Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Cope with Bad Days as a Mama

When you are a parent, bad days are inevitable. I'm not very far into this parenting gig, but I've already learned a thing or two about how to cope with a bad day.

What do you mean by "bad day"?

Any day that you or your child feel off your game. Maybe you have a fussy baby, or baby is going through a growth spurt, or an ill child. Maybe you just woke up feeling short-tempered or sad. Maybe there are other things going on in your life that are affecting your ability to cope.

How can I get through the day?

The first thing to remember is that we all have bad days. Seriously. No parent on earth is immune to those difficult times, especially (I feel) in the first year of life when the child cannot tell you what the problem is.

By extension, this means that if you're close to someone who is a parent (whether it's your own mom, your best friend, or a neighbour), you can (and should) talk to them and they will understand what you are going through. Heck, that includes me. Shoot me an email if you ever need to vent. Your support network is one of the biggest strengths you can rely upon in hard time. Accept offers of help - even if you just need another adult in the house to distract you from how miserable a day you're really having. But of course, someone to watch the baby while you shower, or cook you some supper (because you probably didn't find time for either if it's a truly bad day) is welcome, too. Don't be afraid to ask for help, either. Often, help is available but not offered only because your friends and family may not know what you need.

Get out of the house. If you can pack up Cranky Kid and get out for a while, do it. I understand this gets exponentially harder as the child ages, but small babies tend to sleep in cars and magically feel better when they are out in public. You'll feel better for it, too.

Remember the golden maxim of parenting a baby: This too shall pass. No doubt you've learned by now that nothing stays static for long in the world of babies. They are constantly growing, changing, and passing through phases. Tomorrow will be better. Even if it's not, I promise the kid will not still be crying in a year.

Be kind to yourself. You are not a bad parent, nor are you weak for having a bad day. If you cry, it's okay. If everyone is alive and in one piece at the end of the day, you've done well. Have a glass of wine, or a piece of chocolate. Heck, have both. You've earned it.

Lately, I've been going through hard times with my Baby Bird and I've employed every single one of these tips. There has been daily crying, emails to friends and family, calls to friends and family, daily attempts to get out of the house, requests for help, acceptance of offered help. I have had to cut myself a whole lot of lea way. My house isn't getting cleaned until this phase is over, and I'm eating foods of convenience. I'll probably have a drink tonight.

Mamas, what are your tips for dealing with bad days?

...and I'm serious about emailing me if you're having a bad day and just need a sympathetic, non-judgemental day. I don't care if you're a stranger. I'll listen, promise.


Amy said...

When we're having a bad day, the hardest but BEST thing for us is to get ready and leave the house. A change of scene will improve the situation 99% of the time. At the very least, all the getting ready time, driving time, etc. helps the day pass by faster! Even if we just go to Chapters to look at the books and get a Starbucks, or going to Superstore to look at the Joe Fresh section, it's usually enough to get us both in a happier frame of mind.

Worst case scenario - we tough out the whole day and I'll have a beer and change my nail polish after Eli goes to bed :)

Kim said...

I totally agree - getting out of the house is a must on bad days. It's amazing how much better the little ones feel when they have all kinds of distractions to keep them busy.

And the beer is a must, as well ;)

Natasha said...

I used to tell myself that "soon I will be looking back on this" and that of course always happened.
Now, life with my two children is easy. My friend asked the other day if I meant easier but no I mean easy ( I shall kick myself for saying this) as they play together happily using their imagination when I need them to and I love every minute of my time with them. I think it helps that I am a working parent as for me that means that every minute of our time together is precious.

Kim said...

In a way, I look forward to Baby Bird getting more independent (thus making my life easier) - but no rush! I'm glad you enjoy every minute. I'm coming to learn just how important that is.