Okay, so this title about keeping your cool is perhaps a tad misleading. As Moms, we don't always keep our cool.
Let me start by putting in a short bio in here for readers that don't know me. I'm Misty, age 35, married to a train conductor/engineer, a person of faith, homeschooling Mom, and I have 4 kids and 1 on the way.
It's a misconception that I have it all together, though most in my circle already know that. I am not always cool, calm, and collective, but I am a work in progress. So, how do I get through those rough days or just any day?
1) Mommy "Coffee" Break
Back when I was in the workforce (and many of my readers still are in the workforce), people used to take 10-15 minute breaks. There might be an outside area or a break room for employees to escape the environment. As Moms, we don't usually have break rooms, but we might still need a change of environment. When I am getting cabin fever, or just need to de-stress, I often take a drive and go get a drive-thru coffee or even just a soda. Sometimes, my husband is here, and I just get him to stay with the kids. Sometimes, he's not. Today, he wasn't home, and I needed a break. So, I loaded up the kids in the van and gave them juice pouches. (I keep a special stock of juice boxes or Capri Suns in my cabinet for emergencies, fast food runs, and special occasions.) I put on some good Mommy music, and we drove down to Sonic to buy me a cherry Dr. Pepper. That's right, just for me, not them. (Juice pouches can save you a lot of money on days like this.) Anyway, the 15 minute outing was "just what the doctor ordered." Heehee. I really enjoy these little breaks, and the kids are always up for a change of scenery, too.
2) Make Time For Date Nights Or Visiting With Friends.
This seems like a no-brainer, but when you are a busy Mom, it can be easily overlooked. If you have the luxury of getting a babysitter, take advantage. I don't get to do everything I want, and that's okay. I make my outings count. I try to get some time away from the kids at least once every week or two. Here's how I do it:
A) As previously mentioned, we use a sitter when the option is available.
B) Sometimes, my husband stays with the kids while I have dinner or coffee with friends.
C) Sometimes, I just invite friends over for coffee after the kids are already in bed.
D) Date nights without sitters/money consist of just watching a movie after the kids go to bed.
3) Occasionally, Have a good cry.
Make no mistake, sometimes I don't have an easy time getting through those rough days. Last week, I was having a several-day stint of difficult issues with my 6 year-old ADHD son, and that was compounded by the fact that I have 3 other kids and the rather potent fuel that is pregnancy hormones. I had to go to my room and cry. I am not going to beat myself up about it. I think that everyone has their limits, and it's okay to let yourself be upset every now and then. My husband was home, and he helped me out that day. I didn't go on and on all day, but I got my emotions out, and then got right back in there and became Mom again. Now, I certainly don't want to let this message be confused with real depression or other emotional issues that need professional attention. If your are having deeper, or more long-term issues, please seek professional help. But, if you are just having a stressful day or week, like I was, don't overdo it. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to call a friend or family member, call. If you need to pray, pray. Take a little time to let the drama of the moment cool down.
4) Don't Neglect Yourself
To be honest, this is one I struggle with. I often find myself doing a million things for others, and putting off my own needs. Like I will wait until I am getting so hungry that I become really cranky before I eat. Or, I might have gotten all the kids dressed, while I am still in my pajamas. I'm cringing as I write this. Oh man, do I need to work on this area!! Anyway, it's hard to be a happy, effective Mom when you are neglecting yourself.
5) Don't Compare Yourself To Other Moms.
It's easy to look at other Moms who seem to have it altogether, and use that a good reason to throw yourself a pity party. The truth is, you really don't know what their life is like. You haven't walked in their shoes. They might be secretly exhausted from numerous games and practices. They might have cleaned up 2 blow-out diapers earlier that day. They might be taming Wal-Mart temper tantrums. They might be discouraged from the hours of homework their kids are bringing home. They might be broke, and up to their ears in credit card debt. We all have things we are dealing with, and I think for most Moms, we are doing the best we can with our particular circumstances. It's like I tell my boys during homeschool: "It's not a competition between you two. You each have to strive for your personal best."
6) When All Else Fails, Chicken Nuggets
I am probably going to get some backlash for this, but I don't care. Hey! If you are having a rough day, make dinner simple. No, it's not good to give them junk for supper all the time. But, I really don't think that a chicken nugget meal every now and then to help Mommy be less stressed is a big deal. If that's just not your style, that's okay. You don't have to go that route. Perhaps, you can find some gluten-free, organic chicken nuggets that can give you a little break while maintaining your standard of nutrition. This message isn't really about chicken nuggets, anyway. It's actually about simplifying things. When you are in a crunch to get through the day, just find ways to simplify, be it through dinner or something else.
Thanks for reading. Remember, my blogs are for information and entertainment. Don't trust me for you mental health and nutritional needs. Leave that to the professionals. I'm off to do baths and bedtime. Counting down the minutes until the sweet sound of silent, sleeping kids. Yep, this is my Friday night, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. :-)