Mom explains why 'emotional regulation' is the most exhausting part of being a parent
It's a problem a lot of parents face but few discuss.
In a heartfelt TikTok post, an exasperated Annalee Grace admits that her expectations of motherhood haven’t matched the reality of having children. And the difference between how people talk about parenting and the troubles she’s recently faced has made her feel alone.
However, after posting her video, many commenters shared that they also struggle with one of the hardest but under-discussed parts of being a parent, regulating one’s emotions.
Grace is the parent of two young children and a popular TikTok creator with over 450,000 followers.
“[If you] had asked me to guess what the hardest part of having kids was before I actually had kids? I probably would have guessed, like, I don't know, lack of freedom or lack of sleep or something like that. Wrong," Grace said as she sat frustrated in her car.
“It is the pure exhaustion that comes from emotionally regulating 24/7. The patience and the strength that it takes to watch these humans combust in front of you and stay cool so that they can regulate and take in all of their emotions for them,” she continued.
Being a mom is the most wonderful and humblimg thing ive ever done. Every day these little kids teach me something new about myself and im just so thankful for the opportunity ❤️😭 #momlife #momsoftiktok #babiesoftiktok #toddlersoftiktok #marriedlife #husbandwife
Grace posted the video after having an emotional outburst where she screamed at her two young children. “I just screamed at my kids, and I saw in their little eyes when all of a sudden it flicked. They were scared of me, and I sat them both down, and I apologized,” she said.
The underlying problem of her frustrations is that she doesn't see many examples of other parents having the same struggles because they happen behind closed doors and not on social media.
“I feel like I'm the only one who has mornings like this with my kid. Even though logically, I know that's not true. I can't see into other people's homes. Right? All I see are people out in public or cute little vlogs making pancakes in the morning,” Grace continued. “Like, and I feel like I'm this evil monster on a hill yelling at her tiny little kid. And I know I apologize, and that's what counts is to show them how you can make a mistake and apologize.”
Grace received an incredible amount of support in the comments to her video.
"Oh, mama. You’re not the only one. We didn’t get apologies. You’re already doing better than we had," Charity wrote.
"All of this! Apologize, ask for forgiveness, and let it go. Carrying it into tomorrow puts you in a deficit. You are not alone," Shannon added.
"Thank you for sharing this. This is the exact day we're having today & I feel TERRIBLE. She moves on & I'm melting in a puddle of guilt the rest of the day," Tor Christmas wrote.
Psychologist Lindsay Perlman has some easy-to-remember advice for parents struggling with regulating their emotions around their children. She has a simple acronym: STOP. Perlman believes that by practicing the STOP method, parents can increase their “self-awareness” and “control of strong emotions.”
S – STOP, step back
T – Tune into your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations
O – Observe and notice what is going on inside and outside of you
P – Proceed mindfully