Have you ever felt like the stress of parenting some days might actually break you? That the waves keep coming and you can’t seem to keep your head above water anymore? Recently, I felt like the stress of parenting, AND working from home, AND caring for myself, AND breathing life into all of the important relationships in my life were becoming too much.
In the past, I had been able to shake off the stress and move on from an epic temper tantrum from one of my kids or my day not going like I had planned. But over the past few months it was like my protective emotional armour had fallen off and every bit of daily stress would pile one on top of the other, until by the end of the day I had such a weight on my chest I could barely breathe.
I knew something had to change and I had to be very deliberate about how I was going to properly tackle this problem. I needed to get to the root of what was going on and find a long term solution…
1. I took a step back and looked at my life. I knew that the biggest thing that spun my world off of it’s axis was our daughter, Beau’s recent struggles with anxiety and some behaviour problems she was having. But despite how much I was trying to help her, things just weren’t improving. It wasn’t until I took a step back and looked at every aspect of my life and my family that I could see the bigger picture as to what was going on.
2. I listed everything that was stressful and not working. I went ahead and listed every source of stress I could think of. Beau’s anxiety (which was causing me to worry endlessly), me working too much, our childcare situations were creating problems, I was lonely, I was burnt out and I had not been taking care of myself. My husband Mike was a great sounding board. In fact he should get a medal for how much he listened to me so intently vent each evening while working through this crisis.
3. I identified what was in my power to change. This was something my own mother taught me while I was in college and was experiencing anxiety. She would say, “what on your list of stress is in your power to change, or take off your plate?” After repeating these words of wisdom to myself over and over again for at least a week, I started to take charge and make a plan of attack.
4. I got rid of anything that wasn’t good for our family. Although I knew that I had so much childcare (daycare for beau and a part-time nanny for our twins) in place so that I could keep taking on all of the work that kept coming my way and continue growing my business. But everyday Beau was leaving the house kicking and screaming not wanting to go to daycare. Although she had once raced out the door to because she couldn’t wait to go, at some point something had shifted. I decided to take Beau out and give her a break before she was to start kindergarten.
Another problem was that although our childcare situation once worked for our twins and myself, it wasn’t the best fit anymore. I made the decision to make a big change and find something that fit us better.
5. I scaled back and created balance. I thought long and hard about what projects and commitments really fit with myself and our family and which ones didn’t. I have learned to say no occasionally, and zero in on what was most important to me.
6. I got help. Mike and I finally made the decision to get help with Beau. We contacted our local support program for families and children who were struggling with behavioural and mental health issues. It only took one meeting with them and Mike and I to have our eyes opened. This quickly got us on the same parenting page and helped us understand what Beau was going through.
I also saw a counsellor. I talked (a lot) about how I was finding it hard to balance everything. As I sat there rambling, I kept solving my own problems. I realized that I needed to focus and create a routine for myself and stick to it.
7. I sleep trained myself. During the summer I had fallen off track with my early morning workout routine. I started staying up late and sleeping in. The kids were the ones waking me up and I was being thrown right into parenting. I have made the conscious effort to go to bed earlier and wake up early. WOW! This has probably made the biggest difference of all.
I enjoyed the lazy mornings of summer, indulged in all the yummy food and now it’s time to get back into my a.m. Morning workout routine. I actually have been sleep training myself for the past week going to bed at 10 p.m. Instead of 11:30 p.m. and waking up earlier and earlier. Today I was wide awake and ready to workout early. I had forgotten how doing this for myself is not only good for my body but my mind as well. ☀️💪 #fitmom #fit #workout #workoutroutine #goodmorning #routine #momlife #reduceanxiety #mynewbodyafterbaby #loveyourself #youllthankyourselflater
8. I gave more attention to the important relationships in my life. Whenever I get anxious I tend to shut people out. This then makes me more lonely which in turn, makes me more anxious. I forced myself to reach out and start getting together with other moms more. I also made the effort to get a babysitter occasionally so that Mike and I could get out on real dates. We have rediscovered our love for going out to the movies instead of constantly falling down the Netflix rabbit hole.
9. I gave myself a break. During my anxious couple of months I found myself worrying a ridiculous amount about deadlines, my weight and housework. I started to put things into perspective more, stop obsessing and just do.
I also started to carve more time out of my day to just veg and watch TV, read a magazine and do NOTHING! I threw the guilt out the window and reminded myself that if I don’t do this I will burn out and be much less productive.