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Seven surefire ways to be a sane & happy mom

Seven surefire ways to be a sane & happy mom

Parenting can be tough, but these proven strategies can help you cope

"My husband takes our munchkin first thing in the morning so I can get in an extra hour or two. Without sleep, everything becomes much harder."

Parenting can be tough, but these proven strategies can help you cope

I didn’t think parenting was going to be easy, but my goodness, I didn’t think it was going to be this hard, either. My friend described it best in one brutal word: relentless.

There are no Sundays off, no sick days, no lunch breaks. Added to this, there are 4am wake ups, clingy nights, and a massive deterioration in sleep.

I think I miss the days I spent doing “nothing” the most. I started today at 4am with a toddler climbing on me to breastfeed (I never imagined I’d be breastfeeding a 2-year-old while four months pregnant, but here we are.)

And things are about to get a lot harder! I’m halfway through what’s been a pretty physically demanding pregnancy, expecting twins in the Spring.

Parenting the first time around, those newborn days hit me like a brick wall.

Apart from the physical demands, it was isolating, overwhelming and anxiety-provoking – a maelstrom that takes a toll on your mental health.

The second time around, I know what to expect, and that’s making me even more anxious.

I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ride out those first brutal months (and hopefully what I can keep doing when the kids are older as well), and wanted to share some of my coping strategies and “now that I know better” tactics for new, and veteran, parents out there this Mental Health Month.

Treat yourself to some alone time

Alone time is a luxury and a necessity. But carving out alone time in between parenting, looking after a household, working, and maintaining a relationship with your partner is extremely challenging.

I tend towards ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’, carving out slivers of alone time after my husband has gone to sleep.

But my husband and I also do “tag teaming” on the weekend. For example, usually on a Sunday, he’ll take our daughter out for the morning, and I’ll take her in the afternoon. That way we both get time to unwind.

Work those muscles!

Just before pregnancy, I rediscovered the joys of going for a run.

In my previous neighbourhood, slipping on my takkies and heading out the door wasn’t an option.

In our new house, with my semi-independent toddler and a gold star nanny, I revelled in my 5pm jogs and found it peaceful and rewarding.

Even a YouTube workout can give you that dopamine hit and a smidgen of alone time (though my YouTube workouts often had a tiny, feisty and determined companion).

I highly recommend the MrandMrsMuscle YouTube channel for anyone wanting to give it a go.

Be mindful of mindfulness

This is the one often sacrificed on the Altar of Exhaustion, but I find spending some time journaling is good for my soul and state of mind.

Other mindfulness options are yoga, using a mindfulness app, and meditating.

Gather a village around you

When I first had my daughter, my village was tiny and inconsistent. As I’ve grown as a parent, so has my village.

From finding a reliable, trustworthy and kind nanny, to good parent friends, and knowing what to expect from family, a support structure is crucial – even if it comes in dribs and drabs, and isn’t quite what you were hoping for.

A good playdate can be a lifesaver on a long day, as can a visit with granny.

Get some sleep!

Sleep is the mental health essential that is most frequently compromised.

Between working late and catching up on ‘me time’, not to mention early morning and midnight wake ups, it’s sadly often last on my list.

That being said, when the pregnancy fatigue hit me hard in my first trimester, my fantastic nanny looked after my toddler while I napped during my lunch break.

My husband takes our munchkin first thing in the morning so I can get in an extra hour or two before I need to get ready for work. Without sleep, everything becomes much harder.

Cuddle up with a Kindle

This is a small thing, but anyone who’s breastfed knows that the time you spend can feel eternal. My coping mechanism is reading a good book on my Kindle. It makes me feel like I’m reclaiming that time back for me.

Follow fellow parents

I’ve found some excellent parenting accounts on Instagram that help to normalise how I’m feeling and give me coping strategies.

My two faves are Parenting_Fairly and PsychedMommy.

Some of these strategies are easier to implement than others, but overall the theme is to remember that you’re more than a parent.

You’re also a person, and you deserve to rest and recuperate.

Samantha Steele

Change expert, Samantha Steele, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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