Happiness 911 (or what to do when your child takes crappy naps)

Photo courtesy of AustinEventPhotographers.com

Good morning and happy Friday!

Our weekend began early as we drove to Houston last night to celebrate Easter weekend (and my favorite sister’s birthday) with my family.  I am feeling very happy as we have lots to look forward to this weekend, but as I mentioned on Monday, the last couple of weeks have been a little rough.

It’s a little sad how much my current happiness depends on how well the little buddy naps, but he is seriously a different person when he doesn’t get enough sleep.  He actually has been falling asleep very easily for naps, just only staying asleep for 35 minutes and waking up still tired.  I’m wondering if he’s teething, but I’m not really sure.  Regardless, when he doesn’t nap well, it means:

1) There’s no break in the day

2) He is GRUMPY and requires a lot more attention and entertainment from me to keep it together

3) It’s hard to go do things due to the aforementioned grumpiness

4) I feel like I’m failing at life

However, naps or no naps, I realize I’m so lucky to have him and I want to enjoy this time of life as much as I can.

I know that I’m in control of my own happiness, and each morning I tell myself it will be a good day.  Still, I found myself losing it a little bit, and needed to take some more concrete action.  This is inspired by my favorite podcast (forgive me if I mention this obsessively, but it really is that good!), Happier, by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.

In this episode, Gretchen talks about having a “happiness 911” song, which of course is just what it sounds like – a song you can listen to to instantly boost your mood when you need it.  Even better, you can search for the happiness 911 playlist on Spotify, where listeners’ happiness 911 songs have been compiled.  There is naturally a huge range in the type of songs included but, while I don’t like every song, it definitely gives my mood a boost.

This got me thinking, what are some other little things I can do to instantly boost my mood?  I’ve written out a list and am going to run through it whenever I feel my optimism slipping.  Sometimes just having a list / plan makes me feel better…I’m a little type A.

Here is my list so far, but I’d love to add to it so please share what little things make you happy / give you a mood boost!

  1. Put on music – sometimes I really do listen to the happiness 911 playlist, sometimes I play Bob Marley (or Moana…), anything that makes me happy, bonus if I know the words and can sing along with no one but my grumpy baby to hear me 🙂
  2. Light a candle – I can at least pretend to be zen by lighting a favorite candle.

    Story Time Shenanigans
  3. Take pictures – Getting out the real camera and having a mini photo shoot helps me focus on the moment instead of running through a list in my head of all of the things I’m doing wrong that are leading to crappy naps.  Also, taking pictures helps me search for the beautiful parts of even tough days.  This obviously only works if he’s minimally grumpy and not on the verge of losing it.  I’m not sitting there snapping pics while my baby cries like a detached news reporter.
  4. Fake it ’til you make it – It is too easy (for me at least) to give into the grumps and just hang on until the next nap time, but I know that everyone will be happier if I put in more effort and try to cheer up the little guy.  For us, this usually involves singing songs with him, having a dance party, or getting out his favorite scarf that I save for emergencies and playing silly games with it.  This takes more energy than I sometimes feel like I have, but almost always helps!
  5. Give into the grumps – opposite of #3, if I’ve tried everything, I need to accept that he is just going to be whiny for a little while, it’s because he is tired, and there is sometimes nothing I can do about it.  Just as only I can make myself happy, I can’t force anyone else to be happy, even if that someone is the size of a teddy bear.
  6. Go outside – I love to go for walks.  If James is rested and in a good mood, we can go for around an hour and he is fine with it, but if he’s in a bad mood, even short walks can send him over the edge.  However, I can always go sit with him in the backyard for a few minutes or go for a “nature walk” around the yard and let him examine different trees and flowers.  This puts us both in a better mood!
  7. Get out of the house – It is much harder to get out and do things when the little guy is grumpy because, well, he remains grumpy while we’re out and this stresses me out.  However, getting out for even just thirty minutes can make a big difference in the day.  I can take him to the grocery store and get a treat (for me), take him to Starbucks and get a fix, or take him to the bookstore and just look around.  The key here, for us, is avoiding anything that will take too long or where the expectations are too high – I’m not going to take him anywhere I really want to stay for more than 15-20 minutes when he’s over-tired.
  8. Call my mom – If it’s been a rough day, talking to my mom on the phone in the late afternoon while the little guy plays never fails to boost my mood.
  9. Go for a short, fast (for me) run – I have a treadmill in the garage and sometimes completing a short, speedy run during his nap time makes me feel like myself and re-energizes me.
  10. Pour a glass of wine the size of my baby – I kid, I kid.  But looking forward to a glass of wine or a beer with my husband at the end of the day can be so relaxing if it’s been a rough one.  Fortunately, James now reliably goes from bedtime to 4-5 AM without nursing, so I can do this without stress.

James actually took a great nap yesterday and was in a good mood all day so fingers crossed this lasts!

I would love to add to this list.  What are some little things you do when you’re having an off day or need a boost?

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  1. Sorry to hear you’ve been having a rough time 🙁 I love your list of happiness tips though. Especially numbers 4, 6, 8, and 10. I live by those things when I’m having a bad day! Hope you guys have a great weekend and everyone gets some rest <3

  2. The naps can get finicky at various ages, I’ve learned. Even a “great napper” can fall off for a few days. He will come around to napping regularly again. It just takes time and tons of patience. James will come around when you least expect it!

    1. Thanks Laura!! I really appreciate the encouragement 🙂 It just makes me feel like I must be doing something wrong, but I can’t force him to sleep lol. Hopefully his naps will be back to normal this week!

  3. Oh gosh, baby naps. Those were such a struggle for L and I remember calling my mom sobbing more days then not because he would only nap while nursing or in the car. I never had a break for about 5 months and it was so hard! But I barely remember it now!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m glad to know I’m not alone 🙂 It’s true, I know this challenge will be such a short blip in the long run, I just need to remember that.

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