It didn’t start as a bad day. It actually started as a peaceful Friday morning, then quickly things began to unravel. The kids (yes, more than one) were each late for a virtual school meet; at the same time, I remembered bills to write off and some information that my husband needed me to complete that morning for his business.
Next up was my discovery of the havoc the wind wreaked onto my greenhouse overnight (again) and then the mischievous dog ate chocolate-covered almonds that apparently a mystery kid (since none of mine would own up to it) left out while I was in the bathroom (for the traditional 30-second mom trip). This event ensued a flurry of panicked web searches on the toxicity of chocolate-covered nuts to a dog (he was perfectly fine by the way, but I don’t suggest letting any dog eat them).
In the midst of this, an important email that I had been waiting on finally came through. All of this at about precisely the same time.
Meanwhile, I had never gotten out of my bathrobe or brushed my teeth, or had quiet time before the day erupted. I was a mess physically and mentally by 10 a.m.
I needed to take action to get myself together and back on track. The rocky start had shaken me and set the tone for the day.
Part of the chaos of an off day also seems to be the ease of noticing chores you never got to; the trouble your kid got into; and, of course, the ever destructive comparison to the mom-next-door. Many times, difficult days are also busy days that do not allow for free time. So, simply attempt at least one activity to reset your day or help gain some direction, even if done by multitasking or while grabbing lunch. It’s worth the time and effort if it can help the rest of the day go smoother.
- Stop, Collaborate and Listen – No, really. Stop and get your thoughts together ‐ even if you have to hide in the bathroom for a few minutes. Everyone deserves a bathroom break – no matter how busy. Taking time to prioritize, sort out your day and triage will make you feel more in control of what’s going on around you.
- Write it down. Keep a notebook or use your phone notes feature, but get to-do’s or other things that can wait out of your head so you have room for everything else you’re trying to handle.
- Delegate. This is a great time to get the kids to take on some more responsibility. Admittedly, delegating work to the kids is what I struggle with the most. I have the mentality of I can get it done faster myself ‐ can I get an Amen? However, I’ve finally realized that my mindset isn’t helping my kids, or myself, in the long run. Taking a few minutes to teach and model the job will lead to a time when the kids can eventually do tasks independently, which will come in handy during those out-of-control days.
- Some things you have to leave. Prioritize the must-do’s for that day. Write down the rest and come back to them another day. Once you’ve written them down, move on. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting to everything on your list. The phrase It is what it is gets spoken often at our house.
- Make something to look forward to later in the day. Schedule a phone call with a friend; take a walk outside; do that quiet time you missed before your day began. Even 10 minutes of sunshine and fresh air can reset a mood. It’s worth a try — at this point there is nothing to lose but that crummy feeling.
- Listen to Music. A song can be a great way to lift your spirits.
Having music playing in the background during your day is definitely a plus – a feasible option even on busy days. Make a playlist especially for bad days — include your favorite songs, throwbacks that evoke fond memories, or whatever makes you smile. I have a variety of personalized playlists: one for all of my favorite songs to help brighten the day; a list for gentle, quiet moments, and even one titled “Songs to Annoy the Kids” — that one makes me smile every time.
- Read and Cuddle to chase the blues. Back when I had two kids both under age 2 (one with medical needs), I needed this time often to regroup. It was my safe place. We would go into my daughter’s room and spend time reading and cuddling together. If the kids are older, read your own books independently, but in the same room, which allows time together (goodbye mom guilt) and gives you time to dive into another world through a book. If your kids will give you peace and quiet, read by yourself and get a well-deserved break.
- Tomorrow is a new day. It’s a bad day, not a bad life. You may feel like saying I give up, I’m done, or I’m just a bad mom. You may be familiar with this negative self-talk (I’m willing to admit that I’m more than chummy with these pessimistic self-murmurings). It’s toxic and can easily find fuel. The mentality can quickly become: that is how it is and always will be. Remember, we all have bad days. Whether we share them or not, we all experience them. Take a deep breath, remind yourself of all the wonderful things you’re doing and get through the day — hoping for a better one tomorrow.