Get the kids outside.
Is it raining? Do you have an outside area? Shove a jacket and beanie on the little rascals and push them outside. If I’m borderline about to lose my shit, provided it’s not pouring rain, I send the kids out to the backyard with a ball for the dog. I grab myself a magazine and a coffee and sit where I can watch them and drink in peace without a toddler trying to pull my hair.
Call PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia)
If your struggles are persistent, your moods are extreme or you aren’t feeling yourself, talk to someone. PANDA is an amazing organisation with a fantastic help line ready to chat and help.
I talked myself out of calling PANDA many times in my darkest days, for many silly reasons – like I was crying too hard, or the kids were crying and they wouldn’t be able to hear me or I just don’t think I’m that bad… (I was that bad).
If you are like me and are a bit scared to talk on the phone, log onto their website, http://www.panda.org.au. They have a massive amount of information and links to resources that help you get the help you need. Read through the stories of recovery and see that you aren’t alone. There are many stories from Mum’s like me who have been through the struggles and sought help and have come out the other side.
This Mum job is hard. One thing that makes it a little less hard is knowing there are other people out there who also just said to their child ‘No! Don’t wee on your brother’ or something equally ridiculous.
You are not alone. There are plenty of Mum’s out there about to lose their shit, sick of the same walls of their house and would much rather see another adult and have a coffee and vent. Call one of them. Even if you have to turn up to your friends house in your trackies or pajamas (I’ve done that many times before!).
Spend approx $10 per kid and take them to an indoor play centre. Even if money is tight this will be worth it. The kids can go crazy, you can order a coffee and sit and wait for that inevitable scream that pierces through the room and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up because you know, yep, that’s my kid. Go even if you don’t have a friend to meet that day. I’ve often gone to Crocs alone, frazzled and feeling like crap and ended up chatting to complete strangers.
Go for a walk
It’s funny that I find myself suggesting this now. I was told to go for a walk many times on the days I was struggling and if I had just listened it would have helped so much. What held me back is that we didn’t have a double pram. So I either had to have Owen walking or sitting on the front of a single pram (not ideal!) and that often was enough to stop me from going!
Ignore your inner voice who is telling you ‘their mind won’t develop properly because you’ve given them a phone to play with’, and ignore that judging woman at the post office who just rolled her eyes when she saw you give your phone to a toddler in a pram to stop him screaming.
If 15 minutes of phone time is going to make your kid stop screaming and ease the anxiety’s grip on your brain and save your sanity IT’S WORTH IT.
You know what, had smart phones been around when we were kids, we probably would have been screaming to play with these bright shiny things that play music and games too.
Kids are growing up with a lot of things we never had and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. My kids are allowed to play with phones and tablets sometimes (sometimes for too long, but whatever) and Owen is as smart as they come! He is three, knows the alphabet back and forward, can count to 100, can spell a handful of words like apple and is constantly surprising us with things he knows. (Some of this I credit to the carefully chosen apps I put in ‘Kids mode’ on my phone. They don’t know it’s learning, they just think it’s fun games!!)
Drop everything else
If you are anxious, frustrated, feeling overwhelmed and just can’t keep a lid on your emotions and your to-do list is sending you into a tailspin, RIP UP THE TO-DO LIST.
Whether that is physically or metaphorically, rip it up. The life and death things will get done naturally, but for now, you can order takeaway, or have toast and beans for dinner, your house might look like a tip, but unless the Queen is scheduled to visit, who cares!! (And if anyone does then they can tidy up for you!!) And your washing pile might look like it could swallow the kids up, but hey at least that would give you a few minutes of peace while they turned that into a game!
Those things are not urgent. What is urgent is your mental state. Sit down on the floor and play with your kids. Ignore the lists, ignore the chores. Smile with your kids, let their innocent laughter wash the anxiety from your mind. Give yourself a break.
Your mental health is more important than a to-do list a mile long. You don’t have to have a shiny tidy home to be a good Mum. But you have to be mentally healthy. You need to be present for your kids, to smile at them and give them hugs without your body tensing up from anxiety.
When you find yourself struggling, step back and have a look around. Things aren’t as bad as an anxious mind makes it out to be. But you do need to do something for yourself to help you see that. Try some things on this list and see what helps you. It will be different for everyone.
Let me know what you do to get a breather – I would love to hear!