House & HomeMom's LifeThe KitchenWork and Passions

getting past a “mom funk”

by Meagan Francis on July 31, 2012

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.

Want more ideas
for creating a happier home life?

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Ordinary Sarah July 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

This was me yesterday. So nice to hear others admit that they get in that same funk.

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Steph July 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I definitely tend to get this way when my commitments get overwhelming. Nice to hear other moms I admire go through the same thing. Great tips!

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Ana July 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I’ve always had these funks (so its not just for moms!). It used to be TV but now definitely the internet. Anxiety and/or exhaustion often bring it on. Anything to get me out of my own head helps me snap out of it. Also going to bed early sometimes, and starting fresh.

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Emily July 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I think this is the most brilliantly on-target analysis of computer-funk that I’ve ever read. I’m going to hit “submit” on this comment and then TURN OFF MY COMPUTER. :)

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Jen aka Pincurl Girl July 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Meagan, I hate Mom funks! I am just about to have my 2nd baby and worried the mom funk will kick into high gear once my hormones start changing. I love your ideas and definitely bookmarking this page. I created a set of bracelets really help me keep my thinking on the right track. Each time I am thinking negative thoughts, I try and stop myself and think a positive thought instead and move over a bracelet to reward myself. Seems simple enough but it really works for me, if anyone want to learn more stop by my website.

Any other ideas to stop mommy funk? I would love to hear.

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Elizabeth July 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I’m not a mom, but I get the same internet induced funk! I find myself sinking into the couch, with my laptop overheating my lap, too funky to make a healthy dinner. I’m thinking of grounding myself from the laptop/couch combo. Keep it on the desk!

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Emily July 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Meh, it doesn’t always help to keep it on the desk. That is where mine is, and trust me, it can suck you in there just as easily!

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Ellen July 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Love the image of sitting at the computer waiting for something to happen. Oy, that is so me when I’m in a funk, which also tends to happen at the computer. And I also tend to get overinvolved in some little Internet drama, then the next day, I look back and think, “What was the big deal?” This is a very helpful post. Thanks! (And P.S. – Have you tried Google+? What do you think? Many of my blogging colleagues think it’s got lots of potential but I’m afraid to check it out lest it tempt me to delve further into the Mom Funk Rabbit Hole, a.k.a. the Internet.)

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Meagan Francis July 15, 2011 at 9:51 am

Ellen, I JUST started playing around with Google + yesterday so I am still undecided. I think it has the potential for massively streamlining the way I use social media, OR has the potential to be a massive time-suck; I’m not sure which. Also I tend to get set in my ways, and I really like the simplicity of Twitter. I’m not as keen on Facebook, but I’m used to it now. It’s fun to play with new things, but I think enough of my network would have to totally jump ship and go to Google before I’d consider investing much time there. I’m not sure that’ll happen.

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Kim July 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Um, this describese perfectly this week. Thank you for writing this and reminding me that it’s ok to be in a funk.
Also? I love you.

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Katherine July 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Refresh… refresh… refresh…

That about sums up my mom funks.

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Nannette Gilbert July 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I’ve been in a funk this whole week. Spent an amazing amount of time on facebook, twitter, and aimlessly surfing. Thanks for lightening the mood.

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Jennifer Boyen July 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Wow…were you a fly on the wall in my house today or what?? Even my husband came out and asked “What’s wrong with you?” I don’t get into a funk very often…mostly in the summers when I have too much time on my hands. You see, I’m a teacher and I thrive on being busy, busy. I don’t do well with idle hands. Yet as you said, Meagan, I feel paralyzed to work on many of the summer projects I want to hurry up and get done before school starts in 4 weeks. My 4 kids (11, 9, 5 and 4) were crazy today too, which didn’t help. So in desperation for peace and to get out of the funk, I turned on Netflix for the kids and headed straight to a bubble bath. I’m not totally out of the funk yet, but I am going to try a one more of your tips and go finish reading your book, The Happiest Mom! ;)

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Clover July 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Oh, man, that was me today! I’m recovering from bronchitis, so I could justify sitting like a sloth playing Plants vs. Zombies on my iPod Touch while my house crumbled into further ruin and my four kids ran wild. I did manage a little whirlwind of activity to pull supper together, sweep up the worst of the pretzel crumbs, and administer a couple of haircuts and baths before I lost all ambition again. Tomorrow is another day– another day when I probably should leave the iPod plugged in somewhere inaccessible! ;-)

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Meagan Francis July 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

Love those little bursts of energy just to keep things from totally falling apart! I’m guessing a good night’s sleep did you wonders :)

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Lisa Hoff August 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm

It is necessary to do refresh, refresh, refresh.

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Jill VT July 14, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I have to admit I am sometimes intimidated by you, Meagan, because of your super mothering skills and advice so on-target and relevant to my life. So – I’ll admit I was a bit relieved you have those days too! And yet again, on-target and relevant. Thank you!

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Kristen July 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm

“After a while I’m not even really working anymore, just aimlessly clicking and waiting for something to happen.”

RIGHT??? So true. Somehow more work begets more wasting time.

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Elizabeth July 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Awesome post and I have weeks like this. That walk is the thing that pulls me up and out. :)

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adventures in babywearing July 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm

ME TOO. Can’t wait to wash it all down this weekend!

Steph

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Sarah July 15, 2011 at 12:54 am

This was a fantastic article as was your last one about how to make your neighborhood child-friendly.
I have been feeling disappointed with myself all summer for not enjoying being with my children (who are home from pre-school) more. And spending too much time online. And finding it difficult to get simple things like just emptying the dishwasher done.
I loved your point about cleaning something. I am going through some of our cupboards, one at a time, and I just love throwing stuff away. :)
Hang in there Meagan! You are a great mother and a fab writer. I love your blog, and look forward to reading it every day. This site is the first one I check after Fb and email. I also appreciate you clueing me in to home-ec 101 which has great advice too.

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Courtney July 15, 2011 at 4:15 am

Oh, I feel like you wrote this post for me! Last night I followed three of your techniques without realizing it, because it was a Mom Funk day. I took the kids for a walk around the block after supper, I turned post-bath time over to my husband and (quickly) cleaned my kitchen floor (it was so gross) and then I took a shower. I felt 800 times better after all that.

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Mandi @ Life...Your Way July 15, 2011 at 5:29 am

This was me yesterday and I didn’t even realize it until I was in the car at about 7pm all by myself and the sun was shining and I found myself suddenly very HAPPY after a hard day!

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Amy @ Frugal Mama July 15, 2011 at 5:36 am

Thanks for this Meagan. I’m a little worried about getting into this state when I start my new Babble gig, knowing my online responsibilities will greatly increase.

I’m sorry to hear about your funk, but I’m glad to hear that you were able to get out of it and that you have a fun trip this weekend.

Have a great time and escape!

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Gretchen Powers July 15, 2011 at 5:38 am

Totally. Great. Post. Signing off now!

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Sarah July 15, 2011 at 6:07 am

I am so glad you wrote this post – I was feeling kind of “eh,” and I did not know why. Turns out, I had Mom Funk! I was doing just like you said – messing around on the Internet, letting my kitchen mess pile up, getting annoyed at my daughter. I love your tips, and they work for me, too. Especially getting out and going for a walk. Or even just grabbing my camera and snapping pictures of my daughter as she runs around. Although I find it easiest to just surf around on the Internet aimlessly, it does help to step away and distract my brain with something else. Surprisingly, I always get my best ideas when I change up my activities :)

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AlexisAnne@CleanSmartSimpleStyle July 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

SO SO SO on target. Now if only my kids could come on a walk w/ me w/o complaining…then I wouldn’t be in such a funk.

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Meagan Francis July 15, 2011 at 9:53 am

Alexis, I lured mine out the door with the promise of ice cream. It worked!

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Jen @ BigBinder July 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Yeah, I tend to make plans and then get the days messed up :) But seriously, the anxiety comes so easily to me and it’s a big warning sign that I need to change things up. Quick.

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Caren July 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I have had those days, and what gets me out of the funk quicker and more effectively than anything else is being with my kids. Turning off the computer, looking them in their eyes, and joining in them in whatever they’re doing… or at least sitting near them. None of your techniques included the kids at all, so I thought I’d mention this. I used to think that “me time” is what I needed – but then what I needed was more and more “me time”. Connecting, sharing, and just BEing with my guys draws us closer, removes that funky feeling, and makes for a warm, peaceful nest for us. It works every single time.

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Caren July 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Oh, whoops! I don’t know why I didn’t see kids included on the walk before! I’m sorry about that mis-read!

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Jennifer Fink July 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

So, so many things I like about this post!

1) That someone else actually admitted to having the same mom funk/computer issues that I have. These lines right here — “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.” — are completely me. And somehow, seeing someone else articulate it so clearly online helps me see my situation better.

2) My Dad always said, “Everything looks better after a hot bath and a good night’s sleep.” He’s right.

3) I love that you included your asterisk and info about depression. I’ve been clinically depressed as a mom, and used to get really annoyed by the advice that told me what to do — but wasn’t enough. Thanks for drawing attention to a common problem.

Here’s to getting out of your funk. I hope you enjoy your weekend!

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homemom3 July 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I definitely get the mom funk, between being a mom to four, going to college online, home with one all day, blogging and never seeming to spread myself out like I’d want to do happened a lot in the past year. In fact it got so bad I considered quitting college. I didn’t though, I finally convinced myself that in the end it would be better for a BA instead of just an AA. I sure hope I’m right. I love your tips here, really wish I could’ve ended up going and not having to cancel at the last minute. I think a time with my fellow peers would’ve really helped my funk. That is a key thing I think, to hang with those that are like you.

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Sandi July 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I give you free reign to take half of my kid overload to balance your mom funk. I spent the weekend with no screens and 150 kids at cub camp making sure all their brave little souls did abseiling, climbing, zip wires, archery, go carts, swimming and loads of other activities. Please feel balanced that my kids had too much mom time and probably won’t remember that I did this for them. Certainly their mates wont remember, as your babies won’t remember that mum spent too much time on the computer that week in July 2011. You must feel free to make this a low stress point. They won’t be bothered in the long run. Promise.

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Anatosha July 18, 2011 at 8:15 am

Megan, #3 is totally me, but more for when I am angry or frustrated. I go clean before I can say something I don’t mean or cannot take back, I take out the anger/frustration on the kitchen/bathroom/floors, whatever is in bad shape at the moment, when I am done not only are some of my chores done, but I am usually in a much better place to have a calm and productive conversation.
P.S. Just recently found your blog and want to thank you for all your great tips.

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tara July 18, 2011 at 11:35 am

Thanks for posting this! You got it right again. This one strikes me, too. Must not let internet take over my life. lol

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Mama C/Catherine July 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I was in one last night, that swallowed me up. Then I woke up, and hit a major reset button. Your post does such a beautiful job giving us all permission to just let go, and celebrate the imperfection. All for that!

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Bren July 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I have been in a “mom funk” most of the summer (okay, on and off). I am home for the summer from my first year in Thailand. I think my temporary status in the U.S. has put me in this funk. I know I have to go back, the summer is going quickly, it’s all temporary, etc. It is depressing.

I am trying very hard to make the summer wonderful, but the temporary status weighs on me. Also weighing me down is accepting that I must go back and leave my little house, nieghbors and familar town behind.

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Hannah C. July 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

My life right now is a mom funk. I also have a five month old.

I’ve been thinking that whatever I’ve got simply isn’t serious enough to be postpartum depression…but I’m going to check out that website anyway.

Thank you.

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Tara July 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I can relate to EVERY word written in this post. Thanks for the suggestions for getting out of it too, they were great. I use the “clean something” one a lot, and it really does work.

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V July 26, 2011 at 7:20 pm

This is exactly why I don’t like media. It’s too absorbing. I’ve even deleted my facebook and can’t even begin to tell you how much clearer my mind is!

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Leah Cron August 1, 2012 at 2:03 am

I like these tips. These are very effective and I really doing these things as well.

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Julie August 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I could have written this very post. Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been trying to put my finger on the last few days. Anticipating a fresh new Fall routine, yet still living in 110 degree, humid days with 3 active kids who are also ready for a fresh routine. Summer has been wonderfully fun and relaxed, but we all crave a return to structure and different variety (and being outside!). Your ideas are simple and so efficient. Here’s to permission to having those days, (guilt free), celebrating imperfection and rebounding intentionally, gracefully. Thank you!!!

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Kathleen August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I love when someone seems to post something that seems like it was meant for you because it is exactly what you are going through. Thanks for this!

I was so eager for summer to start, looking forward to days lounging by the pool and spent staring at the ocean at the beach. Now, I feel exhausted from the long days in the sun, early mornings and late nights squeezed in to work between the long days, and washing, and rewashing all those damn swim suits and towels!! I find myself fantasizing about fall. Fall boots, crisp air and apple pies.

Thanks for the great ideas to help squash the funk.

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Nina August 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

A few days ago, I spent nearly seven hours straight on my blog. Granted, I was doing a re-design so it’s clearly not a daily, normal thing, but wow I got out of that feeling tired! I felt great for all the work I did but I was so in a need to step away and stretch.

I’ll usually do something completely different, like go for a walk you mentioned, or even write in my journal. Thankfully my kid wasn’t around; otherwise I would have little chance to pay attention to him if he were!

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Kate August 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Thanks so much for this! We just relocated from NY to CO and while it was something we’re VERY excited about and have been anticipating for a while, today is my husband’s first day @ his new job and I had a serious case of the mom funk blues. A walk outside, cleaning and a long bath after the baby gets to bed tonight just made my to-do list : )

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Kelly August 2, 2012 at 12:07 am

Thank you for reposting this. Perfect timing for me, as I’m deep into the mom funk this week. Time to logoff, go to bed and start tomorrow with a better perspective. :)

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Lydia Smith August 2, 2012 at 6:15 am

I relate much this funk thing too. As we spent time on our blogs updating, communicating to our fellow bloggers, and a lot more. When I’m working with my blog, I tell to my kids that no one will disturb me. Mommy is working.

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Sam August 2, 2012 at 9:19 am

Thanks so much for this! This is a golden advice for me.

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Moon August 3, 2012 at 4:20 am

I’ve gotten into a funk lately too, and I solved it by listening to my favorite Jobim song, “One Note Samba”. :)

Moon

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Andrea @ECSimplified August 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm

So true that something about walking or just getting out of the house and doing something else gets you out of a funk! (Must be the blood finally circulating properly) And while I’m out and about, it’s practically effortless to do #4 and #5. :) It’s mentally stimulating to be outside and it’s super easy to drop by a Barnes and Noble and flip through some books.

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Lucy Trim August 20, 2012 at 2:26 am

I like this advice. This is very awesome.

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