9 Steps That Reduced My Anxiety And Helped Me Enjoy Parenting Again

Stopping anxietyHave 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.

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.

Someone Switched My Baby – Extreme Separation Anxiety


My little guy arrived into the world in a pretty textbook way; my water broke like a water balloon 3 days before my due date and after six hours of labor and twenty minutes of pushing he was in my arms.  He was perfect!  He came out completely pink and ready for kisses.  We were now a proud family of three.

In the weeks that followed my son’s birth we had a parade of family and friends come through our house cuddling and passing around my little man.  My mother would come over often to babysit or just spend time with her first grandchild.  My husband and I were bursting at the seams with our cute and cuddly baby boy.

Then one morning when he was ten weeks old I went into the nursery to go get who I thought was my son.  No, no one actually switched my baby, but they might as well have.  He was miserable and on edge.  After giving him a thorough look over and consulting my mental “is he sick” checklist I came to the conclusion that he was his normal robust self but with an attitude. I decided to get on with my day as usual.  When my mother arrived later that day I was relieved to pass off my little gremlin and get some much needed housework finished.

That was when all hell broke loose!  He howled and howled and did not want anything to do with my mom.  Determined not to give up, my mom told me she was fine, besides, she had survived four babies herself (one who of which was nicknamed Oscar the Grouch for a reason).  I raced out of the house and opted to buy a baby swing which my husband and I up until this point had thought was a load of crap!  After arriving home an hour later and seeing my son was still hysterical, and my mom, the veteran nurse, lactation consultant and mother was exhausted and felt helpless, I couldn’t get the swing put together fast enough.  It helped a bit but until my mom left and closed the door behind her he didn’t quite settle.

That’s when the realization that my baby boy may have a bad case of separation anxiety set in.  Okay, I thought, I could handle this.  Besides, I don’t want to share my little bundle of joy with anyone anyways.  This will pass soon… HA!  I was delusional!

As time passed my son systematically cut person after person out of his life including my husband, which broke his heart.  We were at the point that we couldn’t attend any family functions without feeling like we had been through a war and I had to tell people in the grocery store not to make eye contact with my baby let alone talk to him.  I remember multiple attempts at hosting play dates with my friends and their babies and having to spend 99% of the time hiding upstairs.  My husband and I came up with odd little tricks to keeping him happy while we had visitors like putting him in his high chair with the TV on and a tablespoon of peanut butter… this was not how I pictured motherhood!  I was so isolated and alone.

The breaking point was when my son was 18 months and I was expecting our daughter (a surprise!!!) in a month and I couldn’t conceive how I was going to handle a newborn and a son who couldn’t peel himself off of me.  I started sobbing and panicking to my husband and instructed him to drive me to labour and delivery because I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.  Once inside, two angelic nurses sat with me and let me sob and told me their horror stories of their own experiences as mothers.  In conclusion they said, you have to get help, you can’t do this alone.

After heading home feeling like a ton of weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I called around and found a fantastic babysitter who we hired to come a couple times a week.  We started slow with me leaving the room for short periods of time.  After a few months of having our babysitter and my determined mother taking turns babysitting we put our son into a home daycare a few days a week.  I was able to stay home and enjoy some quiet time with my little girl.

After time my son realized that there was a whole world out there and he had been missing out on so much.  Now he is mister social.  He still suffers from some anxiety but the best thing for him is getting out of the house in a school type setting.  If I could go back a couple of years and tell myself a piece of advice it would be, don’t try to be a hero, get help, even if he cries the whole time and this won’t last forever!!!