Simple Ways to Be a Happier Mom

How to be a Happier Mom

How to be a Happier MomBeing a mom is hard, period. As a mom who also deals with all that comes with a bipolar diagnosis, I try my best not to think of my life as harder than any other mom out there. Rationally, I know we all have our own struggles, but I would be lying if I didn’t think how much easier my day might be if I wasn’t also battling my own mind.

There are days when I can barely get out of bed or when I call in the troops, aka the grandparents, to gather the kids for a weekend slumber party so I can disappear into my bedroom for a couple days. While I also have days when my hypomania kicks into overdrive, I barely sleep, the whole house shines, and I convince myself I’ve got this whole thing down all day every day, those days are fewer and farther between the place where I spend most of my time: on the low end of the spectrum in (or in between) depressive episodes.

As a parent, I’ve learned how to push through. I count myself lucky that I can stand toe to toe with my illness and, most days, win. I can make myself get out of bed and get the kids off to school, and I can at the very least remember to order the pizza to feed them dinner when I can’t summon the motivation to cook. I know not every mom who has bipolar disorder or even postpartum depression can do this, and so I do consider myself blessed.

I also have a few things I place high on the priority list to make sure I’m as happy as I can be, especially on the hard days.

Routine and Organization

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

When I was younger, I was able to exist in clutter and be completely okay with it. Now, with two kids running around their very often screaming baby sister, clutter gives me major anxiety. My husband saw this first hand last night when just the act of clearing the dinner table and sending the kids upstairs to get ready for bed had me bent over a chair, crying and gasping for breath.

My day is comprised of a flexible middle bordering fairly rigid morning and evening routines. The flexible middle allows me time to get things done as I can without overextending myself, and the morning and evening routines keep the kids in order and mommy happy on good days and sane on the rougher ones.

Me Time

This one is the hardest for me because I, like so very many mommies out there, very often put my own needs last which means they get knocked completely off the priority list when something else inevitably comes up.

Like when my second daughter was born.

I didn’t think she should cry even a second longer than it took to wake me up in the morning, so I fed her before going to the bathroom. Then it would suddenly be time to get my oldest up and ready for preschool, search madly for her shoes 2 minutes before we had to leave, and change the baby’s diaper again before we go.

Before I knew it, hours would go by and I not only hadn’t used the bathroom yet, but I also hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day. It’s no wonder I was constantly stressed and had such trouble with my breastmilk supply.

Now, I make sure I have cleared my bladder and set myself up with a book/tv show, a snack, and a drink before every nursing session. I take showers when my husband has the baby, and I keep the door locked to encourage everyone to leave me alone for 20 minutes. I also enlist the help of family and sitters so I can get my hair done or get a pedicure. These things are restorative, and even one solo outing a week can help rejuvenate my mind.

[adrotate group=”3″]

Support: Call in the Troops!

I have no idea where I would be if I didn’t have all of the support that I do. Between my parents, siblings, friends, and in-laws, there is no shortage in my village. Outside of family, I’m also an active member of an online mom’s group and, because my husband is also bipolar, a support group for spouses of those with bipolar disorder.

One of the best ways to be happier as a bipolar mom (and really a mom in general) is to build your village. Build friendships with other moms like you either in real life or online– I promise, online friends count, too! If you have family locally, don’t be afraid to share your needs with them so they can support you when you need it. Support groups and individual therapy are also invaluable to your mental health, especially because motherhood can be so isolating.

I don’t hesitate to call in the troops when I’m having a bad day, and being humble enough to accept that I can’t always do it all has been a large part of my own happiness.

Be Kind

… to yourself.

I try think of my life in terms of periods of extended time (days or weeks), and I aim for a 100% average overall. If some days all I can be is 50% present, well, then we’re having movies, snuggles, and junk food on the couch. Then, when I’m feeling better, we’ll have an epic trip to the science museum followed by afternoon crafts and evening dance parties in the kitchen. Hopefully, it all balances out.

The trick is remembering to be kind to yourself every day and especially gentle on the not-so-good days. They’re going to happen, especially if you’re a bipolar mom like me. But being a bipolar mom doesn’t make me a bad one. It just means our household works a bit differently than others. Not worse, just different.

I know that my kids are going to remember the effort I put into raising them and the selfless love I gave. That’s what matters most to me, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 10 years of being a parent, it’s that it’s impossible to keep filling up everyone’s cups if your pitcher is empty.

23 thoughts on “Simple Ways to Be a Happier Mom

  1. Linda says:

    I really relate to the “build your support group” point. As a new mom, I find infinite comfort and strength from the family and friends that I have around me who drop off food or visit when they can.

  2. Pingback: 5 New Ways to Get More Milk When Pumping (Plus, the Products I Use to Get 4-6 oz per Breast) | Mom Goes Mental

  3. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide to Organize Your Home & Declutter | Mom Goes Mental

  4. aliyadaya says:

    Agree on all the above; I have carved out a minimum of 20-30 minutes for myself every day (and trained the family to accept and understand this) and have sustained this for the last 10 years. It has kept me sane.

  5. Stephanie Phelps says:

    Wow this is so helpful. I feel like I am the only one that goes through this but these are so great and needed at this point! Me time with four kids is so hard for me! I have to learn to balance it!

  6. Denise Smith says:

    great read, I love the part about having me time, I have learned the hard way and I make sure to schedule a few minutes by myself during the day to reconnect with myself and recharge.

  7. Harpreet says:

    This is so well written; I’m not a mum and I can totally related to what you’re saying and how you’re feeling by reading your words, and alot of what you’ve said can be applied to other situations too. Thanks for sharing xx

  8. Tamra Gibson says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty. You pretty much explained me to a T but I also have lupus and fibromyalgia along with severe panic attacks. I really need to just accept myself for me and learn how to be good to myself or at least not work myself into a major depression on the days that I feel I’ve completely failed. Sometimes I look around and it’s as thought everyone else has it together and I’m barely hanging on. I’m saving these tips as a reminder. Please know this meant a lot to me and I took in every word.

    • Tiffany | Mom Goes Mental says:

      I’m so glad that this was helpful. It’s especially hard to resist looking around and comparing ourselves to others. Someone told me once, “You can’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” I try to keep that in mind on the harder days when it feels like it will all fall apart. It’s tough, but I take things one day at a time. I wish you more good days than bad <3

  9. teaaddictsanonymous says:

    I worry about this often. I have not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or any mental disorder) but something is there. I am too scared to be medicated so I do not go to a doctor (I know…it sounds stupid but I.T terrifies me). I wat kids…I want a lot of kids. I’m a nanny and kids are my favorite thing ever. I am so scared that my mental issues will inhibit me from being a good mom because my highs are great but my lows come way too often and typically out of nowhere. I truly applaud you. You’re doing a great job! I just found your blog today but I’m loving it already!

    • Tiffany | Mom Goes Mental says:

      Welcome and thank you so much! I am very high functioning, but it was after years of great therapy and figuring out my cycles and how to do life around my illness. I am a huge advocate for mental health and therapy in general and would highly recommend it. You can even find psychologists who are open about getting on medication or not and who are willing to work with you through it.

      If you’re wondering if you might need therapy or medication, I’d check out this video on the Mom Goes Mental Facebook page: It’s an amazing and light-hearted take on being bipolar and is really motivating!

  10. Pingback: Pretty Pink Chore or To Do List for Adults & Kids – Free Printable – Mom Goes Mental

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *