4 Tips to cope and power through the tough days of motherhood

By | January 28, 2013 | Lifestyle & Personal Growth

4 Tips to cope and power through the tough days of motherhood
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Do you ever feel like you’re completely clueless at this whole motherhood thing? I do. I feel completely at a loss sometimes and wonder how other mothers make it look so easy. Is it all an act? Or do other Moms have the same insecurities I do and are better at hiding it?

After I returned to work fulltime and our son started at daycare, he was sick with croup, two ear infections, two eye infections, the flu, baby measles, strep throat – topped off by another flu. This doesn’t include the numerous little colds in between that now seem so insignificant and not worth mentioning. There were literally only a few days in between each episode, and each new sickness lasted for at least a couple weeks.

I was at my wit’s end. My husband and I walked on eggshells around each other because we were both so exhausted from a crying, feverish, puking toddler, up at all hours of the night. Most nights, I resorted to sleeping with my child either on the floor of his room, and eventually on an air mattress in the spare bedroom. I did this to preserve my sanity after rocking him to sleep for an hour straight or more, only to finally lay him down in the crib and have his eyes pop wide open to cry again. Knowing I had to be up in only a few hours and at my desk, bright, cheery-eyed, and responsive to all my co-workers, it was the only way I could cope. I knew I created a bad habit that would be hell to break. But at that point, I was too tired to care.

People assured me it would get better. The rational side of me knew ten years from now I would look back at this period in my life and realize it was a blip in time. At the time, however, I felt like crying every minute of every day. I stressed about every little sniffle – wondering what it might turn into. I turned into a crazy lady, worrying about things that hadn’t yet happened. My anxiety was not only unhealthy for me, but it was rubbing off on my family.

Sound familiar?

With a lot of persistence, a few glasses (OK, who am I kidding? – bottles) of wine, and a couple sessions with a therapist, I focused on what really matters. And yes, that horrible period passed.

Put into practice these four tips to cope and power through the tough days:

1.   Take ten. How often do you take ten minutes to sit with a cup of coffee and do nothing? Most Moms are terrible at this. After all, there’s always something that needs to be done. But I know that you can squeeze ten minutes somewhere in your day, so why not try it? Sit down in your favorite chair. Put your feet on the floor (or up on your coffee table!), and focus on breathing deeply. Relax. Don’t think about your laundry list of things to do. Don’t think about paying your bills. Don’t plan what you’re making for supper. Don’t play on your iPhone or read a book. Just sit and let yourself be. It usually takes three minutes just to train my mind to stop wandering, and then by minute ten, I’m sad my quiet time has ended.

2.   Spill the beans. Talking to a good friend or counselor will help you get your feelings out of your head and in the open. Sometimes when we voice our worries out loud, we realize our concerns aren’t as serious as them seem. Even if nothing is solved, a good listening ear and empathy can sometimes give you the extra boost you need to keep going another day.

3.   Exercise. I know you’re thinking: “I don’t have time to exercise.” You’re right. It’s hard to fit in a good exercise routine when you’re a) laden with a baby (or two or three!); b) have a mountain of chores to do; and c) just plum tired. While exercise is good for your physical and emotional health, it will increase your energy level as well. You don’t need to get an expensive gym membership or expensive fitness equipment.

Here are a few great workout ideas that you can do right in your home:

» Have a set of stairs in your home? Who needs a stair climber? Run up and down those a dozen times and you’re guaranteed to get your sweat on. So get off that chair and move!

» Shake your booty! Get your kids together and have a good old fashioned kitchen dance party. Dancing is a fantastic cardio workout, not to mention loads of fun!

» Try this at-home workout:

  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 5 pushups
  • 25 high knees
  • 7 burpees
  • 10 crunches
  • 7 squats
  • 5 pushups
  • 10 crunches
  • 5 pushups
  • 7 squats
  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 1 minute wall sit
  • 5 pushups
  • 25 high knees

Repeat 3-5 times daily.

4.   Write, write, write.  Whether you keep a journal, write letters, or blog online, writing has many benefits for your emotional health. Even on the days when you think you don’t have anything to write about, sit down with a pen and paper and start with whatever ‘s on your mind. You don’t have to be an eloquent novelist – nonsense is okay. It doesn’t matter if it’s one paragraph or one hundred, it only matters that you’re writing.

How do you get through the tough days?  What if the tough days keep repeating themselves?  What gives you the will to keep your chin up?

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Jacquelyn Bauer

Jacquelyn lives in Canada with her 1.5 year old son and husband. Director of customer service for a software company by day, and wife, mother, and chef at heart/food blogger by night; Jacquelyn’s days are pretty full. When she’s not busy trying out a fascinating new dish, scouring Wikipedia, or playing peek-a-boo with her son, you can find her nose buried in a book. You can follow Jacquelyn on Twitter (@jnbauer) or visit her cooking blog at www.gourmethousewife.com.

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2 comments
Lawyerdoctormom
Lawyerdoctormom

     In the 60's I had 4 children under four.  We lived in Portland Oregon so you couldn't go out and play much, neither could they.  I learned a lot, but most universally I learned that women were not meant to raise children alone...they were meant to work in supportive groups.  Gradually the women I met (through La Leche League then) began to spend half days with each other, on outings to the zoo, if the torrents would allow.  I learned to love being a woman.  I learned to love having other women to talk to.  

 

I always loved being a mother.  I was 19 the first one, and I never had a doubt that I could do it (perhaps I was naive), so it was being a woman that was the challenge, and for those of you who remember that time, it was not so easy a question and an even harder answer, from choice, to birth, to breastfeeding to discipline, to "who am I, anyway?"  All the advice, activity, writing, friends, giving yourself a break are absolutely great (though we didn't have those hints in the 60's).  In the 70's I had another daughter, and in the '80's, on the eve of my first child's 20th birthday, I had another daughter.  I went from Scopalomine and male dominated obstetrics, to home birth and full time career.  My only real sadness is that it is gone now, and the children are looking ahead, not behind.  They will discover the same things that you have.  Some of your daughters will turn to you, some will turn from you.  You will always feel you love your children more than they do you and I think that will always be true.  That is why it works.  That is why you were free to move ahead, with your spouse if you had one, and cope with the anguishing work caring for small children entails and your parents were no longer the anchor or safety of your life.  

 

The one great, unsuspected joy now, is, IF you get to live close enough to at least one grandchild you can bond with them.  My granddaughter, now 3, told my husband and me that if she didn't have a mommy and daddy and baby brother, we could be her mommy and daddy.  THAT was a reward.  I have 11 grandchildren and more to come, but she validates everything I went through with the 6, with the 35 years of earaches, and sneaking out, and not doing homework, and getting dumped by your 7 year boyfriend, and losing your baby.... you will always feel all their pain and your own.  But your grandchild can come back and validate you and suddenly all that pain is gone.  AND when you are exhausted (because you aren't 19 any more), you can take her home and she is just as happy to be there (even though she told her mom on the phone, 'I can't talk much, mom, because I'm having too much fun'.)  Stick together!