I Finally Figured Out Why I Lose My Temper on Thursdays

Pattern recognition isn’t my strong suit, but I finally realized that I lose my temper with my children every Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.  And in a burst of insight at 9:32 a.m. last Thursday, I figured out why.

It’s because we’re home on Thursdays.

I finally figured out why I lose my temper on Thursdays

I love being at home–I’m kinda a homebody–but since it’s the one day in the week where we have nowhere to be, I try and catch up on chores and do an extra load of laundry.  On Thursday morning, I take a good hard look at my house to see what needs cleaning and tidying, and it overwhelms me.

My house isn’t a disaster (usually) but with 4 kids in a smallish space, there’s often a good bit of stuff lying about.  I can feel the tension start to rise at I start swiffering the papers and small toys out from under the sofas, but when I move on to the bedroom my two young daughters share and see (with my Thursday morning let’s-get-this-mess-under-control eyes) the tiny pieces and scraps of paper and shreds of fabric and hair accessories on every surface, and the kids are not exactly cooperating with the clean-up routine, I lose it.

Apparently, clutter is one of my “trigger points,” one of those things that throws me off balance and upsets me beyond reason.  Have you seen this?

Fatigue, hunger, and apparently messy spaces are major trigger points for me.  When I’m tired, or hungry, or my living space is a wreck, I get unreasonably upset about little things (bickering kids, spilled milk) that wouldn’t be a big deal if I was on balance.

I thought it was pretty lame to realize that swiffering on a Thursday morning puts me over the edge, I’m glad to have that bit of awareness about myself so I can do something about it.

And this is a good time of year for self-awareness, because the holidays are a pretty intense time of year for me. There’s lots to get done, not quite enough time to do it in, and high expectations for all of it.  So I’m shoring up my resolve to go to bed on time, and actually eat breakfast, so I’m better equipped to handle the bumps in the road with grace this season.

And I’m ditching the Thursday morning cleaning routine, at least till January. I’ve instituted a nightly tidying up time, and my husband’s going to do the swiffering—on Wednesdays.

Can you relate? What are your personal trigger points? What are your tips for avoiding them?

P.S. If you can relate, we need to talk about highly sensitive people. And kid hangovers.


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  1. Sara says:

    One of my triggers is Sunday—that imposed relaxation! We feel strongly about not doing unnecessary manual labor on Sunday, but if Saturday was busy and the house is still a mess, I’m very irritable. Plus, a nice Sunday dinner on my day of rest doesn’t seem very restful for one of us. Ahem!

    So, I try harder to have the house presentable on Sunday and choose a dinner that is simple or at least one of my favorites.

  2. I can definitely relate! I’ve tried to identify my own triggers and make myself deal with them right away. I have a bad habit of putting off taking care of myself (if I’m too hot, uncomfortable, etc.) if I’m in the middle of doing something, which makes me irritable and no good to anyone. Good for you for identifying the problem and making a plan to deal with it!

  3. Jodi says:

    I also lost it every Thursday morning. Tuesday and Wednesday are ridiculously busy for me and then I always stay up to late on Wednesday at my Mom’s group meetings.

    I love this proactive approach. My life could use more of that.

  4. Plop says:

    For me, it’s fatigue. I used to tell ‘I’m tired, don’t push me’ but it would usually end up with hasch remarks and me getting angry, so now, i go away. I take a long long bath with a go0d adventure book and lock the door =D ( you know that baths are actually ecological !)

  5. I can get very frustrated and short with my husband when he gets home from work if I haven’t left the house during the day. Even just taking a walk around the block or running to the grocery store to pick up one item makes a huge difference. If I’m home all day, then I start to feel like I’m just waiting around for my husband to get home and I get upset when he wants to sit and relax instead of do things with me! I’m been making a better effort to get out, but it’s getting difficult as the weather gets colder because I walk around the block isn’t always an option and I hate to waste the gas for “imaginary” errands that don’t really need to be done.

    • Anne says:

      Mandi, I’m really impressed that you notice that because that’s not quite as universal as being sleepy or hungry for a trigger point. Nicely done, and I’ll be interested in hearing what you come up with to get out as the weather gets cold.

  6. Lisa @Granola Catholic says:

    I would definitely say that clutter is one of my trigger points. I can reach a certain threshold and can no longer handle it. This is harder for me to handle than I thought it would be. I do try to get everything done during the week but with teaching part time that is not always feasible and after a busy weekend like the one just past my house is a complete disaster.

  7. Cynthia says:

    I can relate more than you know.

    I’ve often been sitting, thinking…pondering…about why I can get so unreasonably upset at the smallest of details on certain days. I’ve broken it down to two things: 1) My personal baggage from yore that weighs me down with temptations of insecurity and hopelessness, 2) Lack of sleep.

    Sooo….on any given day, I’ve noticed that when I haven’t kept either one in check (by taking care of myself, talking/writing it out, sleeping, praying, etc) I am a mess by afternoon. My oldest not listening to me for the millionth time? Stepping on hundreds of Cheerios? An unruly appearance? It can knock me back days.

    I love the proactive approach. I esp love getting to know myself and all those impossible quirks…even more so in this new vocation I’ve been given. Motherhood is wonderful…and hard…and certainly the path to holiness. Many prayers your way for your “new” Thursdays!

    • Anne says:

      You know I am right there with you!

      (Also a couple of years ago I instituted naptime coffee: 20 minutes with a good book and a cup of coffee while the baby naps. That helps my afternoons A LOT!)

  8. Jessica says:

    I love how you saw the pattern, and decided to be proactive about finding a solution. Clutter is definitively a trigger for me as well, and those moments when I seem to be the only one of our family of five that really cares if there is “stuff” EVERYWHERE!!! A few deep breathes, a quick walk outside, and some prayer usually brings me out of my orbit — then off to discover a better way of handling our routine so this chaos is less likely to happen again. Oh, and remembering my house can be neat when my kids are grown; for now, I should enjoy the laughter.

  9. Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama says:

    Oh can I relate! In fact, I am off to go photocopy some chore chart pictures because, frankly, I am kind of tired of being the only one who cleans up here. My hubs gets home from work later and usually only has time to put the girls to bed and then on weekends, he decides that it’s OK to just lounge around on the sofa not doing anything because “it’s the weekend!” I have to *gently* remind him that chaos and clutter do not take weekends off.

    I really believe in the little bit everyday approach and we were really good about that before the move but now we need to get our game back.

    • I definitely agree with the little bit every day. I got really angry one day because I was the one cleaning our rats’ cage every week when my husband was the one who begged to get a pet for the longest time. My husband suggested setting up an alternating schedule to sweep out the cage every day. Even though he usually forgets, even just sweeping it out myself every other day has made a big difference, and it’s not as daunting when it’s my week to do a full-cage clean.

    • Anne says:

      Yes, but a cross-country move–you have such a good excuse! But I’m sure the move is overwhelming enough and you don’t need clutter to put you over the edge.

      I’m trying to do my “little bit everyday” too–so I can avoid meltdown!

  10. Oi. I could have written that, basically, except we don’t have kids yet. Only two people on whom to blame the mess: Hubby and me! Most days, the only time I have to clean is in the evening, when we’re both home, wanting to hang out or watch a movie or…whatever. 😉 I get stressed when the house is messy, and it’s worse when I’m tired. This past Friday I had so many things I wanted to get done and I was stressing about them, but then I fell asleep on the couch and slept for an hour. When I woke up, life didn’t seem quite so bad. 🙂

    Homemaking never involves a day off. I’m fine with that, it’s just a little frustrating sometimes.

    • Anne says:

      Ah, Jaimie, thanks for the reminder–come to think of it, my house wasn’t exactly neat and tidy before we had kids, either. It’s so easy to blame the clutter on the kids, but that’s not quite the whole story 🙂

  11. Carrie says:

    It seems rather obvious, but I’ve recently rediscovered that making sure I take time to eat and get plenty of sleep makes a big difference. I tend to get so busy feeding my boys, working (etc.) that I don’t eat. And it’s hard to be a loving person when you are hungry. 🙂

  12. I can totally relate. I get really stressed out on my first day back home after 3 days of working, for the exact same reason of lack of cleanliness.

    I try to sweep up the night before my day off & also eat a good bfast to ward off a mommy meltdown.

  13. My triggers are similar to yours, but I also have another biggee: noise. When too many people are talking at once, the TV or radio is on, the dogs are barking, and I’m just trying to think – watch out! My temper starts flying!

    • Anne says:

      Oh my goodness, noise is a HUGE one for me. Sadly, that one’s a little harder for me to proactively manage. If you’ve got tips, bring ’em! I need all the help I can get!

  14. Katie says:

    Hunger! Oh, hunger is definitely mine. If I start being snippy for no apparent reason or ranting and raving about inconsequentials, my husband will ask, “When’s the last time you had something to eat?” And it’s always too long ago.

    That’s my mom’s major trigger, too. I wonder how much of that is genetic and how much is learned?

    Good idea to be proactive and change up your schedule! Hopefully it will help tomorrow. 🙂

  15. Definitely Monday by 10:30 am during the study years, or a couple days before my monthly friend, ALWAYS. Decreased sleep jangles me, but by far, disorder or clutter, makes me batty. So I enlist the kids help. For ten mins of their interrupted life, their overall happy factor is increased cause mama is happy. But during THAT time, they’re also rewarded with ‘food’ they wouldn’t normally see me buy at any other time of the month. If I wasn’t so darn stubborn, I should just hire a mothers’ helper!

  16. Jasi says:

    I dread Fridays. I adore my husband but he is my absolute wildest and completely untrainable child. I know that my immaculate house and well-behaved children and our awesome routine is out the window from Friday night on.. that by Sunday morning I will be scraping ketchup from the wall and wondering what’s sticking to my socks. My children will have been coming down from a sugar-binge and I will start all over again. Incidentally, I love Mondays.

  17. Mark Saxon says:

    I can relate to this, clutter, tiredness and especially hunger all can trigger anger in me and even small things can make me swear and shout in anger, I’ll take that anger out on my girlfriend, which I feel guilty about afterwards.
    I just finished work and brought the shopping home, my girlfriend was busy making dinner and preparing other food in the kitchen, it was a total mess understandably, at this point I was fine, but aware of my hunger. I then went about putting the shopping away and decided the fridge was untidy so reorganised it, went upstairs to change, come back down, food out of the fridge on the side, I asked why it was out, my gf had took stuff out to put some of the food she had prepared away. I lost my temper then because I was hungry. It turned into a full scale argument about her leaving things out making a mess and how she should have took the food out and stored it in the garage fridge, which I then went and did. My temper really does surprise me at times and I wish I could learn how to control it better but when I’m hungry it just takes a silly little thing that slightly annoys me to make it come out. If I wasn’t hungry it would not occur.

  18. Leah says:

    Oh gosh, all these and more. Especially if I don’t drink enough water. I am a highly sensitive person, per your other post, and it can be so overwhelming. With four kiddos, no driver’s license, and being a SAHM, I just get wrung out. We have no family nearby either, so I don’t have much of a support group. No friends either because I don’t have the ability to do much or go places. I moved away from friends when I got married and our family is some what secluded. Thankfully I can talk to my sisters on the phone although I don’t always fine it relaxing to hear about someone else’s drama when I’m so stressed myself. I still love my kiddos and my dear husband so much I just wish sometimes I was the kind of person who could deal with these things more easily.

  19. Misty O'Donnell says:

    Clutter and mess are my triggers! But, I usually only start to lose it when we are about to leave the house in a mess. During those minutes of getting out the door, I start to notice it all at once, and I get snappy, and unravel. Maybe it’s the thought of coming back to a mess.

  20. Ed Cyzewski says:

    I refuse to believe that you lose your temper. Refuse! 🙂

    But I totally get the clutter/hunger thing. The struggle is real. I actually keep granola/fig bars around for such situations. Just to help me if I’m kind of on the edge…

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