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Hello Grumpy Day!

It’s inevitable that Grumpy Day is going to strike at some point. What is Grumpy Day I hear you ask? Not as fun as Christmas, let me tell you!

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark. Joel's photograph was featured in an article called "Why is Wombat Poop Cubed". I kid you not.

Grumpy Day is the kind of hump day that comes with too much time in isolation. At some point, everyone encounters Grumpy Day. You do, your partner does, and according to the parents I’ve spoken to in Clunes this last week, your kids do too.

Post-toddler tantrums, feigned helplessness, outright refusal to do anything at all, yelling or just a complete physical or emotional withdrawal - are all signs your child (or you!) may have hit their threshold.

So when your child hits their Grumpy Day, what can you do to help ease them through it (and everyone around them in this suddenly-too-small-house)?

  • Prioritise. Now is not the time to “have it all” so lower expectations and prioritise. If that means eating breakfast and getting out for a bike ride, instead of making your child sit through a 45 minute maths lesson that could be done at a later time, then do that.

  • Be calm. Haha! Just kidding. Most people are way past deep breathing their way past frustrating moments. But there are ways to find your happy place. 80’s music. Dad jokes. You name it. People are resorting to it.

  • Cut everyone a break (especially yourself). Schedule time for fun activities between lessons to head off any feelings of frustration before they really take hold. Even if it’s just bouncing on the trampoline, running up the street or hitting a ball against the wall outside for a few minutes.

  • Find humour. Share your missteps and purported teaching efforts with others who can appreciate the humour and total absurdity of the whole situation. Like a local mum who shared with friends the story of her youngster who watched a wombat video as part of his lesson. Together they painstakingly constructed a sentence. Yet in the time it took her to turn her head, the sentence “A wombat digs holes…” turned into “...and poos.” Her response? Only a term ago he wouldn’t have even known how to write those words, let alone spell them!

  • Ask for help. Video call your best mate; phone your mum; email your child’s teacher. Doesn’t matter how you do it, when those feelings of anger and frustration start to rise, reach out for help with the problem you’re encountering.

  • Celebrate your victories. No success is too small to celebrate at times of stress, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. Your child finished a writing activity during the day? High fives! Members of your household were dressed before midday? Kudos! Cooked a meal? Read two pages of a book? Finished a coffee while still warm? Wrote a work email without being interrupted? All things to be celebrated.

  • Expect to feel fed up. Knowing everyone will encounter their own form of Grumpy Day actually helps a lot in alleviating and normalising the anger.

We’re all doing the best we can with what emotional resources we have. Embrace Grumpy Day and try to help your child channel their anger while following the above tips to mitigate these big feelings.

IN RESPONSE TO: "The novelty is wearing off! Are we the only family that is getting grumpy?"

AUTHOR: Natasha Poynton. Writer and Chief Wrangler of three primary school aged kids. c2020

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