It’s no secret this has been a tough year for me. Here, on my blog, I celebrate the ups and the downs, the wins and the woes, the good days and the tough days. As we all know – motherhood is not all dandelions and daisy chains. It is hard work and I like to present motherhood in its entirety. Mostly I don’t airbrush it or filter it through a lens.
Recently it took me to have a mini breakdown to acknowledge I needed that thing mothers struggle to ask for – HELP! So many things led to this point: a difficult pregnancy, our ongoing struggle to find a house, financial pressures, being forced to move out of our rental at 38 weeks pregnant, a serious iron deficiency, and the list goes on. I felt completely overwhelmed.
Like many mums I prioritised everyone and everything else around me, neglecting my own wellbeing. I knew I was sinking but I felt if I could just stay afloat a little longer, everything would be OK. Well the problem with this theory is that there’s a limit to how long you can stay afloat without running out of puff. And I ran out of puff and broke down. My chest felt tight and my shoulders were heavy constantly. I put it down to my iron levels, but when an iron infusion failed to have any impact I knew it had to be more than that. My load was too heavy and I needed help to ease it.
One of the most liberating things you can do for yourself is to admit to yourself, and others, that you need help. I have learnt there is no shame in admitting you are having a tough time and not coping. The chances are people will rally around you to help. Here are three simple measures you can put in place to ease the pressures and stress of motherhood.
3 ways to ease the stress of motherhood:
1. Accept help
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Realising that you need help and accepting it can help make you a better mother and wife/partner as your stress levels decrease and your ability to cope with everything that life throws at you increases.
Over the next few weeks friends and family rallied to help me. People cooked for me, took care of school and kinder drop offs and had my kids for play dates. Everyone was only too happy to help. My husband talked to his boss about working some flexible hours so he could help out with the school runs and life became infinitely easier.
2. Learn to say no
No, it’s such a powerful word isn’t it? It’s strange: given that “no” is one of the first words we learn as kids – why do we have such trouble saying it as adults? Women are people pleasers, so it’s fairly common for them to over commit to things when they would rather not.
I can relate. I am a serial people pleaser, so I tend to say “Yes” when I often mean “No.” But overextending ourselves to others can deplete us of vital energy and space if we are not obligated to ourselves. It’s OK to say no to things. In fact, it’s absolutely essential that you do.
3. Create a village
We are all familiar with the expression “It takes a village to raise a child.” The problem is many of us don’t have family living close by and the village is hard to create. But you can gather supporters around you and tools to help you manage your load. How lucky are we that we can turn online for support? I have found some excellent digital resources. Online support groups have helped me feel less alone when I experienced the grief of miscarriage and there are some great web tools available to new mums.
Bupa’s mummatters is an excellent resource for anyone who is currently pregnant or has had a baby in the past 12 months. Of course, you can use mummatters if you have a child older than 1 year, as you may still find it useful. Regularly maintaining your emotional wellbeing is important. I let mine slide recently and I don’t want to let it happen again. And that’s what I love about the mummatters tool. mummatters can help you get a better sense of how you’re going. And, if more support is ever needed, mummatters can help you find it. It is also free and easy to use, private and confidential and designed by experts. Big ticks!
You can create a village in many ways – through friends, mothers’ groups, online support groups, and turning to online tools. Bottom line: help is at hand, you just need to build a network of support to ease your load and stay on top of your health and emotional wellbeing.
Do you have any other tips for easing your load?
*Disclosure: This is the second in a series of mental health posts brought to you by Bupa.