How to Raise a Happy, Cooperative Child

Parenting Strategies for All Ages

Coping With the Mommy Blues

There are many myths about motherhood that cause women stress.

There are many myths about motherhood that cause women stress. Mothers are supposed to be overjoyed every moment of the experience, feel loving toward their child at all times, and find the role the total fulfillment of their dreams. In truth, there are many other feelings that are a normal part of the experience, including depression.

In the first few months, new moms feel anxious about caring for their fragile infant, are exhausted from sleep deprivation and experience feelings of loss of their prior personal identity and intimate relationships. In addition, as women become mothers, memories from early childhood rise to the surface and they feel intensely pressured to compensate for their own moms' mistakes and do the job perfectly. The moment they believe they are falling short, they can feel down. All these stressors put together cause the familiar experience, “post-partum depression.” Though they love their little cherub, moms can feel angry and sad that their lives have been radically changed.

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As children grow, the same kinds of issues continue for mothers. Moms feel burdened by constantly caring for their children and managing the chores of family life. Those who work outside the home are exhausted by trying to balance their job and home life. All moms struggle hard to find the time to fit in the fulfillment of their personal desires and to maintain their personal relationships as well. At the same time, moms constantly deal with more and more complex parent-child issues. Struggling hard to handle everything well when things feel out of control, they can end up depressed.

Here are some ways that you can cope with the stressors of being a mom and lift your mood.

Face your feelings with acceptance. It is normal for your emotions to fluctuate about parenting because it is the hardest job in the world. All moms feel angry at their kids even though they feel intense love for them.

Talk about your feelings. Share your feelings with other moms and consider joining a parenting support group. A parenting group is an excellent place to learn strategies that will help you to manage complex parent-child interactions, obtain support, and make friends.

Learn some stress reduction techniques. When everyone needs you at once, taking deep breaths or stepping out of the room for a few moments are helpful ways to lower stress and avoid meltdowns.

Time management strategies also helps moms to feel less burdened. For instance, making your children’s lunches the night before and putting their backpacks by the door before you fall into bed makes mornings go more smoothly.

Keep a journal. Writing down a few words describing your feelings each day can help you feel more in control.

Get assistance. Many women believe that to be a good mom you have to be able to do it all. But the job is too big. Communicate your needs to your spouse directly, while stepping back to encourage his willingness to participate. Ask for help from your friends and family and when possible hire a babysitter. Finances can be limiting, but some moms arrange for a mature high school student to assist them with the bedtime routines.

Take some time for yourself. During the day, sitting down for a few moments to have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper can renew your energy. When possible, try to nap when your child does.

Seek professional help. If you find that you are frequently depressed, consider speaking with a therapist. Many moms who have never been in therapy or were when they were younger seek the assistance of a therapist to gain support, parental guidance and insight into their lives.

Exercise as much as possible. Though it's hard to fit in time to go to the gym, taking a walk or using an exercise tape, releases those mood lifting endorphins.

Consider part-time work, if it's feasible.This will give you time to be on your own, feel productive, and revive your energy.

Set aside a date night with your spouse each week. Spending time alone with your spouse is essential to nurture yourself and your relationship. Many couples set up an ongoing arrangement with a sitter and follow the routine religiously.

As you accept your emotions and take steps to work with your mood, you will find the experience less stressful.

Meri Wallace, LCSW, is a parenting expert and child and family therapist.

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