Raising a family has its ups and downs there are easy times, and times that are hard. Whether it’s life changes, kid’s milestones, or new chapters in your family’s life, it can be stressful, filled with worry, fear, and even sadness. Don’t worry you aren’t alone, and there are things you can do to help navigate these seasons with a little more ease.
I’ve recently hit one of those tough seasons of parenting.
I didn’t see it coming, not that it was unexpected necessarily, more that I didn’t expect how hard it would hit me.
It wasn’t something dramatic or crazy, but just the natural progression of life that kind of hit all at once, and has been way harder on me than I expected it to be.
Do you know what I mean?
They come naturally throughout our parenting journey, those milestones that we know are coming but when they do it shocks us how much we feel the effect. The last time you breastfeed your baby, when they go off to school, when you make the decision not to have any more kids, when they go to college….
They are these moments in life, that we are glad to see come, that we know mean that our children are happy, healthy and thriving, but sometimes, as a mom, it takes time for our heart to catch up to what our brain knows.
Right now, in my life, my oldest moved out and my middle one got his license. These are big steps in life, they are them spreading their wings and taking steps toward independence and becoming the amazing adults I know they are going to be, but boy is it hard on me.
These moments come with crazy amounts of fear and worry, they create shifts in your family dynamic, and the mark time passing and how incredibly fast it goes.
And they are hard.
So I wanted to share, that if you are going through one of these periods yourself you are not alone. Whether you just sent your baby to pre-school, or unpacked their dorm room, the feelings are the same, the adjustment takes a while, and it can be hard. You can feel like you’re alone, like you are crazy for feeling this way, after all its normal life stuff right?
But you’re not crazy, you’re not overreacting, you’re a mom and we carry all the worry and all the fear. We put on our brave face and smile because we want our kids to be happy, we want them not to be afraid, so we hold onto it so they don’t have to. There is a sadness that comes with these times, the knowledge that your life has changed and it won’t go back, time keeps marching on, kids keep growing, and things keep changing, and that can feel like a loss.
I’d love to tell you that in 22 years of being a mom I’ve learned to navigate this stuff with ease, but the truth is, I haven’t. So instead I offer the knowledge that you are not alone, and a little bit of advice on what helps me through these hard parts.
Take Care of Yourself-
When I get overwhelmed, when I feel sad or worried my first instinct is to stay in bed, eat all the chocolate, and watch re-runs of Gilmore Girls. Now I’m not saying that doing that is always bad (I’ll get to that in a minute) but when we are going through times where our emotions are all over the place that is a time where we need to refocus and take care of ourselves. Make sure you’re drinking enough water, get your exercise, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, take the time for a nice long shower or bath. The weight we carry sometimes can make us feel exhausted which can translate into not taking care of ourselves. But maintaining healthy habits can help your mental state, it can give you something to focus on, and it can help fill your cup when it’s feeling pretty bone dry.
Practice Gratitude –
Gratitude and negative emotions can’t live in the same place. So when I feel myself feeling overcome I like to focus on what I am thankful for. In times like these where life is happening and it’s hard for me to deal with I like to focus on being thankful that my boys are healthy, that they are capable, that I get to see them grow and be a part of their lives. The very things that I’m feeling all the feelings about can also be things that I am thankful for. This reframing, or finding gratitude can help you deal with the big emotions as they come.
If you need someplace to practice gratitude & get a little encouragement take a look at my printable gratitude journal designed specifically for moms!
Let it Out –
There is nothing wrong with having a good cry. That eating chocolate in bed I mentioned before? It is a viable option, but only a temporary one. Let it out. For you that might mean crying on the shoulder of a good friend, or it might mean crying in the shower so you can let it out in private. It might mean taking a couple of days to let yourself be in a funk while your mind sorts out all of the ways you are feeling. Wallowing isn’t healthy, and neitiher is stuffing all of your emotions down, so find a happy medium. Eat some ice cream, go through old pictures and laugh and cry, sometimes letting it out is what you need to do to let it go.
Remember it’s a Season –
Nothing in this crazy life is permanent. The way you are feeling right now? It will get better eventually, and then it will pop up again at another time. That is the roller coaster of parenting , there are times that everything feels perfect, times where you struggle, and times in between where you are just cruising along. But they all come and go, then come again, kids keep growing, time keeps flying by, and your family will keep changing. So if you are going through something hard now remember that it won’t last forever, and you can handle it, you have before and you will again.
Lean Into it-
I remember the first time that I heard that phrase I wondered what it meant. But what it means is try to embrace the changes, rather than resist what is happening and clinging to the old, move forward into the now. Realize that changes lead to more exciting things, things like your child getting their license means less running around for you so you’ll have some extra time. Your child going to school means fun field trips and cute art projects. If you can reframe your focus from what is leaving to what is coming it can help alleviate some of the sense of loss or sadness.
Get Help if You Need it-
If you’ve hung around me before you may know that I am a big fan of therapy. Not every life change needs a trip to the therapist, but sometimes they do. Sometimes changes or events trigger things inside us that need to be dealt with, they can open old wounds or dredge up memories that are best forgotten. So if you need help seek it out, it doesn’t have to be a therapist, it can be a good friend, your partner, your own mom, or anyone that you trust enough to open up to. If you are really struggling you don’t have to go it alone, there are plenty of others who have navigated this path before.
Mom life is tough, just when you think you’ve figured it out something changes. Navigating these changes can be a challenge, it can be painful, but it can help us grow, help us learn, and put us in the place to help our kids when they become parents.
Just know you’re not alone momma, while you’re eating chocolate and crying in the bathroom there is another mom somewhere doing the same thing, and we’re all going to get through it!