Having a bad parenting day? You’re not alone. Check out these ideas to pull yourself out from a bad day you’re having with the kids.
A toddler who refused to eat and didn’t listen to instructions. Miscommunication with your partner about plans for the weekend. The curtain rod that collapsed and that you now need to fix. And a baby who woke up multiple times throughout last night.
These are the bad parenting days that can so often make you feel burned out.
You can’t wait until bedtime, before you realize that it’s barely even noon. Even though you know you still have a chance to turn things around, you seem to lead with a negative foot and react impatiently. Any little thing sets you off, from your kids not sharing to your toddler forgetting to wash her hands.
How to pull yourself out of a bad parenting day
No matter your reasons, having a bad parenting day can feel heavy and frustrating. Sometimes we don’t even bother with switching gears, assuming that the rest of the day will be just as bad. Try to make things better can even feel unnatural—who’s in the mood to feel warm and loving when we came from a place of anger and overwhelm?
Rest assured mama, you can always turn a bad parenting day around. You can make small changes to start feeling better and end the day on a higher note. And it’s never too late to make this choice, whether it’s barely noon or you’re tucking your kids into bed.
Take a look at these ideas to help you turn a bad parenting day around:
1. Praise the positive
Sometimes the best way to switch gears isn’t to harp on the negative, but to focus on the positive. Your child is more likely to behave when you highlight the positive ways she does. Your spouse will feel more acknowledged when you remind him or her what you’re grateful for.
A few simple ways to praise the positive include:
- Telling your child what you love about her. Simply ask, “Do you know what I love about you?” and list the many ways you do. I’m certain a smile will spread across her face.
- Give a hug, even when you’re not exactly in the mood for one. The human touch is so powerful and can instantly melt the anger you both may feel.
- Praise good behavior. When she’s in her normally good mood, praise her actions: “Look at you, coloring your paper!”
- Encourage good manners. If she shouts “Don’t want that!” respond with, “You can say, ‘No, thank you’.”
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2. Give them your attention
Imagine your kids with a “tank” that needs refilling to feel good. Nothing fills their tanks more than play time, especially with you. Your undivided attention goes a long way to fixing a bad day, even with something as simple as sitting on the floor and playing.
When things get crazy, put aside whatever is distracting you and focus completely on them. Usually, their antics are an attempt to get your attention.
You may not always be able to drop everything, nor should you, especially since they also need to learn how to wait. But it’s amazing how much better your day can get and how much more positive your attitudes become when you engage in activities together.
Then, when they’re napping or having quiet time, use that time to read a book, watch a show, or take a nap. The dishes can definitely wait if it means refilling your tank as well.
3. Allow a treat
We don’t get lots of sugary treats at our house. But occasionally on a difficult day I’ve been known to ask, “Who wants ice cream?”
It’s less about the ice cream and more about the grace of a treat even though none of us “deserve” it. Grace all around does wonders for attitudes.
Treats don’t have to be sugary food—or food, for that matter—either. Give them a just-for-fun bath where they can paint in the tub. Let them pick several books for you to read together, or play upbeat music to dance to.
4. Change scenes
Feeling stuck in your environment (especially in your own home)? A change of scene can be all it takes to turn a bad parenting day around. Something about fresh air and being in nature can make you feel better.
Get outside, even your yard—fresh air and sunshine will help you feel so much better. Run an errand, call a friend to talk, or grab a lunch to take home. Just the act of making new plans can switch gears and help everyone calm down.
Even if you can’t get outside, find a way to get all your bodies moving and get a little blood pumping through everyone’s veins:
- Play music and have a dance party.
- Race from one side of the house to the other.
- Jump up and down.
- Do somersaults in the middle of your living room.
- Make an obstacle course with dining room chairs and couch cushions.
This is especially important if you don’t think they’re getting as much physical activity. Perhaps they’re in front of the computers for distance learning, or the weather has been cold and rainy, leaving you stuck indoors.
6. Get things done together
Sometimes the best way to turn around a bad day is to get something done. Doesn’t if feel good to know you’ve done something productive? Kids love a sense of accomplishment too!
Empty the dishwasher together, pick up toys from their bedroom floor, change the sheets. Fold a load of laundry and race the folded clothes to the bedrooms to put them away. Acknowledge the accomplishment and genuinely thank them for helping you.
7. See things from your child’s perspective
During difficult moments, we can place the blame on so many circumstances. We can point the finger at teething, or say that lack of sleep has made us feel unbelievably tired. We could also blame it on our temperaments, or that our kids simply don’t listen.
But then it becomes so easy to overlook what the world might look like from their perspective. We forget that we have choices and can make them easily (“I want to eat cereal today”) whereas they may not. They don’t always get to decide what clothes to wear or understand why we have to leave the house.
We forget that they may not have reached developmental milestones that enable them to manage emotions. With their verbal communication improving, we overlook that they still can’t express themselves as clearly as we can.
We might even forget that they’re at the age when they realize that the world actually doesn’t revolve around them. That they’re but one person among many, which can push them to assert themselves more.
Instead, put the situation in perspective and remind yourself that this will pass and that your child is normally well-behaved. Pick your battles, too—if she wants to wear a bib all evening long, let her. Reserve your attention for more important issues like safety and hygiene.
And apologize for your own poor behavior. Kids aren’t the only ones who misbehave. Say sorry for your mistakes so she knows you make them, too.
These bad parenting days can make you feel susceptible to reacting immaturely and in ways you wouldn’t be proud of. That even after practicing mindful parenting and remaining calm on most days, you can still make mistakes and lose your patience.
The good news is that you can always turn a bad parenting day around, whether your morning started off sour or it’s the end of the day.
Praise your child’s positive behavior, and give her the attention she likely craves. Allow a simple treat or change the scenery. Get your bodies moving, or do something productive together. And most importantly, see the situation from her perspective—you’ll draw more patience and compassion when you do.
And perhaps this can be a gentle reminder that you have your bad days, too—just like your kids.
Get more tips:
- How to Respond When Your 3 Year Old Tantrums Every Day
- When Your Child Seems to Ruin Everyone’s Day
- How to Be the “Bad Guy” and Still Parent Effectively
- How to Deal with a Child Who Cries Over Everything
- Top 7 Ways to Make Parenting Toddlers Easier
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