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How to Mom/Dad with Anxiety/Depression.

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

smile through it all

You will get through it, but it’s not always easy.


I feel like I am in a good place to write this post. If you really want to know how ass-backward it is for me to say that, I am actually struggling really, really bad right now with my anxiety. So, therefore, I know what it’s like to be on this struggle bus but still have to do all the parenting things. Heck, some even say I’m pretty good at it. So, here goes nothing.

It’s hard. I know this first hand. Some days, I do not want to get out of bed but alas, I do not have a choice because these kids cannot just raise themselves. So here are some things that have helped me get through the day as successfully as I can manage.

First things first, you have to just…

Take it one day at a time

I do not say this lightly, it is truly something that really helps me when I am mentally in a bad place. What I am really saying is to try and wake up thinking about the day ahead and not to letting any further out stressors bring you down. I know it’s hard, oh boy do I, but sometimes, when you put some effort into it, it just might work.

Usually, when I am trying to live by this motto to the best of my abilities, I will…

  1. try to wake before the kids,

  2. write in my grateful journal and

  3. make a necessary list for the day.

All of these actions help to start my day in a positive light with positive affirmations and remind me that I can only do so much in the day and that is enough. I have even heard of a friend that practices 10 minutes of meditation in her morning and it has improved her day so much. I think that I will be adding this to my list here soon.

Step away when you need to

It’s okay to take a break and catch your breath. I am referring to the moments of pure exhaustion and frustration of raising kids, you know what I’m talking about. If you are in the middle of a back and forth battle that is truly just a power struggle with your child, just tell them you need to walk away. Explain later that even Moms and Dads get very angry but instead of blowing up and losing your cool, you chose to walk away and calm your nerves. This is truly a win because in the end you are teaching your children an essential lesson in calming themselves and walking away from a frustrating situation (not all adults can even do this).

Heck, if you need to, walk outside your door and scream at the top of your lungs until it hurts. Yes, the neighbors may think you are insane but I promise it will help to blow off some of that steam and get that yelling out without taking it out on the littles. Sure, Karen may come over within minutes but just tell her you saw a big spider and you were contemplating burning the house down. If that doesn’t work, tell her the truth and let her judge. No one cares, Karen!


Be real with your kids and tell them you are having a bad day

I feel that it would truly benefit your children to talk about your anxiety and depression as soon as you think they can understand.(https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/explaining_your_anxiety_or_depression_to_your_child )Of course, the varying age and maturity of your children would change the way you talk about the subject. The terms of explaining it may change but the concept is the same. You want your children to know that when you are experiencing distress it is not their fault and that you are dealing with your own mental needs. In being open and honest with your children, you are allowing them to ask questions and take part in solutions, therefore building trust in a caring adult, which in turn helps them to thrive. There are also some great books out there to read with your kids and discuss what exactly anxiety and depression really is, you can find them in the above-referenced article.

Forgive yourself and apologize to them

It’s okay to have a freak-out. Life can be so hard, Momma/Daddy. It happens to the best of us and the people that are saying that they don’t ever have these moments are lying. Take a deep breath, go outside for some fresh air and then come back to your kids. Tell them how you are feeling and let them know it is not their fault but even Moms and Dads can mess up and have a melt-down. Then, apologize, tell them that you love them and move on. Just start over. You could even change the tune by turning on some music and having a dance party with full-on karaoke included. Being honest about these moments opens up the door to many conversations in the future when they feel they are dealing with something similar. You will want that, I promise.

apologize

Take your kids on individual dates

I have found that dates with the kids have helped our relationships and in turn that affects the way, they communicate with me. And yes, it truly affects my well-being, as well as theirs.  If you work on your relationship with them, in the end, it will help the interactions that can sometimes affect your anxiety, (this is coming from a Mom with some crazy, chaotic mornings). Spending this time with your kids and seeing them as the individuals that they are and vice versa is so refreshing and good for your tired soul. Sometimes when we are in the busy mundane of everyday life, we don’t get to take the moments to see the little people that they are becoming.

Plus, how nice is it to see your little one smile and tell you a little bit about him/herself without their sibling interrupting them. They love having your undivided attention and you will love the special memories you can always hold onto. What I love, too is that the kids get to pick the destination and it will vary from kid to kid. My one child loves to go to the kitty rescue and my other child loves to go play laser tag or have a nerf-gun fight. The night is young.


Get better at saying No

This one is actually referring to outside events and things that could cause undue stress on your family. I’m not gonna lie, we lead a very busy and usually stressful life. So, when we can cut something out that we know will cause more stress than added quality time, it feels good.

Instead of going to that outing that the kids are not looking forward to, why not have a family movie night complete with popcorn, fuzzy blankets, and cuddles. Or there is always the option of a family game night that is a learning experience for all and can help the kids in their own social settings in the future.

I am still learning this and it is hard for me because guilt plays too much of a part in my life. Little by little the act of saying no is becoming less foreign and more comforting. Listen to the first feeling you get when you get an invite to something. Go with that feeling. Not the guilt of feeling like you have to do it to make that person happy. How is it making you or your family feel? That’s what matters most.

family time

Photo by Benjamin Manley on Unsplash


So you are having friends over or throwing a big birthday party, Now what?

(I love parties and I have extreme anxiety, so this is one I feel like I have learned a lot about over the years).

Anxiety comes in swinging when a big event is taking place and even, if you are like me, it can come with the smaller shindigs of just having a few friends over for dinner. So, what can you do besides canceling the whole thing and throwing in the towel?

Well, here are some strategies that have helped calm my nerves (okay, I didn’t say get rid of my anxiety but at least bring it down a few notches):

First and foremost, a new process that we have decided on in my house is to talk to my husband first before I commit to any type of activity. This is not in any way for him to be controlling of what I am doing. Instead, he knows that I tend to impulsively make plans and then regret them later because I didn’t give it time to think about it. When I go to talk to him about it later, sometimes I have already decided against the idea or he can talk me through how I can make it less stressful on myself. Plus, if I am being completely honest, Shannon hates making plans and I have to talk him into it first, so his lack of plans and my impulsivity is the perfect compromise in the middle.  It’s the perfect plan. Not sure why it took me this long to figure it out.

OK, so you decided to go ahead and have the shindig, now what?

Ask for help. For me, it is my husband. We had already talked about the event and we both committed, so now he knows the volcano that is my anxiety and he is ready to extinquish that fire by helping me through it. I am a list person, so I get out my trusty dry-erase board and write out all of the things I would like to have done before the event. He can see it, I can see it, the kids can see it (ha ha! I know, that’s funny but we always try) and we have a plan. Anything not on that board is not part of the plan. Let it be.

This one is haaarrrddd for me but you have to lower your expectations. Lower them, I don’t want to hear how Susan made all of her children’s décor out of toothpicks and when the kids were little….nope, just stop it right now, you are having the event, no one cares what the décor looks like. If you don’t have the time to clean all 3 bathrooms, just clean one. Yup, you heard me right. Clean the one, leave that door open and lock the other two. That’s it, end of story. Any rooms that are not to be used can be locked and closed off, no explanations needed. It’s that simple. Choose one thing for the party that means so very much to you and put a little more time into that (for me, it’s the homemade birthday cake or cupcakes, that’s a must) and then use the KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetheart) method. I promise, you will enjoy the day more and you will not be utterly exhausted from the strain of rushing around and trying to do everything perfectly and over the top. This is coming from the woman that used to have a themed party with all appetizers as part of that theme with labels that are handwritten for every app, handmade favors, handmade décor (as far as drawing out the posters that matched the theme) and even one year, the whole family dressing up as the Wizard of Oz. Yes, I have gone way too far and it wore me the F%@* out! I am done doing that to myself and to my family.

Lastly, plan ahead and start early. I will start getting everything ready and set up the week before a big party. This helps my anxiety big time, knowing that it is coming together and it will not be me rushing around last minute. If you must have those homemade favors, then plan to do them weeks ahead and if that time passes and they are not made, scratch them off of your list and move on. No one cares if they got the crocheted flowers made into a bouget, although the compliments can be uplifting.

And if I’m going to be real here, sometimes it’s just better if you don’t do it. Take your daughter to a special event, take your son on an adventure with one friend. The memories will still be there and you will have that special one on one time with your kiddo, without worrying if you included everyone and made it hospitable.

Thank you so much for following along and I hope that you got something out of this post and maybe you could find someone else to send it to that might benefit. Life can be so very hard sometimes but it is so worth the work that you put in.

All my love,

~Amanda

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