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Inside Soul-Searching

The Three Stages of a Mum Meltdown 

Having spent almost an entire week trying to persuade my daughter’s drama teacher to issue her with a new exam certificate (name spelt correctly this time) I could feel the red mist descending. How can one exam certificate take 9 months for goodness sake?

What followed was not pretty….

Private Instagram messages, Facebook posts written on her business page, voicemail messages getting increasingly sterner by the day. I was like a dog with a proverbial bone…a woman possessed. There was no WAY I was going to give up on this one.

“Why can’t people just do their job properly?” I shouted at my husband who was cowering in the corner, wondering when it would be his turn to get it in the neck.

Stage One

This my friends, is a sure sign that I am in Stage One of the Mum Meltdown. Stage One is typically characterised by an obsessive irritability over other people’s incompetence.

‘I think you need some time out’ came a voice from the unknown (Twitter) when I shared my frustration at other people’s incompetence (the drama teacher wasn’t the only one to get it in the neck that week). Of course I ignored that timely voice of reason for a little while, opting instead to internally justify every ounce of my irritation.

Stage Two

Cue Stage Two of the Mum Meltdown – persistent self-criticism – a habit which I now recognise as an indicator that something needs to change. Whilst in the throes of Stage Two, my internal dialogue goes something like this:

‘You have two days off a week, you really should be able to get all the washing done by the weekend.’

‘Everyone else seems to be able to achieve x, y, z in a week, you must be doing something wrong.’

‘You forgot to phone your friend again? She’ll be thinking you don’t care about her. What kind of friend are you?’

Bash, bash, bash, goes the stick as I whack myself over the head just one more time.

Stage Three

If I get this far into the Mum Meltdown, then we are on a surefire road to disaster. Stage Three is when the resentment kicks in. If you’re unsure of what that looks like for a mum on the brink, I’ll give you some clues: a constant low-level annoyance that I am ‘DOING EVERYTHING ROUND HERE‘, a lot of woe-is-me-style sighing and a reluctance to allow anyone else to step in to help. Think Mother Theresa gone bad.

* * *

I am ashamed to admit to being fully immersed in Stage 3 by the time it dawned on me that I NEEDED SOME TIME OUT.

Yes, yes, I know that the kind stranger on Twitter had pointed this fact out to me the week before, but us women can be stubborn creatures at times, can’t we? I also needed to realise it for myself.

Like most 40+ women *cough* I have various roles in life, all of which have their own set of demands. The difficult part therefore, is working out what ‘Time Out’ looks like in this particular season of my life. The first thing I have realised is that I don’t actually need a holiday (although that would be nice). What I really need, is to begin incorporating little acts of self-kindness into my day…

A leisurely stroll with the dog in the sunshine (or letting myself off the hook if it’s hammering down with rain), a 20 minute candle-lit bubble bath, a cup of tea whilst flicking through a magazine, or booking in for that beauty treatment that I’ve been putting off for weeks or even months.

We all have different things that we consider to be treats and yours are probably unique to you. But whatever they are, if we wait for someone else to show the kindness, we might well be waiting forever. This way? We have no one but ourselves to blame if we become depleted and out of sorts.

be kind to yourself

What little acts of self-kindness could you begin incorporating into your daily life? 

Inside, Outside & Beyond




  • Plutonium Sox

    Oh this rings so true, I am awful at it. I went for a run on Saturday and that felt very self-indulgent but not particularly relaxing 😉

    • Suzanne W

      That’s the mindset we need to quash – it’s not self-indulgent, it’s a necessity! I hope you felt the benefit afterwards. x

  • For me, the best thing is having a nice read of my book while I eat my lunch (and maybe for a few minutes afterwards). While the kids are at school is my work time, but I know it is also the only time of the day when I can just relax and be myself and not be driving somewhere, cooking something or tidying stuff up. I do have the ‘ I do everything round here!’ rant from time to time. It’s not technically true, as my husband does a lot, but not usually the immediate or regular things, like the endless lifts and endless washing. He will paint something I didn’t even realise needed painting or clean something that already looked clean.

    • Suzanne W

      I have a friend who sometimes spends all day reading a book! I wish that I could feel this relaxed and guilt-free. I’m the same as you with a husband who does a lot but he doesn’t notice a need for tidying and that’s what bothers me the most 🙁

  • Mary Mayfield

    I feel like I’m always at Stage 3! Now thinking I too should take some time out for myself …

    • Suzanne W

      I think that’s a definite must Mary. We all need it.

  • Amanda Masters

    To be honest I’m not surprised you hit stage three, parenting is hard at the best of times, throw in what has without doubt been a testing year for and BOOM, you’re going to reach stage three. But it sounds like you realise when you need to take some ‘me time’ and you’ve figured out what that time can be spent doing or not doing, the art is in actually taking that time for yourself.

    You truly are an inspiration.

    Me time is something I need to focus on, especially as I’m no longer on my antidepressants and trying to balance the full range of emotions once again.

    • Suzanne W

      Thank you Amanda for your lovely words, that’s very encouraging. As you say, it’s all very well identifying what you read, the hard part is putting it into practice! And yes, you need to do the same. Wood turning seems like it’s doing wonders for you 🙂

  • Jill

    My philosophy is that it has not been a day well spent unless it has been punctuated by idle moments sat down with perhaps a book and a drink , and yes – even more so when I was in the thick of family life. Now the moments have stretched a bit and it’s Words With Friends on the Ipad. I also used to beat myself up about not keeping up with friends constantly till I decided they had just as much responsibility for it as I had. Very annoying about that drama teacher though. Keep the pressure up I say.

    • Suzanne W

      I actually think you’ve always been very good at taking time out for yourself. Sunday papers springs to mind!

  • Morgana

    I can relate to this so much Suzanne! I hit stage 3 far more often than I’d like to admit, I definitely hit it last night and my eldest child felt my wrath as I had a massive rant at her in the car on the way to swimming training, not my finest moment. I think a hot bubble bath, a glass of wine and my book are in order tonight! xx

    • Suzanne W

      It’s after one of those rants that you realise just how much you need some time out. I’m sure your daughter was very forgiving, children often are. I hope you get that bottle bubble bath and wine/book reading. x

  • Lucy

    I know I’m hitting stage 2 when the sound of my husband eating grates on me like fingers down a blackboard. I just can’t bear to hear people eat when I’m on the verge!

    • Suzanne W

      Too much noise is one of mine. Any kind of noise! Thanks for commenting. Good to remember the blogs I like!

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