One evening, after coming home from work, I said to myself “self, I can’t believe this is my life.” My 1-year-old is screaming a screeching, piercing, scream that just will not stop. My 6-year-old is crying because he is tired, hungry, and frustrated due to needing help with his homework. I try to cook dinner, while drowning out my daughter’s sleepy cry. My daughter is pulling at my leg; she wants to be held and rocked to sleep. I’m trying to cook dinner (without burning it) and my 6-year-old needs help with his homework. What to do! Do I cut the stove off and rock the baby to sleep; while listening to my son whine that he’s hungry and needs help with his homework? Or do I listen to the earsplitting while I prepare dinner? Suddenly, it’s as if I’m in the eyewall of a hurricane, my heart pounds faster and I feel as if I can’t breathe. At that moment, I realized I’m overwhelmed!
I am sure most parents can relate to these feelings. For me, after having my first child, I had no idea how challenging it would be. Family and friends told me prior to having my first child oh, motherhood is so beautiful, it’s wonderful, you are going to enjoy every moment. Lies.
No one tells new parents that many mothers can feel completely overwhelmed by motherhood. Some parents fall into postpartum depression due to hormonal changes and an unrealistic expectation of motherhood.
Conflicted emotions some mothers experience are: feelings of wanting her old life back, overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of motherhood, exhaustion with balancing work and family, guilt for having negative feelings, resentment for all the sacrifices, vs intense love, extreme protectiveness for the child, moments of happy bliss with the child, more meaningful family connection, and a sense of accomplishment as she watches the child grow.
What do we do when these situations and intense feelings arise? Let me let you in on a secret. No one really knows the answer because each situation is unique. There are some steps you can take to ensure you are the best whole person for you and your family.
Take a Deep Breath and Inhale
It’s important not to completely freak out when you feel overwhelmed. Have you ever experience someone do this? I have and it is unsettling. When the person who is supposed to be the leader freaks out, everyone else thinks it must be bad if the leader is freaking out! In your home, you are the leader. Your kids look to you for direction and guidance. So, when difficulty arises, take a deep breath and tackle each problem one step at a time.
In the scenario above, I chose to put the toddler in her crib and let her cry herself to sleep while I finished preparing dinner. I instructed my oldest to stop crying, complete his homework after dinner; which would be a better time for me to assist him with any questions he had.
Other parents may have chosen a different course of action. Some parents could not stand to hear the screaming while they prepare dinner. That’s okay! What is perfect for one family, may not work for another family. Each parent must decide what is best. How do I know what the best course is for my family? In the previous example, I used my gut. Don’t underestimate you gut. From my experience, it rarely lets you down.
There are many tools available to assist parents with making some tough decisions. I personally do a lot of research, I also speak with other parents who have has similar situations, communicate with your spouse regarding decisions, there are books, magazines, blogs etc. to assist with many topics of parenting. Use the tools available to you wisely. After making an informed decision implement it and see if it works. If adjustments are necessary along the way make them. Don’t be afraid if you don’t make the best decision the first time around. Trial and error will need to take place.
Ask for help when you need it
There is an old African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child” A mother may have many responsibilities such as working 8-12 hours per day, cooking, cleaning, training, disciplining, engaging in regular exercise, and the list can go on.
If you need help, ask for it. Sometimes we as women think; “if I ask for help, then people may think I am not capable of handling my responsibilities”. Well every parent needs help at some point in parenthood. If you need a sitter to watch your children while you take care of some items, do not feel guilty. If you have a spouse or significant other delegate some responsibilities to them. If you need some “me time” ask for it.
Quality Time For Yourself Is Important
Taking out time for yourself is of the upmost importance. You will be surprised how many women have lost their sense of identity due to not caring for themselves. Some of them may be reading this post right now. I almost lost myself at one point. You may ask yourself how can I find the time when I have so much going on? Make it a priority. Put a reminder on your schedule, make the appointment with a friend that will hold you accountable to follow through. Please do yourself a great need and service by doing something for yourself at least once week. Some suggestions are:
- Treat yourself to a spa; get a massage, or facial
- Have a girl’s night out, to connect with friends
- My favorite: Sleep! Honestly, I am so sleep deprived it is a treat for me. Go to a hotel for a weekend and just sleep in. No kids, no significant other and just relax
- Treat yourself to a Mani and Pedi
- Get your hair professional styled. Honestly the massaging of the head, while getting your hair washed is heavenly to me.
- Take a vacation alone or with friends
- Read a book
- Do something that brings you inner peace or joy
Many women have feelings of being swamped with the day to day responsibilities of life. The key is how to handle these feelings when they arise. Remember to take a breath, listen to your inner voice, tackle each barrier one at a time, as this too shall pass.
Written by: Rochella Neely
an “open book”