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:
- Put the kettle on. I double, if not triple, my tea ration on tough days. The English are onto something – it really does help!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!