9 Tips to Prevent a Mommy Meltdown

What is worse than your toddler having a meltdown? Both of you having a meltdown! Let’s face it, the toddler meltdowns are inevitable–one of the not-so-glamorous perks of motherhood that we accept with grace (or not). But what we can do is take some steps to help them occur less often which, in turn, will help prevent a mommy meltdown as well. We can’t control our child’s behavior, despite the common misconception that we need to, but we can control how we choose to respond to it. Temper tantrums aren’t bad behavior, they are a form of expression or communication. They occur when a child has gotten to the point where they feel they aren’t being understood or respected, or their needs aren’t being met (ever deal with an overtired kid?). Taking a different perspective and making sure both you and your child’s needs are met will help you at least avoid a mommy meltdown, but may help your child avoid some tantrums in the future as well!

Awesome tips that will help you prevent a mommy meltdown by focusing on the things you can control. BONUS: You may prevent toddler tantrums too!

Prevent A Mommy Meltdown With These Tips

Children act out for many reasons. They may be learning more about how they are supposed to behave or what is expected of them, having trouble expressing their feelings or needs, needing to feel more connected to you, or maybe something else is throwing them off like a change in their schedule, sickness coming on, teething, etc. It is our job to provide our children with a safe and loving environment where they are free to learn and be themselves. It is hard to do that if we spend our whole day in a power struggle or we are frustrated and overwhelmed. These tips are going to help you prevent a mommy meltdown in the midst of toddler chaos. You can also check out an older post I wrote about what to do in the moment to help shift your perspective!

1. Plan Your Day

I don’t mean this in the sense of sticking to a strict schedule, but more of having a general idea of how your day will go. This can be done a week ahead, a day ahead, or the morning of depending what works best for your family. A few helpful things to plan ahead of time:

  • Meals – Knowing what you plan to cook or eat all day takes away a lot of stress and helps prevent anyone from getting too hungry while you make the decision.
  • Outings – One of the best ways to prevent a toddler meltdown is to maximize their prime time. If you are planning on going anywhere, using the time of day where they will be the most awake and pleasant can make all the difference. For us mornings are best, and taking him out too soon after nap time is asking for disaster!
  • Clothes – Speaking of outings, it is nice to have the appropriate clothes washed and ready to go for whatever the occasion may be. When we took a swim class I had our bag packed and ready to go and then afterwards I’d restock it. With any parks, indoor climbing places, or gym classes it is nice to have comfortable clothes for the both of you.

2. Get As Much Sleep As You Can

I know it can be really tempting to stay up all night getting everything done that you didn’t get around to during the day, but make sure that you are getting the rest that you need in order to feel refreshed during the day. It is so easy to make sure our children are getting the rest they need (just think of all those hours dedicated to their naps and bedtime routines), but sleep is a huge piece of preventing a mommy meltdown, at least for me!

3. Start Your Day Off Right

I am not a morning person. So when my son started getting up at 7 (as opposed to 9), life was rough. I can really be cranky when I get up, and I definitely notice a difference in the rest of my day when I decide to focus on the positives first thing in the morning rather than get all worked up over small things. Our morning routine consists of praying, reading a children’s bible, diaper change, teeth brushing, playing, and breakfast. My day goes a lot more smoothly when I make prayer the first part rather than checking my phone. You could also alternatively make a gratitude list or just focus on the good things about your life, yourself, and your child.

Awesome tips that will help you prevent a mommy meltdown by focusing on the things you can control. BONUS: You may prevent toddler tantrums too!

4. Set Realistic Expectations

This is important for both of you. One of the biggest struggles I face as a stay at home mom is thinking that I need to get everything done in a day, and I’m sure you know that isn’t possible–especially with a toddler. In order to prevent a mommy meltdown, I have to give myself a realistic time frame. With my son and his high energy, I can’t expect to spend 20 minutes in another room while he plays quietly. Knowing that, I can’t get angry if I try to do that and then my two year old does exactly what I know he will do: make a big mess, climb over the gate and up two flights of stairs, or start trying to jump off of furniture.

Realistic expectations for your toddler would consist of things like not expecting them to wait too long, get ready too fast, etc. It is hard for toddlers to be interrupted in the middle of one task and hurried along to another. It has helped me so much to give my son a few minutes to finish what he is doing before expecting him to move on. That tip alone has helped me steer clear of tantrums many times already.

5. Connect With Your Child Early in the Day

A great way to prevent a mommy meltdown is by taking time to connect with your little one throughout the day, preferably early on, so that you are centered and able to remember what is really important. This is also great for your child because rather than feeling like they are competing for your attention they can feel closeness with you and may not be so quick to get frustrated.

6. Pay Attention To Cues

I’m sure you have been hearing this since your little one was born in order to know what it was he or she needed. I don’t know about you, but when I feel most overwhelmed it is because my kid is crying and I can’t figure out why. When he was a baby, learning his cues saved us both a lot of frustration. It is the same in toddlerhood. Making sure to notice when he is starting to get hungry or tired, and feeding him or getting him down to sleep quickly enough is still so important. This helps me prevent a mommy meltdown because if I’m not dealing with a hungry or overtired toddler my chances at peace are much better!

Awesome tips that will help you prevent a mommy meltdown by focusing on the things you can control. BONUS: You may prevent toddler tantrums too!

7. Take Time For Yourself

I know it is hard to find any extra time in your day, but this is crucial to your self-care, and practicing self-care is the best way you can prevent a mommy meltdown! You want to make sure that you are on top of your game and all of your needs are being met. It is much easier to get impatient if you are feeling neglected. Make sure to take some time to call a friend, eat, take a nap, do your makeup–whatever is going to make you feel good and well taken care of!

8. Get Moving

Taking some time to burn off all of that excess energy for your little one and boost your spirits through exercise will do you both a world of good. This is also a great way to model some healthy behaviors and get your little one interested and excited about exercise starting at a young age! You will feel better mentally and physically, and your child will be less restless because they got to run around like crazy with mommy–I know my son loves that!

9. Play

Making it a point to reconnect with your child through play gives you another reason during the day to remember what is important and allow your child to feel valued. Get out some toys, read some books, do an activity, whatever. Play is great for your child for learning and development, but it is also great for our mental health as moms. To take that moment to enjoy the fun of their childhood rather than worrying about what needs to be done around the house or the next appointment. Who knows, maybe all of the laughter and silliness will prevent a mommy meltdown!

Awesome tips that will help you prevent a mommy meltdown by focusing on the things you can control. BONUS: You may prevent toddler tantrums too!

Share Your Tips!

I don’t have the monopoly on mommy meltdown tips. I know that you awesome mommies have some tricks as well, and I would love to hear them! Share what you know in the comments section below in order to spread the love and help some other moms rock their day!



28 thoughts on “9 Tips to Prevent a Mommy Meltdown”

  • Love this list! #4 has been the one thing I have struggled with and still need to remind myself ! Understanding that it’s OK to NOT have things exactly the way I grew up is liberating. Being my own type of mom and allowing my children to develop their personalities is important. I will definitely recommend this article to other parents! Your writing is spot on awesome. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  • A good list. I’ve recently discovered the power of habits and planning. It works! I won’t get back to chaos and managing home and kids, and meals spontaneously.
    You’ve made me think about something I’ve never heard before: your point 5. and giving a kid my time early in the day, so he could be less competing for my attention. I’ll try it.

  • These are great tips. When in the midst of a meltdown at home, I find it helpful to give my child AND myself a timeout. When I feel myself getting frustrated, I take a second to be alone, take some deep breaths, and find my happy place. When we both have a second to calm down I can handle the situation much better.

    • I agree, taking time to calm down before you respond is like magic! I also love “time ins,” where instead of yelling or getting mad I try to give my son some kind of love and attention, whether it is just a quick hug or he sits on my lap for a few minutes. It really helps both of us respond better to the situation and change our behavior!

  • Great article. I know a mom who plans down to the meal. They have to be very careful what they eat due to medical reasons. She said it helps her get through the day when the pre-plans everything. When my daughter was a toddler, I loved getting on the floor and playing with her. It was the best part of the day.

    • I wish I was more organized with meal planning, but just making sure that we have a general idea of what we will eat throughout the week and having all of the ingredients in the house is SO helpful! Especially when I have things pre-made and ready to go!

  • Mommy meltdowns are so real. I don’t take nearly enough time for myself and it manifests in meltdowns, anxiety, and depression. I’m going to take these tips to heart because otherwise, meltdowns will become frequent.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your struggles with me! It can be hard to admit to other moms that some days are just so hard because we feel like everyone else has a better handle on this whole motherhood thing. That is so not true! We all need to stay on top of our self-care, which can be practically impossible sometimes.

  • I had a mommy meltdown the other day looking for screwdriver to open the back of a train to add batteries for a new toy. Afterwards, I realized that I just can’t do everything. I did finally find a screwdriver and we got the train running, but the meltdown had already happened. Sigh! Well, there’s always tomorrow.

    • I totally get that! Last night putting my son to sleep I had a meltdown when he was totally fine (just laying there calmly but not sleeping). I stay with him until he falls asleep and I just got so overwhelmed with how tired I was, how much I had to do, and the fact that we were up there from 7-10 with basically no progress. Love your attitude that there is always another chance to get it right! We are allowed to have our meltdowns every once in a while though too, we’re only human!

  • Hi Rachael,
    Loved this post! The tip that resonated the most with me is to take the time to check in with your little one when the day starts. It is so important for us to be reminded of why we love spending time with our kids. Great post!

  • Great post. I try to watch they cues and I am getting better at it but sometimes I miss. Getting more sleep is something I need to work on. Thank you.

  • This is a great article! So often when I don’t make prayer an early part of my day I turn into a monster and get in the worst funk. I’m sharing this on Facebook for my other mommy friends.

    • Thanks for sharing that — I hope that they are helpful to all moms, but being a stay-at-home mom myself I find that I have been writing more to that specific audience!

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