When you decide to become a mom, everyone waxes poetic about the dubious joy of diapers. If they discuss parenting anxiety, it’s through jokes like, “Wait ’til she’s a teenager.”
At the risk of bursting your bubble, mister, I have plenty of worries right now without bringing boys and acne into the equation.
In all seriousness, though, we need to talk about how mom anxiety is real and how parents can handle it. Always feeling on edge makes it difficult to enjoy your child’s formative years. Here’s what I did to get my anxiety under control.
I Find a Peaceful Retreat
Kids have two volumes — silent and, “I bought a new megaphone today, can you hear me now?” Loud and clear, there, kiddo. Could you tone it down a notch?
For people who have PTSD, sudden loud noises can trigger physiological reactions. I’m fortunate that I don’t suffer from those symptoms. Sometimes, though, the endless string of “whys” and “hows” make me want to rip my hair out.
When this happens, if my spouse is free, I retreat to the bathroom. The sound of running water drowns out any noise. If the kids are playing indoors, sometimes I’ll retreat to my garden to sit and look at the blooms.
I Practice Deep Breathing
I lose my patience about a million times a day. Hopefully, though, my children never notice. I practice deep breathing and counting to calm myself down.
You can tell the difference between deep and shallow breathing with your hand. When you breathe deeply, you can feel your stomach rise gently with every inhale. When you’re stressed, your breath grows more shallow.
Feel ready to blow your top? Place your hands on your belly and breathe deeply for one minute. If you’re not near a clock, count down to yourself. Check how you feel at the end. A little better, right?
I Accept My Imperfections
Am I likely to win “Mother of the Year?” I think I deserve it, but of course, I’m biased. That said, I’m aware that I’m imperfect — and I’m okay with that. Take a clue from your children here, fellow mama-warriors.
When they make a mistake, they apologize — with the help of a little prompting — and move on with their lives. Practice doing the same. If you inadvertently say something hurtful to your child, say, “I’m very sorry for saying that.” Chances are, they’ll shrug and graciously accept.
I Don’t Ask My Partner for Help
How does not asking for help ease your mom anxiety? If anything, it should make it higher, right? Please allow me to explain.
Asking my partner for help implies childrearing is primarily my responsibility. If he deigns to change a diaper, he’s doing me a favor. The last time I checked, neither of my daughters got in utero by themselves. Therefore, the job of raising them doesn’t rest solely on my shoulders.
Second-shift labor is real, ladies, and it’s creating significant anxiety in women, especially moms. On average, women work one month longer than men each year due to taking care of the children and home. The last I checked, I punch a time clock the same as my spouse. Since we both work outside of the house, we both work inside it, too.
I Speak Frankly With My Supervisor
Yes, I work from home frequently — but that doesn’t make it easier to balance home and family responsibilities. When I decided to come forward with both of my pregnancies, I scheduled a meeting with my supervisor during a slow period.
We discussed telecommuting options and strategies for balancing my schedule. We agreed on time off after the birth and developed contingency plans if I had to leave in an emergency.
I Examine My Mother’s Parenting
Was your mom a laid back, live-and-let-live sort? Did she panic every time you proposed a sleepover? Every mom has to strike a balance between worry and letting go. Examining your mother’s parenting practices can shed light on yours.
Did your mother adopt an educator or martyr style? If you have positive memories of your childhood, you’ll probably imitate your mother’s choices. If you had an unpleasant past, you might decide to parent differently.
I Learn to Roll With the Punches
Do your kids love “Frozen?” Take a tip from Elsa when it comes to mom anxiety and let it go. Did your little one tell you about their forgotten homework 30 seconds before the bus arrives? Let them accept the consequences of not having assignments. Did they spend all their money on candy, but now want a toy? Use it as a chance to teach an age-appropriate lesson about opportunity cost.
Many times, we moms create more anxiety than we need by trying to fix everything. However, childhood is designed for kids to learn from their mistakes — while they’re safely under your care. I assure you, your kids won’t die from consequences like a lousy grade — but they will learn about the dangers of procrastination.
Handling Mom Anxiety Isn’t Easy, but You Can Do It
It’s challenging to cope with mom anxiety. However, you don’t need to spend the next 18 years a nervous wreck. By following the tips above, you can overcome stress and enjoy your children. After all, they’re only young once!