The kids won't stop bickering, it's the 4th rainy day in a row, no one can find two shoes that fit and you should have left the house 10 minutes ago.
We have a lot of days like this around here.
I typically don't recognize what's happening quickly enough, but when I do, a little principle learned in physics class long ago comes to mind.
This principle works itself out quite clearly on bad days. The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day gains steam as it heads rapidly down the hill towards ruining everyone and everything around you - a significant external force is desperately needed to turn things around. And external forces can be hard to come by if you're alone at home with 4 small humans.
So I made a list: 5 things I can do to change the velocity of my day. When our day is careening out of control, one of these is usually enough to change our trajectory. Or at least stall the impending doom until Daddy gets home. The point is to force a change of direction. Physically, mentally or emotionally.
1. Take a shower - Get dressed - Put on make-up.
Not all three. That would be some crazy talk. Choose one and get to it. On a day when it feels like I can do nothing right, if I happen to pass a mirror and look like a total failure, my reflection taunts, "Look at you! No wonder the kids aren't listening." If, however, I catch my reflection and look like the pulled together human I am trying to be - a smile consoles me, "Look at you! Must be them."
2. Turn on some music.
Any music will do. Siblings bickering and driving you batty? Go with soothing/classical tunes. The walls of the home are closing in on you because you haven't been beyond them all day? Dance party. Often the kids are stunned into better behavior when they find me twirling in the middle of the living room.
3. Lock myself in the bathroom and pray/meditate.
Nothing fancy - just small words from the gut. Help me Jesus. Thank you for these kids even though I am utterly overwhelmed by them. I am not enough, be enough for me Lord.
And my favorite Scriptures for the dark moments:
Psalm 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength. An ever present help in times of trouble.
Exodus 15:2 - The Lord is my strength and my song.
Psalm 78:70,71 - I won't quote it cuz you'd be all, huh?. But it gives me great peace in my role as a SAHM. One day I'll write about it.
4. Go outside.
There is magic in fresh air. Even when it's too cold. Even when it's too hot. Even when it's raining. (Perhaps especially if it's raining?) If the boys in particular are WAY too energetic/trying to kill one another, I make them run laps around our house. Yup, laps. I stand in the driveway and count them off as they pass. It's pretty entertaining.
5. Do something completely out-of-the-norm.
I am not a crafty mom. Finger paint makes me nervous. Messes increase my anxiety. I like giving the kids baths at 11am for an out-of-the-box experience that fits squarely within my comfort zone. Bake something. Give the kids a Clorox wipe and tell them it's time to play Cinderella. Have everyone pile on your bed for a middle of the afternoon read-aloud.
The next time a bad day threatens to consume your spirit, try inserting an external force on the day and see how it works for you.
What do you do when you are in the middle of a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day? I would love to add a few new things to my list.