The whining. The crying. The pulling on your sleeve. The “no”. The sleepless nights. Yes, motherhood is a blessing, but there are also times when being a mother feels too difficult to deal with. Here’s how to handle bad mom days in your stride.
It’s not in your head
Educational psychologist Jenny da Silva says the most important tool to help you get through these times is giving yourself permission to admit it’s hard. “The demands of parenting are like no other,” she says. “You’re dealing with a lack of alone time, childhood illnesses, balancing the responsibilities of work and home and possibly other issues, like postnatal depression. Add more than one child into the mix, and things can get really hairy.”
You’re not alone in feeling as though can’t do it. Jenny says most parents feel like this at some point. And, no, it’s not all in your head: sleep deprivation is a root cause of many mental and physical disorders, as is stress caused by other factors.
Feeling a need to escape is just the start. Many of us feel guilty due to these negative feelings, which leads to resentment. “You need to understan these feelings are completely normal. They’re a natural outcome of juggling too many responsibilities,” Jenny says.
One word: self-care. But, says Jenny, self-care is more than just an occasional night off. It starts with ensuring your basic needs are met on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level – eating nutritious foods, making time to exercise and getting enough sleep.
And, yes, it does sometimes feel as though seeing to those things is going to create even more hassle, but they should probably be the highest priorities in your life. “If mom is stressed and anxious, the kids feel it,” Jenny says. If something has to give so you can cram in a 30-minute run, find something else you can sacrifice.
Once the basics are taken care of and you find your mental and physical resources have been topped up, you can start adding layers to your self-care routine: put on make-up and do your hair, take a cooking class, or have a girls’ night out.”
“The key is to do something, no matter how small, every day,” Jenny explains.
Real moms share their bad mom day advice
We asked some moms how they handle their “it’s just too difficult to be a mom” days. Here’s what they said:
“I ask my parents or a friend with kids if we can visit, because sharing the load makes it easier. Or I ask my babysitter to help so I can get out the house and have a change of scene.” – Wendy
“I literally run. I go for a long run, and if I can’t leave the house I pound it out on the treadmill.” – Jennifer
“I make time for myself that gets me away from the house. It could be a massage, yoga or bootcamp – in fact, I find it especially helpful to exercise outside because of the endorphin high.” – Magdalena
“Going to work and adulting. It allows me to tap into a different part of my life, which I love.” – Jennifer
“Solidarity. Knowing that for every meltdown over who gets in the car first, there is a whole tribe of mamas giving great advice.” – Leeanne
“I’m bad at asking for help, because I sometimes think not being able to do it all is a sign that I’m failing as a mother, but I find that a night out with my friends helps.” – Alex
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.