You know those mornings that just start out all wrong? Whatever your expectations were…..they don’t come to pass.
Maybe you’re woken up at 4:30 am by a child who just refuses to go back to sleep. Maybe you set your alarm and dragged yourself out of bed early to spend some quiet time with your cup of coffee and prayer only to hear little feet
pitter pattering stomping like elephants down the hallway JUST as you were going to take that first sip of liquid happiness and try to center yourself.
Maybe you didn’t get a much needed shower or someone peed in your bed before the sun came up. Whatever happened, it wasn’t your perfect vision of motherhood.
So you take a deep breath on your way to the kitchen where the munchkins are demanding breakfast. But THAT doesn’t go right either. Maybe the kids bicker over which chair to sit in and which cup is whose. The healthy breakfast you painstakingly prepare does NOT live up to toddler expectations and is thrown to the floor (which you haven’t mopped in ages because….well, you know how it is). You try to say grace but the toddler is already having her first meltdown of the day and screams through it. And you wonder……is it bedtime, yet? Oh good grief how will we survive today?
Does that sound familiar? Please tell me you can relate.
Anyhow, you realize what you’re experiencing is a SUPER CRAPPY day. You went to bed last night with every intention of being the patient, creative mother you aspire to be and yet you’ve already lost your temper with the kids, snapped at your husband, and feel like the day is a failure from the get go.
Can you turn things around? Or is it just going to be the day from hell? Will you turn into a monster of a woman before 8am? And even if you had the energy to make the day better where would you even start?
I was pondering these questions over the chaotic breakfast table of a morning this week that just started WRONG. And I was so grumpy and short-tempered and just dreading a day of feeling like a crappy mom because the first hour of the day had been an epic failure on my part.
So much of what makes a good day of mothering is my attitude. It’s not that my attitude can completely alter my kids behavior (although, when I’m not a big grump my children do seem to do better. Big surprise there). But once I lose my temper I feel like I’ve failed at the day and it’s just really hard to climb back out of my pit of motherly despair.
But if I can recover my patience, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, I feel like we’re still winning.
Here’s 10 things that can salvage a super crappy morning:
Well, you probably already said a whole Rosary in the quiet hours of the morning while your kids peacefully slumbered til 8am, right? Ha! Me neither. Super crappy mornings don’t work like that. So you need spiritual backup.
Start simple. Have everyone do the Morning Offering. (We have it printed out on the wall c/o Kendra’s printable-making skillz.) Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide your words and attitude during the day. Ask Our Lady to help and intercede for you and your family. And it can’t hurt to throw out a prayer to a few of your favorite saints because you need SUPERNATURAL patience and grace for the little people entrusted to you when you’re sleep-deprived, stressed, or just OVER it before breakfast..
But here’s the thing. As soon as you start to pray someone will poop on something. Or pull a sibling’s hair. There will be screaming and gnashing of teeth. Because there are forces that really don’t want you to persevere in loving your fam today.
And it’s really hard not to lose it when you’re just TRYING TO PRAY and all hell breaks loose. I’m just trying not to start screaming at you like a banshee! Can’t you just hold your insanity for 30 seconds so I can pray a Memorare?!…I have been known to say. But keep it up. If you can survive one minute of prayer without becoming completely infuriated, you’re halfway to winning back the day.
One thing I’ve started reminding my kids is that our job every single day is to love each other and when we succeed the devil totally hates it. For some reason, the idea of making the devil mad bring joyous delight to my kids. Sure, I’d rather them just want to be kind and patient with each other because it warms the heart of Jesus but if they can extend a little extra grace to their siblings because it enrages the devil? Hey, I’ll take what I can get.
2. If You’re Hungry, Eat Something.
You’re probably already sleep-deprived. Have you met a sleep-deprived toddler? It’s horrifying. Have you met a sleep-deprived hungry toddler? Save us. You may have more emotional control than a toddler (I mean, I hope you do) but you still need to take care of your physical needs in order to turn the crappy day around. Don’t forget to drink a big glass of water. Have some serious protein with breakfast. You are arming yourself for a day of battle! Don’t march in hungry.
3. Light a Candle.
Candles are my happy place. If I light a beeswax candle (my faves) the room instantly becomes more cheerful to be in. And the kids notice it and love it, too.
4. Diffuse some essential oils.
I love to diffuse lavender, lemon, and peppermint in the morning. It smells amazing and really seems to clear my head. If it’s a REALLY bad morning, I’ll diffuse Young Living Joy or Stress Away and put a little bit on my wrists to breathe in during the morning when I think I’m really gonna lose it.
5. Go outside.
For real. Go outside. Everything will immediately be easier to deal with. Let the kids climb a tree and run wild. Soak up some sun. Being outside is a super quick mood lifter. Go on a walk and decide, yes! We’re doing this today thing!
6. Play an audiobook or bring on the read alouds.
My kids are obsessed with read alouds and if there’s an audiobook playing they’re less likely to resort to bickering or pestering each other. Toss some markers at them and play Little House on the Prairie or The Tale of Desperaux. (You can see which audiobooks are big hits with our kids in this post, including where to find free audiobooks.) Something about having their little minds occupied with a story and their fingers occupied with coloring can help bring the calm.
7. Change the scene.
Get in the car and GO somewhere. Go to a museum, the park, a friend’s house. Sometimes this is the only way to get everyone out of the crappy day funk.
8. Bring out the goodies.
Because grumpy behavior from the kids often makes ME grumpy and irritable, I’m tempted to go in this direction with breakfast: “You’re in a bad mood? Have some gruel! How do you like that? I guess we’ll remember to wake up on the RIGHT side of the bed tomorrow.”
But I’ve found that to be….not a super effective method of turning out day around. A few weeks ago, I awoke to a crappy day with grumpy kids. So, I made pancakes. My kids are allergic to gluten and gluten-free flours are pricey so pancake morning is a treat. One of my kids said, “Oh Mom! Thank you for making pancakes! This is the best morning EVER.”
And it really did turn around right then and there. So make those pancakes. Maybe even go crazy and toss some chocolate chips in there. Make muffins. I don’t know. Whatever it takes to change the mood.
9. Have a Dance Party
Music has a huge effect on my mood. Starting out the morning with some peaceful classical music is a great way to start the day, but sometimes you need something silly and up beat to really get you out of the crappy day funk. You can try this mix we jam out to at our house. Or this one.
10. Movie Day
When the going gets tough, the tough make popcorn. At least that’s how it is at our house. If I’ve tried everything else and we’ve done outside and we’ve done audiobooks and we’re just DONE. Snuggles and a musical can do the trick. These are the comfort movies I always reach for when I’m having a bad day (although not all on this list are appropriate for all ages.)
So what do you do when you’re having a really bad day of mothering? How do you turn around a rotten morning?