Eight tips for tough mommy moments

Any mom will tell you that motherhood is a full-time job, and lately I’ve been putting in some overtime. For the last two weeks I’ve been on Cam-duty with very little relief. Firstly, my husband has been sick so to ease his load I haven’t been relying on him for help in the evenings. Secondly, my weekly relief – my mom-in-law on Monday afternoons and sister-in-law on Thursday afternoons – have both been incredibly busy and unable to take Cam for a few hours. Thirdly, over the last two weekends I’ve done trips with Cameron, but without my husband. While on both weekends I did have people to help me, I have realised that no one is quite the same as my hubby, and because of that I couldn’t completely disengage at any point the way I can if Colin is around. To further strain my resources, Cam has woken up before six almost every morning during this time. Six I can handle – 5:15 is pushing it!

On Sunday it all suddenly became overwhelming. I just ran out of steam, became very tearful and my thoughts morphed into nasty, negative creatures. All I wanted was time to myself – to drink tea at leisure, to do something that would recharge my energy levels, to get through a day with clean clothes and no nursing bra. Instead, I sat on my friend’s patio, with a wriggling baby smearing food into my hair, and dug deep for an extra reserve of energy and patience (although on the way to finding it I did shed a tear or two and have a good vent).

I’ve been fighting this feeling ever since and have developed a few coping mechanisms. So for any parent out there who is having a rough day, here are my eight tips for surviving tough mommy moments:

  1. Put the kettle on. I double, if not triple, my tea ration on tough days. The English are onto something – it really does help!
  2. Eat for energy. On good days this looks like trail mix, fruit and cheese on crackers, but on bad days it becomes a slice of cake, cookies, a chocolate or a bowl of ice-cream. And I savour every mouthful!
  3. Say yes. I have taught myself to accept offers of help without hesitation. My control-freak tendencies have made this a tough lesson but I’m getting better. I also find that I often reject help because I perceive that people don’t have time to give it. Rubbish! They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t have or weren’t willing to make the time.
  4. Do something for someone else. Making someone happy somehow makes me happy. So if I’m struggling, I’ll pop by a friend’s home or office and drop off a small gift. Often I bake cookies and give half the batch away (this ties in nicely with point 2).
  5. Sit and wine. I try not to vent. I find that it only gives negative emotions more power and makes it harder to get out of my funk. Instead when Cam is down for the night I pour myself a glass of wine and lose myself in a book.
  6. Gratitude and grace. When Cam goes down for a nap I neglect my to-do list and spend some time with God. Thanking him for all the amazing things in my life really helps put things into perspective. I also remind myself that God’s grace will override my frustrated failings of today.
  7. Laugh. Instead of getting frustrated that Cam is eating his Rice Crispies one by one, or has again unpacked something I only just cleaned up, I force myself to laugh with him. Sometimes my laughter starts out slightly hysterically, but it soon morphs into something more genuine.
  8. Nap. One of my challenges is fitting all I need to do into Cam’s nap times, but on tough days nothing is more important than my sanity so I close my eyes and sleep too. Even a 20 minutes snooze is amazingly restorative.

We all have our own methods of coping and in the interest of mutual support, share yours as a comment below. And let’s remember that no matter how isolated we sometimes feel, in this marvellous digital age we are never alone!

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