How to Parent as an Anxious Mom While Staying Sane
Learn the tips and tricks to parenting as an anxious mom so you’re not going crazy, but staying sane.
Anxiety has gotten the best of me at times, and when I first became a mom I did not know how to handle it.
I have had underlining anxiety most of my life, but when I became a mom, it heightened to a point where I lost the ability to function normally.
I was constantly having panic attacks and I felt like I wasn’t in control of my life. I was always on edge, always in tears, and never felt like I would get me back again. This new baby came into my life, and quite literally, messed it up.
I have come a long way since then. Therapy has been a huge help, my Savior, love, and just becoming more self-aware. Those things have helped me create strategies, so that my anxiety doesn’t rule my life, and I can enjoy my kids.
If you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety, know you’re not alone, and you will feel like yourself again! There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I made a list of my top tips that I apply in my own life so I don’t stay the anxious mom. Maybe this can help you with your own anxiety.
Top Tips for Staying Sane as an Anxious Mom
Prepare, prepare, prepare
There is nothing that makes me an anxious mom more then when something gets sprung (springed? Sprunged?),… when I get surprised by something.
Before I leave the house I make sure I have everything I need and everything I MIGHT need.
There are a few things I always leave the house with:
Water- My kids act like they are dying of thirst about 10x a day. My toddler is still learning that things don’t come with a snap of my fingers. He has ZERO patience.
Diapers- For obvious reasons.
Wipes- Even if you aren’t going to change a diaper, kids are messy, these always come in handy.
Snacks- Snacks are not only good for when your kids are hungry, but for entertainment, and rewards. (Yes, I bribe my children. It isn’t the norm, but it comes in handy.) But also, my kids are STARVING at all the right moments.
Entertainment- I always have a few toys in the car, or let my kids pick a couple toys to bring. I might also stash some in my bag. I will bring some extras if we go to church, or a doctors office. A good trick is to have a stash of dollar store stuff in your closet to bring out when you need it. A new toy is always more entertaining then an old one.
This is almost the same as prepare, but make sure you have plans in place.
I have a hyperactive mind, so I’m always making plans and to-do lists.
These keep me sane.
I have a plan if my toddler doesn’t sleep, if we eat dinner late, if we change the schedule. I just plan it out. I often write it down or discuss it with my husband (if he’s home).
With kids, your schedule will constantly change, so you just have to plan for when it does.
Another tip is not to become too obsessive about having a plan. I can do that sometimes, but you just have to remind yourself that things will still come up that you have to improvise for, and that’s okay.
The Anxious Mom Routine
Plan to create a general routine and schedule that you use as your guide.
I say it’s a guide because kids can change your schedule on a whim, so you have to be flexible.
This is the simple SAHM schedule that I use.
It’s great to have a routine because you can schedule in your self-care, your cleaning time, your blogging time, journal time, or whatever it is that you want to get done that day. This way, you don’t have to feel guilty for not blogging, or not cleaning, or not being with your kids because you’ve planned it into your day.
Again, be flexible and try not to obsess over it, it’s a guide to help you.
An additional thing that I strive for is a good morning routine. This is the morning routine I strive for, and these are the goal sheets I try to use to set myself up for a good day. A morning pep talk can go a long way, and that’s basically what these sheets are.
Side note: I am not a morning person, but have been trying to become one, I’m writing this post at 6:00 am before my kids get up, not something I’d ever see myself doing in a million years. But, I put my mind to it, set goals, and here I am. These goal sheets have helped me get there! (I had to share because I’m pretty proud of myself.)
Schedule breaks in your day.
I have to have breaks from my kids, or I go crazy. I feel like I’m constantly on high alert mode with them, so I try to set up breaks when they’re watching TV or doing an activity that doesn’t involve me, or create a lot of fighting, crying, or harming themselves.
It makes all the difference when you can just step away.
I used to have a 3:00 pm snack time for me. The kids would do their TV time at 3, and I would sneak to the pantry to enjoy 10 minutes by myself.
I think one of the easiest ways to do this, especially as your kids get older, is to let them know you need a break.
I’ve told my daughter that I just need 10-15 minutes of alone time, and she knows what that’s like because she’ll ask for alone time too.
If you give them the warning and responsibility to give you some time, they usually rise to the challenge.
I know this is harder with babies or toddlers. My son usually follows my daughter, so she does a good job of keeping him entertained if I ask her to.
And you can train your kids to know that when mommy needs a break, they can occupy themselves. There is nothing wrong with that!
One thing you can do during your breaks or me time is journal.
I journal like nobody’s business. I’ve made like 8-10 journals in my lifetime, so far. I love to record memories, but I also love to get my feelings out. Sometimes just by writing out your feelings, makes you feel better and gain perspective.
There are 2 ways that I use journaling to help with my anxiety:
When I have those days that my brain just doesn’t want to shut off, I write it all down. The idea is that you write whatever comes to your mind, don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or if it even makes sense. Just write. Then the next day, you can go back to it and read it over. Maybe there are some ideas, creative outlets, or understanding you can gain from your writings.
I’m still working on trying to just let my thoughts go without having it be structured. We’re all a work in progress.
I have obsessive thoughts. I just think and analyze things over and over again. What I try (try is the key word) to do is tell myself that I can’t worry about that right now, I’ll worry about it at this [insert time] time. Then, I choose a time that day, and I write all my worries out. Then I move on. It can be hard at times, but it helps to get my thoughts out, and gain perspective on my worries.
Expectations are everything.
I have a problem with setting realistic expectations. I think I can clean the whole house, work 3 hours on my blog, exercise, do all the laundry AND put it all away, organize my closet, shower, cook dinner, play with my kids, AND make sure they stay alive. All within a 17 hour period.
I don’t know why I hold myself to such high expectations because I would never hold anyone else to such high expectations.
Sometimes it’s enough just getting out of bed and making sure the kids are fed.
Don’t be like me, set normal expectations, and be okay with not crossing everything off your to-do list.
I often have to remind myself that this is the time to enjoy my kids and enjoy life. I just need to calm down, do what I can, and enjoy living in the moment. (I know, easier said than done).
Also, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your children. Don’t expect them to act like adults when they’re two. They can be grouchy, just like you have grouchy days.
Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Know your limitations and stay within them, but also continue to try and grow your limitations.
Remember that your anxiety does not define you, you can improve, and you can do things you once thought you never could!
I didn’t go to a school function the other night because my husband was working, it was a really long day at work, and I knew that if I went, I’d have an anxiety meltdown. My daughter was upset, but we traded the school night for a movie night and it was all good!
Know what your limits are, it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to set limits.
Be with people
This only works for some people, but plan to be around other people. Don’t just stay in your house all day. I know that the less I’m around people, the harder it is to be around them when I need to be. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but just don’t isolate yourself. It usually only festers your anxiety.
Therapy, Become self-aware
I believe everyone should be in therapy. There is so much to learn about ourselves. We are constantly evolving and growing. Each stage of our life is a developmental stage, just like kids.
Half of these strategies I have learned through therapy.
Knowledge is power, the more we know about ourselves and become self-aware, the more able we are to grow and improve. Strive to constantly become your best self (with no pressure), just keep learning, improving, and setting goals.
My ever constant rock through all of this has been my Savior. He has helped me more times than I can count and my peace of mind comes from Him.
I know that if I trust in Him and rely on Him, He can do amazing things through me. (Do I always trust? No, it’s hard, but I’m learning).
The peace He makes me feel isn’t something I can feel on my own. His power is real, and prayer is real. He can help you with your anxiety because He loves you, and wants what is best for you. I don’t know how anyone in this world can live life without Him.
This one might sounds strange, but I have committed to loving my kids more fiercely. I try to view myself from their perspective. Do they know I love them? Do they see my love for them? Do they know they can come to me for anything?
If the answer to any of these isn’t yes, then I try to love them more. When I focus on that, sometimes, my to-do lists, my expectations, and my perfectionism goes out the door. I am able to calm my anxiety. Not always, but it helps.
Love does triumph all!
I’d love to hear some of the strategies you use to overcome your anxiety, maybe I can add it to mine. I’d also love to hear your story, or reach out to me if you just need to talk, cause I’ve been there!
Related: My Simple Stay at Home Mom Schedule with Young Kids
Related: Why I have Anxiety with My Kids and How I Cope
Related: How to Overcome Mom Guilt
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I can definitely relate! Going to therapy is what really helped me.