The year is almost over and, you know what? 2017 should have been a brilliant year for me but I have spent a good chunk of it feeling unhappy. When Alex was born last October I never could have imagined I would be spending so much of his first year feeling sad and battling with anxiety but yet, unfortunately, that has been the reality of 2017 for me. Being a parent is so hard at times and some days, even if you don’t have post natal depression, it can be hard to get a genuine smile on your face. Raising children is the worlds most difficult job and us parents give so much of ourselves to our little people that it is no wonder we can often feel run down, emotional and upset.
As the year has progressed I have started to feel better and I am a lot happier this December than I was in January. I am so relieved to be seeing the year out on a high note and no longer living under the heavy black cloud of PND. It hasn’t been easy to get to this point and I would be lying if I said I no longer have bad days, I don’t think anyone can say they have been happy for 365 days in a row though, can they? I have worked really hard on looking after my mental wellbeing over the past year and it is such a relief to be about to enter a new year as the happy version of myself I knew I was capable of becoming again – nice try PND but I knew I could beat you. My work is not done though, I am determined to keep up my quest for happiness and to become a more positive parent for my boys and for my own wellbeing too. If you too want to feel happier as a mum and want to try and ease yourself away from a dark place to somewhere more positive, then here is a list of things I have done and continue to do every day to try and keep negativity (from myself and others) away. Let’s all make 2018 a year full of positivity, happiness and confidence – we got this mamas!
14 things you can do to become a happier and more positive mum.
1. Open up – If you are feeling depressed or even if you are just feeling a bit down, talk to someone. Tell your partner, a trusted friend, your mum, your health visitor ; don’t keep your feelings locked away as it will only end up making you feel worse.
2. Write – I wrote about my struggles with post natal depression on my blog and just getting all the horrible thoughts out of my head and on to paper (screen) really really helped. Writing is so cathartic and you don’t have to do it publicly if you don’t want to. You could keep a journal or just scribble in a notebook or even in the notes part of your phone; writing your thoughts and feelings out can help you to start make sense of them and figure out what it is you need to happen next for you to feel better.
3. Seek support – If you think you are struggling with post natal depression there are loads of charities out there, full of lovely people who are trained to help and support you through this difficult time. I spoke to my health visitor and GP when my mental health was at it’s worst, it can be hard to talk to a medical professional but just remember that they are there to help you and they will never judge you for the way you are feeling.
4. Stop comparing – Stop comparing yourself to that mum at play group who seems to be nailing every aspect of motherhood. Stop comparing your baby who’s not quite walking yet to that younger baby who has been running around since it was 9 months old. Stop comparing your life to everyone else’s and instead start enjoying the life you have. I played the comparison game for a long time and it gets you nowhere. Appreciating everything I have and everything I do makes me feel so much better than sitting on social media feeling miserable that my life doesn’t look as perfect as everyone else’s.
5. Ditch the mum guilt – I hate mum guilt. I don’t think there is a way to completely eradicate it (I wish there was!) but there are ways we can deal with it that will help stop the guilt taking over everything we do. Whenever I feel guilty over something I am doing (letting Leo watch TV, for example) , I acknowledge the guilt and then tell it to do one. It really is that simple. You are an amazing mum, you do so much for your kids every single day, you give them every bit of you that you can possibly give and if you want to sit them in front of Paw Patrol for 20 minutes so you can have a cup of coffee then just do it and tell that stupid, worthless mum guilt to get lost.
6. Blog – Granted, blogging isn’t for everyone but I can’t stress enough how much happiness blogging has brought to my life. If I feel like something is getting me down I write about it and, more often than not, I am met with an amazing response from other mums who have read my post who are feeling just like me. That realisation that you are not on your own in the hardships of motherhood is amazing and so powerful; when you have so many other mums telling you they have been through exactly what you are going through it really helps you to see that there is a light at the end of the sleep deprived, tantrum filled tunnel. Also, having a place to just be yourself and be creative is something all mums can benefit from, when your day is full of looking after someone else and just being ‘mummy’, it is nice to have a place you can go that is just for you and reclaim some of that person you were before kids came along – for me that person was someone who loved to write. Also, the blogging community is massive and, for the most part, full of lovely people. Some of my loveliest friends are those I have met through blogging.
7. Be social media smart – If you are feeling a bit low, spending time on social media can sometimes make you feel worse. Scrolling through Instagram you can easily think everyone else out there is living this amazing perfect life but remember, social media just gives us tiny snippets of what other peoples lives are really like. Don’t be fooled by everything you see and read, most parents have their hard days too, where they haven’t left the house and the baby has been crying for hours while the toddler has yet another tantrum. Also, don’t confuse your self worth and your likeability with how many followers you have and how many people like the things you post online. You are amazing and it doesn’t really matter if you have ten or ten thousand followers, you are still pretty awesome either way.
8. Gratitude – For Mother’s Day this year I asked for a gratitude journal as I was still struggling with depression and needed something to help me feel more positive. My boys delivered and bought me 100 days of Gratitude , taking the time to reflect on all the good things about my day and writing them all down in my journal really helped to shift my mindset to a happier place. I rarely write in the journal now but I do mentally list everything good about my day while I am winding down in the evenings, it really helps to get some perspective and to see that happiness can be found in the small everyday moments.
9. Realise you are not on your own – Voice your struggles to other mums and you will soon see that you are not the only parent facing these challenges. Chat to mums at toddler group, read blogs, join facebook groups, talk to friends and family who have children too. My whole outlook on parenting changed when I started to discover that I wasn’t in fact the only mum who has a bitey child, or the only mum who suffered with intrusive thoughts for example. If you are looking for honest conversations on motherhood to listen to then I can’t recommend the Not Another Mummy Podcast enough, I love listening to other mums just telling it like it is and talking about certain aspects of motherhood that are usually not so openly discussed. If you want to join a supportive facebook community, I have recently launched Naptime Natter Mums and, from January, I will be making this a lovely and positive place for mums to come together and support each other.
10. Let go of the negativity – I have been channelling my inner Elsa lately and by letting go of all the negativity in my life instead of dwelling on it I am beginning to really notice a difference to my mood. I have so many times felt judged for the way I bring up my boys and in the past if anyone looked at me in a certain way or made any kind of derogatory comment, I would let it completely ruin my day. I would focus completely on what they said or how they rolled their eyes and shook their head, wasting hours doubting myself and feeling really rubbish. Worrying about stuff like this gets you nowhere so now when something crappy happens in my day I just let it go. I don’t waste my energy dwelling on it and instead just carry on about my business. If you want to be a happier mum? Don’t let the actions of people who don’t know you or your situation properly have a negative impact on your life.
11. Pick your battles – If I wanted to, I could spend the whole entire day arguing with my four year old. He is at that stage now where he is desperate for his independence and to be in charge and, unfortunately, most of the time he still needs to listen to mummy and daddy and do as he is told. I don’t want to spend my life having arguments over every little thing though so I have learnt to pick my battles. If he wants a banana instead of the apple I offered him then it doesn’t matter, it’s still fruit. If he wants me to read the same book to him twice instead of reading the selection of books I’ve got out for him then that’s also fine, at least he wants to enjoy a story with me. Sometimes you really do have to put your foot down as a parent but there are situations where it is totally ok to bend the rules slightly and let your little one take control.
12. Own your parenting style – The best advice I can give to any new mum is to just do what feels right for you and your family. No parent is the same as the next and we each have our own way of doing things. Just because your mum friend doesn’t like babywearing, doesn’t mean you have to stop doing it if it’s your thing. If all your friends bottle feed but you really want to breastfeed then go for it. Maybe your friend is in to gentle parenting but you can’t help but get a bit shouty sometimes, perhaps everyone you know is doing baby led weaning but you really like the idea of spoon feeding. How you decide to bring up your baby is your choice and it is totally fine to listen and respect how others raise their kids but if you really want to do something a certain way then be confident in your decision, own it and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for your decision. The best parenting advice? Just do you!
13. Cherish the good times – Stop thinking about how your toddler screamed the whole way around Asda and then planked for 20 minutes while you were trying to get him into his car seat. Instead, think about the cute little way he tried to sing along to the song playing on the radio on your drive home, or the way he asked for a cuddle and put his podgy little arms around your neck. Stop thinking about how your baby spent the whole night crying and instead marvel at how his little face lights up when he sees you and the way he giggles when you play peek-a-boo. When you are raising tiny humans very rarely can you make it right through to bedtime without some kind of drama, just don’t let those difficult moments be the only thing you remember about your day when you are finally dragging yourself up to bed that night. Think about all those happy little moments too.
14. Stop striving for perfection – Nothing is perfect in life. Nothing. Stop trying to create this glossy, perfect family life that only exists in films and magazines and ends up making you feel rubbish and exhausted when you can’t quite pull it all off. Real life with kids is hard, wonderful in so many ways but really difficult too. Sometimes just making it through the day with a baby is an amazing achievement. Stop putting pressure on yourself to do all the stuff that could only possibly happen in the slightly warped fantasy version of motherhood you created in your mind pre-children. Instead, enjoy the time you have with your babies the best you can and if that means sitting on the sofa, cuddled up with them in your arms, still all dressed in your pjs at 2pm then that is totally fine!
Want to come and be a part of a brand new Facebook community that can help you become a happier and more positive mum? Come join me over at Naptime Natter Mums, a place for mums to honestly share their experiences of motherhood and to help each other along the way.
Would you say you are a happy parent or do you tend to focus too much on the negative? I would love to hear your tips on how you keep your mood high and the things you do to be a positive mum for both yourself and your kids. If you have been struggling lately, I hope this post has helped.
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