Mental Health Tips To Help You Through Motherhood
Being a parent is difficult. It is the most rewarding job that you’ll ever have, but that doesn’t make it easy. You are suddenly not in control of so much happening around you and it can be extremely overwhelming.
When you are a mother, there is “more feeling” all the time. You are happier than you’ve ever felt, more scared than you’ve ever felt, more frustrated than ever before, more joyous than ever before, and feel all of the other emotions on a higher level. It is a new way of existing that no one really talks about. You have to get used to the “new you.”
I’m not trying to imply that you are no longer yourself – that is not true. You are who you have always been regardless of having a child (try to remember that!), but trying to live within the new world of more emotion, less control, and likely lots of voices piping in with advice, it can be a challenge. Here are some tips for new moms as well as experienced moms to help you get through each day.
Try to Get Some Sleep
I know what you’re thinking – everyone wants to talk about sleep and they never seem to stop. Is the baby sleeping through the night? How many hours are you sleeping? Make sure to take a nap when your child naps! Just the line of questioning is enough to drive you a little over the edge.
That said, sleep is imperative to a healthy mental state. Our friends and family may want to change their tactics a bit, but the truth is that you need sleep just as much as your child does. Allowing your body to get proper rest will help to lower your stress level and leave you more refreshed for the new day.
I understand that this is much easier said that done. When the children go to sleep for the night, all you want is a minute to yourself. It’s time to throw on your favorite television show, hang out on Facebook and/or eat some ice cream. When they take a nap, you have to do laundry or clean the bathroom. I completely get it. And sometimes, you should absolutely do just that. But the other times during the week? Try to get some rest. Give yourself 10 minutes on social media and then go lay down. If you can’t actually fall asleep, try reading a book. Get your head out of life for a few minutes and you may doze off easier.
Praise Your Children – Often
But wait, isn’t this discussion about your mental health, not your children’s? You are absolutely correct. When you provide positive reinforcement to your children (or anyone around you), you are automatically thinking in a positive manner. You can’t help it! That doesn’t mean that Cinderella’s animal friends will come down and sing in a prairie around you, but it does give your brain positive information to work with.
On a parenting level, complimenting or praising your children brings a smile to their faces and allows them to have a moment where they can feel that they are being seen. In this busy world of work, media, chores, and other influences, it’s always a good thing to take a moment to really see your child – and let them know that they are being seen.
Make Time for Yourself
As parents, we always put ourselves last. There is nothing more important than making sure that our kids are well taken care of, and that their needs are met. But once their needs are met, you need meet your own.
This can be extremely hard to do as a parent, but it is vital for your sanity, so it becomes about the little things. If you are home all day with a baby, tell your partner that you need 15 minutes when they get back. Go to the bathroom with your favorite book, light a candle, close the door and lay down to read. I would suggest doing this in your bedroom, but since there is an unwritten rule that you leave people alone in the bathroom (unless you are two years old), this might be your best option.
If you have friends with kids, see if you can swap for an hour here or there. This Tuesday, you take both kids so that your friend can have an hour to themselves and next week it’s your turn. Is the baby little and you don’t want to leave them? Call the person who has said, “If you ever need any help” and invite them over for an hour to hold the baby. This will allow you to go in the other room and watch television, workout or go on social media, all while knowing that the baby is only a few feet away. Do what you can do, but make sure that you do it.
Get out of Your Head
Being a parent is just as much a job as any paid position. There are millions of things to remember, tons of things to do, many more concerns, and the big world out there that you can’t control. Because of all of this, it is easy to get into a mental spin.
It’s important to find ways to get out of your head. To stop worrying about the laundry and the nap schedule and just be. Really look at your child’s face. Really hear the way they laugh. Try to help yourself make an imprint of these things in your mind. The laundry will wait, but these moments really won’t. Things change, and you don’t want to miss them because you’ve been so stuck in the psychological whirlwind.
Take a Breath
I’m sure you’ve heard the old advice about counting to ten when you are frustrated or taking deep breaths. The reason this is old advice is because it is actually helpful.
When you are overwhelmed, stop where you are and take five deep breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth. When you change the way that you are breathing, you change the messages that are being sent to your brain. Your heart rate and muscles should relax a bit and hopefully you will feel the stress lower. You can do this multiple times throughout the day, but you won’t want to do it too many times in a row. That can have a negative physical impact.
Try to See the Glass Half Full
I know that it is hard. When you are dealing with the stress of each and every day feeling the same, never getting a break, nobody understanding what you are going through, it is really tough. Nobody warns you about these feelings, they just say that motherhood is the best thing ever. And it is. That doesn’t mean that it’s also not the hardest job ever – because it is. If no one in your life has ever said this to you, please hear it from me. Parenting is hard and I hear you. I am a parent and it can be really, really tough. But we are a part of a community of people who are going through the same thing. Other people might not talk about it, but they’ve been there. Other people may make their lives appear perfect, but they are not. Being a parent can be a very lonely experience that you are having within a sea of other people.
So what do you do about it? My best suggestion is to try to see the glass half full. See the sun when it comes out or the flowers starting to bloom. Try to appreciate the birds outside or even the mountains of snow while you are in a heated building. There are always good things, even if you have to hunt a little harder to find them. Is your child healthy? Do they respond to your voice or your smell? Those are beautiful things that I hope you can try to see. Even with the lack of sleep, little time for yourself and piles of laundry, there are so many things to be grateful for. Try to find them, they will help.
If you are looking to get a little further out of your head, try reading through my Mindfulness Meditation series. There are some excellent exercises designed to help improve your mood!