I’m sure you’ll agree with me that being a mother can be pretty hard sometimes. It doesn’t really matter if you have one child, twins or five children. Each one of us has days when we feel on the edge.
The “newer” the motherhood is, the more frequent and intense this feeling is. In the very beginning, it can occur on a daily basis. In my experience, as children grow, the feeling of despair reduces. However, there are still days when we want to lock ourselves between four walls and scream.
Don’t worry, it happens in every household. I have two one-year-old rascals at home, and I often have enough after only a few minutes spent with them. Let’s take, for example, the process of learning to eat with a spoon. It usually seems promising at first but, after a few minutes, the meal flies all over the place. On top of that, they start to scream and touch with their dirty hands everything where the bibs don’t reach. My attempts therefore sometimes end up with resignation, and I simply feed them. I’m sure you know this too… When putting the shoes on takes 10 minutes, when the changing turns into a wrestle, when one child throws himself on the floor (for no reason, just for fun) while the other spreads baby cream across his whole body… I believe something like this would turn even Freud’s psyche inside out.
However, the worst is the baby’s cry. Such a “temporary” cry when kids are on the range between being babies and children. I believe they use crying to actually talk to me. Most of the time I know what they want to say, but sometimes it really is impossible. This is probably the most frustrating feeling. When my child (or even better, when both children at the same time) for a long time and constantly cries and there is nothing that would settle him. This feels like someone drilling with a gigantic drill directly into my brain, which often results in anxiety or subtle symptoms of depression. When Yaw finally returns from work on a day like this, I just silently hand the children over for his shift and I sit down in the garden where I just stare into space and listen to the silence.
Sometimes, children don’t need to go to the extreme for us to feel depressed. Sometimes it can be just tiredness or a bad morning that makes every little deed or sound of our children seem many times worse than it actually is. This is absolutely fine, too. Just as children have “their days”, so do we.
Every woman tries to get through the situation using her own ways. Some meditate, some scream, some count to ten, some whack the pillow… All these (and many other) methods are fine as long as they make you feel relieved, you can channel that energy and no one gets hurt :).
It’s true that those really extremely difficult days occur less and less often, however, when they come, they come. During the first year with my boys, I gradually discovered a few methods that helped (and still help) me when I feel on the edge. Which of them do I consider the most effective?
1. Picture your children in the future
I like to picture my boys as teenagers or adults. What are they going to be like? What is their life going to be like? What will they love? What will they fear? Are they going to be good parents? Questions like this help me realise the importance of my role as a mother. A mother affects who her children become to a great extent. She shapes their personalities, values, opinions, and attitudes from the very beginning. Being a mother is a huge responsibility and I remember that every time I tend to forget about it ;).
2. Realise they won’t be this small forever
When I feel the day is endless, I remember the sentence I heard from probably every mum I know or have met: “Enjoy them while they’re this small.” It’s true that initially, this sentence tended to raise my blood pressure as it’s like advising someone in pain to actually enjoy it. However, when I gave it a thought, I realised that every moment with the kids is really unique and temporary. When you have a difficult day, try to imagine your child in one month’s time, two month’s time, one year’s time… Remember you won’t hold him in your arms anymore. He will no longer need you 24 hours a day. Dive deep into the present and try to remember every movement, sound, and touch of your baby. Like when people remember good old times in the movies :).
3. Stop trying to be perfect
Every mother wants the best for her child, however, we often get it mixed up with a desire for perfection. If you feel it’s too much for you, stop and relax. Your child will survive a while without you. You don’t have to give him 100% of your time. Make sure he is safe and have a cup of tea. Or tidy the house – cleaning turned out to be a great brain reboot for me.
If you need any help, ask for it. It took me a while to realise that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength. You are not a superhero, and a mother’s role sometimes requires more than two hands. Feel free to ask your loved ones to pop in the store or watch your children while you go for a walk. Don’t worry, you will still be a good mother :). Also, don’t worry you are bothering anyone. People are flattered when asked for a help, it shows how important you feel about trusting them in times of need.
Any kind of exercise works as a very powerful therapy, both in a short and long term. Even 10 minutes of exercising can do real miracles. It cleans up your mind and helps you to gain more energy. To me, a physical exercise is one of the most significant helpers along my postnatal depression journey. Up until today I regularly go to the gym and I always get back with a completely rebooted, refreshed and balanced mind.
5. Meditate or practice yoga
For those who do not like “classic” sports or want to expand it by a mental dimension, there is nothing better than meditation or yoga. When I practice 10 minutes of yoga in the morning, I immediately feel relaxed and feel like I can get on with anything on that day has in store. Meditation has a similar effect, even though it requires a little more training.
6. Appreciate yourself as a mother
How often do you appreciate yourself for what you do every day? Children, household, partner… Mother’s job is the hardest job in the world, and yet the least appreciated by mothers themselves. Before you go to sleep, try to go through your mind and the events of that day and appreciate yourself for all the so-called ‘little things’ that you handled on that day. And believe me, there was plenty of them. Is your child sleeping each night in a clean cot? Amazing!
7. Make yourself happy
Do what you like, go shopping, go for a manicure, plan something you enjoy… A reward like this will subconsciously make you happy whenever you need it. Not to mention how much you deserve it ;).
If not always affordable may be a lunch around a friend’s place where a partner or loved one can keep an eye on the children to give you a break. It just allows you some space to be yourself without worrying about little ones.
8. Look at the old photos of your children
This works miraculously. When the boys sleep, I often go through their older pictures and it immediately makes me forget about everything bad. Photos and videos erase everything negative.
I hope my “helping canes” will help you. I know how frustrating the difficult days can be and how they can turn us inside out. And not just us. It’s true that each of us may find something else that works, but at the end of the day, we all need the same result ;).
What works for you? What would you add to my list? 🙂