Now I really, truly get this feeling. I’ve totally been there. Believe me I have. I understand what it’s like when you have very little time to yourself, when you’re finding it hard to function on a day to day basis but you feel guilty and ashamed to admit your feelings.
You’re exhausted and feel on the edge most of the time. Your not enjoying parenting and you feel like your existence revolves around sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums and your cluttered house. Your ‘head’s a shed’ and you feel like walking away. You’re on your knees physically and mentally and find this parenting thing way harder than you ever imagined.
You feel like everything you do isn’t good enough, you just can’t keep up with the constant demands and you don’t know where to turn. There’s just no more room inside your head to think straight and there seems to be no end in sight.
What the hell is wrong with you? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
Well, I’ll tell you what’s wrong. You’re emotionally drained, your reserves are low or you’re running on empty. You’re not looking after your emotional health. Being a good mummy doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your own needs before your child’s. That doesn’t make you a better mummy, in fact it makes you a stressed out and emotionally drained mummy who can’t meet the needs of her little one. You can’t give from an empty vessel.
So just in-case you’re wondering – what exactly is ’emotional health?’
You emotional health is how you cope and deal with stress, it’s how you think, feel, behave, react and adjust to change and meet the demands of everyday life.
The thing is, looking after your emotional health and well-being isn’t rocket science it’s just easy to slip into not doing it because as mums we always put ourselves last. But something has to give. You simply can’t meet the demands of a family without having time to look after yourself. So, when you’re on your knees, you feel emotionally drained, sad, fed up, alone, sometimes desperate and often bloody shit these six things will help you move on and build some emotional resiliance.
1. Firstly, recognise it’s normal to need time out.
We all get caught up in life from time to time. That normal ‘hum drum’ day to day stuff that can sometimes way us down if we’re not careful. Particularly as parents when we are juggling so many balls, we often put ourselves at the back of the queue. That’s normal, that’s how it is as a mum right? Yeh, that’s about it BUT you need to be recognising when you’ve had enough, when your emotions are getting the better of you. When you no longer feel like you can cope. When those ‘balls you are juggling’ are going to come crashing down to the ground. It’s so very easy to underestimate the responsibilities you have as a mummy. You can’t keep on giving without looking after yourself. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
2. Acknowledge and recognise your feelings, they matter.
No one manages all the time. We all have different worries and hurdles to get over along our parenting journey. Sometimes our worries and stresses can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s not anything BIG but a number of ‘little’ things that get on top of us and weigh us down. Sometimes these ‘little’ things keep piling up and up. Now generally, as a rule these ‘little’ things are manageable, but when a number of little things build up and the pressure keeps mounting and your still juggling those balls and not recognising or acknowledging those feelings, that’s when things become difficult to parent well and enjoy your children. Dealing with day to day stuff and small children and their emotions takes your time and energy, you can’t do that effectively if you are stressed, worried or anxious. Acknowledge those feelings it’s time to look after yourself.
3. Work out what is bothering you, what is it that you need to do?
Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings its time to stop ignoring them and work out what is really bothering you? Pin pointing what is wrong, what needs to change. That’s the first step to addressing and solving those little worries big or small. Just ‘off loading’ to a family member or friend who might understand how you feel or be able to put things in perspective for you is half of the battle. When we’re emotionally depleted we don’t often see things clearly, our views can be dis-stored. By sharing the problem you may come away with a totally different perspective on your problems and feel heaps better for just talking and acknowledging what’s going on in your head.
4. Never Compare your life to someone else’s.
You might often think that others have it just so. That they are keeping all ‘their balls’ up in the air just fine. You may wonder why they are coping and you’re not. Very often parents dare not say how they really feel. Particularly new parents. You see society plays a huge part in painting this very rosy picture of parenting and how wonderful it is. AND yes it is BUT it can also be SHIT, CHALLENGING, LONELY, ISOLATING AND HARD to name but a few things.
Those who portray that they are managing all the time are ‘fibbing’. They’re not being true to themselves or those around them. AND even if they are managing certain things that you aren’t, their circumstances will be completely different I can guarantee it. They might have lots of family support. They might have less financial stressors. They many have household support such as a nanny, or ship washing and ironing out every week and have a cleaner. Their child might sleep through the night, or they may get the opportunity for couple time and date nights. Never ever compare yourself and feel bad, because so many things affect how we manage and adjust as parents. These little things make all the difference.
Just bear in mind that as a parent you have embarked on one of the most MAJOR life transitions you will probably ever experience. Your life has been turned upside down, no part of it is left unchanged. It’s blooming NORMAL to struggle sometimes, to feel that you can’t always manage, that you’re not cut out for parenthood.
The problem arises when you are actually feeling negative and cynical about your life all the time. When your mood never lifts, when you feel angry and unable to cope most of the time. If you’re feeling like this it’s time to take drastic action and make sure you are putting your own needs first. See the next step.
5. Work on building your resilience tool kit.
Learn to relax. Appreciate what helps you to unwind and calm down after a stressful situation or day. Work on what your triggers are and try to put things in place to deal with or even avoid those situations. Explore relaxation techniques such as visualisation or meditation. Perhaps getting out for a walk to clear your head works for you or a bath away from everyone with a few candles, scents and music. Reflect on situations, think about how you handled them and what you could have done to improve or handle things differently. This website has some great ideas on managing stress. http://www.stressbusting.co.uk/treatments/
Go easy on yourself. You’re doing a grand job. Parenting is a challenge with many turns and curves along the way. As always, get in touch if you need help.