Through my later years of college [partly before I was even of legal drinking age] I spent my weekends working various shifts in a beer factory. I drove a forklift and operated heavy machinery like can fillers and bottle labelers. The hours were rough, but I genuinely loved that job. I would come home disgusting and covered with this slimy, gooey substance we affectionately referred to as ‘beer snot’ that formed on the machines when the yeast from the beer spilled onto the line and mixed with soap and hot water. Some days I would spend my entire shift alone with a high powered hose, in a protective suit, cleaning production lines and getting them ready for the next week. It was hard work. And It was great. Looking back now, I realize one reason I loved that job was the thinking time. Earplugs were required and many of the jobs were a solitary affair. That left me alone with my thoughts and, honestly, some much needed time to get some clarity for my I’m-on-the-brink-of-adulthood brain. [Consequently it’s also when I started journaling: super therapeutic.] A lot of facets of that job translate into stay-at-home motherhood: crazy hours, learning new tasks, being responsible for having productive days, and the feeling of always being covered in questionable substances. But there were also a few things that were different: 16 hour work weeks instead of 168, production goals and accomplishments, lunch breaks, training, and obviously being paid.
What’s crazy about that job is that in the three years I worked there I can only count maybe a handful of “bad” days. It was low stress, for sure. And like I said, I loved that job. So the crazy part is that the love I have for this motherhood gig makes the love I felt for my factory worker days seem inconsequential. I don’t think being a stay-at-home mom is the right job or even possible for everyone, but I daily thank God that he has made this possible for me. It’s my dream job. The thing nine-year-old me said I wanted to be when I grew up. But it’s not without bad days. Well, I’ll call them challenging days. And if we’re being totally honest, there aren’t many weeks that go by where it doesn’t feel like one day out of the seven brings more woahs, ohs, and woes than I feel capable of combating.
At the end of a long and rather challenging day last week, I wondered if there was a way to be a good mom on a bad day. I’m all for writing down advice to my future self; using the hindsight from yesterday to help me out tomorrow. So I reflected on some things I do [or want to do] that work to turn a bad day in the right direction.
Start Your Day Off Right
Lately I’ve started reading the Jesus Storybook Bible out loud before we start the day. When everyone is gathered around the table at breakfast we break it open and read a few stories. The kids LOVE it. Like, it’s sort of surprising to me how much they are enjoying it. They’re shouting “More Bible please! Oh, and more cereal.” and it’s making my heart swell. I liked this post on the resources this mama is using for their family worship time [and even ordered a couple things to fill up the Easter baskets].
Pray for yourself. Patience, strength, endurance, and forgiveness: whatever’s on your heart.
Pray for your kids. Discipline, hearts after His, love.
Pray with your kids. Ask them to pray for you. Show them that you too are a weak sinner in need of God’s grace. There’s a good chance that showing them this sliver of weakness can help you avoid them instead seeing a mom reach her boiling point after keeping things in and having all of your sin spewing out for all to see [In my head there’s totally an image of a monster dragon mama. Don’t be a monster dragon mama].
Pray verses over them and over yourself. You’re not always going to have the words to speak. And sometimes silence is okay; God knows the depths of your heart. But praying God’s word can bring you a super peace. To make this easier you should [I should] make a list of a few verses for such an occasion. I’ve started my list here but I’d love it if you added one of your own in the comments. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s.
Ask other people to pray for you. Shoot your husband an email. Give your own wisdown-bearing mama a call. Send your friends a text. You don’t even have to be too specific, just ask them to pray for you.
Truth? Sometimes it’s more about the kids interrupting something I want to accomplish that day than them being little boogers. So when I feel myself getting annoyed I need to ask myself [and be honest with myself], “What’s really going on right now?”. Is it just a disobedient child [sometimes] or is it that I have an agenda and they’re muddying it [sigh…sometimes]. Is what I’m doing right now more important than what they’re asking from me with their words or actions? Can I put off scrubbing the kitchen floor to play with them on the living room floor? Do I really need to check facebook…again? Did I keep them out past nap-time or lunchtime? It’s hard, but when I am honest with myself I find that, unfortunately, sometimes I’m at the root of their less-than-desirable behavior. And I’m served a great, big helping of humble pie.
Put On Some Music
Maybe it’s praise music or a station your best friend Pandora hand-picked just for you. Maybe it’s the Breaking Dawn II soundtrack [um, not that I bought that…]. Maybe it’s Mozart and you hold a living room ballet class with your dance-loving daughter. It is amazing how adding music to the madness can bring such calm.
Write A Letter To Your Troublemaker
My lovely Lucy is a passionate, energetic kid. She brings so much laughter and joy to our family. But, since she was barely toddling, she’s had a bit of an alter ego. It’s definitely a small part of who she is, but when Juicy comes out… everybody else better look out. When her alter ego comes to spend an afternoon, one of the things I like to do is sit down and write a letter to Lucy. It helps me to conjure up the cute, funny, and lasting memories and puts the temporary, craze-inducing ones into perspective. Here’s a recent letter:
My Sweet Girl,
Today you walked up to your Daddy and gave him a piece of paper. When he asked you what it was you told him it was an e-mail to all your friends letting them know you were having a birthday party at your house and they should come right over. And we smiled big, gleaming smiles that parents can’t contain when their children fill their hearts with love [when they feel impossibly full already]. But it makes me sad when you hip-check your brother. Siblings are like the built-in best friends God grants you and one of my strongest prayers is that you and Landon would share a long, lasting, love-flled relationship that will draw you both closer to God. I pray that in the times when you need someone by your side, he’ll be there for you. So next time he’s crowding your space at the sandbox, let’s try to say, “Pardon me, brother.” and find a different place to build your moats.
With All My Love,
So, after giggling through a note like that, it’s easy for me to remember that these are the trials and challenges a three-year-old faces. And I usually try to include what I’m praying for. I want them to know that I’m praying throughout the day and that nothing is too small for the ears of their Father.
Break Your Own Rules
There are a few rules that I am okay breaking on bad days. For example, normally we watch two shows a day. It works for us. I’m not saying more or less is better or worse, I’ll leave that argument to someone else, some other time. But when bad days come we bring all the blankets to the living room floor, pile up pillows aplenty, and pop some kettlecorn. We pick a movie or [usually] a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD they’ve seen thousands of times and just relax. I don’t feel pressure about the craft or activity I had planned for the day. I don’t feel the need to clean the please-nobody-show-up-unannounced bathroom. I just snuggle. And break up popcorn fights. [It’s also a good time to steal away to the dining room table and soak up God’s Word. But only after you get some snuggles in. Those snuggles have some serious healing power.] It’s glorious. These are the same days I’m not worried about laundry. These are the same days where we spend hours [and hours] outside. Sometimes all it takes to break out of a funk is a little change of routine. Speaking of changing up the routine…
Hug It Out
No, I’m serious. When you find a beautiful sharpie drawing all over the living room wall. When there’s a one-sided wrestling match. When little fingers unravel a brand new roll of toilet paper… hug.it.out. It’s hard to remember why you’re mad at someone when you’re showing them some lovin’. Side note: this works really well in marriage, too. Who doesn’t love a good hug!?
I see it most when we’ve been home too many days in a row but sometimes a little change of scenery is all it takes to shake the grumpies out. We are so blessed to live in an area with so many parks and free places for a mid-day escape. It is an incredible cure-all. Sometimes we invite ourselves to a friend’s house and drink their coffee and enjoy their company [thanks, friends]. The simple act of changing our surroundings is enough to turn a bad day good.
But if none of that works pull up some cute pictures and peruse away.