I’m going to open up a little more than I like and be vulnerable for a moment here. I hope it’s not PPD creeping up on me again, but all week the thought of just running away just sounded kind of nice. It’s mostly the stress of life finally getting to me, but if my thoughts might help another mom out there it’s worth it.
I do have a lot of stress though. Catching up on blogging, church responsibilities, my son recently being diagnosed with ASD, nursing a newborn constantly, the battle with never ending laundry and dishes, marriage and financial stress . . . you get the point. I know I’m not the only mom dealing with multiple stressors. I tried getting myself and the kids out of the house because normally that helps but I underestimated what a true feat it is to be alone with three children. The youngest is a nursling, the middle child has Autism and is minimally verbal and the oldest feels neglected because the other two require so much attention and has some pretty bad behaviors to seek additional attention. It seemed every time I tried to go out and do something nice for the kids it always ended in blood, sweat or tears.
Everywhere I turned I felt like a failure. I felt like I was failing my children by not giving them all the attention they required. I felt like a failure in every room of my house because there was clutter and crumbs for miles. I felt like a failure in my marriage because I can’t remember the last time we talked or connected. I felt like a failure out in the public when people would make judgements about my parenting or children’s behaviors. Worst of all I felt like I was failing myself because I couldn’t find time for me. It really is true you need to put on your own oxygen mask first, you need to keep your tank full. You do you.
So here are 11 Ideas that have helped me when I’m feeling overwhelmed
- Treat Yourself: Find a little sweet treat that makes you smile. Might I suggest Dr. Pepper, White Cherry Icee, Ice Cream Cone, Brownies, Cheesy Tots, Pretzel Bites. Whatever makes your stomach smile.
- Go for a Drive/Walk: Sometimes just the act of driving to clear my head can shake me out of a funk. Walking the isles of Target also has the same affect.
- Simply Smile: Find anything that makes you laugh or smile like a Youtube clip, Memes, or throwing yourself a dance party.
- Reach Out: Ask for help. It’s hard to swallow your pride or admit to an area of weakness but you’d be surprised how many people would love to help you if you only ask. Remember most people cannot read minds and moms are masters at masking their emotions.
- Special Activity: Do something you don’t always get to do like a girls lunch, going to a movie, bowling, paint pottery . . . you get the picture.
- Feel Fancy: Embrace the goddess you truly are. Buy yourself that flattering top, get a manicure, pedicure or massage, get your hair done, splurge on a house cleaner.
- Express Yourself: Try to label what your are feeling and open up to someone you trust like your partner, friends (in person or virtual), your mother or sister. They might be able to sympathize, validate and comfort you.
- Create something: Channel your emotions into a creative outlet. Try that pin you’ve always wanted to do, write a poem or blog, color that adult coloring book that’s been collecting dust.
- Lose Yourself a Little: Catch up on that show that’s been sitting in your que, bury yourself in a book or puzzle.
- Serve Someone: When you can help another in need it can do wonders on your heart and soul. I recently was able to donate a third of my milk supply to a medically fragile foster baby that had me walking on clouds for days. Decluttering toys or clothes and donating to a local shelter or making a meal for another struggling mom who might have it worse than you are some other suggestions.
- Seek Professional Help: The above ideas are simple ideas that might help but not true fixes to Post Partum Mood Disorders. If you are perpetually depressed, nothing is brining you joy or feel like harming yourself or your baby, please get help. Talk to your OBGYN, therapist and look into local resources. There are services, therapies and medications that can help you.
What I learned after doing all these things is that it can be normal to feel this way at different times. I was surprised when I opened up and asked other mom friends they all had periods where they felt like running away. You give and sacrifice so much as a mother it’s hard to remember to sprinkle in some self love. I also learned to be extra gentle and kind to yourself. If you had a loved one feeling everything you are feeling, you wouldn’t want them to feel any shame or guilt, you would just want them to be kinder to themselves.