6 ideas for finding joy on rough days


There are rough days, and then there are ‘ruff’ days. You know what I’m talking about. ‘Ruff’ days are those days that have literally gone to the dogs.

The kids’ whines are operating full steam ahead, the laundry piles are developing lives of their own, and you’ve stopped hoping something will miraculously materialize in the fridge when you open it.

At my house, we call that a ‘ruff’ day.

Here are six simple ideas for shaking off the ‘ruff’ and finding joy in the moment.

1. Turn off the computer and TV!

Sometimes bad moods come from stagnation! I notice my kids can get sour really quick if I’ve had the TV on too long! It makes them brain dead! Unplug and do something together that doesn’t include looking at a screen, like playing a board game, making up stories together, or building a tent in the living room. Better yet, work on a service project together like baking treats for a neighbor and delivering them. Teaching kids that there is joy in serving others is half the battle against grumbling and complaining.

2. Turn on some music!

This suggestion comes from a mom of four who likes to throw down an impromptu dance party. Sometimes it’s just fun to act silly, plus the kids get to expend a little pent-up energy.

3. Get outside

It’s really amazing what fresh air can do for my kids’ attitudes (and my own). Particularly if you homeschool or you have preschoolers, the change of scenery can be helpful for everyone.

My boys love nature walks. We decorate paper bags and go on a treasure hunt in our backyard filling our bags with leaves, sticks, small stones, etc. Then we bring them back inside and incorporate our treasures into crafts. We also love to take some of our books and read outside on blankets. If you don’t have a yard, try taking a walk around the neighborhood, go the park, or have a picnic lunch.

4. Listen to your kids

Sometimes moms have to read between the lines. Grumpy, whinny kids often means my kids want my undivided attention. And while this isn’t always possible – especially if you have multiple kids – taking time to listen makes my own kids feel heard and loved.

That means stopping whatever I’m doing at the moment to make eye contact. That means asking good questions to draw out the understanding of their heart. That means giving hugs or kisses to ensure them I’ve understood their hearts on a matter.  (This is one I’m still working on by the way)

5. Take a cue from ‘Cinderelly’

I hit a goldmine when I discovered my preschoolers love to clean. And while I’m sure this will wear off at some point, I’m taking advantage of this phase of their life.

Obviously, this suggestion does not encourage child labor, but when I’m cleaning, I’ll give them small tasks like dusting with a clean rag, wiping toys down with wipes, 0r – if you’re not type A about streaks – using paper towels and a small spray bottle of water to ‘clean’ windows. They are engaged, happy, and get to experience the joys of teamwork to take care of  their things. This is what I call a ‘win/win.’ Now if I could just get them to enjoy picking up their toys!

6. Engage them in a new project.

My sister, Caroline, is the queen of having small activities on hand for ‘ruff’ days.  With sites like Pinterest, there is no shortage of inspiration for fun projects. (Here’s my preschool board for some ideas).

But this also means being intentional about preparing these activities in advance. Find a drawer or plastic bin where you can store up a few crafts or coloring pages for a rainy day. Have project pages already printed out.  Organize crafts in ziplock baggies or zipper pouches so you can grab them for quick access or when you’re on the go. I use this method a lot for doctor office visits or trips to the grocery store.

What do you do on ‘ruff’ days? Share your best tip for shaking the grumps and finding joy on rough days!

“For our heart is glad in him,
    because we trust in his holy name.”

Psalm 33:21

About melissa deming

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.