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.
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.
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.