As the flowers begin to bloom around us, it’s hard to ignore the resilience and beauty of nature. It seems fitting that we celebrate Mother’s Day this time of year, as mothers personify this same resilience and strength—despite the many ups and downs of parenting.
Raising children is one of life’s most rewarding yet toughest responsibilities. Unlike a 9-5 job, you can’t clock out when your shift is over or call in sick. Instead, you work tirelessly to ensure your kids are both happy and healthy, but this isn’t always an easy task. And living with a mental illness can make the job that much harder.
Understanding How Mental Health Affects Parenting
With the constant juggling of raising a family, managing a career, and trying to be a role model to your kids, you may begin to experience a variety of mental health care concerns, including:
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Feeling Guilty
- Feeling Ashamed
- Feeling like a Failure
- Feeling Anxious
And though you may also struggle with low energy, social anxiety, or low self-esteem from time to time, you must remember that having a mental illness doesn’t make you less of a person or less of a parent! The key to better health and wellness is discovering ways to help manage your symptoms, so you can get back to feeling like the amazing mother you already are!
How To Make Mental Health a Priority When You’re a Mom
Keep Communication Open: It’s important for moms to establish a strong support system. By openly communicating with partners, family members, and close friends about how your mental illness can and does affect you, you can ensure everyone is on the same page. For example, if your depression sometimes keeps you from getting out of bed or taking your child to school, you already have someone you trust nearby to step in and provide help.
Educate Your Kids: While many moms may instinctively want to shelter their kids from their mental illness, raising a child who understands your condition can encourage him to practice tolerance, consideration, and compassion. According to RaisingChildren.net.au, “Depending on the age of your child, it might also help to talk with your child about your illness. This might help him to cope better, understand when you’re not well, and know that the situation isn’t his fault.”
Practice Self-Care: While your kids are a top priority, self-care must also take precedence. Some forms of self-care may include taking time to be alone, doing an enjoyable activity like reading, or attending individual therapy.
In an article written by Anne Theriault in the Washington Post, Theriault describes the real-life challenges of being a mom with a mental illness: “Accepting that there are some days that I have to spend in bed, and learning not to feel guilt-ridden about the fact that those are days I miss out on spending time with my son, is a form of self-care. . . . And… trying to let go of all the ways that I perceive myself as failing as a mother is a form of self-care. I have to take care of myself, because I have to be there for my son.”
Ask a Mental Health Specialist for Help: It may prove beneficial to meet with a professional therapist or psychologist to discuss your mental health concerns. There are many positive and effective mental health treatments available, including individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy to help moms find support and cope with their individual symptoms.
One of the most important things a mom can do is take care of herself, and this begins with first taking care of her mental health.
From all of us at The Calli Institute, we wish you a very happy Mother’s Day and encourage you to use this special holiday for some much deserved self-care time.