Those hard days happen.
Yesterday I wrote about the throw in the towel days and why they’re inevitable in the spectrum of motherhood.
Sometimes they string together to form a hard week which strings together to form one of those seasons that becomes harder than we imagined. And yet, even in those moments where life is just a bit more challenging than normal, we’re left with the responsibility to mother. We can’t really throw in the towel, now can we? We still have little ones pulling at our legs and asking us why and not wanting to take naps. Or they’re older and they think we’re dumb or the worst parent ever and they slam the door.
Those moments happen. We, you, me, we just need to get through.
Here are four things to remember on those hard mothering days.
- Give yourself grace. Grace is such an easy word to say, but an incredibly hard thing to remember. It’s easy to look at the mistakes made and to not remember that we too, as mothers, are human. You will make mistakes. You’ll get exasperated over the spilled milk, the messy room, the cries over not liking dinner. But, those mistakes don’t define you – you can learn from them. You must also remember to give yourself grace. Just because you messed up at nine in the morning doesn’t mean that ten in the morning has to not work out. That’s the beauty of grace – it lets the past go, it looks forward to the future, and embraces the gift in today. Grace is a minute by minute gift that you can not only give to yourself but also to your children.
- Focus on one thing at a time. I believe that overwhelm happens when we have too many things that we think we need to get done yesterday. Then instead of being able to focus on completing one thing well we see everything that we need to do or maybe should have done, forget to give ourselves grace, and then get stuck in a cycle of thinking we can’t get anything done. Find one thing to do and do it well. Not a dozen things. One. Maybe it’s reading to your toddler and ignoring the dishes for the moment. Maybe it’s doing the dishes and ignoring the email. Maybe it’s doing your email. Maybe it’s just simply sitting in the rocking chair and rocking the baby.But do one thing. And then one more thing. And then one more. That’s the focus in those moments.
- Practice gratitude. Ah yes, gratitude. During those hard days it is so easy to see every single thing that isn’t working. I tell you – on my hard days I will notice the rip in my living room couch, will hate my hair, will be unhappy that the laundry isn’t folded, don’t like the mess, wish it was sunny, and on and on. It’s easy to forget the perspective of the beautiful gift of normal. Yes, normal. When a crisis hits we so often wish for normal. When my son Samuel was in the hospital after he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease the one thing that I wished for was normal. Normal is beautiful, but often forgotten. So practice gratitude. It’s an art, really. It’s a skill to look beyond the challenging things and to seek out the good. That’s the whole finding joy aspect of my life. Joy isn’t something that just plops in our laps – joy is seeking out the good in lives that so often are imperfect.
It’s there. Maybe it’s the sun streaming in your window. Or in the smile of your toddler with the messy face. Or in the flowers that your friend brought you on your really crummy day. Or in coffee – because truthfully, that brings me joy. Look for it. Practice gratitude – it really does help change perspective.
- Be real. This times infinity. How many times have you ached when you’re having a bad day as you mutter to your friends that you’re fine? You know what? Maybe, just maybe, maybe you should utter that you’re having one of those real parenting days. The days that aren’t as rosy. Let’s be real. Let’s be a generation of parents who decide to work together parenting. You will have great days too. You will have normal days. Lousy days. Fabulous days. Creative days. Days where you are on the top of the world. (Or at least the laundry pile). Days that are just days. Whatever you have – they are all normal. So let’s be real. Let’s pull up our parenting bootstraps together, let’s brush each other off, and let’s not parent alone.Motherhood wasn’t meant to be a journey in aloneness. Motherhood is meant to be shared. And that means linking arms and being real. You can do it. You totally can – even on those hard days.
What tips would you add to help you get through those inevitably hard motherhood days?
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness Recommendations
Sign up now for a delightful weekly email with insights for the whole family.