I took a nap on Mother’s Day.
That’s one of those treats moms should indulge in on Mother’s Day, right?
But did it rest and relax me or recharge my batteries? No. I think there’s something biologically wrong with me, because I wake up groggy after a nap.
Like many parents in the midst of a global pandemic, I’ve struggled
with burnout. I am an overthinker, and
probably have had anxiety all my life, but the last two years has
brought it to a new level. I’ve always been a busy person, but
adding the craziness of children’s schedules to the mix has made it hard
to keep up. I’m working on self-motivation and giving myself the
grace to get tasks done at whatever pace I can.
It intrigues me that Mother’s Day falls during Mental Health Awareness Month, because I think society, well, doesn’t focus on mothers’ mental health. If a mom is tired or struggling, the response is usually, “oh well, that’s motherhood” or “you signed up for this…” or worse, “don’t you want to be a mother anymore?”
I don’t want to overlook the dads and other parenting figures out there, so I will point out the obvious: parenting is hard. I think it’s harder than in previous generations, because our ancestors didn’t have infinite knowledge at their fingertips – which basically gives us more things to worry about — and they weren’t constantly bombarded with “highlight reels” on social media. And while I’m aware my musings may be considered whining, I feel empathy is at an all-time low lately.
So we need to develop empathy for ourselves. Here’s where I bring up that overused term, “selfcare,” apparently an ingredient in maintaining good mental health. But what is it?
I was talking about my family’s crazy schedule with a friend, who asked, “when was the last time you did something for yourself?” I laughed, because in my “mommy mindset,” it’s wrong to take time for yourself.
“No, really,” she pressed. “What do you do for yourself?”
The truth is, the search for what I consider selfcare feels like another chore on my to-do list. Which stresses me out even more.
I like bubble baths, in theory. But when I have the time to indulge, the tub isn’t comfortable and the water gets cold and I don’t have the right light to read…
I tried to institute family coloring time, where we’d sit together in the evenings and color or draw. Maybe it was the teeny-tiny print in the color-by-numbers book, or my weird habit of pressing REALLY HARD with the colored pencils that tired out my hands, but I didn’t find that exercise relaxing either.
Taking a meaningless drive used to clear my head. When my girls were younger, it was the best way to get them to nap. Now that they’re older, though, they don’t fall asleep in the car so readily and more to the point, they don’t like long car rides. And with rising gas prices, that is no longer relaxing.
I’m working on changing my mindset from “selfcare” to “self compassion.” Even if my world won’t ease up on me, I’m trying to ease up on myself.
I’ve said “no” lately – and tried to squelch the accompanying guilt. I’m trying to be more open about when and how I’m struggling, if only to find solidarity with others experiencing similar struggles.
And I try to sneak in a few indulgences. I gave myself time to browse recently and came out of a store with a pack of thank you notes and stickers to seal the envelopes! They’re useful, yes, but they also made me happy.
Fellow parents, where are you in the journey to discover what recharges your batteries? I’d love to hear what works for you – and what doesn’t.
And if you’re struggling right now, know you’re not alone.