Parenting is rewarding but sometimes it can be a tough gig. For those times, our writer offers this: an open letter for the really hard days.
You didn’t sleep last night. Well, may be an hour or two spread over an 8 hour period. Baby was sick, nightmares for your toddler, or maybe you just couldn’t put your overwhelmed mind to rest. Today the noise was too much for too long. There was lots of yelling and fighting between your kids. May be the baby wouldn’t let you put him down without screaming. May be the child you potty-trained a year ago has had fast and furious diarrhea, so you’ve had a lot of painful cleaning up to do. Maybe you’re solo parenting this week, or indefinitely, without any sort of break. Whatever your reason, and I know you have a good one, today sucks. A lot.
Not all days will be like this, so here’s your permission to rue this day and take it easy on yourself. Cancel all plans that you can. Shut yourself in with a note that says “No visitors today please” on your door bell. Turn on your kids’ favorite cartoon and let them have free hungry reign over the fridge and pantry. Cereal for supper. No need to get dressed. You, or your kids. Keep rocking that baby in your comfy chair or laying down on that couch as he plays around you on the floor. No need to clean, unless you really want or absolutely need to. Your responsibility today is only to keep you and your children alive. That’s it.
However, if you’re open to it, here’s some tried and true suggestions.
Ask for help. Whether it’s from the Divine, your spouse, extended family, neighbours, or friends. Ask them to help you. You may just need to vent, a bit of how-to advice, or simply to come watch your children for a bit while you sleep in another room. Ask for help. And just because the first person can’t, don’t think that’s the end of the line. Ask another.
Crank up your tunes. You may need to put on headphones if it’s not child-appropriate, but otherwise, fill your house with music. Your music. Channel your old teenage angst and feel that beat bop in you. Your kids may even just stop yelling and start dancing. Or, shut themselves in their room to get away from your weird music. Either way, it’s a win and a mood changer.
Get some fresh air. Step out into your backyard for a few minutes. Feel that outside air run down your lungs. The cold or warm sensation on your skin. It helps.
Stay off social media today. I know. It’s natural to gravitate toward the outside chaos of the world to tune out your present situation. But, it’s still chaos. It’s still an overwhelming flood of information that your brain doesn’t need right now. Put a DVD in for the kids and watch your favorite Netflix series on the ipad, earphones in, while you sit on the couch with them. You can indulge in screens today, just be aware of how much and how vast the content is. Simplify it. May be even just pull up a single site with blogs you love.
Read a book to your kids. No doubt guilt’s gonna creep up on you today. The guilt that you are a crappy mom. You aren’t, just FYI. But, if you read at least one book to your kids while they’re snuggled up next to you it does wonders for your heart and theirs. When all else fails today, you can rely on that sweet moment you had with your children.
Write it out. Journal about this day. Get those thoughts rolling out of your head and feel that release of tensions scream out through your hand.
Early bedtime for the kids (but don’t tell them!). The great thing about having small children is that they can’t tell time yet. You can start bedtime at 6pm and they will not know the difference. It will be a wonderful break to know you can fast forward an hour or 2 to take care of just you. Babies won’t comply with this, but toddlers should!
Find a moment today to cherish. It’ll be brief and sneak up on you when perhaps you least expect it. But there will be a moment, or even several, where you feel joy spark. Recognize it. Give gratitude for it. Cling to it. Even if it was 1 second and gone. Remember it and mark it as that one great thing that happened. It could be your baby looking at you and saying “Mummum”. It could be your 5 year old saying, “you’re the best mom ever!” when they get Fruit Loops for supper. It could be driving past a burly man driving a bright pink SUV with a smile on his face. Look for those sparks of joy. (see also, ‘Read a book to your children’)
Know that this fog will clear, and you’ll love that sunshine even more when it does. Know that though you may be frustrated and bitter today, you are, and will always be loved. Know that you are a warrior, but are never truly alone. Know that help is available. And please know that though this day sucks, you do not.
To a better tomorrow.
A fellow parent
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.