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14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

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Coping with Depression While Raising Children | Jenessa Mullen | Chaos & Kiddos
Let’s give a big welcome to Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life} as she visits us today to share 14 tips for coping with depression while raising children. As you know from my recent post, Why Choosing Medication was the Best Move for Me, mental health and the journey towards recovering yourself and your life is very near and dear to my heart. Jenessa, thank you for sharing such a tender subject that can help so many!
Coping with Depression While Raising Children | Jenessa Mullen | Chaos & Kiddos
Hi, my name is Jenessa and I am so excited to be guest posting here at Chaos & Kiddos! I “met” Katy a few weeks ago through emails, and we discovered we had quite a bit in common. She asked me to share my story with you and talk about how I cope every day, raising my children while battling depression.

I have been battling depression since my early teen years. Sometimes I was strong and able to get through it. Sometimes I was down in a deep dark place and needed to seek help. Whatever the case, depression is a horrible battle to face. It gets even harder when you have children.

My latest battle with depression has lasted almost 4 years. 4 years of ups and downs and really, really low days. 4 years of not feeling “normal.” 4 years of feeling like a failure at everything. 4 years of still being a mom to my children, even though most days I didn’t even feel like a normal human being.

I have three children. My oldest daughter, at 14, has seen my ups and downs and although she doesn’t fully understand depression, she knows a bit about my situation. My younger daughter is 5. In the first year after she was born I was so overcome with joy that I can’t even explain how happy I felt. But not long after her first birthday, this latest battle with depression started. I like to think that she remembers how happy I was that first year, but it’s unlikely. My youngest, my son, is almost three and I have been depressed his entire life.

How do I cope with depression while raising my children? Here are a few things I have learned over the years.

1. Be there for them. I make sure that I am always there for my children. If it’s a special occasion like a birthday or graduation, or something as simple as a kiss for a boo ­boo, I’m there. Now, there are times when I would much rather stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep the day away. But I get up. Everyday. Because I know my children need me. I know I need to be there for them. And knowing this has got me through some dark days.

2. Make time for yourself. Now, I know I just said always be there for your children, but the other side to that is make sure you have time for yourself as well. I know. I know. It’s hard to find time when you are a mom with a houseful of kids. Believe me, this is a struggle for me. But finding time for yourself is so important. I try to remind myself that if you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to properly care for your children. So make time for yourself, even if it’s something as simple as reading a book when you have a minute or taking an extra few minutes in the shower.

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

3. Take care of yourself. Not only is it important to make time for yourself, it is important to take care of yourself. Eat right. Get lots of sleep. Exercise. There is a lot of research out there that links eating well and exercising to feeling good. And, if this applies to you, take your medication. I can honestly say that I get very low without my medication, and, even though I was against it at first, I have accepted the fact that I do need medication to function properly, and probably will for years to come. And I make myself take it every morning, before I do anything else. You can read my story here about how I feel without my medication.

4. Get support. Whether it is a friend, your spouse, a family member, a doctor or even a bloggy friend, reach out to someone. Let them know what you are going through. Let them be a support to you and a shoulder when you need it. I am so thankful for my support team. I not only have a supportive and loving family, but I also have a best friend who knows exactly how I feel, a team of professionals (including my family doctor, my counselor and my psychiatrist) and I attend a weekly support group for women. I wouldn’t be as far as I am today without these supports.

5. Ask for help. This is a hard one for me, and probably for a lot of moms out there. I hate asking for help. It makes me feel like I’m not good enough and I can’t handle everything on my own. It makes me feel like I will never be close to “supermom”. But guess what? No one is perfect! Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. Some people need a lot of help in their lives. The point is ­ don’t be afraid to ask. If possible, share responsibilities with your spouse. Divide up the housework, the bedtime routines, or cooking meals. Ask a neighbor to watch your children while you have a nap. Ask a friend and her kids over for a playdate so you have another mom to talk to ­ and don’t worry about cleaning the house before they arrive.

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

6. Be honest. I struggled a lot about being honest about my depression at first. I didn’t want to admit it to myself, let alone my doctor or my family. But opening up and being honest opened a whole new world for me. Not only did I feel like I had lifted a weight off of my shoulders, I was also able to connect with other people in similar situations and get the help that I needed. So be honest ­with your friends, your family, your spouse, your doctor and yourself. But most importantly ­ be honest with your children. Now, children don’t need to know every detail, but depending on their age, they can be told about how you are feeling and why. Younger children can understand if they are told “Mommy is sad because….” or even just “Mommy is having a sad day today.” Older children may have questions or want to talk about depression. Naming your feelings and being honest about them not only helps you understand yourself better, it also helps your children learn to express and identify their emotions, as well.

7. Let it go. (Let it go! Let it go! … are you singing, too?) Remember what I said above? No one is perfect. No one has the perfect house, the perfect spouse, the perfect body, the perfect kids, the perfect everything. Don’t expect that of yourself. Learn to let go of things that drag you down. Learn to let go of unrealistic expectations. Learn to let go of triggers that set you off. Learn to let go of negative people and negative relationships. Learn to let go of your insecurities. Learn to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back. Just let it go. (Let it go! Let it go! …)

8. Forgive yourself. I know part of my depression is feeling down on myself all of the time. Nothing I do is good enough? What if I’m a horrible parent? Why do I yell at the kids when I feel so low? Why can’t I be happy? One of the hardest things for me is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself, whether you made a life changing mistake or a simple mix­up, is important. You can’t be happy, or even start to work on being happy, if you can’t forgive yourself. Everyone stumbles. Everyone makes mistakes. Love yourself. Forgive yourself.

9. Understand your triggers. Maybe there are certain things that set you off? Certain things that make you feel angry or sad or worthless? It has taken me several years to recognize my feelings, and what triggers my feelings, but I know now some of the things that lead up to a panic attack, a crying spell or an out burst of anger. Once you know these triggers, do your best to avoid them, or have a plan to deal with them. This may seem like a lot of work, but take it a step at a time. A journal may help pinpoint triggers or give you a behaviour log to look back at. (An example is that being hot is a trigger for me that may lead to anger or a panic attack. I try to avoid being hot as much as possible. I dress accordingly, I use the air conditioning in the car, I leave my bedroom window open all the time, etc. I can’t always keep myself from getting too hot, but I can try to prevent it as much as possible.)

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

10. Find the positive. I am such a negative person when I am depressed. Everything is wrong. Nothing goes right. I hate this. I hate that. But one day I read a blog post (I really wish I could remember where!) that talked about finding the positive in everyday. Even the worst day has something about it that’s positive. Sometimes it’s easy to see, sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper. Some days, maybe the best you can do is basic things ­ “I have a house” “I have wonderful children” “I am alive”. But no matter how much negative is in your life ­ there is always something positive. I am a big believer in everything in life happens for a reason, and sometimes that’s the only positive I can find. I know that I will overcome my obstacles and be a better person on the other side. Find the positive in every situation. Find the positive in every day.

11. Get outside. Not only is fresh air proven to be good for coping with depression and mood disorders, it is also beneficial for the kids. So if your feeling really down, drop what you are doing and go play outside! Go for a walk. Sit on the patio. Just get outside ­ every day.

12. Tomorrow is a new day. You know that saying “one day at a time”? Well, it definitely applies here! That’s the best you can do. Take life one day at a time. If you mess up today, tomorrow is a new day to try again. And if you find one day at a time to be too hard, go hour by hour or minute by minute. You will get through. You will survive the day. Tomorrow is a fresh start. Tomorrow is a new day.
14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

13. Love yourself. Oh, this is hard! Especially when you are already feeling so low. But by loving yourself, understanding your feelings and forgiving yourself, you can get stronger. And you are being a role model for your children. You are showing them that, even though you have flaws, even though you have made mistakes, you still love yourself. And I think that is such an important message to give to your children.

14. Remember that your children love you ­ just the way you are. Remember this. Every day. Every minute. Yeah, sure, they may be upset with you over something. Maybe you yelled at them. Maybe they had to be punished and they ran to their room screaming “I hate you!”, but you know what? They don’t. Your children love you. You. Just as you are. They will forgive you for messing up. They will forgive you if you loose your temper. They will love you ­ NO MATTER WHAT. Remember that. Every day. The love of my children is what gets me through this.

So, these are the things I try to remember every day. Battling depression is hard. Raising children is hard. Doing them at the same time can sometimes feel impossible. But you will get through it. I will get through it. And our children will get through it, too. And do you know what? They will be ok. We won’t mess them up. Just breath. And take life one day at a time.

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}
If you would like to read more about my journey through depression, come visit me at Mothering {In Real Life}. If you would like to talk more about depression, or even what coping mechanisms you use in your parenting struggles, please feel welcome to comment below. Or you can email me at
jenessamullen@outlook.com. I would love to talk with you and hear your stories.
Thank you, Katy, for allowing me this opportunity to guest post on your blog.
I have enjoyed my time here at Chaos & Kiddos.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jenessa Mullen is an Early Childhood Educator and mother of three, living in small town, Nova Scotia. She blogs about her children, parenting struggles and her battle with depression at Mothering {In Real Life}. You can say hello to Jenessa on social media, or send her an email at jenessamullen@outlook.com.

 
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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Echo

    August 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    This is a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing your coping skills with us!

  2. Liv

    August 6, 2014 at 2:39 am

    You should feel very positive about this blog post – these are great tips not just for moms struggling with depression. Your willingness to talk about such a stigmatizing subject is surely helping others. Thank you on their behalf.

  3. Katelyn F

    August 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

    What a great and powerful piece! I haven’t dealt with depression in my life but many, many people are.

  4. Jennifer

    August 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing a difficult truth with the blogging world. It is so helpful for so many. I wish you the best with your ups and downs. Just breathe indeed. Best advice.

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Thank you for the show of support and words of encouragement to Jenessa, Jennifer. XOXO

  5. Giveaways 4 Mom

    August 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    This is a great post. I suffer from depression and when it flares up it can be bad. Thanks so much for sharing these tips. Depression is real and it is definitely a topic that needs to be addressed. #TurnUpTuesday

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Absolutely. Mental illness is so often overlooked. With the tragic death of Robin Williams, I am hoping there will be a renewed energy to address this challenge that so many people face alone. We need better support systems and ways to help people journey towards healing.

  6. Bridget

    August 7, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I know I can use each and every one of them. In my life.

    • Katy Blevins

      August 12, 2014 at 9:38 am

      That’s great to hear Bridget. When depression rears its ugly head, we need all of the support and help we can get. I’m thrilled to hear these tips encouraged you. Stay strong!

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  20. Christine Gallagher

    December 10, 2014 at 6:18 am

    What a wonderful post, I have a few family papers I need to write, this would a great subject, I love the encouragement statements you added in between, great job!

    • Katy Blevins

      December 12, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Thank you Christine! Jenessa did a great job sharing candidly and offering tangible advice/encouragement. Good luck with your papers!

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Purposeful Parenting

Self Care Tips for Working Moms

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Self Care Tips for Working Moms

Being a single working mom of twins and a teenager means I often put myself at the bottom of the to do list. Whether I’m playing chef, chauffeur, bandager of boo boos or homework advisor, the hat I put on least often is woman. As a married working mom, I practically forgot I was a beautiful woman and wife. As a single working mom, I struggle to embrace myself as a confident available woman. Focused mainly on carrying my family through the days, I forget that taking the time to focus on myself every once in awhile ultimately makes me a better parent. Here are some fun self care tips for working moms that could spark that little feisty woman you know is in there but haven’t seen in forever.

Self Care Tips for Working Moms

 1. Boudoir Shoot: Yup. I’m certain a great many of you just went “Yeah, right. Thanks for nothing.” WAIT! Seriously…I know this is what I do for a living, and I’m not listing this one at the top of the list as a shameless plug. I’m listing it at the top of the list because of the why behind what I do as a photographer. Our tagline at Modern Femme Photography is “because you deserve to feel beautiful.” A boudoir shoot is a fabulous way to celebrate and embrace your unique journey as a woman, be pampered, but most importantly, be reminded that you are beautiful, just as you are. And because it’s important to practice what you preach, I hopped in front of the camera a couple of weeks ago as part of a two-session process I’ve planned to reclaim my confidence and self-worth as a newly single woman.

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2. Support Group: We have a great online community growing at Working Moms United that gives support and encouragement at those low points where being a work mom chips away at your energy, self-esteem and willpower. It’s a wonderful resource for moms on-the-go who need a pep talk but can only pop online here and there or might not have available time to meet up with others. I’ve also recently joined a local church and have been attending their quarterly women’s brunches. They provide child care for a few hours while I sit and chat with other women, feel refreshed and feel supported in prayer as a woman of faith. I’ve also identified a few key accountability partners in my life. Girl friends with similar life circumstances who can serve as trusted encouragers and keep me on track.

Working Moms United | Proud Member | Chaos & Kiddos

3. Learn Something New: Switching up the routine and enjoying something fresh and new can be a great way to recharge. Recently, I booked a makeup lesson with Dhalia Edwards of The Bride’s Corner. Dhalia is not only a dear friend of mine, but she’s incredibly talented both in her technique and her warm-hearted care of her clients. She patiently took 3 hours of her day to sift through my old, dated make up, repurpose old tools for new styles and teach me proper application techniques for everyday looks. Not only did I feel pampered and pretty when I left, but I felt rejuvenated and more confident in how to achieve a flawless look on my own.

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4. Schedule Quiet Time: Spare minutes are a hot commodity for the working mom. Every second of every day feels tied to a never-ending to do list that typically revolves around everyone other than yourself. You need to make a choice to declare a bit of each day for yourself. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 20 minutes or the luxurious full hour, diligently schedule quiet time. Take the time to breathe in the quiet, write in a journal, pray, speak out gratitudes, do a few yoga stretches…whatever your peace may be. Do not allow yourself to skimp on this part of your day.

Self Care Tips for Working Moms

Remember, the first step towards being a better mom is being a better you. That better you needs some TLC! It may feel overwhelming or even scary to put any of these self care tips for workings moms into practice, but trust me, you’ll be glad that you did. Remember the positive, reclaim your beauty, refresh your soul and recharge!

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Purposeful Parenting

Year-End Money Tips for Working Moms and Female Entrepreneurs

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Money Tips for Working Moms

I don’t know about you but the end of the year brings two thoughts…well, three thoughts for me. One, CHRISTMAS!!!!! Two, fresh start on January 1st! And three, holy cow, what’s my money situation? Taxes are coming.

A big, big thank you to Kristen Robinson, SVP of Women and Young Investors at Fidelity Investments for taking the time to develop these year-end money tips for working moms and female entrepreneurs!

Money Tips for Working Moms

2 Tips for Female Business Owners / Entrepreneurs:

Keep Your Future in Mind with the Right Retirement Account for Your Needs

  • Look into the different plans available to business owners, such as a 401(k) for Small Business, a self-employed 401(k), SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA.  You may need to appoint a plan administrator- someone who takes care of administrative responsibilities and ensures the plan is operating according to the Plan Document.  Learn more about these different types of accounts here.  
  • Contribute to your account. The deadline for depositing employer profit-sharing contributions for the current calendar year is generally the business’ tax-filing deadline, plus extensions (for unincorporated businesses, this date is usually April 15 of the following year, plus any extensions).

Business Succession

  • If you own a business, have you considered how best to plan for the future?  If you plan to keep it in the family, consider creating a structure that makes it easier to transfer the business’s assets to other family members, such as a family limited partnership or a family limited liability company.
  • There are many options; your attorney or tax adviser can help you select one that is appropriate for you in light of your specific situation.

4 Tips for Single Moms:

Get Involved in Your Family’s Finances

  • It’s important to have a full picture of the family financial situation. At minimum, know what accounts you have and with whom. That includes banks and investing accounts, life insurance, mortgages, and loans. Having a handle on this information is an important foundation as you plan for the future, and can bring greater peace of mind.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! Yes! Yes! I am still getting a grip on my finances after the divorce. I realize now how little I knew before and how problematic that can be.)

Money Tips for Working Moms

Save for Retirement

    • Retirement is not a destination but a journey, and it’s never too early – or too late – to start putting away savings for the future.  Along the way, there are myriad opportunities to get off the path—and back on it.  And at virtually any turn in the road, there are possibilities to speed up your progress.
      • Make it a goal to save 15% or more of your income each year. If that’s not reachable today, make sure to make it a priority to carve out what you can. Even smaller amounts will add up over time.
      • Aim to have no more than 50% of your take-home pay go toward your “must-have” expenses.

Try to Save Three to Six Months of Essential Expenses in an Emergency Fund.

Look for Growth Potential from your Investments

  • Knowing your financial personality can help you determine the right mix of stocks, bonds and short-term investments that match how comfortable you are with risk, and have the growth potential to meet your life’s needs, be that when you want to retire or when you want to send kids to college.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, read up online, or reach out to a professional.  There’s never a fee to come into Fidelity to talk to a financial planner, but we do recommend you reevaluate twice a year. Just like you take care of your physical health by visiting the doctor and dentist, think of this as taking care of your financial health, which is vitally important as well.

Protect your Legacy

  • In order to ensure that what you’ve accumulated is distributed to your children, family and causes you care about most, it is important to name beneficiaries and create a will and health care proxy. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about the ‘what it’s,’ but it’s important to be prepared for the unknown. Do you really want someone else making these decisions for you?

 

 

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Purposeful Parenting

Be Kind To Yourself: Words of Wisdom from Alyssa Milano

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Be Kind to Yourself | Alyssa Milano | Sprout Mom-Bassador

I had the opportunity to chat with actress and working mom, Alyssa Milano, last week as she celebrated her new role as “Mom-Bassador” for the Sprout channel’s 10 year anniversary. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her life as a working mom and her answers always centered around one fundamental rule: Be Kind to Yourself.

Be Kind to Yourself | Alyssa Milano | Sprout Mom-Bassador

I thought this was especially powerful, because as mothers, we so often overlook self-care as we race around taking care of everyone else around us. Her words rang true as she reminded me that I can’t be my best mom if I’m not my best me. So what does motherhood look like for Alyssa Milano?

Things are Always in Motion

You have to be able to shift and make changes, go with the flow! Just when you think you’ve got a routine down…there it goes. Having kids will always keep you guessing and send you moving in new directions into uncharted territory. Be flexible and allow yourself to embrace change. Don’t hold too firmly to what you think you know – Change will always be in process and something’s got to give in order to keep moving forward. You are a great mom and you are doing the best you can right now in this moment. Be kind to yourself, releasing the pressure to be perfect and releasing the guilt when you inevitably fall short of that unnatural expectation. You are a great mom.

Healthy Mom = Healthy Childhood

Alyssa Milano clings to two “must-haves” in her daily routine as a busy, working mom. This type of consistency helps her be her best self, which makes her the best mom that she can be for her children. By being kind to herself, she keeps her mental health sacred so that her children experience the best childhood possible. What are the two “must-haves” Alyssa Milano can’t live without?

  • Break a sweat. She puts aside 45 minutes to an hour every day to get moving. Whether she goes to the gym for a workout or simply takes a walk, she focuses on taking care of her body and keeping a level head with some healthy movement each and every day. If she has busy weeks with jobs, meetings or events, she schedules it into her day like it’s part of her job or another appointment. It’s not optional.
  • Keep the bedtime routine solid. The children go to bed at the same time every night. The routine is solid, it’s something they expect and she sticks closely to it. After 7:30PM each night, it’s time for her and her husband. Quality time that is kind to both of them, keeping their marriage strong and setting a solid example for their children in love and commitment. Carving out time for her husband with a regular routine makes sure that life as a busy working mom doesn’t accidentally let her marriage slip away.

When was the last time you were kind to yourself? What simple changes can you make in your perspective as a busy, working mom to focus more on self-care and less on burn out? It’s encouraging to see working moms like Alyssa Milano step up to the plate to send a clear message to society – Being a mom means so much more than trying to be everything to everyone all the time. Being a mom means taking care with yourself, making sure you are equipped with the love and energy to pour into your family in a meaningful way. You’re doing a great job, mom. Yes, you! Go ahead, pat yourself on the back.

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