The Rockwood Files: 3 ways to cure a bad day

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

I knew it was a Monday when Tom woke me up with two words: “We overslept.” We sprang out of bed and flew around the house, rushing three groggy kids to dress for school in record time. Five minutes into the morning chaos, the youngest kid arrived at our bedroom door to announce that she had no pants, triggering a frantic search through jumbled laundry baskets to find a pair. In the end, she settled for leggings and a long sweater.

Once downstairs, I groaned at the sink that was still full of last night’s dishes, and the only bread in the kitchen was that weird heel piece no one ever wants. Then the oldest kid, the one who’s supposed to wear a belt with his school uniform, announced that said belt had disappeared into the ether and could not be found. Yep, this was definitely a Monday.

Even with ideal conditions, Mondays aren’t pleasant. But they’re infinitely worse when it feels like you’re forced to start a new week even though you’re already a week behind. And I admit that I often interpret these scenarios as a personal indictment of my maternal competence. If there are no pants and there is no bread and the house is a wreck, clearly I’ve dropped the ball somewhere along the way. So I headed into this week stuck somewhere between crabby and guilty.

I shouldn’t have. It’s not as if I’d spent the weekend doing nothing. We painted two of the kids’ bedrooms, and, like most home improvement projects, it had taken twice as long and created twice the mess I expected. Laundry and grocery shopping took a backseat to moving furniture and painting.

But here’s the thing about a bad Monday. It can either stay that way or it can be yanked from its downward spiral. But you’ve really got to want to make it happen because the bad-day gremlins will conspire against you. Here’s my three-step method for curing a Monday (even if it happens on a Thursday).

Hygiene: Start with a hot shower. Yes, I know you don’t even have time for a shower but getting a do-over on your day requires a fresh start – both literally and figuratively. Everything seems more doable when you don’t look or feel like you just crawled out from under a rock.

Highlights: I’m not asking you to skip around ignoring the 15 things going wrong. They’re there. No question about it. But often we let the irksome things block our view of the highlights that are actually quite good. Maybe even great. For me, one of today’s highlights is the fact that it’s 63 degrees headed toward a balmy 77 later today, and we’ll have one extra hour of daylight to enjoy it.

Hijinks: This last step is perhaps the most important one and the one we crabby grown-ups are the most resistant to do. It’s about hijinks, which is defined as “boisterous fun.” Kids do this naturally when they need an emotional pick-me-up, but we adults keep our heads down, taking our mood along with it. Pick one small thing that feels like it would be fun and then do it. The “to do” list will still be there when you’re done, but a little hijinks might just hijack your day from awful to alright.

When the kids get home from school today, we’re going to fold that mountain of laundry on my bed but we’ll do it while we watch a fun movie on Netflix. Because tomorrow is a new day, and we’re all going to need pants.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.