I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked how I can survive motherhood despite my anxiety. Well, it’s time for some real-life truth that I think (hope) most of you moms can relate to. Imagine with me if you will the day that you are awoken by your three-year-old pouncing on your bed screaming in your face that they want breakfast.
You groggily sit up, look at the clock and realize you’re late. You curtly hurry them along, throw together some cereal, or toss a pastry their way before rushing to get to the shower. On your way you realize there are no clean towels put away in the closet.
You go to get one from the dryer only to hear your child yelling, “Mommy!!! Mommy!!!” At the top of his/her lungs. Knowing someone is dying, you take off at super speed only to find out that their spoon fell on the floor.
After calming your beating heart, you continue hurrying throughout the morning routine to get everyone into the car. You shower, get dressed, feed the baby and then feel a sudden warmth on your lap. It doesn’t take long before you realize feeding the baby before changing him wasn’t the best idea.
The brown stain on your newly laundered clothes are a good reminder that you probably should’ve moved up a diaper size a few days or even weeks ago. You get changed, begin to head out the door and hear the all too familiar sound of spit up all over your blouse. Yep, that’s right, another wardrobe change.
Motherhood and Anxiety
Now, this may (or may not) be a little exaggerated, but I think most moms can relate with at least some of this, right? The feelings of panic of being late, the fear of something being wrong with your child, the guilt of being behind on housework, of being harsh with your children, of feeling like a complete and total failure and as though it’s all your fault.
If you’ve looked around my blog a bit you’ve probably noticed that I am a stay at home mom of four young girls. Currently, the oldest is six and the baby is a little over a year old. For a person who suffers from anxiety and depression, this has CERTAINLY presented a few challenges.
That being said, thanks to some amazing advice, some help from family, and an amazing husband, we have made it work. Sure, there has been more than once where I’ve crawled under the covers and vowed to never show my face again. But I’ve ventured out and regained control eventually. And guess what? You can too.
While raising small kids will, in my opinion, always involve a certain degree of chaos, it can also be an amazingly wonderful experience. Sure, you’ll be stressed at times, but there are a few things I have learned along my short journey into parenthood that help to minimize the stress, the anxiety, the guilt, and the depression and help me to enjoy my kids, my role, and my life.
While I’m sure not all will apply to you, I’d encourage you to consider these four tips for moms and give them a try. Let me know in the comments how they work out for you.
1. Routine is Key
Now, I am NOT an organized person. I am a person who likes to organize but doesn’t like to keep the organization. That being said, my husband, my kids, and I all realize that when I can stick to somewhat of a routine, life goes smoother and I am much happier.
Ultimately, everyone has their own priorities and duties so I am not going to share my exact routine with you as I strongly suggest you develop your own. But just for a few starting thoughts, these are the most important aspects of my routine.
- Waking before everyone else.
- Scheduled meal times (and feeding times for babies)
- Cleaning for 30 minutes after each meal.
- Mid-day quiet/nap time.
- Scheduled bedtime for kids.
- Regular bedtime for me.
2. Get Outside
I don’t care if it’s -10 degrees Fahrenheit or if it’s 120 degrees. I can’t function without fresh air. For me personally, I was blessed with an amazing father-in-law who bought me a front porch swing. It is my safe zone. I can hear the birds, see the swaying trees, and escape the craziness of the house. Even better, it faces the kids play area, so they can play happily and I can have a few moments of quiet to soak up the beauty of nature.
3. Mid-Day Quiet Time
I know, I know, I already mentioned quiet time in number one. But I had to make this one a whole point on its own (in fact, I actually made it a whole blog post). But anyways… Mid-Day Quiet Time is my lifeline. I don’t care how it has to be achieved.
If you have to set the kids in front of the TV for 45 minutes for you to sit and soak up the silence from another room (or your porch swing), DO IT. NO REGRETS. If they’re safe, take a few moments to just breathe. Don’t do housework. Don’t cloud your mind. Just breathe.
“Laugh” is a simple word, but it’s important, especially if you’re a mom. This one is good for you, but it’s even better for your family. They NEED to see you having fun, even if it takes everything in you. Somehow, someway, find a way to laugh with your family each and every day.
If during the day you find yourself anxious, discouraged, depressed, or upset and you feel like you just can’t get a hold of yourself, find a way to laugh.
I do want to say this will look different for every person, every family, every lifestyle. For me, my guaranteed laughter time is right before the kids go to bed. Everyone lays down and I sing to them the song, “Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen” as I run between the beds every few words and tickle a different child. It’s a way we can end the day on a happy, silly, goofy note, and everyone knows no matter how rough of a day it’s been, there’s always a way to laugh.