It seems to come out of the blue.
One day we’re running a well-oiled machine. The kids get up on time, eat breakfast with no complaints, happily march off to school, and come home to a spotless house. We all enjoy snacks and dinner which have been expertly planned and prepared.
The next, the machine has broken down in the way of a cartoon buggy — springs poinging in one direction; gears rolling off in another — and now the simple act of preparing breakfast and lunch in the mornings feels Herculean in its might, everyone is eating crackers and anchovies for dinner, and all available surfaces are covered with soiled clothing, dirty dishes, and half-finished art projects.
On This Glorious Mess, hosts Leigh and Tegan chat about all the best activities you can do with your kids at home. Post continues after audio.
The increasing lack of control we are able to exert over the outside factors that control our lives bubbles up little by little until steam hisses out our ears and fire pours from our throats.
From the outside it might look sudden, but inside we know it’s been building for some time. This week, it feels especially imminent.
If you’re wondering if the primary caregiver in your home is suffering from the kind of anxiety which may cause her* top to blow at any moment, never fear. Fortunately, there are warning signs that such an explosion is coming…
She is wearing those huge noise-canceling headphones she got the baby for his first concert.
The constant barrage of noise in the house has set Mum’s nerve endings on fire. Whether it’s the dog barking, the kids bickering, the doorbell ringing, the blender blending, or the oven beeping, Mum is surrounded by ruckus 24/7. The sound becomes less and less easy to manage the more anxious she’s feeling. If small sounds are setting her off, it’s best to turn on some soothing instrumental music and go read a book in another room. And take everyone else with you, kthanksbye.
She is wearing a sign which says, “Please address all questions, concerns, and (especially) complaints to someone who is not mum.”
The average mum hears her “name” approximately 68 million times per day. Sometimes it fades into the background noise. When she’s already teetering on the brink of insanity, though, hearing her name for the 68,000,001st time might just send her over the edge. This includes variations on Mum such as “Mama” and “Mummy,” though the latter, said with a certain intonation and well-placed puppy dog eyes, is capable of softening her momentarily.
Her shoulders have taken up residence just above her earlobes.
Warning: This does not mean you should touch them. In this escalated state, even a well-intentioned gesture such as a shoulder rub could spell catastrophe. Just let her finish what she’s doing, and book a massage for her while you stay home with the kids tomorrow.
Her voice begins to sound less like her and more like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
They say repetition is the mother of all learning. But when the request for the kids to put on clothing so guests don’t think we house a bunch of feral children (regardless of whether or not we actually do) needs to be repeated for the forty-second time, don’t be surprised if she recruits the demon for the job. It’s easy to avoid meeting the demon if everyone just complies with requests the first time they’re made.
She makes unhealthy decisions she wouldn’t normally make.
Did your level-headed partner just pick a fight with you for no reason? Did your typically conscientious mate just scarf down five slices of pizza and wash them down with half a cake and a 2-litre bottle of coke? These are signs she’s not able to control her impulses at the moment the way she can under normal circumstances. Offer her a glass of water, a smoothie, or something nice to munch. You might also offer to take over whatever she’s stressed herself out trying to do.