot and you think you’re really struggling, don’t be ashamed to ask for help, either from family or friends, or organisations like Family Lives (0808 800 2222).

© Press Association 2019

MORE FROM XPOSÉ