I’m just going to say it. As a mom, the idea of work life balance is unreal, unattainable and unhealthy. It’s no wonder that motherhood puts you at a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
There is no balance.
When I think about balance I think about a scale and each side having just the right amount of me. It’s just not possible.
I often hear from women, that while they are working they are thinking about home and while they are home they are thinking about work. I heard a great quote the other day. “Women are expected to work as if they don’t have kids, and mother as if they don’t work.” This notion is not only unattainable but dangerous to a working mom.
There is also a huge lack of balance for stay at home moms. They are home all day with their kids; entertaining, breaking up fights, wiping butts and making sure the kids don’t die. They don’t get breaks. I don’t ever hear women tell me how they clock out when dad gets home and get all sorts of me time.
Having said all this, depression and anxiety in motherhood can manifest in lots of ways. Those moments when you lash out in anger at your kids for seemingly no reason? That anger is often just a front for anxiety. You see, all the stresses of motherhood and life really add up. You’re feeling overwhelmed and overloaded and simple things send you into a rage. And then comes the guilt and remorse that inevitably follows one of these “mom rages.”
You wake up earlier than your alarm, because you have a list of things that need to get done running through your head. Now you are overtired and irritated, which in turn has you feeling mad at the world. Work is affected and home is affected and everyone in your path is likely feel your wrath. This struggle to be everything to everyone is how anxiety manifests in motherhood.
Here are some ways to avoid the mom anxiety monster:
Have days where you say yes more than no. If you’re like me some days you say no just because. Because you don’t want to clean up the mess of popsicles or play doh. Or because its outside of the normal schedule. Whatever the reason for the no, perhaps on this day, it can be a yes.
Take a time out. You feel your anger long before you snap. You know it’s just a matter of time before you unleash the “momster.” This might be a good time to put a movie on, give the kids a tablet or put the baby in the crib for a few moments. Even if you don’t have the ability to leave for a real break. Give yourself two minutes (or five if you can) and lock yourself in the bathroom and breathe. If you can, try to quiet your mind and be still. Use a grounding technique, mindful app or even find a quick guided meditation on YouTube and try to let go and emotionally reset.
Apologize when you lose it. This is important for a lot of reasons. One of which is that kids are rarely apologized to by adults. In doing this we not only model what this looks like, but it also shows children what it looks like to be authentically remorseful. Use these moments to teach kids about feelings. “Remember when mommy yelled? I am so sorry. Mommy was feeling overwhelmed and angry. Here is what I am going to try to do next time instead of yell….”
Give yourself grace. Especially now while the weather is still hot. Swimming can count as baths. They can survive off of snacks rather than the normal balanced organic meals we carefully plan normally. Routines are important but so is your sanity. You got this mom.