In my high-school/college years, whenever I got into a funk, I would get in the car, roll down the windows, and drive…  usually to the beach.  Just getting away gave me a mental break.  Being at the beach gave me space and peace.  And I think there is something about nature that reminds us about the big picture (“the forest through the trees”), and leads me to prayer.  These days, it is not so easy to just hop in the car and head to the beach.  With a toddler and a preschooler, the preparations and aftermath of a day-trip to the coast are enough to tip the scales from “relaxing” to (let’s call it) “adventure.”

Today has been one of those days when I wished for a game-changer.  The weather has been cloudy and gloomy, and a certain toddler’s attitude was like a puddle of mud, reflecting those clouds.  It’s hard for me not to get dragged down into the bad attitude puddle as well.  Usually, that is the point at which I put on some music and declare Dance Party Time.  But I just wasn’t feeling it today.

I thought of the time I took the kids out for ice cream at bedtime.  Dan was working out of town, and I met some friends for dinner at a restaurant.  You guys know what “out for dinner” is like with a 1-to-2 ratio, right?  None of us ate much, and I’m pretty sure I spent more calories trying to keep the kids quiet/happy/eating/not-climbing-on-the-table than I actually consumed.  So, instead of going home for bath and bedtime, we stopped at the ice cream shop first.  It seems counter-intuitive to put another rung on the ladder between “now” and bedtime, and add sugar to the equation.  But it was perfect.  The kids ran around in the glow of the sunset, and I got an ice cream cone (with sprinkles) all to myself.

When the weather is nice, a playground (or even just the backyard) can be a game-changer.  And obviously, ice cream cannot always be the go-to game-changer.  Some days we pull the shades down in one of the bedrooms and play with flashlights.  Or bring out a special toy we haven’t played with in a long time (like a tent).  And of course, there is the Dance Party.

I love being a Mom.  Even on the bad-attitude, nothing-went-according-to-plan, two-steps-back kind of days, there is nothing else I would rather do, no place I would rather be.  But some days, it’s good to have a game-changer up your sleeve.

What’s your Game-Changer?


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