Thursday, April 8, 2010

Top 10 Mommy Mood Lifters

Hands down, I’m a way better mom when I’m in a good mood. And yet motherhood is ripe with situations that can get anyone down (cranky kids, messy houses, those unending, every growing, stinking piles of laundry). Even the most Zen mothers get a little frazzled sometimes, right? With that in mind, here are my top 10 ways to find your way from cranky to cheerful.

1. Do a little dance.
When we start getting a bit grumpy with each other in our house, I turn on the 90s radio station and James and I dance for at least one song. It’s really hard to refrain from smiling while dancing to Manic Monday. Especially when it’s me that’s doing the dancing.

2. Reach out and touch someone. Or poke someone.
Ma Bell had it right. When feeling down, it never hurts to pick up the phone. These days, firing up the computer and taking a quick spin through the land of facebook works just as well. The day last winter when I was stuck inside with sick kids and no car was saved by the empathy bestowed upon me by my facebook friends.

3. Strike a pose.
James’ very wise 4K teacher recently began doing Yoga with the class as a transition into the day. James asked me if we could do some at home. Thanks to the advent of Youtube, I was able to quickly find an online demonstration of Yoga for kids. A little bit of Downward-Facing Dog is good for everyone involved.

4. Take a break.
I used to feel guilty about taking breaks from my kids. Truth be told, I sometimes still do. But I’m learning that I am a much better mom when I get little moments of peace sprinkled throughout my day. If Andy’s home, I’ll ask him to take the kids for 30 minutes or so. If he’s not, I’ll ask James to find something quiet to do in a different room for a bit while Kasia naps. Then I will sit and do something, anything, other than that-which-needs-to-be-done (i.e, no cleaning, returning phone calls for work, folding clothes). Even 15 minutes of quiet reading is enough to re-charge my batteries and bring me back into my happy mommy zone.

5. Go outside.
Sure, this is an easy one now that spring is upon us. But even in the dead of winter, this suggestion is a literally a breath of fresh air that often brings with it a quick change in attitude.

6. Adjust your expectations.
Goals are good. I love goals. Especially the kind that I can put on pretty color coded charts and check off when I’m done. But sometimes my goals get in the way of a good day. When I find myself frustrated that I’m not getting things done as fast as I want to, sometimes I step back and return to just the basics with the kids: feed ‘em, clothe ‘em, and and keep ‘em safe. I allow this to be enough, if just for one day. Pizza and paper plates work wonderfully on days like this.

7. Clear a surface.
Okay, I totally stole this one from Gretchen Rubin over at She writes that one of her happiness mantras is that outward calm brings inward calm. True enough--when I’m feeling grouchy, it’s often because my environment is really messy. Clearing off just one surface (usually my kitchen counters) brings an instant boost of happiness.

8. Chocolate.
Mmmmm, chocolate.

9. Find something to laugh about.
Our little family was cranky for no good reason last night. To make matters worse, James decided to try out my razor. On his thumb. After we stopped the bleeding (now there’s a phrase I had hoped I would never utter as a mother), we bandaged it up really well. I thought we were in the clear until I heard James gasp. Thinking that his thumb was bleeding again, I hurried over to him. Only to find that his distress was not due to any new blood loss but was instead a result of the discovery that he could no longer make the number “4” with his hand (because his bandaged thumb stuck out instead of being able to bend in). I’m not sure why he felt the need to make the number 4 (nor am I sure why it did not worry him that he couldn’t make the numbers 1,2, or 3), but it was enough to make me start laughing out loud. Disaster averted. Mood lifted.

10. Snap a picture.
Get out a camera and document the craziness of the day. Capture the crying faces, the spilled milk, the piles of laundry. A camera has a way of adding perspective. As you take the pictures, remind yourself that one day—too soon—you will look at those very pictures and wish that you could go back, if just for a moment. Then put away the camera and enjoy what’s right in front of you. :)

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