It’s 10am and your day is not improving. You woke up to last night’s dishes in the sink (don’t you have an agreement that when one of you cooks, the other one cleans?). The kids are whiny and hangry and your partner hasn’t texted you back about that Really Important Thing you texted about three hours ago. You feel frustrated, alone, and ready to scream Mommie Dearest-style that you’ll cut the next person who has the nerve to ask you for something.
Slow down, mama. You don’t have to lose your cool. You can reset this day to move on to happier things AND model for your kids how to deal with stress and disappointment in a healthy and productive way. Win-win!
Here are three of my favorite ways to hit Reset on a bad day:
1. Get outside and into the sunlight. This is a great reset for stressed-out mamas and cooped-up kids alike. Getting into the sun for a little walk gives you crucial Vitamin D, raises your happiness hormones, improves immune system function, and reminds you that you are part of the living world and not just dusty furniture in your living room Island of Isolation. When everything else fails, get outside.
2. Sing out. Instead of yelling at your kids, say it with song. Try a silly operatic trill, or belt out a soulful blues number. “So-faaaaaaaaas! are for booooooooootaaaaaaaaays,” I will sing to my kids in my best R&B diva voice when I’ve asked too many times for the monkeys to stop jumping and I feel my yell coming on. Singing to them this way confuses them into stopping what they are doing (jumping on my couch like wild people), and it signals my brain that we’re not in a crisis situation that will only be solved if I commence screaming in 5-4-3… (My brain was raised by parents who screamed. Left to its own devices it would make some silly, misguided decisions sometimes.)
And if you’ve already started yelling and the day is looking grim, it’s time to call in the big guns:
3. Paging Captain Do-over! This is a code word my kids and I use when things have gotten out of hand, voices and words are unkind, and we need to get back to the present moment and remember that we actually like each other. “Captain Do-over!” we yell and almost immediately we stop grouching and fall into a hug. It takes a couple of seconds to feel that calm, safe, feeling of oxytocin flooding our system (mmmm, sweet bonding hormone we get from hugging and smelling kid heads) and then we can start the process of repair. For the yelling mama, this is a great time to apologize and start over. I’ll say, “I’m sorry I spoke so rudely to you. I was feeling stressed out. What I meant to say was that sofas are for booties and I’d like you to sit quietly and read for a few minutes. Will you please do that? And then we can go outside and run around and get our energy out? Great! I love you. I’m sorry I yelled. You are so special to me.”
They will often start bouncing again, or doing some other annoying thing until we get dressed and out the door to get some sun and start our day. But at least we have all calmed down and I’ve taken responsibility for stopping the bad day before it gets too out of hand. When things are calm and the mood is good, I’m better able to deal with the little stresses: the whining kids, the non-responsive husband, the pile of dishes. They still annoy me but they don’t have to hijack my day– or my kids’.
Want more support dealing with the stress and isolation of motherhood? Get in touch, mama!
Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up. Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes that connection can change your life. Read more about her here.