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Turn a Bad Day Around


Not feeling like Mary Poppins today? Whether you work or stay at home, you're bound to have days alone with your baby that start off bad and quickly get worse. When it happens, first remind yourself that you can't do it all perfectly and won't always be in a good mood, says psychologist Patricia Farrell, Ph.D., author of How to Be Your Own Therapist. "Life isn't a straight highway  -- your baby needs to learn this, too." Then try a few of the following solutions to U-turn a day that's headed south.

When you're exhausted...

If you were up all hours with a crying baby, stop burning the candle at both ends and take it easy today.

Fake some floor time Do as many activities as you can while lying down next to your baby as she plays, suggests Paige Babcock, a mom of two in New Milford, Connecticut. Your baby will enjoy having you nearby as she plays with a toy or rattle, and you'll sneak in some rest.

Meter your java dose "Having more or less than your usual amount of coffee can lead to irritability and extreme fatigue," says Cynthia Sass, R.D., national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and coauthor of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy.

Enforce naptime for everyone Sure, you're supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps, but giving up your only time to check e-mail can be a tough sacrifice. Just for today, try to take a nap  -- you'll probably surprise yourself by dozing off.

Stop skipping meals Even the simplest of lunches  -- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich  -- can be an afternoon mood-booster. Made with whole-grain bread using fruit spread, it supplies complex carbohydrates that boost brain serotonin levels and help you feel happier and more focused, according to Andrew Packard, M.D., author of The Packard Weight Health Plan.

Slash the to-do list Instead of feeling badly that you're too tired to get anything done, give yourself an extension on everything that doesn't need to be done immediately.

Have a pajama day Hanging out in your jammies isn't just comfortable, it's a great opportunity to connect with your inner child, says Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., an L.A.-based psychologist.

Increase your water intake Dehydration can cause headache and exhaustion, leaving you feeling even more tired than you already are. Aim to drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Sleep tweak Move everyone's bedtime earlier tonight. "Your baby will likely sleep until the same time tomorrow, and you'll all feel refreshed," says sleep expert Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia and the author of Sleeping Through the Night.

Save sweets for last There's nothing wrong with having a treat, but eating sugary foods (like soda, brownies, candy, or even a large glass of juice) on an empty stomach can cause a huge energy crash, says Sass.

Colleen Moriarty is the author of Shortcuts to Sexy Abs: 337 Ways to Trim, Tone, Camouflage and Beautify and a mother of two.