Being a parent is probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done…did you believe that lie? Did you also laugh at it? I don’t know about you, but sometimes the weight of being a parent can feel pretty overwhelming even on a good day.
I was so ready to become a mom when it finally happened. I had such high hopes. For me, I couldn’t even envision a hard day. What did that look like to me? Maybe it meant that my daughter only smiled at me 25 times instead of her normal 26 times. Yeah, I was a little naive when it came to being a mom. My head was totally in the clouds, and that all came crashing down when my sweet, beautiful baby girl came home. She would wake up every hour and half at night to eat or just cry. It took my husband and I about a week to figure out what routine worked best for us, and man was it hard.
After our first year with our sweet, little miracle, my husband deployed to Iraq, and I started the journey of solo parenting for a while. To say that I quickly became familiar with what a hard day was is probably a slight understatement. Luckily, I was surrounded by people who loved on us and could give me tips and tricks on how to handle those hard days. So now, in turn, I can share with you some little things that can hopefully make your hard day as a parent a little bit easier.
- Treat Yo’Self
If you can, have someone watch your tiny, beautiful kiddo, get in the car, and go get that Venti extra shot espresso with extra whip. Order out for dinner so you don’t have to worry about cooking, and that’s one less thing you have to do and one less mess you have to clean up. Ask yourself, what is one small thing that would make your hard day easier? Go get it for yourself! Getting something for just you can drastically improve your mood. So go treat yourself; you deserve it.
- Plan a Date of Some Sort
Plan a date! Maybe you and your significant other need some time away to reconnect and just relax. Plan a special date night where you can focus on each other. Perhaps planning a date with a friend can help your hard day. Having fun and making memories with friends can help you destress and look forward to coming home.
Playdates are always fun so plan something with some of your kid’s friends. This not only allows for your child to socialize and learn from others, but it also gives you a break when you’re having a hard day. Your kid has someone to play with while you can decompress with other adults who understand the hardships of being a parent. Planning can give you something to look forward to and take your mind off of other things.
- Go Outside!
Fresh air is the best air. Getting outside has so many benefits, but just to name a few, getting outside can improve your mood and help defend your body from bouts of depression and anxiety. This study by Harvard Medical School explains it like this: “Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks…Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.” When things are feeling tough, having the sun hit your skin may just be the cure. Also, the added benefit of getting the whole family outside and exerting energy can help with an early bedtime which, in turn, can give you some alone time to just relax.
- Write It Out.
Taking a minute to just sit and write out feelings can be very therapeutic. Sorting through your feelings and getting them out, even if on paper, can free up so much space in your mind to focus on other things. Sometimes, just leaving the words on the page can help you get over the hard time you’re having as a parent that day. It’s also so great to be able to go back and read of previous hard days and know that you’ve made it through them before. When it’s hard to see ahead and see how you’ll get over this day, you can go back and read how you solved your problem or overcame those feelings before. Write your journey and see that you can overcome!
- Inhale and Exhale and Meditate on It.
Did you know that there is a correct way to breathe? Yeah, I didn’t either until my doctor suggested that I look into ‘controlled breathing’ and ‘progressive muscle relaxation.’ You might be like me and think this is the hippiest thing since Woodstock but hear me out. I did some research on it and then instilled it into my nightly routine, and any time that I started to feel overwhelmed and worked up, believe it or not, it actually works!
Controlled breathing is really very easy. Start by lying down or sitting with your back straight in a chair. Place a hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale for four counts, making sure that your abdomen is moving in and not your chest. Then exhale and count to four.
As you build up your lung capacity, try counting to six or eight. Once you’re feeling like an expert, try holding the breath for four counts. By no time, your lung capacity can be strong, and your mind should be relaxed. So whether you’re doing it to release some stress from your hard day, or you’re doing it before bed in place of counting sheep, it’s very therapeutic.
Do you ever feel so tense that you can feel your shoulders touching your ears? If that’s a yes, then progressive muscle relaxation is for you. By purposefully tensing your muscles and relaxing them, you are getting rid of the tension and are becoming more aware of where you are naturally tense.
Start by sitting straight in a chair or lying back on a soft surface. You’ll begin by tensing and curling your toes, holding it for three to five seconds, and then relaxing them. Move up your body and focus on each muscle group. Make sure you maintain slow, deep breaths as you move up your body and fully release all of the tension.
- Connect with Another Parent
Reach out to another parent when you’re having a hard day. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just vent to someone who understands. Find a friend who is there to answer the call or the text message when you need some encouragement. We all need that friend who is going to listen and let us know that these hard days do pass.
If you have specific things that trigger hard days, maybe look into finding a local or online support group. Support groups are great for finding people who know specifically what you’re going through and can give great firsthand advice when you need it.
- Take a Nap
If you’re having a hard day, try taking a nap. It might sound silly, but there are actually quite a few benefits to taking a short, little nap. You may be thinking that it’s crazy to waste an hour or two in your day, but a study from the Sleep Foundation says that a brief 10 to 30-minute nap can improve your mood, performance, alertness, and it can cause relaxation and rejuvenation.
There may be a certain stigma against napping such as it’s for lazy people or just for children and elderly people. But that’s just not true. Taking a midmorning or midafternoon nap on a hard day can be very beneficial. Take it as a mini vacation away from your problems and enjoy the sweet dreams and improved mood once you wake up.
- Cry It Out
As silly as it may sound, just cry it all out. Have you ever had a good cathartic cry? Did you feel better after it? Although some may feel weak and vulnerable for crying, there are actually some great benefits to a good cry. PennMedicine wrote in their article that “When we cry we are actually relieving our body of countless toxins and hormones that contribute to elevated stress levels. This in turn can help individuals to sleep better, strengthen their immune systems, and avoid gaining weight. By lowering our stress levels, crying may also help lower our blood pressure.”
So grab a box of tissues, find a comfortable spot to sit, and cry it out. It’s actually beneficial for you to unwind and destress and may improve your mood on your hard day.
- Encouragement Board
Are you a visual person? I am! Around my house, I have encouraging messages written all over. They’re on my cupboard doors; they’re on my bathroom mirror; they’re on my daughter’s door; they’re in my car and on the refrigerator. When I’m having a hard day, it’s so great to see these encouraging quotes and sayings telling me that I’m strong, that I’m a great mom, and that this day won’t last forever.
Writing these quotes and sayings out on colorful sticky notes and hanging them around is awesome. On my hard days, I will sit down and search for new ones that help me with whatever is going on that day. It’s very encouraging to find messages for that specific day that will help push the negative thoughts out and bring in positive vibes and feelings.
- Dance It Out
When you exercise or get your heart rate up, your body releases a group of peptides called endorphins. They trigger your body to feel positive and happy and help to reduce stress. So throw on your favorite song, turn up the speakers, get your heart rate up, and dance it out.
Choose a fun song that reminds you of a great time in your life or something that’s encouraging and just dance it out. Don’t like to dance all alone? Well then, make it a whole dance party and invite your kids in and have a dance-off. Who has the best moves? Who has the silliest moves? Who can last the longest? Bringing the family together, having fun, making memories, and getting silly can make even the hardest day just a little more bearable.
11. Apologize to Those Around You
No one likes to be wrong, and we definitely don’t like to hurt those around us. Unfortunately, when we have hard days, we may tend to lash out to those around us and end up hurting their feelings. We might not like to admit it, but sometimes, we make mistakes as parents. That’s okay though. We’re human, and it happens. When this happens though, there are a few things we can do to right the wrongs and heal the hurt feelings.
First, take responsibility for the mistake. Whether you yelled at your child or you slammed a door in anger, own up to it. Our kids are always watching and will copy our behavior. Let’s set the example and start with owning up to what we did.
When you apologize to your little one, let her or him know what caused you to do whatever it was that you did. Explain to her that you’re having a hard day. Let her know that we all have hard days, and it’s okay. We all need grace. But make sure you end by saying you’re sorry, asking for forgiveness, and acknowledging your child’s feelings.
At the end of the day, just give yourself grace. We all have hard days. Sometimes, they feel like they’re not going to end, or we feel like we’re stuck in a movie like Groundhog Day, but there is hope on the other side. Even though the bad days seem frequent and long, they do end, and great days happen.
Khrystian Hembree is a proud military wife, a momma to an adventure seeking and spunky little girl, and a freelance copywriter. She enjoys hosting play group, reading books, leading worship at her church, and anything that includes donuts and coffee.