During college I worked as a secretary at a mental health agency. I had a very wise mentor, Tim Schladand, whose advice still rings in my ears today. One of the most useful things Tim ever taught me was that I could start my day or week over whenever I chose. If the start of the day was just terrible, I could simply reset it, and decide my day was just beginning. That way whenever anyone asked me what kind of day or week I was having, I could always answer [truthfully] "wonderful!"
I use this technique in our house all the time. Parker is not a happy camper in the morning. He's often whiny and grumpy. This behavior often leads to a whiny, grumpy mama. Inevitably, I find us cuddling on the couch mid-morning, Parker with tear-stained cheeks, me with clenched teeth. Parker will look up at me with his big blue eyes and say, "Momma, can we please start our day over?" It usually works pretty well.
Yesterday was one of those days. Only this time, Parker was not the one who awoke wearing his grumpy pants. The minute my eyes opened, a to-do list a mile long attacked my brain. We were having my cousin, her husband, and her daughter over that evening for dinner, and I hadn't even bought the food yet. My poor kids just wanted to play with me, and I [repeatedly] made the poor choice to do housework instead. I tried to engage them in activities where we could be in the same room (e.g. I clean the toy room while they paint). But then disaster would strike...
Mommy's two-minute dash to the bathroom with the specific instructions the kids were to stay at the table resulted in finger-painted walls (as Maddie tried to steady herself going up the stairs). Monster-mommy reared her ugly head.
Both kids insisting on getting help with their puzzles while I try to clean up the lunch time mess. Mommy donned her grumpy pants.
Picture-hanging in Parker's room while they were to play trains resulted in the dumping out of the 300+ piece Lincoln Log set. Psycho-mom made an appearance.
All day, it was just plain ugly. Not it...I. I was just plain ugly. As I tearfully reflected upon my behavior, I wondered why I never tried to start my day over.
As it turned out, we had a wonderful visit with my cousin and her family. I relaxed and enjoyed the kids for the first time that day. I was starting to feel okay again until...
Aaron informed me he'd be going out all the next day [Saturday] with his step-father. What?! After the day I'd just had? I counted on him on Saturdays. I needed him.
Then I realized Saturday (today) could be my do-over day. I have done nothing but enjoy the kids all day. We started out at Home Depot Kids' Workshop building wooden cars. We ran around the store and rode on all the tractors. Then on to Barnes and Noble for story time. What a blast! They sang and danced and laughed out loud. Then we read our own books and played with the trains. Finally, we ended up at Five Guys where they devoured burgers and fries. With nary a piece of fruit or vegetable in sight, the kids couldn't believe their luck.
On the way home, I decided to try my luck and run an errand. Time to do something nice for daddy, whose ill-timed day off was actually a huge blessing. We picked up his dry-cleaning. Only this time was completely different from any other time we'd done it. I didn't rush the kids at all. We ran around on the sidewalk in front of the store until they were so tired, they both sat down on the concrete to rest. Only then I asked them if they were ready to head home.
What a wonderful, do-over day!