Improving My Bad Mood

What do you do when you're stuck in bad mood mode? Pull yourself out by your bootstraps and adjust your attitude. Click for real-mom tips on how to deal.

They say having a child makes you feel young again. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m back at 21.

“Hey,” you say. “That’s a good thing!”


I’m gonna come right out and admit it: These past few weeks, I have been in a bad mood. Work stayed busy pretty much throughout the holidays. I came down with the creeping crud just in time for New Years. Our babysitter had a death in the family, which necessitated some juggling, and my toddler is old enough to have figured out how to push all of my buttons—both to charm me and to drive me up a wall. About a week ago, I blew up at my sister when she called to ask about ballet tickets. My husband got the same treatment for doing little more than coming up from the basement and smiling at me. I would have chalked up the irritability to run-of-the-mill stress, except that the chronic, brain-buzzing, just-this-side-of-rational pissiness felt strangely familiar.

I thought about it and realized that this is how I used to feel in college, back before I learned how to deal better with life. I remember juggling long hours as an editor at the daily paper with school work, and a social life that included a boyfriend who was a great guy, just not great for me. I remember feeling resentful of everything for no good reason, overwhelmed in general, and prone to blowing little things out of proportion — “pissy” is the best way to describe it. And I remember not liking myself very much. I thought I’d grown up since then. Even when my daughter was an infant and I worked full time, I prided myself on being relatively “zen.” So you can imagine how disconcerting it’s been to look in the mirror lately and see my 21-year-old self scowling back.

Being a parent, I have found, brings out the best, most giving parts of yourself. It also is incredibly humbling. All the less-than-wonderful aspects of your personality that you thought you’d banished come barging back when you’re tired and can’t crawl into a hole because somebody little and dearly beloved is relying on you. I’m sure moms who stay at home struggle with the same kind of thing, and I suspect I’d go through dark periods even if I didn’t have an office job.

The good news is that, slowly but surely, my good mood is returning. It helps to not be sick. It also helped to have a workload chat with my boss and get a better feel for how to get things done. My daughter has been really, really sweet this week, and that made a difference, too. But I’m still looking for ways to make that old pissiness go away for good. I may have been cuter when I was 21, but I sure wasn’t happier.

What about it, moms? How do you keep your spirits up when you mood needs improving? And what behaviors from your past have unexpectedly come back to haunt you now that you’re a mom? Post some advice, or just a bit of commiseration. I sure could use it!

What do you do when you're stuck in bad mood mode? Pull yourself out by your bootstraps and adjust your attitude. Click for real-mom tips on how to deal.

7 thoughts on “Improving My Bad Mood

  1. I recently started a stint as a SAHM. You are right, the kids can really push your buttons. I find that my patience level can be at an all time low and out comes The Mean Lady. She is not polite, rational, sweet or sympathetic. She is rude, evil and says things she later regrets.

    Alas, I think we all have a mean lady within us. And she usually comes out when we’re tired, overworked, sick or just over it all. Sometimes you just need a break, some more sleep, or for your husband to return from his 10 day out of town trip.

    Chin up! You’ll bounce back and the Pissy One? She’ll go into hibernation. At least until you’re sick, facing more work than can possibly get done, a husband who irritates you for no good reason and a child who looks at you and thinks, “How can I test her patience today?”

    It’s a roller coaster. Enjoy the ride.

  2. Sara, I could’ve written your post a week ago, and well, now. Starting about two weeks ago I was incredibly irritable–picking fights with friends, co-workers, Jason. I attributed to a combo of two things–not getting any sleep due to O’s teething and the return of my “friend” (even though I’m still bfing!). But now I’m better rested, my “friend” is almost gone, and I’m still being mean. I don’t know what’s up. I guess I’ll just try to enjoy the ride!

  3. Justice Fergie says:

    Hi Sara!

    Glad to have found your blog.

    Well, I have to say that instead of getting “pissy” I tend to have a meltdown, complete with real tears. What really is my saving grace is my hubby. When he sees me at my wit’s end, he pitches in above and beyond what his normal “duties” require. This helps a lot. I also have to re-evalute everything that I have going on in my life. It was hard but I recently quit my book club and a couple of professional organizations. It was just too much. And for me, spending time with girlfriends is a huge stress-reliever. So those are my tips!

    As for a trait that I had in college that’s come back since I’ve become a mom? That’s a hard one. I’ve gotta think about that…

    Thanks for visiting!

  4. I’ve been there several times..more times than I would like to remember. Sometimes I think my kids must think I’m the craziest person the way I’m impatient one minute and then try to be the most forgiving/loving mom the next. No great advice here…I just try to stop and take a deep breath…and remind myself that they are only 3 YO and 20 MO….and I am an over 30 YO.

  5. I take a little time for me-even if it’s only 30 mins reading a book, or stopping somewhere after work to browse or something. I need a “mental valve” once in awhile, otherwise I too turn into pissy pants.

  6. After a tough day, a glass of wine or a couple of cold beers usually improve my mood! 🙂

    Or if I’m on the edge and about to explode at any minute, I usually stick the kids on my husband, crank up the ipod and hit the pavement. Some high-paced walking helps me clear my head and release my aggravation.

  7. A really good cry helps me in times of desperation! Other than that, just taking a few minutes and putting everything on hold and getting on the floor and playing with my kids…works every time as corny as that sounds.

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