You know those days when you wish you could crawl back into bed and get a fresh start? Yeah. Me, too. Those days came more frequently than I’d like to admit when I was a stay at home mom of three little ones four and under. Fortunately, those bad days taught me that sometimes you really do have to start over to get things on the right track. Here are five ways to restart a bad day.

5 Ways to Restart a Bad Day

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When you’re a mom of small children some days just get off to a bad start. Maybe the baby didn’t sleep well last night or the toddler woke up angry. (They just do that sometimes!) Maybe the preschooler is over it all and meeting everything and everyone with a negative attitude.

Maybe the spills, the tantrums, the sibling rivalry and the frustrations have overwhelmed you and pushed you past your breaking point. Before you know what’s happened you’re yelling, threatening or shaming your children into more compliant behavior – usually without results, right?

When you find yourself in that place the very first thing to do is commend yourself for recognizing that things are out of control. You might want to beat yourself up for being a mean mommy – after all, you’re committed to positive parenting without yelling or shaming and discipline without punishment. But this time, instead of being angry with yourself, be gentle.

We all have those days. Even the most gentle moms among us have moments of rage when the hits seem to keep coming. You can admit you’re a normal mom without normalizing your frustration-induced behavior.

So, before you dive into 5 ways to restart a bad day, take a deep breath, apologize to your children for your bad behavior and forgive yourself immediately. You can’t start over if you’re harboring guilt or worry that you might have scarred your children for life. (By the way, you haven’t.)

Now, on to the tips. Here’s how to get your day back on track when the train has derailed.

Start Your Day Over – Literally

Are you ever amazed by how quickly things can escalate on a bad day? The happenings of even the first hour of a bad day can be overwhelming sometimes. If it’s early enough in the day, you can simply start over.

Gather your children and tell them the plan. “Today has had a rough start. We need a do-over! Let’s all get back in the bed and start again.” Hey, this is a great excuse to get a fresh cup of coffee or tea, mama.

Your kiddos will find it extra fun to start over if you let them all crawl into your bed to pretend to sleep for a few minutes. With toddlers and preschoolers, you can pretend you don’t want to get up and have them encourage you to get up and try the day again.

So, go ahead – get a do-over and fresh start. And, with your children who are old enough for it, talk about what caused the first start to go all wrong and what you can learn from it.

Go Outside

One of the fastest ways I’ve found to turn around a bad day with my children is to go outside. It worked when they were little and it still works today. When they were younger and the tears and tantrums started before breakfast, we’d take our food outside and, like magic, we’d be munching happily before too long.

Even now, when our homeschooling is interrupted by a case of the grumps, the mood is easily lightened by taking our school day outside.

When one of my boys is having a rough day, you’ll find me helping them get to bottom of their feelings and asking if they’ve been outside yet. Sunshine boosts vitamin D production and vitamin D research shows its relationship to happiness.

Have a Dance Party

Does this seem silly? Well, you’re right. It is silly. But, silly is not angry. And silly is not crying. Silly is fun. Silly is distracting. And silly will help you restart your bad day in 5, 6, 7, 8.

When my boys were little we’d pop a Wiggles CD in the player and go crazy. I mean, I’d rather it was the Beatles or Aerosmith, but I learned to improvise quickly because the results were outstanding.

Dancing can pull the grumpiest of us out of our funk. Big muscle movement is vital for little ones. Seeing mommy be silly is an instant mood booster. Win, win, win!

Change Your Plans

On those really tough days, you may have to change your plans. If going outside or having a dance party isn’t going to cut it, don’t be afraid to chuck the plans for the day (yes, even homeschool plans) and head out to the nearest park, zoo or play place.

When my boys were little (and even during some long summers and winters now that they’re older) we’d have a rough start to the day and I’d realize that we hadn’t left the house for several days in a row. We were suffering from cabin fever. When this happened I’d stop everything, ditch our plans for the day and head out.

The zoo was our go-to place for getting a bit of an attitude reset. One trip to the zoo and we all felt better and behaved better.

Find a Way to Laugh

It’s easy to get caught up in the seriousness of raising children. I mean, you guys, parenthood is no joke, right? But sometimes we have to let the small things stay small and find a way to move from too serious to more lighthearted.

So, when the baby has a blow-out while the toddler throws his oatmeal and the preschooler refuses to get dressed just take a step back and have a giggle at the ridiculousness of it all. I mean, get right on changing that blow-out diaper and all, but do it with laughter because if you ever have the choice between laughing and crying, choose laughter.

Your kids might look at you like you’re crazy if you suddenly starting laughing, but I bet the toddler will stop complaining about his breakfast and the preschooler will stop protesting putting on clothes. At least for a few minutes. Use those minutes to practice Playful Parenting and reset your bad day.

Teaching Your Children How to Restart a Bad Day

When you use these 5 ways to restart a bad day you’re showing your children how to be resourceful and resilient. When they see you pulling yourself out of a bad mood you show them that it’s possible. When they understand that a bad day isn’t the end they learn to look for their own ways to recover when a day goes off the tracks.

It might not be an easy pivot at first, but eventually, it will take you less and less time to turn things around.