6 Ways to Save a Bad Parenting Day

Mighty Mommy shares six strategies to help you rally when your household is in a funk.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #466

a woman having a stressful, bad parenting day

For most of my life—from childhood through to college and on to new careers—I was not what you would call a morning person. In fact I was the exact opposite. If I could choose to lollygag well into the morning hours without it having a negative effect on my day I would without hesitation. Besides, I made up for it at the end of the day when I'd be extra productive. The term “night owl” definitely captures me perfectly because not only do I function at full throttle when darkness fills the air, my creativity seems to soar freely and any tension I build up throughout the day slips away as I enjoy the peaceful hours that take me into the wee parts of the morning.

That all changed, however, when I became the mother to our small army of eight. Long gone are the days of puttering the morning away. I now have no choice but to rise and shine with the roosters to survive in order to have the best possible chance at crafting a successful day for my family.

I’ve learned a lot over the past twenty years as a parent (including stuff I never knew would be so pivotal, such as how to detangle long locks of a young daughter’s hair, or how to effectively remove dog poop from the bottom of a kid’s shoes ten-minutes before the school bus comes), but the lesson that has made the biggest impact and truly served me well is this: being prepared and organized at the beginning of your family’s day is key to how the entire day will play out.

As organized as I’d like to think I was when my kids were in their toddler and grade-school days, there were still plenty of times when our household would be in a complete funk. It only takes one kid out of the bunch to stir the pot for the rest of us. When this happens you don’t have to fall victim to allowing the rest of your day to be ruined. Instead, here are Mighty Mommy’s 6 tips for salvaging a bad parenting day.

  1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
  2. Breathe
  3. Course Correct Quickly
  4. Choose Positive Background Noise
  5. Offer to Help
  6. Don’t Be a Repeat Offender 

Here’s a closer look at each of these tips.

1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

In 1988, singer Bobby McFerrin released a catchy little tune, "Don’t Worry, Be Happy." Ok, so some people were not as infatuated with this song as I was, but regardless of whether you liked the snazzy melody, the message was terrific. You may recall the opening of the song,

"Here's a little song I wrote You might want to sing it note for note Don't worry, be happy In every life we have some trouble But when you worry you make it double Don't worry, be happy Don't worry, be happy now"

When you see that your morning isn't going as planned—in fact, it’s just plain awful—keep in mind that worrying and fretting about it is not going to help. Our kids take their emotional cues from us, so if your day is unraveling at warp speed and you spiral downward with it, you’re only adding fuel to the fire which in turn sends the message to your kids that having a bad day invites permission to behave badly. Turn bad energy around by spreading sunshine rather than doom and gloom.

2. Breathe

One of the first things I do to rally the troops in our home when things are chaotic and frenzied is to remind everyone to stop and breathe. I used to downplay the effects that a change of breath could have on a person until I delivered my babies. When I focused on my breathing, it certainly didn’t take the pain away, but it absolutely centered me and helped me to remain calm. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) also touts taking deep breaths as a way to relax and relieve stress. Dr. Herbert Benson, AIS founding trustee, believes that breathing is a “super stress buster” and a technique that is useful for both adults and kids.

Regardless of whether you all got up on the wrong side of the bed or are feeling harried right before dinner, get into the habit of taking a few slow, deep breaths and then continue on with the task at hand.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.