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Caring for You, Caring for Them: Mom's "Body Budget" Guide

Are you having a hard time keeping it together when your children have big emotions? I would like to share a secret weapon, "body budget," to help you stay calm even when your child is losing it.

woman touching shoulder of a child screaming
boy screaming mom touching his shoulder to calm him down

The "body budget" is a metaphorical concept borrowed from neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett's work. It represents the idea that our brains are constantly monitoring and managing our physiological and emotional resources, like a financial budget. When our body budget is in balance, we feel calm and regulated. However, when it's depleted or overwhelmed, we might experience stress, anxiety, or dysregulation.

Example in Parenting of a Healthy Body Budget:

When your child has a meltdown over spilled cereal, you can calmly hold space for their emotions. Your balanced body budget allows you to respond empathetically rather than reacting with


spilled cereal
spilled breakfast cereal on wood floor

Example of a Depleted Body Budget:

Reacting to Meltdowns - When your child has a tantrum, and you're already emotionally drained. You might react with impatience, further escalating the situation instead of providing a calm presence.

child screaming mom overwhelmed
girl screaming on the sofa mom by her with hands on her face frustrated

In the healthy body budget scenario, the mom has the emotional and physical resources to navigate daily challenges effectively. She can provide emotional support to her child because she's taking care of herself.

In the depleted body budget scenario, the mom is running on empty. She struggles to manage her own emotions and respond to her child's needs in a supportive way. This demonstrates how taking care of one's body budget is essential for maintaining emotional well-being and effective parenting.

Using the concept of the "body budget" to manage emotions and parent in a more responsive way can be beneficial for moms (and parents in general). Here are some strategies for making good deposits and avoiding debts in your body budget:

  • Self-awareness: The first step is self-awareness. Moms should take the time to recognize their own emotions and body sensations. Pay attention to how stress, fatigue, or other factors affect your emotional state.

  • Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to ensure your body budget stays balanced. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthily, engaging in regular physical activity, and finding time for relaxation and hobbies.

  • Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness techniques can help moms stay in tune with their body budgets. Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply taking a moment to check in with your own feelings can be effective.

  • Set Realistic Expectations: Avoid setting overly high expectations for yourself as a parent. Recognize that nobody is perfect, and it's okay to make mistakes. This reduces the pressure on your body budget.

  • Boundaries: Establish and maintain boundaries in your life. This includes setting limits on work, social commitments, and even certain parenting responsibilities. Boundaries help prevent emotional depletion.

  • Seek Support: Don't hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professionals like coaching. Check out MOM MENTAL GYM to help you stay physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fit. Sharing your feelings and challenges can be cathartic and help replenish your body budget.

  • Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Parenting can be challenging, and it's okay to acknowledge when you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that it's normal to have limits.

  • Connect with Your Child: Make time to connect with your child in positive ways. Engage in activities that bring joy and strengthen your bond. These interactions can be emotionally nourishing for both you and your child.

  • Time Management: Efficiently manage your time to reduce stress. Organize tasks and responsibilities to avoid last-minute rushes, which can deplete your body budget.

  • Parenting Support Groups: Join parenting support groups or communities where you can share experiences, strategies, and emotions with other parents, like MOM MENTAL GYM. This sense of belonging can be emotionally enriching.

  • Regular Breaks: Take short breaks when needed. Even a few minutes of solitude or relaxation can help you recharge and avoid emotional debts.

  • Conflict Resolution: Learn effective conflict resolution skills, especially in your relationships with your child and co-parent. Reducing conflicts can prevent emotional drains.

mom touchings son's head child sad
mom is comforting child, touching son's head

Remember that managing your body budget is an ongoing process, and it's okay to seek professional help if you consistently find it challenging to maintain emotional balance. By taking care of your own emotional well-being, you'll be better equipped to respond to your child's needs in a calm and supportive manner rather than reacting impulsively.

Would you like to learn more about how to be more patient with your child? Watch my FREE on-demand masterclass, "8 Steps to Start Feeling Better and Becoming a More Patient Mom." HERE


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