Mothers’ Mental Health Toolkit – Chapter 2

We are onto Chapter 2! This chapter focuses more on the Role of being a mom/tips to help moms when stressed. If you aren’t a mother or parent the section “Emotional Coping Strategies” and “Parenting through Depression” could apply to your life as it focuses on exercises to deal with stress/depression. If you haven’t yet downloaded this free resource you can find it here: x

Chapter 2: The Mothering Role

The mothering role is one that changes and always evolves. As mother’s were always changing and finding new ways to parent. I think that’s a beautiful thing. In this chapter MacDonald and Flynn explore the role of the mother, building a bond with your baby, looking at supports/relationships, and ways that can help you grow was a mother. I won’t be touching on all these topics because I find this chapter to be very overwhelming with information. I’ll be focusing mostly on challenges mothers face, strategies to cope with stress, the importance of having support, and parenting with depression.

Definitions and Realities of Motherhood. p48
“Many Hats of Motherhood” 

Mother as:

  • A Provider
  • A Protector
  • A Caregiver
  • An Educator

Being a mother means that you are so many things and more to your child. When I became a mother it was as if I had a new outlook on what life really was. I always would have thoughts when I was pregnant about what being a mother would be like. I couldn’t have dreamed up what it is actually like. It’s truly the best gift, no matter how hard it may be. The next exercise focuses on common thoughts on motherhood and if they are true or false. Here’s a few on them:

  • Mothers always know why their babies cry
  • Mothers never feel frustrated with their infants
  • Mothers have to be perfect or their children will grow up to hate them.
  • Breastfeeding is the only type of feeding that provides the baby with both the necessary nutrition and interaction needed  for healthy development

All of these statements are false. There’s such an unrealistic expectation of mother’s to be perfect and what mothers should be doing. As new mothers were thrown opinions and advice that it can be hard to stand up for ourselves and make our own choices. Just know that you know what is best for your child. Everyone has a different parenting style which doesn’t make you any less of a mom.

Emotional Strategies. p.58
“Helping ourselves to calm and relax.”

Being a mom can be extremely stressful. It becomes harder to handle this stress and how we react when we become frustrated. Even though being a mother can be time consuming it’s important to still take time for yourself. This helps you get the energy and confidence to be a great mom and insures that you don’t lose yourself. There’s two skills in this section, but I’m going to focus on the second one as it’s the one I’ve applied more to my life. This skill is one you would use if you were stressed and how you can “Improve the moment.” Improve stands for:

IImagery: Imagining a relaxing place. For me this is when
I would daydream or think about my favorite place in nature.

MMeaning: Finding meaning or purpose in your experiences. This is looking at
the positive in any situation and how you can grow or learn through it.

PPrayer/Meditation/Reflection: This doesn’t have to be related to religion
or beliefs. It can simply be connecting with your earth or universe. If I
meditate I always end up going into such a peaceful state or I fall asleep.

RRelaxation: Relaxing for some can be an easy thing to do for others
it’s extremely difficult. I find that relaxing is different for everyone. It could be
deep breathing, having a bath, going for a walk, or listening to music.

O – One thing in the moment: Whatever is happening in a moment of distress,
try to focus on whatever task you are doing at hand.

V – Vacation (brief): Taking moments for yourself during the day is so important. These little vacations could be a nap, watching your favorite show, reading or painting.

E – Encouragement: Be your own motivator! Be positive and
kind to yourself.  Give yourself encouraging words if
you are feeling stressed or have a task that seems impossible.

I love this exercise because in any stressful situation you could focus on just one of these and start to feel that you can get through it. Improve is taking these skills and applying it to your life. It helps change how you react to stressful situations and conflicts.

Social Supports p.61

One main thing I’ve learned about becoming a mom is that you need support. You need people around you to encourage, love, help, and motivate you. Becoming a mom can sometimes mean changing your supports or people you want in your life. Simply just to better your life and your child. This could mean saying goodbye to previous friendships or relationships. You get to choose who you want in your life and who your support people are. This also means that you can choose and decide how you want help. Asking for help is important and necessary if you need it. Whether you are a mother or not if we don’t have supports in our lives it’s easy to feel alone and that everything is too much. There’s many exercises in this section about how your supports can help you and what you want from that support. Sometimes we can feel as if we are asking for too much. That voicing our concerns or what we need is selfish. However, it’s important to be in touch with what you need help with and what your support people can look for when you aren’t doing well.

Parenting p.81
Parenting Through Depression

Being a mother and a parent is one of the hardest, but most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. It can also seem near to impossible when you are parenting through depression. The last topic I’ll be focusing on in this chapter is the parenting section and depression. Being depressed as a parent can make you feel resentment towards your child. In a way you don’t enjoy time together. It’s so important to ask for help when you are feeling depression, especially when you are a parent. Being depressed can impact how you parent and how you see yourself as a parent.

If you are a depressed it’s important to:

  • Ask/Get Help – The hardest part is asking for help and admitting that things aren’t okay. This doesn’t make you a bad parent. It’s okay to need time for yourself. This help could be therapy or medications
  • Involve supportive relatives/friends – allowing your supports to help you when you are seeking help insures that you have the time to take care of yourself. This help could be childcare, housework or meal prep.
  • Talk to your children about your illness – When age appropriate and in a way they’ll understand. Kids tend to put blame onto themselves just like we do. Explain that you are getting help and will be better.
  • Reach out to other mothers/people with depression for support – Having people around you who understand can help you in your recovery. Support groups in your community could be helpful to share your experiences.
  • Stay connected as a family – Make time to see your family/child and spend quality time with them. Having your family and children around can help you see the positive in your life.

Becoming a mother means that you put someone before yourself, but it’s still important to take time for yourself and remember who you are. As mother’s were expecting to be perfect and happy all the time. Around our kids especially. This is unrealistic. Mother’s can feel depressed, lonely, anxious just like others do. That is OKAY. They can ask for help without feeling like they are a bad parent for doing so. It is OKAY to not be OKAY, even if you are a mother. A main thing I needed to get over when I was getting help last year, was that I wasn’t a bad parent for taking the time. Being depressed or suicidal doesn’t make me a bad mom. I felt so much guilt for feeling depressed that I thought I was a terrible parent. I know now that being depressed or getting help doesn’t define who I am as a person or a mom. Who I am and how I handle my depression/anxiety is everything. I got the strength. I found the courage to ask for help and found the meaning in my life. I needed the time for myself to be a better mom for my daughter. That is what is important, not my weaknesses. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, as a mother or not. Do NOT feel guilt or shame for how you are feeling. It is okay to admit when you feel alone. It is okay to take that time for you. You deserve that. Your life deserves that.

I apologize if this was terribly long, I tried to condense this chapter in the best way I could. Next week we’ll be looking at Chapter 3: Understanding Mothers’ Mental Health. If you want to share your exercises or experiences with this workbook you can comment below or message me on instagram.

Love yours,

Michelle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s