How do you bounce back after an off-day?

We’ve all had off-days as parents. You’re short on time, patience, energy, or all of the above. There’s no shame in having off-days. We can’t be 100% all of the time.

That being said, sometimes it can be hard to rally after having an off-day – or even an off-afternoon on a weekend. To help you through this, we’ve pulled together some sage advice from our trusted Dad Community.

Acknowledge. The first step is acknowledging that you had an off-day and pinpointing what the contributing factors were. We’re going to have bad days in the future, but we’re doomed to have them much more often if we don’t recognize our triggers and try to find ways to limit them.

Apologize. All things considered, apologizing for being off was the biggest piece of advice dads had. Gone are the days when dads reflexively fell back on some “real men don’t (fill in the blank with some outdated, probably offensive slogan”. Tell your kids you’re sorry. Tell them you had an off-day. Tell them how it’s okay to have those days and that every mistake is a chance to learn and do better. Being honest will also help them when they have their own off-days.

Give yourself space. Take a moment for yourself. Get outside for some fresh air or a walk. Dads mentioned that they’ll listen to a podcast or play a video game. What you do doesn’t matter so much as doing something that will take you out of the current space and give you time to regroup.

Forgive yourself. Dad guilt will eat you alive if you don’t learn to let go. Just like in sports, you need to have a short memory when it comes to off-days. After you’ve apologized, move forward. It won’t do you (or your kids) any good to stay in that headspace. Recognizing that you haven’t done your best means you care enough to do better.

Ice cream. When all else fails, take your kids out for some ice cream. Sometimes, the best way to get past a bad moment is to create a better one to replace it.

One parting analogy from one of our Dad contributors:

“I see parenting as being like a pitcher. Some days you just don’t have the stuff. There are days you’re a starter, expected to go deep into the game. Other times you’re a middle reliever, coming in to keep things under control. Sometimes you’re the closer, coming in to end the night and get kiddos to bed. You can blow a game in any of those slots. But you know what coaches tell pitchers? Focus on the next game. Just focus on doing better tomorrow.”

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