Some days are diamonds, some days are… heaps less sparkly than diamonds and, in fact, mostly resemble a giant stinky poop. Ugh.
You are not alone
A crap mum (or dad) day can have you feeling like you’re not cut out for the parenting gig and that everyone’s managing things way better than you. But guess what? That’s utterly false!
Not to diminish the crapness of your day in any way, shape or form (tough days are the worst, even if lots of people have them!), but know that every single parent that walks the earth has terrible days and somehow managed to come out the other side.
You are in great company, let it be known. Also let it be known that a tough mum day is not a you thing, it’s a parent thing. Here are six ways to press the reset button – and look after YOU after a sh*tty day.
1. Chat to a trusted pal or family member
Parenting can feel like an isolated, impossible and at times competitive business, especially when you’re first starting out. If you have a trusted friend or family member who can lend an ear, it can be truly helpful to call them up or message them and go over your very bad day.
Not only does it help to vent and get your thoughts and frustrations out, a good buddy will remind you of all the excellent bits about you – and provide a fresh perspective which might help to calm and anchor you. A problem shared is very often a problem halved, as they say in the classics.
If you don’t have anyone trusty to confide in, you could write down the things that happened on your crappy day and get it all out of your head. And if you don’t have time to write it down sometimes just using the record function on your phone and dictating a little diatribe to yourself about the tough day can help stop those random thoughts swirling and provide a release. (Sounds nuts, but it really works!)
2. Feed yourself something nourishing
While “feeding your feelings” is a discouraged response, on the whole, sometimes eating something nourishing is a really good idea. Especially when you’re exhausted and overwrought (and possibly forgetting that grown-up humans need food, too!)
If you have the time and ability to cook, then make something comforting and healthy. Soup, salad, a speedy stir-fry. Aim for virtuous and delicious to get the double-bonus of nutrients and positive self-care.
If you don’t have time to cook something, throw your kiddo in the stroller or car and head in the direction of something that’s going to make you feel cared for and nourished, whilst simultaneously offering an often bolstering change of scenery.
(Also note that some people find a glass of wine at the end of the day pretty nourishing, so you could try that too?! I mean, why not?!)
3. Go easy on yourself
Very, very often mums expect way too much of themselves.
We are surrounded by busy people achieving all of the things and this can provide the perfect aspirational storm for mums who are accidentally measuring themselves against the (perceived) success of others.
Mums are under pressure to look good, feel good, do good, work good, be good. Argh. No wonder mums are feeling overwhelmed and calling their kiddos “butt head” in weak moments.
If you can step sideways – away from this “perfect parent” pressure – you’ll be stepping towards much better days.
Nobody is getting it all right, so do what makes most sense to YOU! Instead of comparing and forever stretching towards what seems to be expected, slow things right down and just do your thing.
4. Go outside
It can be hard to choose between the laundry or dishwasher emptying, and a walk down to the park, but I promise you (as a mum of 3 grown kids) that the park walk will pay dividends every time.
Not only does getting out of the house provide a fresh air perspective on a truly awful day, it also reminds us that we are part of something much bigger (and nicer) than the Vegemite that someone small has smeared all over the new couch cover while you were answering the door.
Walking your kiddo in the pram means you get your blood pumping a bit and if you walk fast enough, endorphins may show their feel-good selves and boost your mood. It’s also a chance for your child to settle and focus on trees, birds, flowers and trucks – rather than whatever less cheerful stuff played out at home.
5. Write down the BEST thing that happened on the WORST day
This is part gratitude journal, part Pollyanna habit and all-round bright idea.
It’s so easy to descend into despair and ruminate on the tough stuff or what might have been. It’s much more constructive, though, to at least try to shake off the sh*tty and think about what went right.
Train yourself to process the tough stuff pragmatically – or passionately, ugly crying it out as you watch Steel Magnolias, and then see the good where you can.
We live in a world where bad news sells and drama reigns supreme, so it makes sense that we might sometimes slip into those habits by default. You don’t have to though – you can acknowledge the tough and then reach out for the better stuff. It’s a much swifter path to less stressful days.
6. Make a you-focused, one-thing plan for tomorrow
Think of one thing you can do tomorrow that will make you feel bolstered and happy.
Maybe it’s reading ONE chapter of that book you haven’t got to since you put it next to your bed 2 years ago?
Maybe it’s an extra hour at childcare for your kiddo so you can have a quick coffee on your own?
Maybe it’s eating some BBQ shapes? (Well it COULD be!)
Maybe it’s getting the groceries delivered so you can avoid yesterday’s harrowing tantrum in aisle 5?
Maybe it’s phoning your bestie for a proper chat while you’re on the way to work or when the baby’s napping?
Prioritise ONE thing that will make you feel more like you. And then try to prioritise ONE thing for you every, single day! Even if it’s just a little thing! Sometimes the little things are the big things, right?!
If these ideas seem to frustratingly skim the surface, and you’re finding that sadness, anxiety or distress are making your days difficult very regularly, there are so many people who can help you find a way through.
Make a cup of tea and give PANDA a call. They speak to great mums and dads every day of the week about anxiety and depression whilst growing kids.
They are compassionate, non-judgemental and have practical strategies to help get things back on an even keel. Do a great thing for you and your kiddo and let a kind expert help.