Sometimes, as soon as your eyes spring open, you just know you’re going to have a rubbish day. A little black cloud forms above you and follows you round relentlessly, showering you with irritating drizzle. Your patience didn’t wake up with you, but short temper and that feeling of being one step away from snapping certainly did.
The kids’ voices seem to be a few octaves higher than usual. The baby just refuses to nap. Everyone wants a piece of you (as is always the case but today it just gets to you). Nobody listens to a word you say. You feel invisible and frustrated. For some reason, it’s all grating on you far more than normal.
Parenting dark days. They happen to us all.
When I have one of these days I attempt to take the following steps to get through it:
REMIND YOURSELF IT’S A BAD DAY, NOT A BAD LIFE
Believe me, I know the ‘I’ve had enough of this shit!’ feeling very well. My poor husband has heard about it often enough too.
However, I always try to remind myself that it’s just a bad day and every single human being from Beyonce to Barack Obama has them. Like every other day, it consists of 24 hours and they will eventually pass.
Nothing is permanent – good days, bad days, happiness and unhappiness. It’s an ongoing cycle. Since I’ve been able to step back and observe this cycle rather than get all het up about the bad days, I’m more able to cope with them.
TRY AND LAUGH THROUGH IT
On crap days, I often call my husband at work and sing Adam Sandler’s song from The Wedding Singer down the phone at him. You know, the one where he sings, ‘I’m on my knees, pretty, pretty please, put a bullet in my head!’
Laughter is a wonderful healing force. When you’re being pulled in a hundred different directions, dodging tantrums and explosive nappies galore you’ve just got to laugh. It really helps, I promise.
HUG SOMEONE YOU LOVE
Hugging releases oxytocin (often called the ‘bonding’ hormone. That same one that made you feel amazing just after giving birth). This helps lift your mood, reduces stress and anxiety and lowers your heart rate. Which, let’s face it, is all you want when in the thick of a bad day.
It doesn’t matter who you hug, as long as it’s someone you love – your kids, your partner or even a pet. According to research, the hug needs to last at least 20 seconds to have a benefit to your health and emotions.
Also, hugging a bar or chocolate or a bottle of wine doesn’t count. Sorry.
PHONE A FRIEND
Rant. Cry. Just let it out. Speak to someone who understands and who has been there. Mum friends are great for this. And they won’t mind, because the chances are tomorrow they’ll be the one calling you in tears.
HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
I find having something to look forward to enormously helpful when I just need to make it through the day. Even something small like a glass of wine, a bar of chocolate or a long bath and a nap. It propels me forward, enabling me to greet the end of a bad day with a grateful sigh and then just let it go.
Towards the end of a very bad day a few weeks ago, my son decided to throw his dinner all over the floor. Followed by his drink. What had been couscous was now a gloopy mess all over the floor, waiting for me to clean up. To be fair, this kind of thing happens most mealtimes but on this particular day I was not equipped to deal with it.
The whole day of tantrums, whinging and demands from both children had been building up to this point – a crescendo of frustration and internal anger. I just lost my shit. He cried. I cried. Then I felt like a mega bitch.
I had to remind myself, as I snuggled him extra close and said sorry, I’m only human and sometimes I lose my temper. Sometimes it all gets too much. Beating myself with a large stick about it isn’t going to help anyone.
If a friend rang me and told me that exact same story, would I say, ‘Crikey, you’re a rubbish mum aren’t you?’ No of course not. I wouldn’t even think it because I’d understand exactly how she felt.
Sometimes we just need to forgive ourselves, let it go and move on.
Tomorrow is another day. Every now and then we just have to be thankful for that.
Aimee Foster is a writer, social media manager and mum of two. Find her on Twitter.