We all have bad days and it’s easy to let them get away from you. A recent day for us went like this: the girls aren’t feeling well, Twig didn’t sleep well that night, we had to rush to Mema’s to drop them off so I could go to a meeting that no one showed up to, the weather was bad, we were late to preschool, I was late picking Peanut up from preschool, the girls were crabby on the way home, the girls continued to be crabby when we got home. I found myself dwelling in all of the things that were going wrong that day, even though in retrospect it really wasn’t that bad.
It’s easy to get caught up in the “poor me” spiral and it’s hard to get out of once you’re there. Life with little ones can be hard and it gets even more so when mama is in a bad mood. Frequently, mama’s bad mood causes the kids to get an attitude too! Here I’m providing some time-proven tricks to get out of your funk so you and your kiddos can have a better day.
1. Get a hug. Hugging has some real benefits. I’m sure you can tell too because when you get a good hug from someone you love, it just makes you feel better. Even for me, a very non-touchy person, a hug from the right person just makes me feel better. There’s a reason behind this–oxytocin. Hugging releases the same love hormone as any other love act, including breastfeeding. So if you’re a nursing mom, take a little breastfeeding break! Especially if you have a toddler, it’s nice to get them to sit still for a minute so you can relax.
2. Make sure all your needs are met. Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you cold? It seems silly to even check these things, but it’s easy to forget that you need to eat when you’re watching kids. There have been times when I can’t figure out what’s wrong with my crabby child and it turns out that I’ve totally missed naptime. Even something as simple as not enough clothes (or too many when it’s warm) can turn what would be a happy child into a mess.
3. Take a shower. Along the same lines, go take a shower. I know I feel better when I’m clean, and truth be told, it to doesn’t happen every day. I commend the stay at home moms who are able to figure in a daily shower. As I said, life with little ones is hard. Bonus points for taking the kids in with you.
4. Put the kids in water. Whether it be that shower mentioned above or a bath or going swimming. I read some advice once that if your kids are crabby, put them in water. I’ve been trying to follow it since and it really works! Two grumpy girls go in the tub and immediately their moods brighten. Try it sometime.
5. Make your frustration into a game. Peanut actually showed me this one by accident. One day she was really fighting getting into her pajamas and she started pretending she was asleep, so I started to ask her “Can the sleeping girl put her leg in? Can she open her mouth and get her teeth brushed?” and so on. Instead of being mad, we turned the situation around and made it into a game. This can work with so many frustrations. Not eating enough vegetables? Make it a race of who can eat theirs first. Running through the store? Play red light, green light. The list goes on! If you can stop and remember to parent playfully, life will be easier.
6. Start a random game. Along a similar line, just drop whatever you’re doing and play a game. Don’t ask if they want to play first, especially if the child is crabby, because they might say no just out of being a grump. Instead, just start playing. In the middle of an argument, start touching the top of everyone’s head and saying “duck” a couple of times, then do a “goose” and run for it! While I was writing this, my crabby 1 year old came up to me crying, so I hid our eyes and started to count to 10, since hide-and-go-seek is one of our favorite games, my almost 4 year old knew the drill and ran off to hide. They continued playing for a minute and now they’re happily playing with toys downstairs.
7. Make some music. Whether it be putting some music on (Spotify is lovely for this), singing, or playing an instrument. Just start music and let your kids chime in. It’s amazing how much of an effect music has one everyone in my house. If I plug the computer into the speakers in the kitchen and turn on Gangnam Style, it can turn any fit into fun instantly.
8. Put on some music and clean. Often having a messy house is enough to get me in a foul mood. And just telling my kids to clean can be enough to put them in a foul mood! Instead, we do one song clean alongs. I grab the music and we start the song and clean as much as we can in one room before that song is over. I read about doing this somewhere and I can’t remember where it came from, so sorry I can’t give someone credit. A room will never be perfectly clean with one song, but a bunch of toys can be picked up and I can be a lot less frustrated.
9. Go outside. This is a hard one in our area this time of year because it’s so cold and snowy, but if you can get yourself bundled and outside, you’ll at least get relief as long as you can stand the cold. When it’s warm out, we love to run around the backyard and have a ball. Simply the sun hitting your face can change the tune of your day. Man, I can’t wait for summer.
10. Go for a drive. If all else fails, take the kids for a drive in the car. It can be difficult trying to make it out of the house with small children, but it’s not quite so stressful if you don’t actually leave the car. Go hit up a drive through for a treat, go to a park, or even just drive around for the sake of driving. Sure, it’s not great for the environment or your wallet if you do this too much, but everything in moderation. The change of scenery and the fact that your children are strapped down can certainly help a bad mood.
I hope this list helps some of you out there struggling with a foul mood and small children. It’s amazing how simple little things can change a frown upside down.
What are your special tricks for getting in a better mood when you’re grumpy? How about getting your children in a better mood when they’re the grumps?