Monday's Answers: Tips for Hard Days

I’m going to try a new system this week and post the answers to last week’s Tuesday Topic on Monday.  Tomorrow I’ll post a new Tuesday Topic and with this pattern we’ll actually have a new topic each week.  I know this isn’t rocket science, but sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out a good system.

Our Topic this week was:

I would LOVE to see a post along the lines of: if you can’t remember one therapeutic parenting thing you’ve ever read because things are so bad and you feel like you’re drowning, just tape these three (or five or ten or whatever) to your fridge!  Seriously, some mornings I just feel like “if I can remember one thing to do today, I might be OK.”

As always you all came up with so many great ideas.  I’ve included excerpts here; please go to the original post to read the complete responses.

Bonnie wrote:

When all else fails – be sure and get in 10 hugs. And try to wear them out physically (the park or swimming or bike riding) And above all be gentle with yourself so that you can face the next day.

Darci wrote:

“I am the grown-up”. Seriously, it helps! 🙂

Megan wrote:

…1) Get out of the house and make some fun for the children… 2) Crank the music – specifically music that reflects the Word of God.

Tami wrote:

…I find it’s most important for me to remember to breathe when things get intense. I find myself getting tense and holding my breath and then I really struggle to stay calm. In the moment I’m learning to walk away, or just turn my back until I can remain calm. When I’m not calm there is no hope for my child!

Sarah wrote:

Remember to hug your child that doesn’t seem to want a hug.

Carly wrote:

I have a Q-TIP in my Bible and in my purse, and taped to the mirrors in my house- especially my bathroom where I can lock the door to ‘escape’ if needed. Sarah Padbury from Project 1.27 LOVE class training (Aurora, CO) gives these out to remind parents to Quit Taking It Personally….

Shannon wrote:

…Write another Adoptive Parents phone number down and call it. It’s the only thing that got me through those tough tough weeks.

Kerrie wrote:

1. Ten hugs. Even though you really (REALLY) don’t want to.
2. Saying, “hmm, you wonder about that,” and “well that’s a different way to look at that,” instead of arguing.
3. During a rage, saying nothing but, “this is really hard. I’m right here.”…

Sarah wrote:

…What has been a lifesaver for me, is finding that one person that I can call or go visit and safely vent to. Sometimes just saying the hard things, expressing how I really feel (including the ugly, angry stuff) to someone who understands and won’t judge is the best medicine.

Elizabeth wrote:

…It was those days where I so grateful for a couple of Bible verses I memorized that would play over and over in my head. They were quite literally life saving. They were:
“Do no fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my mighty right hand.” Isaiah 41:10…

Jen wrote:

…Put the kids to bed early and re-connect with your husband. Even when you think you don’t have the energy.
Take a walk.
Laughter. Have you gotten enough lately?
Sleep. Have you gotten enough lately?
Coffee. Have you gotten enough lately?
S*x. Have you gotten enough lately?

Nancy wrote:

There are many {too many?} times that I resort to rambling to the Lord. I’d like to call it prayer, but honestly ramblings is probably more appropriate.
Lord, help me remember appreciate that I am the best mama for the children you have placed in my care. God, I know you didn’t make a single mistake, and I am the BEST person in the whole world to be this child’s mama.

Heather wrote:

When the kids were younger, baths worked like a charm! It still works pretty well now, too (they are 7 and 5 years). Getting them to do some kind of activity outside that makes their bodies work hard also works for us most of the time. A dance party in the living room is always fun, too.

Dorothy wrote:

Truth? When the going gets too hard sometimes the best thing I can do it to put myself into time-out. I call a family meeting, sit them all down and tell them that I have had enough of my job for the day – I’m going to sit on my backside in the big chair and read a novel because I am about to not be a nice mommy….and anyone that wants to fight/scream/destroy/steal or whatever will be assigned to lay around my chair like greyhounds and be still until I am ready to think about starting again…

And here is my answer:

On our worst days, I get back to the basics with these simple tips:

  • Rock your child
  • Speak calmly while holding your child’s hands and looking in her eyes
  • Pray (“Lord, I don’t know what to do, please help me,” works for me.)
  • If the day continues to spiral downward, protect your other children from the turmoil.  Call a friend to pick them up, call three friends if you need to.  Have an older child take them to their bedroom and play a game with them, or put a movie on so they can relax away from the struggling child.  Do not let your other children suffer.  Trust me, I have learned this through my own failures.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and comments to this post or the original post. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share from their experience.  Watch for a new Tuesday Topic tomorrow!

Encourage one another,


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Tonggu Momma
    June 21, 2010

    I love these ideas! I used all of them. I also would like to add the phrase I use often with the Tongginator: "I love you too much to argue with you." It stops her in her tracks.

    1. OneThankfulmom
      June 21, 2010

      That is brilliant; I'm going to try it.

  2. angela
    June 21, 2010

    Thanks. These were fun to read and good reminders. You can still say we are in the rough and early stages. We've had the 6 year old twins 4 months. The first three months was spent potty training them. It was hard, hard, hard! I spent more time on the bathroom floor holding a kicking, screaming, spitting, angry child – X 2 than anything else in that first three months. The rest of the time I was cleaning up poop everywhere! We are past the poop! Thank the LORD! His Mercy is great!!!! But the control issues are not gone. The boy pees his pants all the time as a control tactic. He can keep dry day and night when he wants to but he will pee to try and push my buttons. I've used up my bucket of tricks. He goes through so much clothes! He is at the moment folding his laundry that he put in the washer and dryer. He already washed and replaced his sheets. He also scrubbed the car seat this morning. He asks "Why do I have to do this?" Well, mostly because you are the one who peed on them and I"m at my wits end to get you to stop peeing on everything.

    The girl will refuse to drink any kind of liquid – which is disastrous for her unhealthy bowel issues and will refuse to poop. It's the only two things she has control of and yet it's so very hard on her health. She could end up in the ER so I CANNOT ever give in. This can eventually turn into raging and screaming. Our only recourse is to make her march up the mountain behind our house. I'm holding VBS over her head this week. If she refuses to cooperate she will miss out on VBS. I feel like the wicked witch of the West. Today she has done her job and drank, but not without a thousand distraction tactics and manipulations on her part to get out of it. I get so tired!!! My girls used to help me, but that became a hazard because the little girl bonded to one of my older girls and refused to see me as her authority. She would obey her and scream for her when I asked her to do anything. Since the teens backed off, it has been better as far as attachment goes.

    ANYWAY! I write all this to ask, Do you have any suggestions for getting a little boy to stop peeing all over the place and do you have any tips for a mom dealing with two children who holding onto control even to their health's detriment?

    1. OneThankfulmom
      June 21, 2010

      Angela, you are really in the trenches. We have been spared the poop issues, but I have friends who have dealt with that. Let me ask one of them to email you and see if she has some good advice to offer. Have you gotten advice from an experienced therapist? I have been a parent for 23 years and sometimes Deborah (the kids' therapist) will give us a tool that I never would have thought of on my own. Hang in there. Breathe deeply (except when dealing with poop), be sure to get some breaks, and find some small bits of joy in the midst of it all.

  3. *Ashley Lou*
    June 21, 2010

    Thank you for these wonderful tips! I am so blessed to learn from those who have already made the trek through unchartered territory and these are going in my "What to do when I forget everything I learned before YOU got here" book!

    Thank you! Thank you!

    *Ashley Lou*

  4. sandee
    June 22, 2010

    Thank you…awesome tips all. I am just adjusting to my fourth child, second daughter, second adoption…and being home 24/7 with all four this summer. I needed these words!

  5. Tonya
    June 22, 2010

    I sometimes just try to think of the moment before me – not all the many tasks I still have to do this day (or want to do). Take this moment to be fully present with my children. I like the comment about breathing as that also helps too.

  6. TheMamaHen
    June 22, 2010

    If you really are about to lose it, it can help to grab a camera and take a picture. Especially if there is a big mess involved. It helps find the humor in the situation sometimes and is usually totally unexpected. It has stopped a tantrum cold sometimes for me.

  7. Laurel
    June 22, 2010

    Just have to say … I liked Dorothy's advice (in the post), to take a Mommy Time Out.

    I homeschool my children, and still have 6 at home (and because of a work situation, we have been apart from our dear husband/daddy for the past 2.5 months), and we regularly have a 2 hour QUIET TIME in the afternoon. (My at-home kids are currently 8, 8, 10, 11, 13, 17) It used to be that was when mama and the babies took their naps. Now, we have no more babies, but mama still needs a break (especially from RAD issues). So, if the children have all had a good morning of school work and being respectful to each other, they may be allowed to play a game quietly together while mama goes to her room to read or rest. If there are any behavioral issues going on that day, the children are divided up (each in a room to themselves) for a quiet time of reading, lego building or coloring.

    When we had preschoolers, we chose to allow our children to stay up later in the evening than most families (so that they could have daddy-time) and then our children took daily afternoon naps until they were 6 or 7 years old. With a dozen children, Mama just needs her nap time or quiet reading time, in order to make it through the day.

    Well … looks like it's almost time for Mama's Quiet Time … I think I'll go read Red Letters.

    Laurel 🙂

    1. OneThankfulmom
      June 22, 2010

      Laurel, I hear you! We have Quiet Hour every day after lunch and I love the few moments of peace. It is very restorative.

  8. Kathie
    June 24, 2010

    LOVE all the ideas!. Thanks everyone for sharing.

  9. Julie
    June 24, 2010

    I'm way late on this…but,


    Sometimes we just need to get out of the house and go somewhere else. 🙂

  10. Kylee
    June 26, 2010

    Thank you…awesome tips all. I am just adjusting to my fourth child, second daughter, second adoption…and being home 24/7 with all four this summer. I needed these words!


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