getting past a “mom funk”

Since I’m feeling a little blah today, I wanted to republish a post I wrote around this time last year. If you’re feeling mom-funky too, I hope it helps!

Some projects I’ve been working on have kept me on the computer more than usual over the last couple days. And I don’t know about you, but for me spending too much time on the computer tends to lead to even more too much time on the computer.

After a while I’m not even really working anymore, just aimlessly clicking and waiting for something to happen. There’s a fine line between “enough internet” and “too much,” and once it’s crossed, I tend to spiral down into a Mom Funk.

And over the last few days? I’ve gotten seriously funky:

I’ve spent too much time staring at a screen.
Too little time staring at trees.

Too much time worrying about what a commenter said.
Too little time listening to what my kids say.

Too much time refreshing my e-mail.
Too little time refreshing my kitchen.

Too much time “connected.”
Too little time connecting.

When I fall into one of these mom funks, I somehow manage to feel two conflicting emotions simultaneously. I feel anxious, like there’s something I’m supposed to be doing, but I can’t put my finger on just what. At the same time I have a hard time getting moving on any of the things I know I really need or want to do. I feel stuck, paralyzed, and fretful. (The Mom Funk also tends to result in my making poor decisions, like getting embroiled in Twitter drama, going off half-cocked in a blog post or not really thinking that email through before I hit “send.”)

When I recognize that I’ve fallen into a Mom Funk, here are three things I try to keep in mind:

  • It’s normal.* The Mom Funk, I suspect, happens to everyone. (And if not, that woman – whoever she is – must have some great meds.)
  • It doesn’t define me. I am more than a few funky days. My kids are not going to suffer permanent damage because they watched too much TV this week. The whole of my mothering is not defined by the not-so-great moments.
  • I can turn things around – starting right now. Yes, even at the very end of the very funkiest day, there is still time to turn a Mom Funk around.

So how do I get myself out of a Mom Funk? Here are my five tried-and-true techniques:

  1. Go for a walk. A run or a bike ride or any outdoor physical activity works, but what I love about going for a walk is that it’s so easy and doesn’t require special equipment, special clothes, or special shoes. Heck, if you’re feeling too funky to manage it, you don’t have to put on any shoes. Just grab your kids, stumble out the door, and start walking.
  2. Take a bath. This is a great solution if it’s too late or the weather’s too bad to walk. Something about taking a bath always clears my head, and when I emerge it feels like a clean (pun intended) new start.
  3. Clean something. I know this doesn’t sound like much fun, but the act of returning a space or object to order can be almost meditative and definitely helps my brain feel clearer. This can seem overly difficult when in the throes of a Mom Funk, so start with something very manageable. Like a plate. Who knows, that might lead to a bowl, and eventually a counter.
  4. Consume a different kind of media. If your Mom Funk is computer-driven like mine tend to be, sometimes just switching to a new form of media or entertainment can help gently wean you out of it. Try listening to a podcast (while you wash that plate!) or reading a magazine, for instance.
  5. Recharge your batteries. Sometimes I get into a Mom Funk because I’m bored and go online looking for entertainment. But other times, I get into a Mom Funk because I’m overwhelmed and using the internet as a place to hide. In either case, a mentally-stimulating and fun outing is often the perfect way to give up the funk.

Are you in the middle of a Mom Funk? Take a deep breath, think of something that can help you break out of it, shut off your computer, and GO. Quick, before you change your mind or click back over to Google+!

*Note: A Mom Funk is one thing; full-blown depression is another. While all of the above suggestions might be helpful for a person who’s clinically depressed, you’ll likely need more help than my pithy list of ideas can provide. If you’ve had a baby in the last 12 months and your Mom Funk has hung on for more than a few days or you feel like something is really wrong, you may be suffering from a (very common) postpartum mood disorder; check out Postpartum Progress for information and support. Postpartum Progress is a great resource even if your child is older than a year, but you may also want to visit the National Institute of Mental Health.

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