Amanda asked me the following question a couple of days ago:
"I assume you have days when you're just "off". That is, you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, ordinary things rub you the wrong way, you have little to no patience. (At least, I HOPE I'm not the only one who has days like this!) How do you handle such days? Do you have a trick for snapping yourself out of it? Or tips for dealing with it?
The last couple of days I've just been on edge; I have little to no patience with my kiddos. I know you don't have children (yet!), but you seem to have such a good grasp on this sort of thing, I thought perhaps you'd have some advice for me."
First, dear Amanda, let me assure you - you are not the only one having "those days"! I have them; good hardworking women like my mother and grandmother have them; in fact, everyone I know has them! Ordinary things you are used to, or normally even enjoy, annoy you. You find no pleasure in the sun shining outside, and see no hopeful prospects for the day. The question is, how do you deal with it?
If I could give you just one bit of advice, it would be: do something. From my experience as a homemaker, both at my mother's home and now here in my own little household - sitting around and giving into feelings of frustration and depression will only result in a gloomier mood. For example, yesterday I didn't stay home, but joined my husband on his trip to the city - I had some errands to do, and later I took advtange of the opportunity to visit Grandma. Later, when we came home, there was a pile of dishes in the sink. To my shame, I will admit they weren't even from the morning, but from last night (my husband came from work very late, and it was past midnight by the time we finished our late dinner - I simply had no energy left to wash dishes). I found myself frustrated with the amount of dishes, the time they have been sitting in my sink, and the prospect of having to wash them now.
However, when I rolled up my sleeves, put on my apron, and got to work, somehow it didn't seem so horrible anymore. By the time I finished, I was already enjoying the soapy water flowing through my fingers and the cleanliness of the dishes as I put them away to dry.
Add a few touches of loveliness that will encourage you in your work. Do you like good music? Put some on, to keep you cheery while you are working (I have a special tune for my routine pick-up through the house in the mornings). Find your inspiration by looking at beautiful flowers? Use some fresh flowers as your centerpiece, buy a poster depicting a flowering garden, or even use a pretty picture of flowers as your desktop background. Love sweet scents? Dab a few drops of essential oil on a piece of cloth, and hang it near your kitchen sink, to inhale its aroma while you are working. And on and on - whatever ideas that might cheer you up.
Reward yourself by interspacing the tasks you like less, with things you love to do. For example, if today is dusting and washing day for you, and you happen to like cleaning less than your other works, bake a pretty cake or pie in between, or make a batch of cookies that will fill the house with their delicious aroma. Or find a little while to do some needlework, or work on whatever type of projects you like (scrapbooking, gardening, painting) during the day. Go out for a little walk - I love, when possible, to browse - usually without actually buying - through my favorite shops, and especially those that inspire me in the area of homemaking: shops for quality home supplies, knitting supplies stores, antique shops that display lovely household items. Drink your coffee from the prettiest cup you have. Put on a pretty dress (when practical). Prettiness has a way of making one's mind cheerful.
Sing a cheerful song or just hum to yourself. Send a generous smile to yourself and others, even if you don't feel like it at the moment. Browse through a photo album, to bring memories of a particularly lovely day you have captured in pictures. Read a few pages of a favorite book - and soon you will feel things are brightening, and will realize it's actually not such a bad day after all.
As for children, you rightly noticed I don't have children yet; however, I realize what a difficult, challenging work childrearing is. I'm already sending my prayers to the Lord, that if/when He chooses to bless us with a child, He would also help me to find the abundance of unconditional love, patience, kindness, cheerfulness, caring, giving and energy that are needed so much on the journey of motherhood. I know mothers who stay at home with their children, but rarely speak a kind, encouraging word; mothers who most often snap at their children for getting in the way of their work. I don't judge - oh, I know I'm not in the position to - but I pray, pray, pray to become the mother He wants me to be, and I believe you should first and foremost do the same.
Days are fleeting, and children grow up so fast. I remember reading a blog that is now closed, of a very dear, precious lady. She had many children of various ages and personalities, and encouraged us all to remember precious days with our children are passing by, and time is limited. She especially encouraged homemakers not to be tempted to shove little children away for a fleeting efficiency of household tasks that will have to be done again, and again, and again. Rather, she advised, let your children be right alongside you as you work. My husband told me he remembers how, when he and his siblings were little, their mother (now my dear mother-in-law) used to have them in the kitchen with her whenever she worked. While she was doing dishes, she talked with them and sang to them, and let them help her. Did her little ones get in her way? Did they make her work slower? Probably, but she put a higher value on training her children to be cheerful workers and eager helpers.
Again, as I'm not a mother yet, I don't quite feel adequate to give advice about training children, but I would love to hear from those of you who already have little ones in their home, and have had to deal with various kinds of situations on the path of parenting.