Some days I wish I could just call in sick from momming. People with "real" jobs have that option, but us stay-at-home parents are stuck doing what we're doing, day in and day out. No holidays, no vacation, no 9-5, no weekends off; we are always on duty. I know that I should be grateful for the years I get to spend at home with these goofballs, and most days gratitude wins. But in those moments when she's practicing her warrior cry while chucking oatmeal everywhere, and he's asking me to get this Lego guy's arm back on for the 24th time today, I'd rather be anywhere else.
On those days when you feel like your awesomeness meter is reading at about 45%, and you know that you could bump it back up to at least 75% if you just had some time away from the kids, please go ahead and take that time! Call your mom, your sister, a friend, and ask if they can watch the kids for an hour or two (or more, if you're so lucky!), and do something for YOU. No dishes, no laundry, preferably get the heck out of your house. My first choices would be a walk in the woods or coffee with a kid-free friend. Yours might be shopping, or getting a pedicure, or having a nap. Something to help you recharge and take care of you, and maybe even almost miss the little stinkers.
When it's one of those days when you have no choice but to stick it out and Mom it up, try these helpful tips for keeping your cool and upping your awesomeness.
1. Take a long shower.
It's not quite a day at the spa, but it's amazing how refreshing this can be. My kids are 3.5 and 2 years old, so I usually put on a show (Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood is a hit) and let them zone out while I carve out this bit of alone time in my day. For those seven minutes (that's a long shower in my world), nobody is asking me for anything, or needing encouragement or reminding of rules, it's just me and the blessedly hot water on my shoulders. Some days I'm even so inspired that I put on real clothes after my shower, and *gasp* do my makeup. I come out of the bathroom feeling like a lady, ready for adventure, and happy to rebuild whatever Lego guy is shoved under my nose.
2. Get out and see other adult humans.
Some days I just don't feel like going through the battle of getting us all dressed, and fed, dressed again because there's jam on everything, fed again because now it's been an hour and we're hungry... sigh. When we do get out, though, it is always worth the madness of the morning scramble. Whether it's a playdate at my sister-in-law's, the toddler playgroup at the rec centre, story time at the library, or even just running errands, it is always good to be out doing something different. Seeing other adult humans reminds us that we are not alone. Others are out there living lives, having struggles, and doing their best, just like us.
3. Eat something you love.
I am at my worst when I am hungry. I can go from Supermom to Monstermom in a matter of minutes, once it hits. Often I am so busy making sure the kids are fed, to fend off their hanger, that I let myself go too long and end up grumbling and growling until I devour the half p.b.j sandwich left on the counter from this morning. Food should be fun, and moms should be fed. Some days I'll even combine this with step 2, and we'll go to Timmy's for a bagel and a donut to share, for a change of routine. We need to remember that sometimes putting ourselves first is best for the whole family. If a fed mommy is a happy mommy, then take the time to make yourself that benny before you finish peeling and slicing an apple for the kid who just finished his cereal. He can wait.
4. Put on some Music!
Kids love music. Both of mine used to come along to their Dad's rock band practice (RIP, Man the Wolf) when they were in utero. Now when they need to burn off some energy and shake their sillies out, dance parties are my go-to. Sometimes it's Disney (my daughter often randomly hollers out, "I AM MOANAAAAA!"), and sometimes it's pop (my son heard "Havana" on the radio one day, and will listen to it as many times as I can tolerate), and sometimes it's whatever I'm in the mood for: the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Weezer, Ray laMontagne... Lately I've been playing them music from my childhood: Sharon Lois & Braham, and Raffi. It's fun to see them learning the songs I learned so long ago. So, pick a band you loved in high school and get nostalgic for a while. Or put on some classical and feel yourself relaxing while you finish the dishes (again). Pick something you can sing along to, and let your kids see a side of you they didn't know was there as you belt it out. Choose something that makes you dance, and feel your mood lifting with each butt shake.
5. Go Outside.
Even if you have to bundle up. Even if you will only be out there for half an hour before someone has to pee or has wet feet from jumping in the creek. Even if you don't feel like it. Even if they say they don't feel like it.
Fresh air and time spent exploring nature are truly the best medicine for all of us, big and small. Watching the kids run in giant circles around me, I realize it's no wonder we drive each other nutty when we stay inside too many days in a row. Seeing them light up when they're the first to spot a birdie way up in the tree makes my heart swell up, and I know we'll be back out here as soon as everyone's boots dry out.