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73. How to deal with the emotional struggles of being a mom of babies and toddlers

As the kids get older I find myself watching moms with babies and toddlers and remember what a hot mess it felt like.

I can look back on those early years with all of their demands on my time, my body, my energy and notice how I really fought it and how I probably made it harder than it needed to be. 

Hindsight is easier from the plateau than it is in the thick of the valley. 

I can see a lot of mindset shifts that would have helped me to show up better. 

I want to share them with you if you are a mama with small ones around and feel like you need a refresher for your heart and soul. 

Because our mindsets matter. The story we tell ourselves about our life, about motherhood, about our kids, that all matters.

It matters because we SHOW UP from this story. 

If this story makes us feel helpless, that is how we show up. If this story makes us feel frustrated, that is how we show up. 

I want to help you become aware of the stories you might be telling yourself here and offer you some new ways to look at things.

THIS IS PART ONE OF TWO

Emotional struggles and mindset shifts that we talk about in this episode:

  1. It’s ok to feel my tough feelings
  2. It’s ok to mourn my old life
  3. Motherhood is hard, but I don’t have to make it harder
  4.  I can trust myself in motherhood (and move away from rules and perfectionism)
  5. I am the mom meant for my kids
  6. Have a plan and plan to change 

THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE 

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FUN LINKS FOR MAMAS:

Faith and fertility

My thyroid, my frenemy (grave’s disease)

My c-section and the feelings I was ashamed to admit

My VBAC Story

The baby who always cried

God’s grace through difficult parenting

Settling, in motherhood

What moms of toddlers need to hear

Be the mom you are

How to be intentional with your family culture

Set your own family rhythms

The Life on Purpose Academy (group life coaching for moms, monthly topics and weekly calls)

Learn more about life coaching with Shawna 

Sign up for the Simple Saturdays email 

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE

(00:05):

Hey friends. I’m Shawna Your Nerdy Girlfriend and life coach from simple on purpose.ca. Welcome to Simple on Purpose.

(00:12):

I am here to remind you that it is okay to simplify it is okay to have a simple life. It is okay to have a simple home because when you simplify, when you remove the distractions, you get to show up for what really matters to you. And it doesn’t look like anyone else. That’s the best part.

(00:31):

And I aim to keep things simple here on what I bring to you. So I aim to keep these episodes less than 20 minutes, so you can listen to them very easily. And my simple Saturday’s email that comes out twice a month. I know it’s natural for people to be sending out emails weekly, but Hey, when I have less on my plate, I can do more better. If that makes sense, the less you have to think about the more you can just zone in, right where you are.

(00:57):

So guys, September, we’re coming to a close, how has it been going for you? You might have kids in school. You might be doing distance learning or homeschooling, maybe a combination and wherever you are at. I want you to know that you’re doing a good job. You have been making decisions that you feel are best for your family. You’ve been paying attention to what your kids need, trying to make adaptations to that. And one of the coolest things I’ve been seeing happening is people are realizing they’re allowed to change their minds. There’s people who are deciding to actually send their kids to school or take their kids out of school or switch curriculums or switch homeschooling to distance learning and vice versa. Wherever you are at. You’re always allowed to change your mind because that is still a form of doing what is best for your family.

(01:44):

It’s not a form of failure. It’s a form of paying attention and making sure that you’re adapting along to what’s working and what doesn’t our kids are going through this experience as well. I see my kids having their own unique experience of disappointment at things they have to miss on things that aren’t happening on things that they can’t be part of because they have a runny nose and they have to stay home. We are all looking at these rules that we’re trying to follow for the greater good doing our part. And I don’t think any of us are going to leave a pandemic without a story of how it affected us and how it was hard for us. At the same time, I encourage you to not let this be just a waiting game, a waiting game so that you can start living WHENso that you can start taking a break when, so that you can pay attention to your own needs when that needs to come alongside.

(02:32):

Now that needs to come alongside this change in our life has changed in our world because you matter what you want matters. What’s important to your heart matters, giving your self time to rest and refresh matters. What I want to talk to you guys about in this episode is being a new mom, being a new mom and feeling overwhelmed by it, feeling how hard it is. And I’m going to share with you my journey. I’m going to share with you some of the mindsets that I wish I had a new motherhood, and this is going to be a two part episode. We’re going to start here with part one. So being a new mum, being in motherhood, you’ve got a baby. Maybe you’ve got a baby. And toddlers. Motherhood is hard for many of us. Motherhood is brand new. If we haven’t been around babies or been really close to people who were raising babies and motherhood is relentless.

(03:23):

It is 24 seven, but we don’t want any of this. We want it to be easy. We want it to be comfortable. We want to have space to rest. And when we want these things, we are in a state of resistance. We are resisting the things that we want versus what actually is our real life. And the state of resistance is exhausting when we’re exhausted and not just sleep deprivation, but emotionally exhausted. It is really hard to show up. Well, it’s hard to feel like we’re doing it well. It’s hard to be proactive with the mum. We want to be. It’s hard to enjoy motherhood. So now we’ve got this mental narrative going around that we’re doing it wrong. If it was easy, then I would be doing it right, or something’s wrong with my kids or just something’s wrong. We might even just give up.

(04:13):

We might just submit. This is how it is. I give up. Some of us might try harder and exhaust ourselves. Even more. All of this is common. You might not see it on Instagram, but all of this is so common because the journey of motherhood is not just one of sleep schedules and laundry and dressing your kids in matching outfits. The journey of motherhood is one of mindsets and emotions, and constantly refreshing your heart to show up for motherhood. So I want to dig into one big thing that can make a difference. And that is mindsets. And if you’re like me hearing the word mindsets, I used to roll my eyes so hard, right in the back of my head thunk! There they go, because mindset sounds so woo. But as I’ve learned as I’ve life coach, as I’ve seen it in my life mindsets matter, they matter because the story we tell ourselves about our lives, about ourselves, about the people in it, about what all this means is now the place that we show up from the story we tell ourselves, creates how we feel.

(05:18):

It creates emotion in us. And from these emotions, we take action in our lives or a lack of action. Our mindsets matter because they impact how we feel and what we do. So moving away from the overwhelm and into acceptance, it’s going to help you show up better. So you can see what changes are in your control, and you can make peace with what is in your control and move on. So you can feel like even when it is hard, you aren’t doing it all wrong. You’re just simply doing it. So you can remember that you are a great mom, even if you’re angry and you want an escape and you feel totally helpless. And I can say all this, because I’ve been there, I’ve been so lost in new motherhood. I have been overwhelmed. I’ve been depressed. I’ve been anxious. And now that I’m on the other side of that, those baby years, those toddler years, my kids are now nine, eight, and six.

(06:11):

Now that I’m on the other side of that section of parenting, I can look back and see things a little bit differently. I can see what would have helped me. I don’t know if I could have seen it in the moment. I don’t know if I could have learned these lessons any other way, but I want to offer them to you so that if you are open to them, if they are going to help you with how you are showing up, that you have these new ways of looking at motherhood that might empower you to move forward with love, give you the grace to let go of resisting it and give you permission to honor your journey. So I want to open up with a little bit about my mom journey. If you haven’t heard it before, it took us a while to get pregnant.

(06:52):

We were married. We decided we wanted to get pregnant and it wasn’t happening throughout this process. I learned that I have an autoimmune disease called graves’ disease. That affects my thyroid. It makes getting pregnant pretty tough well through doctors and prayer and a big faith journey along the way, 18 months later, we were pregnant. We had our first baby, he was an emergency C section. And that whole birthing process just created so much distance for me in motherhood. I felt so distant from my baby. And then I felt crappy about it because aren’t I supposed to just be happy about it. That he’s here, that he’s healthy. I have a blog post I’ve written on that. It was actually one of the very first blog posts I ever shared on my blog. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes, if you want to see it.

(07:41):

But as I got distance from this birthing from these early days and weeks of motherhood, I really fell in love with my baby. He was happy. He was easy. He made me feel like I was just doing it right. And then 16 months later, we had another baby. They were 16 months apart. It was a surprise, obviously not planned. And I felt this instant bond with her. She was a VBAC. I didn’t have to have a C section. So I felt really proud and engaged and in the moment, but as the days moved on into weeks, I learned that this baby wasn’t happy, baby. She cried all the time. She arched her back. She never slept. She would sleep on us for 20 minutes sections. She just was so frustrated all the time. And I didn’t know how to fix it. I’m going to link a post to that in the show notes.

(08:33):

If you’re interested in that story, what really struck me is that these kids aren’t the same. I thought they thought you have one. And the other one’s kind of like it. It was so confusing and overwhelming. I totally became an anxious wreck as a mom. And then fast forward to our third baby. We had all three kids in three and a half years. I finally felt like I could be present in new motherhood. Like I could embrace it. Like I could enjoy it. It maybe I’m a slow learner, but it took me the third time around to feel like I was settled, settled with this little family with this new baby. I kind of knew what to do. I kind of knew the process and I was learning the ways that I was showing up from the remnants of my earliest years and motherhood, versus the ways that I was starting to view things differently in motherhood from one to two, three babies, I learned that I was embracing different mindsets that helped me show up differently.

(09:29):

I’m going to share a few of the mindsets that I learned over the three babies, but also just over these nine years of parenting over these nine years of trying to parent children, different children, frustrating children, happy children. The first one is that it’s okay to feel your feelings. I really struggled with addressing that. I felt angry in motherhood or bored or exhausted or frustrated. The biggest reason why I think we need permission to do this is because motherhood can be idolized. There is this cultural view that motherhood is enjoyable, that it is fulfilling, that it satisfies you deep within and it’s blissful. And every moment is magical. But when you are a mom and you don’t feel the magic and when you actually feel angry and when you actually feel like no, guys, this is actually really tough. Why didn’t anybody tell me? There can be a lot of resistance to those feelings.

(10:24):

We kind of just want to shut them down and act like, no, motherhood’s awesome. It’s such a treat. It’s so amazing. We kind of start to resist them, but our body knows our brain knows that that emotion is still there. It’s okay to feel your feelings. Because when we are faced with this very negative emotion, maybe it feels very powerful. It’s a very stressful situation and we just want to make it go away. We want to fight it. We want to numb out from it. Maybe we really react with it and become very anxious and have a lot of stress behaviors. When we are in the stress state, we cannot show up. Well, when we are in the stress response, we feel like our needs aren’t being met. So our brain is using this very stressed out part of our brain. The amygdala that is very impulsive, very shortsighted, and it just wants to make the problem go away.

(11:19):

I mean, this is effective

(11:21):

When it’s going to actually prevent us from danger and threat. But when we’re just in our own home, feeling angry and exhausted and frustrated, what we need to do is to remind ourselves that it’s okay to feel these feelings. We can honor these feelings. We can honor that this is a hard season and we can start to ask ourselves what we really need right now. What do I need right now? How can I nourish myself? And if you are a mom at home with small children, you’re probably going to think like, when’s the time or what are my options. I can go to the pantry and eat chocolate, and that will feel good. Or I can go on my phone and that will feel good, but really there’s kids around there’s kids that need me. There’s kids that are going to call me at any moment and I totally get it.

(12:06):

But I do want to encourage you to still find those little pockets where you’re quiet with yourself and you ask yourself, what do I need right now? Do I need to phone a friend or message a friend and just get that connection? Do I need a drink of water? Do I need to eat something? Is my body really hungry? Like we don’t nourish ourselves enough as moms. How can I move from the state of frustration and resistance into love and enjoyment of myself and my kids? How can I just come and be present for a minute and enjoy what’s here. These are all hard things, but they are things to practice. The next thing that I want to empower you to do is be okay with mourning your old life. It is really hard to give up your time. Maybe give up your job. Maybe give a position because what’s happening is you’re giving up that old identity that you worked so hard to build up. And it’s so easy to become resentful. When you have the story in the mind, in your mind of what you’re missing, you know what you’re missing. Like there’s a different version of you off living a better life holding onto this will just keep you suffering. It perpetuates the pain. So you can allow the pain of mourning your old life, mourning, what you had, what you enjoyed, what you

(13:20):

We used to do. And while that feels like an empty space or a hard space, just remember that you are going to find new identity. You’re going to find new ways to show up new ways to establish who you are and what you enjoy and how you want to spend your time. It’s going to look different than everything you’ve built up, but that’s okay. Different is okay. It’s just unfamiliar. One of the most impactful things that another mom said to me, and she was an older mum. So I knew that she was coming at it from a place of looking back on maybe the past 20 or 30 years where she had been a young mom herself. And she told me, mom, life is hard. That just gave me so much freedom to be like, yeah, it is hard. I feel like it should be easy, but it’s actually hard. And when I try to make it easier, what I’m doing for myself is making it harder.

(14:13):

We make hard things harder. This is one of the first topics we covered in the Life on Purpose Academy. Things are hard. Feeding kids, waking up with them, dressing them, getting them into town, talking to other moms, car seats. These things are hard, but often in an effort to avoid this hard thing, we make our life harder because getting kids out is hard, but it’s harder to keep staying at home and confirming the story. You tell yourself about how hard it is talking to other moms is hard, but it’s harder to do motherhood alone. Feeding your kids is hard, but it’s harder when you make it this big event, make it this big, heavy thing and this big power struggle. So that’s number three. It’s hard, but I don’t have to make it harder. Number four is I can trust myself. We’re all looking for advice.

(15:04):

We’re looking for the right way and the wrong way. And then we’re seeing all of the evidence that our way is the correct way we’ve got sleep training and co-sleeping and bottles and discipline. We are looking for the right way. We think that there’s a right and wrong way for everything. And if we find it, then we’re doing it right. Then we, we are right. We are good parents this month in the life on purpose Academy. I’m talking about being a mom on purpose. And this is one huge thing. I want you to pay attention to when you are sending all these rules on how you have to mother, and now you have to follow all the rules in order to be a good mum. What you’ve set up for yourself now is an exercise in perfectionism. That’s where you’re parenting from. But I wanna encourage you to parent from your own values to how you want to show up.

(15:54):

And what that becomes is an exercise in intuition and authenticity, being the mom you are, because when you remember that, you can trust yourself. You remember that you are capable. You own your decisions in motherhood because you like them. You researched them. You’re happy with it. You like them. Not because you care about what others think or you care about. If others like what you’re doing in your own home with your own kids, you can trust yourself. And I think this goes into the next point. So well that you are, the mom meant for your kids. My grandma always tells us that these kids are just on loan to us. There is something bigger happening here. God gave us these kids for a reason. He made us their parent for a reason. And our kids are looking for this perfect parent who follows all the rules.

(16:42):

They’re just looking for a parent who will enjoy them and guide them. And you can do that. So you might feel in over your head, you might feel frustrated and angry. All of this is drawing something out of you. You are the mum meant for your kids. So to honor that, I want to encourage you to be the mom. You are stop looking around, stop looking at other moms and other kids and be the mom. You are show up with your own values in your own vision. I want to wrap up with one final mindset that I want to offer you. And that is to have a plan and plan to change. Isn’t this so annoying. This is annoying advice, right? When we start parenting, we hear these people say like, start as you mean to go. And, um, you know, like what you do now, imagine in 10 years, how it’s going to be.

(17:32):

So that is important. It is important to be intentional with the routine. You’re setting up with the culture. You’re setting up what people are expected to do, how they’re expected to treat each other. But remember that this can change every season. I feel like every season furniture, layouts change because people now need different things and, and closets change and routines change, and people have different skills. Now they can do different things and my feelings change. So having a plan is always going to help you prioritize what matters, pay attention to what matters and make space for it. But then being flexible with that, knowing that wherever I am now is just a season. If I am buckling up kids in the car seats and helping them tie up their shoes, that’s the season. Things will change. That doesn’t mean we can’t be intentional about how we’re showing up now, how we’re treating each other and the routines that we want to make.

(18:29):

Part of our family culture and our family life. I have got a lot of blog posts that relate to all of these points. I’m going to put them all in the show notes. The show notes are like your little treasure box of all of the little nuggets that you can click on and just expand it and dig more into it. So if you are looking for the show notes, just type in your podcast player and show notes, Google it, or go to simple on purpose.ca click listen. All of the podcasts, all of the show notes are right there for you. If these mindsets feel like they are too far for you, that you’re not quite there yet. And you want some formal support in the things that feel like they’re really hard, you feel stuck. You feel stuck in motherhood, then just message me. I have a life coaching program that can help you through this. My goal is to empower you to be the mom you are so you can show up from that place of empowerment, that place of grace and that place of authenticity in being in line with who you want to be. All right, stay tuned for part two. Coming your way.

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