How to be a Good Mom When You’re Depressed
Being a mom is hard. That’s not news to anyone! It can be even harder to care for little ones when you feel like you can’t even manage to care for yourself. This is a feeling with which many mamas who struggle with mental health challenges are very familiar. So, how do you do it? How do you make your way as a good mom when the very sound of your baby’s cry makes your blood curdle? When every touch from your toddler makes your skin crawl? When every chore, meal, and commitment feels impossible?
As I enter my seventeenth year of parenting as a mama with mental health challenges, I’ve put together a little list of tips to help you function, even on those days when you can’t even manage to put on deodorant.
So here it is: How to be a good mom when you’re depressed.
- You already are. The sun rises and sets on you, mama. You are everything to those little ones. In your bad moments and your good, YOU are their mama. You are the kisser of booboos, the keeper of hugs and bedtime stories. There is no one else your kids would rather have than you. Even as an adult with plenty of baggage in my relationship with my own mom, when I am at my lowest, I still want my mama. Even at age thirty-nine! How much more do those helpless little ones look to you?! You are IT for them. You are the one. You are doing a GREAT job, and there is NO replacement for you.
- Give yourself a break. Mental health is health. If you are having a hard mental health day, remember that when your body isn’t well, you need to rest and recharge. Your mind is part of your body! As a mama, the idea of rest can seem impossible, but do what you can to ease your load on those tough days. Maybe screen time limits get extended (or thrown out) for the day. Maybe you order pizza instead of making dinner. Maybe you ask your partner or a friend if they can do pickup and drop off if you have kids in school or activities. Take something off your plate, mama. Just like with any day that you’re under the weather, you can’t get better without some rest.
- Talk with someone who understands. Whether it’s your partner, another mama who has been there, a friend, or a family member with an empathetic ear, put words to your feelings. Tell someone what is going on in your mind. Allow yourself to say it out loud, and acknowledge it. Being seen and heard–sharing your struggles and being loved all the same–can be the best medicine.
These tips won’t solve your problems or eliminate bad days. Counseling, and medication when appropriate, are the first steps in truly healing. But maybe next time you wake up with a foggy mind and a heavy body, you’ll weather that storm just a little bit more easily. And remember, mama: You’re doing great.