“The days are long, but the years are short.” Sure, time flies- but let’s face it, sometimes it just feels like the day will NOT end. You know the one: the baby gets up screaming at 4:30am, your toddler clogs the toilet with his favorite stuffed animal, you realize you’re out of coffee (and anything remotely edible), and then you look at the clock: it’s ONLY 6am! You feel like your home is in complete chaos- and the clock.stands.still.
How do you survive (and thrive!) on those hard days? How do you love your littles in the midst of temper tantrums, nap less afternoons, and picky eating? Here are some tips to help you through the long days.
I can usually anticipate which days will be hardest for us (Example: two days after getting home from a trip or vacation, and almost any and every Monday). I know that naptime on these days will be a battle zone for my three year old. Instead of making him stay in his bed for the normal two hours, I plan for one hour in his bed, and a quiet activity planned for the second hour. Some ideas include hiding away a cardboard box to be brought out with art supplies, doing puzzles (that are not normally in his regular toy rotation), or watching a new DVD from the library.
Pick your battles carefully, and win them all! It’s better to pick three battles and win, than to pick thirty battles and win twenty seven. Don’t give in to your grouchy toddler just because you’re avoiding another tantrum. This only prolongs the misery. Instead, meet your children where they are. Speak to them kindly (after all, it’s what each of us want when we’re having a hard time), and follow through with your discipline. Consistent discipline will provide a healthy framework for helping your child cope and work through hard days.
Lower your expectations for YOUR day
If you see that your children are struggling, don’t force yourself to do all four loads of laundry. Pause your chores and meet your children where they are. Remind your children that you love them no matter what- just because they’re yours, and not because of what they do or don’t do. Show your kids they are your priority, not your housework! And just maybe, order in a pizza.
Take a deep breath, and have fun
Have an impromptu dance party. Look at old family photos together. If your kids are very young still, look at your favorite pictures of them yourself.) This is a great way to lighten your mood.
Surround yourself with other people
Find girlfriends that you can call or text throughout the day. Ask them for advice or vent to them. Meet them at the park if you can. If you can’t get out, lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes so you can have some “adult talk.” When you have people around you to do life with, you’ll find that the hard times are easier to bear because you have someone to share it with, someone to help you see clearly. You don’t have to take on the hard days alone! Reach out even though it may be uncomfortable. It’s worth it.
You see, time can fool even the best of us. All too often, we just want to get by, to catch our breath, to survive, to make it to the next phase. But in the midst of it, we often forget what matters most: we are mamas! Mothering doesn’t have to be something to grin and bear. It is something truly beautiful, a gift. So treasure these moments, even the bad ones, because they’ll be grown before you know it.