NOTE: I actually wrote this post months ago. I have been meaning to edit it and post it, but life just gets in the way. Today, I had a crap day. It made me realise how much I rely on these strategies, and that it was time to share them….
A few months ago I had a hideous day. It was one of those days I truly didn’t know how I was going to get through. When you have kids you can’t just call in sick, and lay on the couch all day. You still need to feed them, change them, play with them and stop them eating bugs and hitting each other. There is no day off. The day started bad, and got worse. I felt so overwhelmed. I have learnt a trick or two now, and I’m going to share them in the hopes they help others just starting their PND journey. I can’t promise they will, as each Mum experiences PND differently, but these do help me.
Just do one little thing
I woke in the morning to unwashed dishes, clothes overflowing from the basket and toys everywhere. As a whole it looked insurmountable. So I just washed one bowl. Then I wiped a small part of the bench. Next I picked up the blocks. Then I ate cake. Then I put a plate in the dishwasher. By only doing one teeny tiny little job I was able to muster the energy to actually get it done. It sounds equal parts simple and ridiculous but it really works. After awhile I had gathered some motivation and got the house somewhat tidy. That’s a win.
Seriously, TV won’t kill them (or lower your perfect values)
If you read this blog regularly you know I am passionate about not letting my children watch TV, especially in the early years. One thing I have learned over the previous year is that high ideals are fantastic when you are coping well, but not so much when you are super depressed. The research does suggest that TV is harmful to kids, but you know what? A stressed out Mum who is losing her cool is also harmful. Using TV for an hour while you get breakfast on is sometimes a really good way to reduce the pressure of two grumbling kids.
Eat the best food you can with the resources you have
On a really bad day it is so tempting to eat lots of sugary foods and quick carbohydrates, but this will make you feel worse and make the kids act like little terrors. Try to make the meals more protein based, and very simple. My two standby meals are boiled eggs and baked beans. It might not be gourmet, or meet the fresh vegetable requirement, but these two things are quick to make, easy to clean up and will help keep everyone calm.
Get out of the house
This will not work everytime, but often leaving the house will give you a chance to enterain the kids, and distract yourself from your thoughts. For me the best outing is visting friends with kids the same age as Boo (going to visit babies with a toddler is not the best idea, you need kids the older one can play with too). The kids can play together, and you can collapse on the couch with some tea, and chat to your friend.
Get dressed as early as you can manage
When I am having super crappy day I just want to stay in my PJ’s. All day. I have found though that this makes me feel worse. There’s also the universal truth that someone will drop in, or you will need milk if you stay in your pajama’s. Getting yourself changed into clothes that you would run to the shop in will make you feel better, and mean that leaving the house to get the milk will be slightly less traumatic.
When you have post natal depression (or any depression really) there will be days that are just so difficult they seem insurmountable. Drop your perfectionism, and just muddle on through however you can. One thing I have learned is that each day is a new opportunity, so get through the bad ones, and there is hope for the new day.