Mama Mantras: Stay off the Ride

By Sydney Dorr

Hey you brave, beautiful Mama! You know those moments (days, weeks, years) when everyone is yelling and nothing is clean? When your brain seems to be disintegrating like the old sponge in your sink? Yeah, me too. In those moments, I need something to give me a clear path forward that my tired brain can process with minimal effort. I need a mantra.  I’ll be sharing a series of the mantras I use throughout my day (yes, one day usually requires all of them). Feel free to snag mine, be inspired to create some and share your own – I’m always on the lookout for a good mantra!

This week’s mantra is: Toddler emotions are a roller coaster – stay off the ride. Stay off the Ride. STAY OFF THE RIDE.

My sons are amazing and darling, but also, um, passionate. My eldest (4.5) has always been an idea man: he believes firmly that his ideas are best and feels a deep sense of injustice when I disagree. This sense of injustice has expressed itself in roars of rage and lengthy tantrums.  

My second son (2) has a flair for the dramatic. When something doesn’t align with his vision, he plummets to the depths of despair. Literally, falling to the floor with an agonized cry, as if his life is now bereft of all goodness.  

When my eldest is furious and my youngest is inconsolable and they are both expressing themselves at max volume in my face, I want to jump on their crazy ride and yell at everyone to shut up. I’m sure you never want to yell at your sweet babies to shut up but sometimes I do. That’s why I have this dang mantra.

Because here’s the thing: little people are supposed to have big emotions. It’s ok for my boys to feel rage, despair, delight, triumph, disappointment and joy; I don’t have to fix or control those emotions. It IS my job to help them learn how to navigate and manage their emotions. Unfortunately, it’s tricky to model emotional awareness and management when you start shouting with your kids. You have to Stay. Off. The. Ride.

And it’s lovely on the ground. I can smile and nod sympathetically at my distraught offspring. I can set boundaries with calm confidence: “Yes, it sucks that you can’t have more candy. Feel free to continue screaming bloody murder in your bedroom. Let me know when you’d like a hug.” This isn’t about minimizing my kid’s emotions – those suckers are serious! It’s about being at peace inside myself so that I can offer empathy and solutions. When Mom is in a good mood, it speeds up recovery time for everyone else.

I know, staying (or worse, getting) off the ride can be so hard. Maybe your toddler is on her third 40-minute tantrum today. Maybe your baby has slept for five minutes and screamed for two hours and it’s 10:00 pm. Maybe your 13-year-old is processing teenage angst through back-talk, eye-rolling and dark glares. Maybe you feel like your life is a season pass to Six Flags. It’s ok, because we have a mantra! Take a deep breath (or forty). Lock yourself in the bathroom (perhaps). If you’re the mom with the screaming baby, put her in bed (seriously) and lie down for five minutes. Have a piece of chocolate and let’s all say it together… stay off the ride. And now you brave, beautiful Mama, go bring some peace to the big hearts around you.


Elisa EarwickerComment