I’ve been having trouble writing lately. At first I thought it was an end of term downer because I’m frantically busy and distracted. But it’s more than that. I realise now that at certain times, for many different reasons, you just get bogged down in what can only be described as a ‘funk’. Nothing seems funny or entertaining – it all just feels mundane and too hard. The last couple of weeks have been a bit this way for me.
It’s really hard to come up with positive insights about your life when the dreariness sets in. Yes, we can count our blessings, enjoy each other’s company and feel full of gratitude on some days. But on other days, let’s face it, we can also just feel cranky, tired and resentful. These days, or weeks, of family life are as much the reality of parenting as any others.
Like most of us, I’m trying really hard to keep my head above water.
So what can we do when life feels like this? Here are my top 5 tips for handling life when all just gets too busy and overwhelming:
1. Get some sleep.
Small tasks feel insurmountable without it. You are not going to be at your best for anyone of anything without sleep, so do whatever you can to get some. Maybe you have a relative or friend who will watch the kids for you for a couple of hours while you nap? Or maybe your partner might take the kids to the park for you for a while? Either way, the kids are not going to be adversely affected by you taking a little time out for yourself. It is good for them to understand that you are a real person with needs too. Go to bed!
2. Talk to someone who understands you.
Nothing is better chicken soup for the soul than a good conversation with someone who sees the best in you. You are highly capable and are a wonderful mother/father/parent/guardian. Sometimes it’s ok to fall in a heap, we all do. We all have self-doubts and times where we question our abilities: not just as a parent, but as a partner, workmate, colleague or team member.
It is impossible to be all things to all people all the time.
Let yourself feel like a failure sometimes. Chat, whinge, bitch and complain, then allow your friend help you straighten that crown and get back up – that’s what friends are for. And return the favour when needed!
3. Work out what your body needs, and nourish it.
It might be a walk up a mountain, it might be a long soak in the tub, it might be a ‘medicinal’ bottle of wine, it might be a day in bed…whatever it is – DO IT! In times of stress and anguish, be a mother to yourself and allow yourself to take some much needed time-out for you. You wouldn’t begrudge another doing it – in fact I’m sure you would offer this very advice to a friend in the same situation. Be kind to yourself and realise that looking after ourselves is an essential part of ‘adulting’. For me personally, exercise and sleep are the two ways I best handle myself in a funk. Both are essential to me being able to cope with the everyday demands of my life.
4. Watch a good movie.
Taking time out to escape the reality of life is therapy in a nutshell. It might be an old fave that reminds you of a particular experience or time in your life, or it might be something you have been putting off to watch when the kids aren’t around. Watch it. Grab yourself some popcorn and a coffee, get into your pyjamas and settle up on the couch. Now is the time. If you are lucky it’ll be a rainy day and you can drag the doona out and really snuggle in and enjoy. Again, call in a favour from friends or set up a playdate (obviously you will return the favour) for the kids so that you can enjoy the flick undisturbed. It may even just be that you pop the kids to bed a little early so that you can indulge on your own or with a loved one.
5. Listen to good music as you clean the house.
Much of my stress comes from feeling out of control. One way I derive a sense of control over my surroundings is to have a clean, tidy home environment. The popularity of the Marie Kondo movement to declutter and minimise belongings is the result of people realising the effect that too much ‘stuff’ has on our mental health. So when you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes a way to combat this is to assert your control over your living area and make your house sparkle. Crank on some of your favourite tunes and get your inner ‘Sadie’ on. At the end of it, you will feel a sense of immense personal satisfaction from knowing that one area of your life at least is in order.
So there you have it. We have all felt the dreariness creeping in at times – it is inevitable. Please know that if what you are dealing with is more than just a temporary ‘funk’ however, there is help around. Visit your local GP who can provide you with the relevant information and resources you need.