Do you ever feel alone in your parenting journey? Even when you know you have support?
Sometimes I feel completely alone in my motherhood journey. And sometimes it’s overwhelming.
I know that my husband is there. He is an active and present father.
He pulls his weight in parenting our children in all ways. He does his part around the house and brings his income home to support his family.
I know my family supports me. My mother-in-law watches my children during the day so that my husband and I can work. My siblings and cousins check in on me from time to time. The few I would leave my children with will watch them when I ask.
I know I can reach out to my friends. They are only a phone call away. Even though none of my close friends have children yet they always offer a listening and sympathetic ear, and distract me with their non child related stories.
But when it’s 2 a.m. and I am trying to get my toddler back to sleep and she’s fighting it like fighting sleep is what she was born to do, it feels like it’s me against the world.
Sometimes when you are in the trenches of parenting the feeling of being isolated and alone can be overwhelming.
So what can you do? How can you shake that feeling? Or at least handle it?
1. Take a moment to embrace your strengths. Child throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the market and you are seconds away from clearing a space to get down on the floor with her to kirk out too? Point out to yourself something that you admire about yourself or are good at. For instance:
“I manage a department that brings my company over a million dollars a year in revenue. Surely I can handle this.”
“Okay, so I am no good at not losing my shit when my kid throws a temper tantrum in public. But I can bake a pan of mac and cheese that is just this side of heaven.”
Sometimes when you take a minute to toot your own horn it can put you in a better head space. Instead of feeling like you are failing you can remind yourself that you are good enough to get through whatever your current battle is.
Fake it if you must!
2. Tell someone. There is likely someone around you who would support you in your moment of need. But they don’t know you feel overwhelmed and alone unless you tell them.
Be willing to be vulnerable and admit how you feel. As the saying goes “those that matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
Sometimes it’s as simple as waking your partner up and saying “I really need you to go in there and sit with our daughter until she falls back asleep.”
Sometimes it’s asking your sister if you can drop off your baby for an hour so you can grocery shop in peace.
You may discover that sometimes strangers are easier to connect with and open up to than people you know. If that is the case for you – even if just for this particular situation – then join an online group, page, or forum and engage with others.
Find fellow moms and dads who understand what you are going through and commiserate. You may find tips, advice, and anecdotes that help you get a better handle on your situation.
At the very least you will discover that you are not alone. There are others right their in the trenches – albeit from their own homes and supermarket aisles – right alongside you. I tend to find some comfort in that.
3. Write it down. Maybe you can’t talk to someone because it is 2 a.m. or you don’t have a partner you can rely on. Or maybe talking about it and sharing your parenting struggles is not your thing.
Then pull out your journal. Or open your journaling app. Put into words on the paper or on the screen what you are feeling.
Just getting the words out of your system can bring you a sense of relief and clarity.
Whatever you do, don’t drown in that feeling of being alone and overwhelmed.
Don’t be the victim. No “woe is me.”
Or, if you must, only for a period and then give it up.
Literally set a timer and give yourself 5 minutes to bitch and moan about being the sleep deprived mother of a child who hasn’t slept through the night but a handful of times in the past 3 years. When the timer goes off stop bitching and moaning.
Bend, but don’t break.
Stumble, but don’t fall.
Or fall, if you must, but get back up again.
This is easier said than done. I know.
But frankly, your sanity and mental well being, and yes your children, depend on you being able to handle whatever situation is weighing on you at that moment.