Mama said there’d be days like this

StateLibQld 2 164099 Derailed goods train at Eudlo, 1914

photo: Wikimedia Commons

There’s something to be said about days when you wake up to kids fighting, a baby screaming, juice spilled on the floor, a splitting headache and a husband who is MIA. (What?  He went to church by himself to commune with God sans children…I pretty much want to be him right now).  And that word is  POOPY.

As in poopy diapers that need changing, seemingly constantly.  A teething little one who won’t stop crying in a decibal that is about five degrees short of making my ears bleed.  A house that looks like a hurricane visited – and this only five minutes after I completely cleaned and tidied yesterday.  A toddler crying inconsolably because his big brother won’t let him play with his Hex Bugs and Santa was mean and didn’t “bring me my own Hex Bugs!!!!” Plus a shoulder that has been in moderate-to-severe pain ever since I wrenched it carrying a 357-lb infant carseat around following the birth of my youngest.

Needless to say, not shaping up to be a stellar day.

Can this day be saved?

Generally, at this point, I start snowballing down the spiral of “woe is me” and “my life sucks” and “maybe I should just crawl back in bed with a bowl of ice cream”.  It is really tempting.  Particularly when my chosen vocation is vastly thankless, undignified, and fraught with tedium and noise.  What is the point of cleaning the house if it is just going to fall into disarray again?  What use, wiping that bottom, when it will need wiping again in an hour? (my kids like prunes)  Why should I even attempt to take a shower if two three four of my children bang on the door and cry the entire time because I have left them bereft for the five minutes I can hasily loofah myself?

The truth is, (as Hubby so  kindly reminded me) no job, no vocation, is without its repetition, occasionally monotony, and frustrations.  The janitor at Walmart is never “done” with his job.  He cleans the restrooms, and a few hours later, he needs to clean the restrooms again.  The teacher at my children’s school faces challenges during the day, and her job is definitely never complete.  That ER doctor, I’m sure, in between rushing around saving lives, needs to fill out boring paperwork that is probably no fun and not very rewarding.

It’s helpful to know that everyone has days like this.  The difference between the “woe is me” Rebecca and the “I can keep going” Rebecca is attitude.  Or, in the very least (if I aI cannot summon positive thoughts) to FAKE IT TIL I MAKE IT.  This little mantra has helped me out on more bad days than I can count.

I pretend I am in a positive mindset and eventually I really do feel more positive.  It’s kind-of like that dumb(I thought) tip I read in a teen magazine years ago.  Even if you are not happy, smile – and that will trick your brain into thinking that you are.  The weird thing is, there is some truth to it.

My other “Get out of a bad mood quick” hacks are:

1.) Stop what I am doing and sit down with a good book.  It seems kinda counterintuitive, but when  I am frustrated with the futility of getting housework done with little tornadoes underfoot, taking a book break can give my mind a rest and energize me to get more work done afterwards.

2) Put on my ear-buds and turn up some tunes. This is especially effective to tune out the fighting, crying, and demands from the kiddos.  Make sure you perfect your “What?  I can’t hear you!?” face.

3) Watch a 22-minute show on Netflix that inspires.  My go-to show right now is Fixer Upper.  I don’t know why, but I find Chip & JoAnna Gaines really upbeat, and I get super-motivated to beautiful my house afterwards.

4) Tackle a project that I can finish.  I never realized how effective this one was, until I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home.  She says that motivation leads to more motivation and the quickest way to get motivated about getting things done is to complete something. I think so many times in our lives, we moms get used to being interrupted.  Ergo, finishing projects, activities, movies, chores, etc is often a rarity.  I am actually surprised sometimes I ever finish cooking dinner.  But coming up with something that I can tackle and finish (the finishing is the important part) in the space of a certain amount of time is inspiring and encourages me to keep going, or at least move forward with a more productive mindset.  I have 5 minutes while the kids are distracted with something shiny!  I can match socks from the lost sock bucket.  30 minutes left of naptime?  I can do a marathon tidy of the downstairs living room while plying the older kids with candy to stay out until I am done.

5) Sometimes, the one that is the most effective is just to stop whatever I am doing, or attempting to do and SIT DOWN WITH MY KIDS. I often feel like my days are only as valuable as the number of things I can check off my “To Do” list.  I view my kids as distractions, interruptions, inconveniences to my great master goal of “Getting Things Done”.  Uh, hello?  They are the reason I have to get things done, not the distraction from it!  It can be easy to forget when you are tired, or overwhelmed, or sick of listening to kids yell at one another.  (I adore this article from Danielle Bean, which perfectly highlights the struggle and response I strive to have.) But often, I have found that my kids can sense when I am trying to put my mental and physical energy elsewhere and actually act out to try and get some of that energy back to them.  And it can be more effective in the long run to take some time out to sit down with them and play, or talk, or just be present for a few minutes instead of worrying about the laundry and the dishes and dinner and the bills and the ants that have invaded Junior’s room because he squirreled away crackers under his bed.  Sometimes a cuddle is all that is needed to rejuvenate a day gone sour for Momma and cubs.

I am a firm believer in redemption.  Redemption for human beings (no man is beyond it) and redemption for days (no day is beyond it).  This train got derailed pretty early this morning but it is not too late to drag it back onto the tracks and turn it around.  But I might go back to the cafe car and grab a bowl of ice cream just in case. ♥








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