There are some days that just don’t go right. The kids are grumpy; the mom is tired; the house smells funny; whatever it is, the day just doesn’t go right. Days like that happen to everyone. These days are some of the longest days of my life. The other day, while my husband was counting down the hours until he was done teaching his students, I was counting down the minutes until he came home. I was almost to the point of crying because things had gone so badly. The dishwasher’s upper drawer had broken; I’d dropped yet another plate; my preschooler was refusing to get dressed and was running around naked; and the baby would not go to sleep – at all, ever. Simply put, nobody’s perfect.
Here are a few techniques I use on my not-perfect days.
The biggest trick seems to be realizing that life wasn’t designed to be perfect, kids weren’t designed to be perfect, and parents weren’t designed to be perfect. Just remembering this, and taking a deep breath or two, usually helps me power through rough days. Letting go of my desire to be the “perfect” mom helps me to enjoy my situation more. I think everyone wants to be the best at what they’re doing, but turning that desire into a judgment of self and a judgment of ability is debilitating.
I’ve also learned that talking to my kids, in general terms, about how I’m feeling really helps them understand what’s going on. It also helps me to calm down and put a name on what I’m really dealing with. I don’t tell what’s causing the stress, but I tell them what I’m feeling. I also make sure they know that it’s not their fault. Blame has no place when discussing feelings. Really, blame has no place in any communication between parent and child. Also, encouraging my kids to talk to me about what they are feeling, and showing I understand what they are saying, really diffuses a lot of the stickier situations. I find when I recognize their feelings, and legitimize their experiences, my kids seem able to figure out appropriate responses.
And, ultimately, when dealing with a bad day, my ace in the hole is to change the scenery. This takes a lot of self-control, especially when it’s really the last thing I want to do. This sounds so simple. It almost sounds like the easiest way out. It’s really so hard to do. It takes so much patience to get everyone’s shoes on, and into the car. It takes so much self-control not to yell and grump at the kids. But it really works. It seems to be a short circuit and everyone’s grumpiness goes away, including mine. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy. The park, McDonald’s Play Place, or the mall – but actually leaving the familiar surroundings seems to end the problems.
In short, no one will be the perfect parent – all day, every day, with every child. But we can all be the best we can be and learn ways to deal with the imperfections of life. I’m sure there are a lot of ways to deal with bad days. Share one with me! I’d love to learn more.