20 Ways I Cope on a Tough Day with a Little One

Being a parent is exhilarating and wonderful – it’s so fun to watch my girls learn new skills (those first wobbly steps!), or seeing my baby’s eyes light up when I get her out of her crib, or those sweet snuggles when one of them hurts themselves and just wants their mommy to comfort them.

But there can also be hard days where my baby cries for no discernible reason or I’m exhausted from lack of sleep or are just overwhelmed by the many responsibilities I have as a parent, spouse, and adult.

On those days, I use one (or two or ten!) of these tricks to help me stay sane. Hopefully you’ll find a few of them helpful yourself when you’re having a rough time:

  • #1: Go for a Walk

    #1: Go for a Walk

    Getting out of the house and having some fresh air helps me immensely (and usually calms down my children too). I buckle them in and just walk as far as I need to.

  • #2: Call it a sick day

    #2: Call it a sick day

    If I had an office job, I’d let yourself stay home and do nothing. I ignore the chores, the messy house, and just let myself relax.

  • #3: Take a nap while my baby naps

    #3: Take a nap while my baby naps

    It’s hard for me to nap when my children do because it’s such prime alone time, but sometimes there’s nothing that’s better for my mental health than a little nap.

  • #4: Stick them in the bathtub

    #4: Stick them in the bathtub

    My girls love baths, and they’ll stay in there playing with their toys for nearly an hour if I let them. I can sit next to the tub and read a magazine.

  • #5: Vacuum

    #5: Vacuum

    Just doing one productive thing can help me feel better, plus vacuuming gives you some nice white noise and can take as long or as short as you want. And my carpets look great!

  • #6: Put my kids to bed early

    #6: Put my kids to bed early

    On days when my husband is gone or my children are just TOO crabby, I put them to bed earlier than normal (and they don’t seem to wake up any earlier, even if I put them to bed a full hour ahead of normal).

  • #7: Swing on the swings

    #7: Swing on the swings

    Both of my girls love swinging on the swings and so do I, so I put them in the baby swings, give them good hard pushes so they’ll keep going for a while and swing on the big swings myself. It’s very therapeutic for me!

  • #8: Go get a special treat

    #8: Go get a special treat

    Whether it’s a 25 cent donut from the grocery store or a snow cone at a local place, a little sugar sometimes really helps me (and cheers up my girls too).

  • #9: Call a Friend

    #9: Call a Friend

    I call a friend, explain my house is a disaster, and that I’d just really like some adult conversation. Our babies play together, I get to talk to a grown-up, and life feels a little better.

  • #10: Go do some window shopping

    #10: Go do some window shopping

    The mall is usually very quiet during the day and I can just wander around with my girls in the stroller. It’s nice to get out of the house and have a change of scenery.

  • #11: Turn on a Movie

    #11: Turn on a Movie

    We’re not huge movie watchers in our family, but sometimes you just need a little 90 minute break.

  • #12: Breakfast for Dinner

    #12: Breakfast for Dinner

    If dinner is stressing me out, I just call it quits and have pancakes instead. My kids never complain.

  • #13: Shower and Get Dressed

    #13: Shower and Get Dressed

    Even if it’s 4pm, feeling put together can really turn my day around.

  • #14: Alternatively, put on pajamas

    #14: Alternatively, put on pajamas

    Sometimes, I just need to feel like I can relax and stay at home, so I put on my pajamas, even if it’s hours until bedtime.

  • #15: Hit the Drive-In

    #15: Hit the Drive-In

    If I’m not fit to be seen in public but still want to get out, I like to go through a drive-through, get a smoothie or other small treat and eat in the parking lot. My girls LOVE to sit in the front seat and it feels like a special outing, even if we don’t get out of the car.

  • #16: Cancel the errands

    #16: Cancel the errands

    Forget that run to the grocery store – no one will starve without bread overnight and stay home and snuggle on the couch. In my pajamas.

  • #17: Go to the bookstore or library

    #17: Go to the bookstore or library

    I find both of these places so calming and soothing (and my girls can play with the train tables until they are blue in the face).

  • #18: Build a fort

    #18: Build a fort

    It’s novel, it’s easy, and it’s quiet.

  • #19: Order takeout

    #19: Order takeout

    If even pancakes feels too much, order pizza or some other takeout.

  • #20: Walk Away

    #20: Walk Away

    If my baby is just ridiculously fussy and nothing will help her calm down and I can feel myself losing my cool, I put her somewhere safe like the crib or carseat and give myself 10 minutes to breathe deeply.

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