It’s absolutely no secret that motherhood has its fair share of ups and downs. We are always quick to acknowledge it when our children are being well behaved, cooperating, and things are running smoothly.
But what about all those other days?
You know the ones I’m talking about… The days where you would give anything to be able to just run away and forget about it all for just a BRIEF (or maybe not so brief?) moment in time. The days where your 2.5 year old seems to have taken on an evil, defiant alter ego that is pushing, hair pulling, and (loudly) stating her displeasure at every request you’ve made. The days when teething babies have kept us up all night and we’re already too tired to function before the day has even begun.
We ALL have those days, mamas. But how do we get through them without hiding in the pantry, guzzling M&M’s? Here are some of my favorite ways to make even those ugly days seem a little bit more bearable.
1. Go outside.
Find a reason to get out of the house. Play in the yard. Dig for worms. Use that sidewalk chalk that you’ve been letting collect dust because it’s too messy and a pain in the ass to clean up. Being out in the fresh air, even if it’s just for a few minutes is usually just what EVERYONE needs to push through the cranky some days.
2. Get active and work up a sweat.
Throw the kids in the stroller and go for a walk (bonus points for putting on headphones to drown out the inevitable whining). Lift some heavy weights. Have a dance party in your living room. It’s no secret that getting active releases endorphins, and it is guaranteed to make you feel better once you’re finished.
3. Call for reinforcements.
Connect with another mom friend who GETS it. Call your mom. Call anyone who is going through the exact same struggles as you (or has already been there). Talk to anyone who will listen (and bring wine?) and remind you that these kind of days totally happen to EVERYONE. Get in touch with someone who understands and can reassure you that this is completely normal.
Maybe this is just me always being the overly emotional type, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a good cry to get you through to the other side. Take a moment to breathe, and cry, and let those frustrations out, mama. Find a nice quiet place, and just let your emotions do the work.
5. Take a shower.
This is a simple fix that usually does the trick. It’s the perfect mama time-out. And chances are (if you’re anything like me) you’re probably long overdue for a shower anyway! Let Elmo entertain the little ones for 20 minutes and jump in there and get your suds on. Something about finally being squeaky clean is bound to help lift your spirits.
6. Let them make a mess.
I know the sheer thought of this sends chills down your spine, but hear me out. A lot of times we’re SO stressed out because everything that they do creates yet another mess for us to clean up. But on those bad days, sometimes we need to just give in. Set up a place to paint over a garbage bag on the kitchen floor where nothing can get ruined. Let them use Play-Doh on the floor. Give them a bucket of water and a couple of spoons and let them go crazy. Letting them get into something that you usually always say no to means they can stay busy long enough for you to take a breather and try to refocus your mental energy.
7. Plan something that’s JUST for you.
Line up a sitter, enlist the help of your spouse, or find someone who’s willing to take your kids off of your hands for a little bit, and get out of the house by yourself. Do whatever it is that YOU like to do (Target, anyone?), and treat yourself to something nice. Heavens knows that we spend all of our time, money, and resources on our children anyway. Imagine how nice it would be to spend a little bit of that on ourselves for a change? Having something on the horizon to look forward to that is JUST for you can be enough to help us push through those difficult moments.
8. Give yourselves a time out.
I know that when we have small children that can’t entertain themselves, it can be hard to get away, even just for a couple minutes to a calm quiet place, so take them with you! Sit in the nursery with your kids and read a few books. Put a puzzle together on the floor of mom and dad’s bedroom. Find somewhere in the house that is calm and quiet, and take a break from the chaos together with a quiet activity.
9. Find a reason to celebrate.
Your two year old finally decided to put her pants on? CELEBRATE! The baby is finally napping? CELEBRATE! Everyone actually sat down at the table when it was lunch time (now, whether they actually ATE or not is a whole different ball game)? CELEBRATE! Find the small victories when the days are hard, and make a big deal of them! Celebrate them in whatever way works for your family- a little scoop of ice cream definitely is a game changer around here!
10. Remember it’s just a season.
This is just temporary, and eventually it will pass. On these hard days, remind yourself that this is just one of life’s many seasons, and that eventually this too will be just a memory. This season, whatever it looks like for us right now, will be over before we know it, and we’ll look back on it thinking, “Remember when…?”