Some days at home with young kids are really fun. We get to relive some of the best parts of our childhoods and delight in our little ones enjoying the same things we once loved. We’re making memories and cherishing sweet moments together. Sometimes being at home is the best.
And then there are the bad days. It could be sleep deprivation, overstimulation, or a full moon. We don’t always know why, but some days just kind of suck. We’re watching the clock and counting down the hours until bedtime. It can feel like the entire day is one epic mess interrupted by ever increasing meltdowns (ours and theirs). Those are the days we sit down to check Facebook for a brief rest only to see all of our friends feeling “#blessed,” leaving us to wonder if anyone else on earth is having a disastrous day.
Here’s the good news! No day is a total loss, and there’s always still time to turn it around. Here are some tricks to improve even the worst day:
1. Take Some Deep Breaths
This is the place to start. Bad days are so much worse when we’re as irritable as our kids. We have the power to make the day better or much, much worse. When we can take a deep breath and remember we can choose not to add to the chaos, we’re more likely to get our day back on track.
2. Adjust Your Expectations
This is not the day to go to Costco or the DMV. Whatever you had planned, consider whether it is likely to make the day better or worse. Put off stressful errands and chores that aren’t a necessity. Order pizza if need be. Give yourself some grace and reprioritize your week.
3. Have a Dance Party in the Kitchen
Even if you don’t dance, I must insist you try this one. It always helps. Preferences vary, but in my house no one can resist an ‘80’s dance party: Cindy Lauper, the Bangles, Jon Bon Jovi, and The Talking Heads all get us up and dancing. Dancing releases endorphins, help your kids burn off some energy, and it will remind you that even on a bad day, parenting can actually be fun.
4. Go For a Meander
Get out of the house, even if it’s raining. Even if it’s hailing. Trust me, it will help. I say a meander because on a day like this, it’s doubtful that much power walking will take place. Instead just plan on a leisurely, aimless walk. Don’t feel rushed if your two year old wants to stop to pick up every leaf he finds on the sidewalk. This will take up more time, and some days that’s the goal. Bonus points if it’s in the woods since being in nature will likely boost everyone’s mood.
5. Call a Friend For an Emergency Play Date
Do you have a really good friend who will love you and your wild children even at your lowest? Call that friend. Beg her for a play date and promise to bring the coffee. Sometimes we just need a hug from another mama who understands, and sometimes our kids just need to interact with someone (anyone) other than us. Meet your closest friend at a park and let the kids wear themselves out. It will pass the time, and you’ll feel so much better having talked with a friend.
6. Cuddle and Read Books
What’s often missing on a really terrible day is connection. Our kids feel more like adversaries than allies, and we can’t seem to get on the same page. A weakened connection calls for cuddles and comfort. If it’s a chilly day, make a cup of tea, get a cozy blanket, and start a fire. Then call your little ones over for story time. If they’re antsy, have them run laps between books and then jump back into the nest you’ve created for another story. We keep a portion of our books packed away and swap them out every so often. Rough days are the perfect time to dig out old favorites that have been put away for weeks or months. They will feel new again to all of you.
7. Bake together
When all else fails, bake some cookies or muffins. Kids love helping in the kitchen, and at the end of the project you’ll have a healthy dose of sugar to consume alone after bedtime, preferably with wine and mindless TV.
There isn’t a parent in the world who doesn’t have the occasional bad day. We all have times when we don’t enjoy our kids, and we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. When things get really rough in the trenches, remember that you’re doing a great job, and there’s no one your kids would rather dance, explore, read, and bake with than you.
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