I had a bad mum day. You know the kind of day where you have a very long to-do list but everything you do gets immediately undone by tiny hands. It was my eldest’s birthday and I had big aspirations to make his day extra special with an adventure. He had other plans…watch his new ninja turtles DVD. I decided to get some cleaning done whilst he was snuggled up on the couch but my youngest was being particularly clingy. The more i tried to distract him so that I could get things done the more he clung and moaned. I started to get frustrated and feel bad about myself as a parent. That’s a downward spiral. And then I walked into the TV room and my birthday boy looked up and said “mum why do you have that sad look on your face?” That undid me.

My husband often says to me ‘it only rains when you’re sad’. I know the weather is not determined by my moods but what if my children’s moods are. What if their reactions are a reflection of my state of mind. Children are perceptive. At 4 years old my son could already see that I wasn’t myself. But the thing I’m realising is that before children can even recognise facial expressions, they sense our mood. And my youngest sure was picking up on my ‘give me a break’ vibe and countering with a ‘I shall climb you’ mentality.

Have you ever noticed how on the day you just want personal space your child will cling to you more? Or the day you wake up in a bad mood and irritable your children are extra demanding and irritable? At one stage I started to double guess myself, I would make an effort to hide my frustration and act more ‘Mary Poppins-ish’ than usual. But the kids don’t buy that charade and hubby would still immediately comment on arriving home “what’s up with the kids?”. More like what’s up with me.

The next day after a long talk with hubby about realistic expectations of the kids and myself I was feeling a lot better. I was some how happily doing groceries with two kids in tow when I heard another mother shout at her children “either you kids are brats or I’m a terrible mother!” Maybe neither. Maybe there’s no sunshine in you right now and you need to reset. But it’s not a quick fix.

Sit down and write yourself a list of things that restore your soul. But first let’s be practical here…a spa day is not always on the cards at 4am on a Wednesday. Think about your best memories with your kids, the days you really enjoyed them and their company. Where were you? What were you doing. For me it’s a walk on the beach on a sunny day, sitting back while they play in the sand and try to bury me. Or a milkshake date. Sometimes a shared bubble bath with all the toys and too many bubbles will help us reset. Or putting on some music and dancing in the lounge. Sometimes I need a coffee with a good friend with perspective while the kids play. And sometimes I just need to sit down and write the kids a letter for when they are older, once I start writing I remember what wonderful children they really are and my mind set shifts. What ever restores your soul write it down for the days you can’t remember why you’re doing it all, and then let the dishes be dirty, leave your to-do list undone and work on a more important list.