Some days are destined for failure, right from the start. Recently, life has been an exhausting freight train of cold coffee, puking kids, messy house, too much laundry, missing chickens, jam that didn’t set, and wasted time. Your days might look a little different, but perhaps you recognize the feeling of desperate, sinking overwhelm.
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These kinds of days can be especially trying when home alone with small children. It’s so easy to want to break out a series of DVDs and wait until the day ends. It’s easier still to be snappy, irritable and frustrated. And once I’ve crossed “irritable” territory, it seems like the day spirals worse from there.
I don’t know about you, but I need and want a different outcome. I want all of the beautiful descriptions of historical strong women to apply to me: grace under pressure, strength in adversity, unfailing faith, quiet confidence, unwavering kindness. Why not me? And why not you?
What we need (aside from an occasional free babysitter and a housekeeper) is to develop a strategy to reset our attitudes and salvage the situation as much as possible.
For me, changing my surroundings or adjusting my routines has a huge impact- it forces me to pivot from the stressful situation and to refocus my mental energy on processing something else.
Here are my top five strategies for salvaging a bad day.
1. Go outside.
This is a major mood-changer at our house, assuming the weather is cooperative. I pick up my weeding tools and sit by the kids’ playground. They play independently in the shaded sandbox, giving me time to gather my thoughts and recharge. For some ideas on making outside time successful, check out this post.
2. Visit a friend.
When the weather isn’t good, I pile the kids in the car and drive to a friend’s house for a last-minute visit and a big hug.
3. Listen to a story:
When we can’t go outside or visit a friend, my next go-to strategy is to put a story on Audible, brew a pot of coffee, and sit on the couch or at the kitchen table. Usually my children will sit next to me, listening silently while they color, eat a snack, or play with a toy. Meanwhile, I purposely choose to decompress and either listen to the story or flip through a magazine. After a while they wander off, satisfied, and I feel more capable of completing the day.
4. Do that special thing:
A difficult day is the perfect time to do the special, fun thing you’ve been setting aside. Make hot chocolate, order pizza for dinner, break out the chalk pastels, or draw the kids a deep bubble bath. This is an especially great strategy if everyone seems to be having a bad day, not just you.
5. Create a relaxing atmosphere in your home:
Play a relaxing or uplifting station on your favorite music station or service. My favorites vary between Miles Davis, solo piano, bluegrass hymns, and classical guitar. Diffuse your favorite essential oil. Sit on the couch or on the porch swing. Sip a hot drink. Do whatever it is that brings comfort and life to your soul.
These strategies have helped me to pivot and refocus over many difficult days. I hope they help you too. Please share your own personal strategies below, or send me a message! I love hearing from you.