Some days, I love being a mama.
Ashton uses his manners without being asked, brings me cups of coffee (or wine on really good days) and is kind and helpful with his younger brother. Hunter is delightful and happy, and content playing independently for a while in between feeds, sleeps and cuddles. Those days rock! Those days I feel like I’m absolutely radiating love and warmth, I feel like a total zen mama, calm and peaceful, and I think god… This parenting gig is such an incredible part of life, I’m so lucky! Those are also the days I say to my partner… let’s have one more. Or maybe two. Or let’s just create a tribe of little glowlings.
Other days, I can’t stand being a mama.
Ashton reminds me that puberty isn’t far away by ‘practising’ the sullen moodiness, the barely-audible mumbling and the very audible dragging of the feet along the floor that will arrive in a few years (ha, or maybe he’s just an overachiever and is going through this all early…). Hunter is both clingy but doesn’t want to be held, won’t touch anything that was designed to be played with, and adamantly refuses all manner of real food because apparently in baby world, the newest fad is an all-cardboard diet. Those days suck. Those days I don’t want to mum anymore, heck, I don’t even want to adult anymore. Those days I feel drained, I feel grumpy, I feel irritated any time anybody tries to touch me. My body is no temple on those days; my body is a full no-glow zone. Those days I want to leave my partner and the kids to fend for themselves and run away for a few days to sleep and drink (and finish!) my coffee while it’s still hot and go out in public with hair that is both washed AND brushed and all those other things that I think I used to do before having a baby but can’t quite remember because I’m pretty sure it was in a past life.
Update: Turns out, part of the reason I was having Shit Days so often and struggling to get through them is because I have postnatal distress. You can read about my journey here. This post is totally still valid though – if not more so!
It’s hard, when you’re in the middle of a Shit Day, to be mindful and remember that not every day is horrible, that the kids actually are rad little beings and that you not only completely love them, but actually quite like them as well.
It’s also hard to remember, when you’re in the eye of the tornado of parenting kids who are being rather feral, that this stage will pass. Sure, it’ll pass into another stage which also brings its own challenges, but I like to think that as you navigate your way through this journey, you pick up tools and tricks along the way that you pop away in your parenting tool kit and bring out should they be relevant further on, making future challenges slightly easier to suss out… well, that’s what I tell myself, anyway.
Feeling crappy is rather contagious as well apparently – even if you aren’t feeling rubbish to begin with, it’s very easy to get pulled into the others’ rubbish-ness, and so it doesn’t really matter whether I wake up grumpy or the kids do, once one of us starts, the others tend to start feeding off it, usually without realising.
I have noticed, though, that if I do manage to identify when I’m having a Shit Day (and sometimes it is really hard to identify this, rather than get into the “just another day because they’re all Shit Days” mindset – because they’re not) there are a few things I can ask myself and try to pull myself and/or the kids out of the Shit Day Funk.
Have you eaten in the last couple hours?
This stems from working in a cafe where I grazed all day like an energetic cow, but I need to eat small amounts quite regularly or I get She-Hulk level hangry. I was always one who couldn’t understand people who ‘suddenly realised’ they hadn’t eaten all day at like 4pm (seriously, how do you not revolve your whole day around food, food is my life?) but now that I’m on maternity leave and get busy making sure the baby’s fed, changed, entertained, clean, etc, I get it now. So here is my public apology to all those who I have silently (and wrongfully) judged: I understand now. I am sorry. Come join me for cake.
Did you get dressed today?
Because it is now usually easier to shower at night, on days we stay at home there is no pivotal point of my morning that demands I get dressed unless littlest man helps by spilling something all over me. I didn’t realise the effect it has on my mental health not getting dressed (unless I’m sick or it’s cold and raining, those days are fair game for pyjamas and dressing gowns). Putting on clean clothes seems to send a little message to my brain that says “good job, you got out of bed and started the day, now you can be productive!” which is nicer than the less-than-kind “no point doing anything today and you’d better hope no one shows up at your house today because you look like crap” message my brain gets when I don’t get dressed. Like I’ve said in this post, inner Bunny can be a cow, but it definitely helps change my mindset not giving inner Bunny anything to tell me off about.
Self explanatory. Best served with cake.
Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?
Usually reserved for when technology betrays me and decides not to work, but is a helpful strategy when you’ve identified a Shit Day as well. Sometimes when you just feel like your day is stuck in the ass-end of nowhere, having an opportunity to reset and start fresh can make a huge difference. Acknowledge it, accept it, then kick it to the curb and move on.
Have you talked to an adult today?
I’ve talked before about escaping a social rut and how valuable it is to interact with other adults, but it really is true. When you’re constantly at home with a baby, life can feel very monotonous, which can lead to feeling like you’re in a bit of a slump. Talking with other adults is great for the soul and allows you to connect with the outside world and not feel so alone. Ideally, I will actually leave the house and talk face to face with someone (plus catch up’s are always good excuses for food and coffee… see above), but on days when that just isn’t possible, online is good too.
Have you ventured outside today?
I just can’t rate sunshine and fresh air enough. Even just stepping out onto the porch for a couple minutes is helpful, bonus points if I actually go out somewhere. This one definitely applies for the kids as well, as I’m sure any parent or insane person who has looked after kids at home over the wet, cold winter holidays will tell you. Cabin fever will definitely kick off a Shit Day.
Have you got something to look forward to?
I’ll write a proper post about this point later because I think it is so important; having something to look forward to, even something little, is so good for your mental health. Some days it’s looking forward to a glass of wine with my partner after the kids have gone to bed (aiming high there!) and other days it’s looking forward to a concert that’s coming up (totally going to Ed Sheeran next year – my heart does a little happy dance every time I think about it!) or date night. If you can’t think of anything coming up, give yourself something; book in for a massage, make plans with friends for the weekend, start a little project. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something that will make you happy, mama!
These all seem like pretty basic things, but I’m surprised at how often I’ll let some of them slide either because I get busy or because I don’t see the point because I’m “just a stay at home mum”. If I want to enjoy being a stay at home mum – and I really do want to – I have to put in the effort to make it enjoyable.
Is there anything you’d add? Do you get in Shit Day Funks too? Feel free to let me know in the comments below 👇
Until next time, glow mamas!