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Think better, not perfect: take baby steps out of a Mom Funk.

by Meagan Francis on November 18, 2013

fall leaf

November can be a confusing, befuddling month. The daylight hours shrink, the holidays loom (and regardless of your feelings about the holidays, knowing they’re just around the corner can be overwhelming) and for many of us, the weather rapidly ping-pongs back and forth all month, like it can’t make up its mind which season to commit to.

Case in point: we had a snow day just last Tuesday, and yesterday it was a balmy (and rainy and windy) 64 degrees!

When everything from the weather to the time of day the sun sets is in flux, my routine (and mood) can suffer. And it’s amazing sometimes how quickly I can devolve from High-Energy Mom, getting dinner on the table with aplomb each night and cheerfully waking before the sun, to a squishy, grey version of her, slouching on the sofa with barely enough energy to finish a game of Candy Crush.

The good news is that everybody cycles down sometimes, and with time, enough baths and maybe a few brisk walks, I generally pull back up quickly enough. But as you probably know: when you’re in the middle of a mom funk, it’s easy to exacerbate the downward spiral.

It’s tempting to gorge on junk food for a (temporary. very temporary) boost. Or to pile guilt on top of our already-funky feelings. And when I’m in a funk, I also tend to think in absolutes: I used to always do _____, now I never do ______, and my family shall suffer forevermore until I once again do ____ every _____.

I haven’t had a Mom Funk yet this fall, but just in case, I’m getting in front of the funk by re-writing my mental script ahead of time. 

sunset walk

The way I see it, the best way to avoid the guilt and self-defeating behaviors that can go along with a less-than-productive period is to accept that every mom deserves to allow herself “valley moments” – those days or weeks when you just give yourself up to the dip and trust that soon you’ll be on your way back up.

And when you’re ready to climb out of your Mom Funk, the best way back can often be taking small steps toward flat ground, rather than beating yourself up because you aren’t immediately cresting the hill again.

It’s choosing to make things a little bit better without worrying about perfection or your standards or anyone else’s standards or what the teachers might be thinking since your kids’ daily snacks went from cut-up fruit to prepackaged fruit snacks.

For example…

Let’s say you just can’t face making dinner.

Your first inclination is to order pizza and let everyone eat in front of the TV while you hide in your bedroom.

But what if...you ordered pizza and ate on paper plates at the kitchen table? You’d get the benefits of the family meal, without the cooking or clean-up.

Maybe you’re way too tired to read a whole book at bedtime…

The Funky Mom side of you wants to send the kids to bed an hour early so she can tune out in front of mindless TV.

But what if...you snuggled on the sofa and read just a few pages before sending the kids to bed? You’d get a little bonding time in before bed, but without committing to the whole process. 

Perhaps you just don’t have it in you to make it to the gym today. Or tomorrow. Or at all this week, really.

Your self-defeating side says that if you don’t get in a full hour-long workout three days a week it doesn’t even count, so you might as well just give up and eat a pile of doughnuts.

But what if...you went for a brisk walk around the block or did a few sun salutations in your living room? You’d get the little boost of energy that comes from even mild exercise, and maybe you’d feel less tempted to gorge. 

And I often find that taking that first small step up out of the pit – eating at the table instead of hunched over a plate on the sofa; snuggling with the kids instead of pushing them away; walking instead of doughnut-imbibing – seems to give me the energy to make an even better choice the next day, and the next day, and the next.

If you face down Mom Funks around this time of year – or any time of year! – why not spend some time thinking about small ways you can get your groove back, and maybe post them in the comments? Then all you’ll have to do is refer to this post for a reminder when you’re feeling all slouchy and “meh.” 

Leaves photo: Tim Vaughan, via Flickr Creative Commons
Sunset photo: McD22, via Flickr Creative Commons

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi November 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

It’s great to hear that we all get into funks. I tend to think I’m alone in that, and that everyone else is just cruising along all of the time. Good reminders for ways to begin to get out of it, too. Even a tiny bit of exercise makes such a difference for me.

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Joyce November 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

Meagan,

I am in a mom funk right now myself for all the reasons you mentioned and more! My life is in flux and my head is just not in the best place.

Reading your post – it’s all about acceptance and taking care of myself! I’m so resistant to being in the funk and keep trying to ‘force’ myself back on track and feeling bad about being moody or not getting as much done as usual. This was a nice reminder that if I am feeling this way it is for a reason. I need to take care of myself and maybe embrace the funk a bit so that I can re-emerge feeling stronger.

Your suggestions are great ways to feel the funk but not fall into bad habits and make it worse!

Thanks for posting:)

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Sarah Powers November 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

This so speaks to me. I’m terrible about thinking in extremes as you describe. We’ve had sick kids for three straight weeks and I find myself just giving up and letting everything fall to pieces. Instead, I’d like to acknowledge that sick kids mean certain things will have to go, but at the same time my defeatist attitude isn’t really necessary. These little steps are exactly what I need.

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Jennifer Fink November 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I’m just coming out of a mom & writer funk, so the timing of this post is perfect for me. I have a modified approach to your first example: We order pizza (or throw in frozen ones) and eat on paper plates together in the living room while watching a movie. Is it eating in front of a screen? Absolutely. But that’s also a break from our normal routine, and watching a cute/funny movie with the kids and taking the pressure of “normal routine” away often boosts my mood.

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Ana November 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

This is great, because the last thing you’re capable of when you’re in a funk is a grand sweeping gesture! Will store these in mind for the inevitable winter blues.

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Marjorie November 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

It is amazing how those small steps (once finally taken) can spark your motivation to do more. There is such value in finally taking action on something. It can really propel you forward and bust right out of that mom funk.

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Sirena November 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

This post rings true to me, I just never knew what to call it when I dive deep into those valleys. It’s absolutely those little steps I take that helps me out of the mom funk. For me it’s about getting outside for fresh air and sunshine, taking a long hot bath, writing in my journal. I recognize that I enter a mom funk when I forget about me and my needs, even if it’s just a shower in the morning, I need to remember that taking care of myself as well will help me take care of my family too.

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Lisa November 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for this post!
I realized the other day I was in my first mom funk the last few weeks –since the time change disrupted toddler sleep.

I didn’t catch it fast enough because from adding sugar and carbs to my funk, I ended up with a big infection and my husband was resentful for my funk which worsened the funk!

It’s all at the beginning of the upswing, so hopefully it’s done and over with! AND, I will catch it sooner next time!

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Lilly November 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm

This post just made me realize that I go into funks pre-emptively. For example, Saturday was my son’s third birthday party, then on Thursday, we will be going on vacation for three weeks, and while we are on vacation, our house will be on the market, so it needs to look great for showings. Just thinking of all the stuff I need(ed) to do, made me go into a funk and think that we will need to eat take-out (or out), that I can’t possibly work out, and that I need to make all sorts of “simplifying” costly (not so healthy) decisions. And I do this all the time! The funny thing is that those “good decisions” simply make me feel more rushed and stressed. Maybe a simple homemade meal and a little exercise might make me feel more grounded amidst the chaos. Thanks, Megan! Aha moment going on here :)

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