As moms, we play an important role in setting the emotional tone in our households. We can be like emotional thermometers, reflecting the current level of emotional heat, or we can be thermostats, helping our loved ones diffuse strong emotions and process difficult feelings.
When we learn to act as thermostats, we help our children develop emotional control and self-regulation skills. Here are three tips for preparing yourself to regulate emotions in your home, even when you’re overwhelmed and stressed yourself.
There are few things that irritate me more than fluctuating or unpredictable temperatures. I feel the annoyance of a North Carolina day that begins in the low 30s and ends in the high 80’s when I’m not adequately prepared and dressed in layers.
I feel the annoyance of our chilly downstairs living room that contrasts with our uncomfortably hot upstairs bedroom where I wake drenched beneath the covers at an ungodly hour of the night. And worst of all, nothing can sour my mood faster than a broken AC in the dead of summer or the heat breaking in the dead of winter.
Each of these situations are likely to result in my impatience.
Have you ever stopped to really consider the great power in the tiny device called the thermostat? Thermostats regulate temperatures of physical systems and perform actions to make sure the system’s temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint.
This is essential in our homes, because if the thermostat isn’t functioning properly, unanticipated temperatures and conditions directly impact the comfort and peace for everyone living under our roof.
As women of God, we serve the same vital function in our households as thermostats do. Our attitudes and actions are emotional thermostats for our families. When we are functioning correctly, we can be the healthy amount of heat that brings comfort and warmth to our families in situations that have left us shivering. We can, likewise, be the refreshing air that cools down heated situations. But if we aren’t careful, our faulty functioning and brokenness can burden the entire household.
WHY OUR EMOTIONAL THERMOSTATS BREAK DOWN
There’s no doubt that the number of obligations we balance on a daily basis can lead us to struggle to find the capacity to regulate our emotional thermostats.
We are serving families. We are helping our children understand and navigate their emotions. We are tidying our homes. We are tending to business that impacts our families. We are stretching ourselves into exhausting places and spaces to make sure that everyone else has what they need.
But regardless of the innumerable things we juggle, the Lord has called us to not only be homemakers but also ‘peacemakers’. All throughout Scripture, we see examples of what it looks like for women to choose peace over panic and calm over chaos when interacting with their families.
“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9).
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:1-4).
The tidy appearance of ourselves or our homes means nothing if we have a terrible attitude.
In both of these biblical examples, we see that our households flourish when we are peaceful women instead of panicked women, and when we choose to saturate our homes in calm instead of succumbing to chaos.
Let’s also consider the classic example of the Proverbs 31 woman. She was rising early in the morning, working all day to meet the needs of her family, handling business, helping the poor, loving her husband, and raising children.
She had many reasons to be overwhelmed and many things that could have led her into disarray. But Scripture doesn’t tell us that she was frazzled, short-tempered, or easily angered. Instead, we see that she could laugh at the times to come (v 25), opened her mouth with wisdom, and kindness was on her tongue (v 26). What about us, Sisters? Is peace and calm our posture? Or are we acting from a place of panic and chaos?
WHAT WE CAN DO TO FIX AND MAINTAIN OUR EMOTIONAL THERMOSTATS
Out of curiosity, I researched the process for fixing broken thermostats. The same steps can apply when it comes to doing maintenance on our own emotional thermostats.
1. Check the Power Circuit.
As Christian women, we must make sure that we are plugged into God as our Source instead of responding to stressors in our own strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that “my [God’s] power is made perfect in weakness.”
When we notice an increase of impulsivity in our responses, we need to ask ourselves if we’ve been doing an adequate job of connecting with the Source of our power each day. Have we been praying without ceasing? Have we asked the Lord to direct our day? Have we written His Truth on our hearts?
2. Try Replacing the Batteries on the Thermostat.
We can take a hard look at which of our unproductive responses need to be replaced with productive ones. When we are tempted to respond in the flesh, we can combat our emotions in the Spirit. For example, instead of yelling at our kids or lashing out on our husbands, we can remember the more productive responses that God has provided to us in His Word.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. Clean It.
There’s an ongoing need to clean our hearts through confession and repentance as God convicts us of our behaviors. In the moments where we fall short, we don’t have to walk in condemnation but we should walk in conviction.
We may have spewed out angry words to our loved ones, but there’s grace for that. We may have walked around with a bitter attitude, but there’s grace for that. We may have fallen into resentment, but there’s grace for that.
As we reflect, we can pray and ask for God to meet us where we are and clean us up so that we continually love as we’re sanctified.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24)!
God doesn’t call us to perfection but He does call us to purposeful growth.
HELP FROM THE SOURCE
As we seek to manage the demands of our everyday lives, then, with a godly attitude, here is a prayer for us to pray together:
O God of peace and calm,
Lead our feet away from panic and chaos.
Help us to tame our tongues and season our speech with grace
So that we sound like You.
Help us to expand our patience and kindness
So that we serve like You.
Help our love be unconditional
May the seeds we plant in obedience
Bear fruit in the lives of our loved ones.
May we recognize the potency of our words
And also see power in our silence.
Help us to remember we are first sinners
And second, sinned against.
Help us to seek to understand
More than being understood.
Help us care more about Your Word
than having the last word.
And hide us
In Your Truth
For the rest of our days.
How can we, as wives and moms, more effectively regulate the emotional temperature of our households? Which of the tips from Simone’s article resonates with you the most?
3 WAYS TO MAINTAIN YOUR EMOTIONAL THERMOSTAT
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