There’s no two ways about it – parenthood is tough, mentally draining and (sometimes) depressing. So how do we cope; live well and find the inner strength (and patience) to be the best version of ourselves?
We asked members of our community; and here’s what they had to say.
Are you a read and write or visual learner? If you are, bullet journaling might just be the perfect fit for you. Find our your learning type in our quiz here.
A bullet journal is a very personal method of organisation that was developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The reason why parents in our community love it is precisely because of how customizable it is – organise meal plans, learning activities, weekend plans, record poo, brainstorm sensory play all in tandem with your child’s development and milestones.
For me personally, I did this a lot while breastfeeding using the Microsoft To Do app (formerly Wunderlist) on my phone. The best thing about the To Do app is that individual lists can be shared with different individuals – so I shared my meal planning list with my domestic helper, who then cooked and prepared meals even when I was out and about, without my direct supervision.
My daughter had many issues with constipation, so I had a list of probiotic foods e.g. miso, yoghurt, that I snuck regularly into our meals. I made a tracker to note when she pooped, which was really helpful whenever we visited the paediatrician.
For visual learners, making pretty doodles while setting up the bullet journal can be very meditative. Arranging tasks and schedules neatly in a visually pleasing manner can also help visual learners process and prioritise their tasks better.
Ultimately, it’s the concept of making a habit of organising tasks that helps to significantly relieve the mental load for many of us parents. Here are some lists / trackers that our parent community has voted to be the most useful:-
- Food / Meal planning – my kid complains whenever we repeat or cook a similar to dish to what she’s had in school! So I plan my meals and grocery shopping list according to the school menu – our helper knows every Monday and Friday, she cooks fish and every Tuesday and Thursday she cooks soup. (M, parent of a fussy five year old)
- Cleaning Schedule – as a stay-at-home mom without a helper, it’s very easy to lose track of what toys have been cleaned. My cleaning schedule in a journal allows for me to be flexible; and ensure that everything is disinfected and cleaned on a regular basis. Especially now with covid-19, I’m quite particular about that! (S, mother of two boys)
- Gratitude Log – it’s very overwhelming, being a stay-at-home mom and some days, I don’t feel like I accomplish anything. My gratitude log helps me be thankful for the little victories, which motivates me on my worst days (D, mother of four).
- Goal setting – As a tiger mom, I set aside short-term and long-term learning goals for us to achieve. This motivates my children and helps me organise / plan what to teach them next. I’m never at a loss when we have unexpected pockets of free time. There’s always somewhere to go, an activity to do! (F, mother of three)
How can you start?
Well first of all, there’s absolutely no need to buy a new notebook, or anything new. Simply pick up a spare notebook, get a pencil and pen; and start noting down everything, in bullet form!
As you get into the habit, you can begin sorting out and organising things accordingly. The best thing about the bullet journal is the relief you feel from putting down and organising your thoughts elsewhere, instead of the perpetual feeling of anxiety that you may have forgotten something. There are also many free printables on the web, which you can download for a start.
As time goes on, feel free to experiment, find inspiration through #bulletjournal on Instagram, or google it! My little girl has caught onto the practice and has been practicing writing one or two lines a day (penmanship practice and English practice yay!) about her day in her own little notebook.
The Great Outdoors
(a shot captured by mommy J on her morning run – I get up in the wee hours before my children get ready to school because I just love seeing the sun rise and spending that quiet few moments to myself appreciating the beauty all around me.)
Whether it’s a long meditative walk or a run, being out in the great outdoors has scientifically been proven to lower depression and help us recover from stress.
Remaining in urban environments (or any environment with children) that presents constant stimulation can result in cognitive fatigue, an “invisible” type of stress that can significantly diminish our mental clarity and focus.
Interestingly, scientists have found that the presence of “aquatic scenes” to be particularly soothing for our mental health.
(shot captured by another mommy H when out with her children – I make it a habit to get my children out and about every weekend so that they don’t go crazy, or drive me crazy in our tiny little house!)
How can you start?
Include your children in your plans! Getting children out in the great outdoors provides an outlet for them to get rid of all that excess energy. Alternatively, work out a time when you’ve dropped them off for classes, just a quick 20 minute walk makes a huge difference (though our parent community tells us sometimes they wake up as early as 5am to clock a two hour walk!)
Commit to setting aside that time regularly, three times a week. You might find it tough dragging yourself out the first few weeks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s amazing!
I didn’t realise I was holding onto so much stress and anxiety, until I started my daily walk, after being dragged along by my neighbours in the wee hours of the morning. I thought that giving up precious sleep to see the sun rise was a crazy thing to do. Now I find it to be such an irreplaceable part of my daily routine! It refreshes me and puts me in a great mood to start the day and get the kids ready for school. (Mommy J)
Spa / Self care Day
I always set aside time for what I call a “spa” day. It might be a few hours at a hair salon, 1 hour at the manicurist, or just 10 mins with a face mask. I need to feel like I’m not a mess! Somehow, when I know I look good, I just feel more at peace, more confident and like I can overcome any obstacles with calm and grace.
We spend 24/7 caring after others and ensuring their needs are well met, but what about ours? Over time, the stress and unhappiness of feeling neglected and alone can be incredibly depressing. Make it a point to have a regular self care day, if this is what you’ve been struggling with.
I used to be really unhappy because I felt no one was taking care of my needs, but at the same time I felt this was selfish because my husband was incredibly busy with work, while my children could not even take care of themselves. I eventually realised that I needed to do it myself and make myself feel good, rather than depending and waiting on others. I paid for a spa package and never looked back. – N, mother of two.
One of the hotly debated points of discussion amongst our parent community was that their husbands weren’t do anything to pamper them. But in this day and age, why are we relying and waiting around for the men to do something?
Making time and paying for our own self-care, isn’t weakness or something to be ashamed of.
Knowing your needs, meeting your needs to help you live your best life, is a strength. These days, many home-based massage services are available to help rub your worries and anxieties away.
Dramas / Games / Hobbies
Most of us do this already and escapism (whether in the form of books or media) can be extremely therapeutic. The key? Finding a method of escapism that doesn’t cause you additional stress, or is overly addictive that causes you to lose sight of your parenting and familial obligations.
The ultimate drama I’d recommend is Angry Mom! This Kdrama opened my eyes to the “unseen” world of teenage angst we adults have long forgotten. It helped me improve my own relationship with my oldest teen. We watched it together and now we’ve so much to talk about! (Mommy I, mom of 1 toddler and two teenagers)
It’s not really feasible for us to dress up as school girls and go to school to find out why your child has become closed off and moody – but kdramas like Angry Mom touched on many topics dear and painful to our hearts.
We watched it on Netflix!
Alternatively, look for shows / games / hobbies that tie-in with your own interest!
Gaining new perspectives and feeling that there’s something beyond the bubble of parenthood, can relieve your mental stress and ease feelings of anxiety.
As a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes feel unsatisfied with the quality of conversation I get with my infant (lol). When we converse over lunch, it’s basically, ahh, ahhh, mmm! You know?! In my game however, I’m one of the guild leaders and I lead the guild in completing quests, planning raids and hustle for special items. It’s a different kind of excitement and I feel great whenever I accomplish something online. People in my guild don’t see me as a mother or a woman either – they respect me for my skills and leadership. I feel validated, appreciated and productive. (L, mom of 1)
Quite a few members of our community are avid fans of mobile games, especially breastfeeding mommies who find need for some entertainment whilst pumping or breastfeeding. What games have you been playing? Let us know in the comments below!
I find spending my time with games better than social media because social media is really toxic for me and I always feel depressed after seeing perfect parents living perfect lives with perfect happy children. (Mommy R, mother of 2 toddlers)
Knowing yourself and your triggers, as well as what soothes you or calms you down, is critical in achieving balance and living your best life.
Hobbies that our parent community has also recommended are – pottery, polymer clay crafting, origami, painting. Finding what appeals to you might take time. Activities such as pottery and polymer clay are very hands-on, which kinaesthetic types find to be very soothing. On the other hand, origami or paper cutting is a very precise art, which some enjoy because it is entirely within their control and accomplishing a certain level of precision results in a specific product, which is a satisfying process – a contrast to our unpredictable children.
What helps you cope in your parenting journey? Share with us!
The Mumsclub community is a supportive community that walks every step of the way with you in your parenthood journey. Share your knowledge and expertise with us! Reach out at our WhatsApp to let us know your interest to contribute and make an impact on our community today!