Jon had the morning off, and it was on track to be a wonderful day. Then Liam went down for his nap two hours later than usual. This was fine, but I decided to spend naptime resting (due to a poor night of sleep) rather than conquering my to-do list. It was a mistake. I spent his entire (miraculously lengthy) naptime trying to fall asleep (and finishing a book–which may have prevented me from sleeping but also left me feeling a little melancholy). As he woke up, I was finally starting to doze. Of course.
Our whole day felt thrown-off because it was so much later than it usually is when he wakes up. The evening hours flew by way too quickly (and involved me hitting the mailbox and damaging the side of the car on the way to the playground). I was in a funk by the time Jon came home, and I hadn’t finished my to-dos or done anything productive. And I didn’t even feel rested!
Then Liam went to sleep late (and it involved some car driving to even get him to sleep), there were storms, I had a really hard time falling asleep, and he woke up much earlier than usual this morning.
However, I vowed that the next day would be a better day. And it started off with some conscious decisions. Jon took Liam for a walk so I could get half an hour extra of sleep. I felt so much better. After breakfast, I began my conscious decisions to make this day better. This is less of a to-do list than a “here’s what I did list,” but in actively trying to have a good day, I discovered the things that contribute to a good day.
1. Jot down “To-Dos”: My life with a toddler is different than when I taught, but I still need a clear plan about what to tackle each day. My husband joked kindly that my “To-Do” that day should be: Survive the day. But I needed something more. I started the morning by jotting down a few To-Do’s in my planner. Did I get to all of them? No. But I made progress, and it gave me some direction.
2. Use morning time well: Liam usually has morning energy which often leads to more independent play. I love having time to myself to catch up on blogs or other reading after breakfast, but I’m starting to see how much more smoothly the day goes if I channel this time into housework. I tackled laundry, and it motivated me to do even more. In a short time, I already had a few things knocked out.
3. Move: When he just couldn’t take the housework anymore, we decided to go for a walk. For some reason, I haven’t been walking as much lately. I suspect that it has something to do with Liam’s new mobility and the fact that we have outside areas to play now that we live in a house. But my body and mind long for those walks. I was even more motivated to walk after reading Elizabeth Foss’ post on how walking showed her she was lonely for herself. It was beautifully written and reminds me why I love walking so much. Then, when Liam went down for his nap, I spent twenty minutes doing yoga before resting myself. Yoga changes my focus and my energy. I know people say it a lot, but often the cure for being too tired to exercise is simply to exercise. Deep breathing is particularly helpful.
4. Focus on my son for long stretches: If I spend a whole day conquering my agenda (with no flexibility), I end up dragging a cranky toddler with me. So I have to carve out time to watch him, play with him, and let him tell me about what he’s doing. We spent a lot of time sitting on the driveway as he picked leaves to give me and talk about. He was delighted, and so was I.
5. Be flexible: The day was still rough at times (in many ways similar to the previous). Liam took two naps instead of one. The second nap, we both fell asleep and woke up way late. But I vowed that this was still going to be a good day. I also put off some of my To-dos out of necessity (see #4), but I found them there and conquered them today. Having something marked off a list at the end of a long day is crucial!
6. Eat well: Sometimes I forget how important it is to eat on a schedule and to eat well. I was intentional about eating healthily and not snacking in a way that would prevent me from being hungry for dinner. I’ve started taking a break for a morning snack not just for Liam, but also for myself. Today we had oats and peaches in homemade yogurt.
7. Don’t hit a mailbox with your car. But for real. (If you do, try to remember that it’s just a car. And be thankful for an understanding, optimistic husband.)
In every phase of life and every job, there are things that make for a bad day. Do you have strategies for improving a difficult day?