Every parent has had one of these days… from the moment your child wakes up, they are crying about something. Or maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night, and you are the one with the short fuse. Regardless of who the grump is, the day starts off all wrong, and it is all down hill from there. Those are the days that by 8AM, forget the coffee – I’m ready for a bottle of wine with breakfast. When I’m counting the hours to nap time before we’ve even reached breakfast, or bedtime when everyone has just woken up from their naps, I know I need to do something to remove the grump from our day!
15 Ways to Remove the Grump from your Day
When the mood of the day is cloudy, with no sign of sunshine, and the girls and I just can’t seem to shake the grump from our day, these are my 15 go to ways for improving everyone’s attitude and mood.
Change the pace
Often, a grumpy mood for the day is indicative of a sluggish pace. Maybe I’m busy doing household chores, paying bills, or catching up on work, leaving the girls to watch too much TV or play independently. Often too much pent up energy leads to negative energy: fighting, arguing, crying, whining and being just plain grumpy.
1. Dance party
Without fail, cranking up some great tunes, be it in the car or in our living room, is sure to up the activity level and channel previously negative energy into feet tapping, clapping and smiles! Big M’s recent favorites have included Happy, Shut Up and Dance with Me (which she thinks is Get Up and Dance with Me), Uptown Funk!, Fight Song, and Shake It Off. Lil’ M likes anything from the Frozen or Tangled soundtracks. They also like me to play them from YouTube so they can take their turn at recreating the dance moves from the videos.
2. Build a fort
This is one the girls go to all on their own… usually, when I’m stuck in the kitchen making dinner and doing dishes. They have taken to pulling all the pillows and cushions off the couch, and use them to create forts, igloos, castles, or just climb, flop around or get cozy.
3. Create an obstacle course
This often involves the couch cushions above, as well as yoga mats and ottomans for climbing and crawling. Other times, we’ve drawn our own outdoors with sidewalk chalk or indoors on craft paper, like our Shape Walk.
4. Go for a walk
Rounding everyone up to go outside and take a short walk around the block, or buckling them into the double stroller for a longer walk down our local beachside boardwalk or to the local playground does the trick too. Fresh salty, sea air, letting those little legs burn off some energy and new things to see and talk about cure most grumpy ills.
5. Get messy
My girls often get cranky when they are bored. And I know when Big M is bored because she will come and request a “project”… and for Lil’ M, she likes to participate too – the messier the better! Whether its playdough, paint, markers, water-play or glue, open-ended craft materials or activities are guaranteed to provide a change of pace and a change in attitude! Check out all our At-Home Activities for inspiration!
Change of scenery
When a change of pace isn’t enough to cure a grumpy day, a change of scenery definitely does the trick! And you don’t necessarily have to leave your house to accomplish that…
6. Go upstairs
We spend most of the day while at home in our family room area. Maybe for you it’s to the basement rec room or sunroom. Whatever the room is, go somewhere else in the house. Often, it’s enough just to go play upstairs in one of the girls’ bedrooms – different set of toys, different room, different attitude!
7. Go outside
Getting outside, fresh air, no walls, more gross motor toys and activities… all have the desired effect of channeling negative energy, and replacing everyone’s grumpy faces with smiles and laughter. Whether they ride their tricycles around the block, help me water the plants, draw with sidewalk chalk in the driveway, or the current favorite, blow bubbles, they all work all the time.
8. Go to the library
When it’s raining and going outside isn’t an option, it’s often enough to leave the house and just go anywhere else. My first choice is typically the library. The girls love to ‘push the button’ (the automatic door opener for handicap access), play with the puzzles, and peruse all the books. Big M loves that she now has her own library card to “pay” for her books with. It’s a quick, easy and free trip, and when we get home roughly 45-60 minutes later, it’s like a whole new day!
9. Go to the playground
Wide open space to run, jump, get dirty, and best of all, slides and swings. What else could make two kids under 4 any happier?
10. Go shopping
Confession: the girls get this one from me. Retail therapy has been my go-to mood booster for as long as I can remember. The girls LOVE going to the mall, trying on shoes, looking in store windows, smelling perfume, you name it. This is one of our favorite options during the long New England winters. We don’t even have to buy anything – they still don’t ask for much, and fortunately, still willingly return items to shelves when asked. They also love grocery stores!
Change of clothes
This may be another side-effect of being a girl mom. My girls love clothes, shoes, dressing up, jewelry. When they change clothes, it’s as if the bad mood gets tossed in the laundry basket along with the old outfit.
11. Play dress-up
Thanks to grandmas and an aunt with only boys, the girls’ dress up trunk is thoroughly stocked. Princess dresses, wings, tutus, tiaras, masks, animal ears – you name it, some version of it is available. A great set to get started with is this one from Melissa and Doug, which includes a little bit of everything for less than $25. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take official dress up clothes: one of their latest favorites is using their blankies as princess or super hero capes, or tied around their waists, they pretend they are mermaids.
12. Get wet!
With warmer weather, this is one of our first go-to options. Ditch the clothes for swimsuits and hit the beach, or play with a bucket of water or the sprinkler in the backyard! My girls are partial to this flower head sprinkler.
Change of focus
Nearly 90% of the time, the kids’ bad moods are a direct result of either my own or my lack of attention on them. Not that the world should always revolve around them, but on days where I’ve spent most of the time folding laundry or running errands and they are more of an afterthought, their attitudes reflect it. It often is conducive both to my current task at hand, and their grumpiness, to set aside whatever I am doing to spend 15-30 minutes with them, before returning to my task with far more productivity and less cranky distraction!
Both my girls are big snugglers. As a busy mom, with a house to keep up with, meals to prepare, chores to do, activities to prepare, errands to run, (and oh yeah, a blog to run), I rarely stop for 15 minutes to just sit with them, so when I do, it definitely brings calm and all smiles to previously cranky faces. After nearly 2 years, we’ve perfected the double snuggle, one M on each side of my lap… just in time to attempt to figure out how to snuggle with 3 at once!
14. Read a book
One of our favorite snuggling activities – reading a book. We read books before bed, but Lil’ M especially, will bring you book after book after book all day long. Similar to snuggling, it’s really all about the individualized, one-on-one (or two-on-one) focus and attention. Even if it’s just for 10-30 minutes, it’s more than enough to turn those frowns upside down!
15. Involve kids in your chores
Often, cranky kids are just feeling left out and want to feel included. Let them help you with whatever task you have at hand, and solve two problems at once. Sure, it may take you longer than if you did it yourself, BUT it probably won’t take you as long as stopping to address every argument that arises, and ultimately you are imparting great skills that eventually will allow you to hand off these chores to them! So let them help you make dinner, empty the dishwasher, load the clothes in the dryer or put away the folded laundry, and keep them in smiles while they are at it!
Do you have days where the whole house just seems in a funk? What are your go-to ways for changing the course of the day? If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy two of our most popular posts on easing daily transitions and entertaining kids out to eat without screens. You can find all of these, as well as our favorite parenting posts from around the web on our Parenting Tips board on Pinterest.
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Thanks for a great post – this summer has been tough on my little group of kiddos. One is ADHD (having a rough summer too), one is 4 & whines a lot & one is 18 mo going on 14 (she has been so difficult & we can’t figure out if she’s teething or what)…
I’ll share this on FB 🙂
I definitely feel your pain. My almost 4 year old has become an incessant whiner (got any tips???), and my almost 2 year old has just started her tantrumming phase. I turn to my own list here a lot these days!! Thanks for sharing.
Re tips, check out ‘how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk’ and ‘easy to love, difficult to discipline’ I have an almost three year old and a newborn, and these two books are amazing.
So nice to come across a milford orange based blog – we moved back to milford when our girls were born after living in NYC and DC and suburbia can be a little isolating!
Welcome! I hear you – I grew up in a big city, but there are definitely benefits to raising kids in smaller towns too. I’ve heard of the first book you mentioned, but not the second. Will check them both out.
This is such a wonderful post! It’s so important to recognize all of the (easy) things we can do to influence a better, grump-free day! Thank you for writing!
Thanks – it really doesn’t take much. And I can’t say that I am great at always remembering to implement them, but when I do, they work every time!