The value of having an occasional meltdown

In these challenging times I’d be surprised if every one of us hasn’t had at least one meltdown in the past few months.

My first came the day we were supposed to be returning home from our holiday. We were in a grocery store buying food supplies for our “holiday” that had been extended indefinitely. Given we were in a supermarket in a small village in Malaysia it will come as no surprise that the usual Coles / Tesco / Trader Joes product range was not available. Having lived in China for nine years I am quite adaptable when it comes to food choice BUT it wasn’t really about that. I just wanted to be home. I wanted certainty. I was fighting back the tears, resisting the urge to have a tantrum in aisle 7 like an overtired toddler, when my son complained that there was nothing there he liked. I snapped. “There’s nothing here I like either!!”

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Taking a few deep breathes (OK it was more than a few) I calmly returned to the scene of the crime. I explained to my son why I was upset and my husband gave us a hug and said he felt the same.

This may have been the first but it definitely wasn’t the last.

I’m not advocating that a meltdown should be a regular occurrence but there is some value to having one occasionally. (Nor am I suggesting actual violence.)

I am a strong believer that bottling up your emotions is not good in the long run. It can lead to a rage of nuclear proportions with much collateral damage.

Showing your feelings, talking about how you feel with your children is important. Parents are not perfect, we can’t expect our children to be either. Teach them that we all get upset and angry. It’s your behaviour afterwards that important. Apologise, explain why your feeling the way you are.

Reflect on why you behaved the way you did, what you will do differently next time. Voice your frustrations before they take control of your behaviour. Often the reasons run deeper than what triggered the meltdown. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

When we finally returned home we were in quarantine for two weeks. We could not leave our apartment. We were limited to the number of food deliveries. Rubbish was also removed at this time. To save bin space I’d asked my family to make sure they crushed down the drink cartons. I reminded them regularly. Often I would just crush the carton myself. One day, near the end of the quarantine, I was putting some rubbish in the bin. And there was the carton UNCRUSHED!!! I sighed and walked to my room to take a few breathes. However, I suspect my sigh was a bit louder than the usual sigh. As was the, not so gentle, closing of the bedroom door. A few minutes later my family came in and gave me a hug “We figured it out, Mum. We’ve crushed the carton. Only two more days to go. We can make it.”

What’s your biggest meltdown during these challenging times? What did you learn from it?

Cover Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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