Perhaps you’ve heard of the dreaded sleep regression. Or maybe you’ve heard, “the 4 month sleep regression is a myth!” and you want to punch that person in the face because your experience says otherwise and you are TIRED.
Note: The Evidence-Based Mommy’s official stance is against punching people in the face. Even when you really want to.
Regardless, something like this has happened to you: You and your child had gotten into a predictable sleep routine. Maybe he was sleeping all night, maybe he wasn’t (and that’s okay! No, really.), but you at least knew what to expect.
Then all of the sudden, his sleep drastically changes for the worse.
Do you as a person sometimes get ignored within that all-consuming title of “mom”?
Moms often forget to look inward, because we’re so busy taking care of the pressing task of the moment—diapers, dinner, piano practice. Our feelings and aspirations matter, so give them some attention!
I’m here to share some ways journaling can help.
This post describes different types of journaling to help you find a good fit for you. It also includes tips for starting a successful journaling habit so you can reap the benefits from this practice.
So many new mothers deal with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In fact, up to one in seven mothers face postpartum depression after birth. On top of that, seventeen percent of mothers (or more, depending on who you ask) experience postpartum anxiety.
But it’s not enough to just assume, “Well, it’s hormones, I’m supposed to feel this way,” and keep carrying on. Yes, it’s true that most mothers experience “baby blues” during the first few weeks after birth, but postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety go deeper than that, and can occur later.
(By the way: Looking for uplifting reminders that you’ve got this parenting thing? Get your free set of empowering mantra cards. Seriously, I use these pretty much every day myself!)
What do you do when you’re overwhelmed by new motherhood?
If you’re reading this looking for help, you need to get support! I talked to my friend, Dr. Marcy Rowland, about the common emotional difficulties that new mothers face and how to get help. Check out the interview below!
There are several posts on this site about mental health and anxiety, because this is a subject that impacts so many of us, which in turn impacts our children. But we haven’t discussed a part of mental health that is unfortunately more taboo in our society: Antidepressant use. Since I want to focus on one of the more common antidepressants, I’ll focus mostly on Zoloft and breastfeeding.
I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous to be talking about my own journey with antidepressant use for all the internet to see. But I know that when I was grappling with starting to use one, I would have liked to find an article like this. Plus, the stigma won’t go away if we don’t start to open up. So I’ll start with me.
And to provide you the most helpful information I can, I’ll also add in some of the science of how antidepressants work and how they affect breastfed babies. Heck, I’ll even talk about what it’s like to begin taking an antidepressant. (Side note: I am not a medical doctor. I have a PhD in chemistry and extensive education on people’s exposure to toxic chemicals, but that is not the same thing as a medical doctor and this post is not intended as medical advice.) Here goes…
Does it seem like you’re always snapping at your kids or your partner? Do you find yourself wondering, “Why am I so irritable? Have I always been like this?” Does it seem like no matter what you do, you can’t get yourself under control (and God knows you want to, if not for yourself, at least for your children)? If so, this post is for you.
And I write this post with the deepest empathy. This is not coming from the perfect mother looking down from on high to tell you how screwed up you are and how you’re messing your kids up. Instead, I’m writing as someone in the trenches with you, who has struggled with the exact same issue.
When my husband and I had our first child, life got harder (go figure!). Everything stressed me out. Nothing went like it was supposed to, and everything was more complicated, from getting out the door to go to work to cooking dinner with a small person crying for me.
Over time, I got really snappy with my husband. Sometimes it would be because something minor went wrong earlier in the day and I just couldn’t let it go. Other times it was me feeling like I needed to control everything.
And my husband noticed my agitation. When I was at my worst, he would tell me, “I just feel like you’re angry all the time.”
And ya’ll, that shook me to my core. Was I an “angry” person? Was I a bad wife? A bad mom? I could keep it together when I was at work and I could be pleasant there, so why couldn’t I do the same thing at home? I was terrified that this observation from my husband was a label for a new me.
And part of the problem could have been postpartum hormones (which can affect you for way longer than most medical advice leads you to expect) or low sleep, but that wasn’t all of it.
So, for years, I tried harder. I’d tell myself things like
Don’t get mad.
Why can’t you just stop snapping at him?
My husband is an incredible, supportive man, loving man. We have an egalitarian household where we both take care of the house and the kids, so it’s not like he was shoving all the work on me. What was my deal?
But buckling down didn’t work. If anything, the self-imposed pressure made it even harder for me to “get it together.” I was so stressed out, and I didn’t want to be this way for my kids. I needed an explanation, and I needed a new way to handle life.
Mindfulness can make or break a whole afternoon with your child! How can this concept teach you to use responsive parenting instead of reactive parenting?
Case in point: A week or so ago, I unexpectedly ended up being the one to pick up General Leia from school. When she saw me, the first words out of her mouth were, “Can we go over to Nana’s and Poppa’s to do my art project?”
I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for a “Hooray! I’m so happy to see you, Mother dearest!”
But I told her cheerfully, “Sorry, we can’t play go to Nanna’s and Poppa’s house tonight. We have to go get your brother and sister and then go home.” This started a whole dramatic ordeal in which Leia’s world was ended and she cried as I walked past the other moms picking up their own cherubs from school. Awesome.
My instincts in that moment were not MOTY material. Ungrateful little kid, you could at least pretend you liked me. Honestly, I wanted to be snarky with her, because my feelings were hurt.
But I thought about where she was coming from, how I wasn’t who she expected that afternoon. Perhaps she had been thinking about doing that art project all day, and then there I was instead, blocking her from painting and creating. So I tried to stay positive, and after a bit we somehow made going to the pharmacy to pick up a neti-pot into a little adventure (you get adventure where you can!).
Of course, I don’t always do that well when my kids are in a bad mood. It’s hard to do!
But what if, instead of reacting according to our instinctive, negative emotions, we stopped and evaluated our thoughts first?