All of us moms know the truth… Life isn’t easy.
Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever done. Being a mom is so rewarding and wonderful, but it is also physically and emotionally exhausting. I love my children (who are now ages nine and seven). They also frustrate and infuriate me at times, but I unconditionally love them nonetheless. Us human beings have a tendency to overcomplicate things. Me being the highly analytical person that I am, I do this to the 10nth degree.
I am an anxious person who has ADHD and OCD. I am also a mother of two young children, and a single mom at that. With all this at play, I need to make my life as simple as possible. All of us moms know the truth, though: Life isn’t easy. It is just plain hard, sometimes.
To make parenting less complicated, I try to stick to a daily routine. As someone with ADHD this is challenging but essential. There are things I know need to happen each day for me and for my children. I know that I have to wake up at the same time each school day. I lay out the clothes in the same place every single morning. These small threads of consistency help me feel less anxious. I also know that I make dinner at the same time each night. This helps me create an internal structure in my mind. I also like to involve my kids in making the schedule. This way they feel like they’re involved and part of a community.
As much as you want to, you can’t dictate how the day is going to go from minute to minute.
As a parent who lives with chronic anxiety, the “unknown” can be frightening. The natural fluctuations of motherhood can be anxiety provoking. I don’t do well with unstructured time at all. On the weekends I need to make sure that I know what I’m doing with my kids in advance and then actively schedule in order to avoid spontaneity. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s just that parenting and impulsivity can create some problematic situations.
Having a routine is important, but here’s the thing: you need to feel comfortable breaking that routine . When you have kids, they get sick. They freak out or something crazy happens and you need to change plans at the last minute. So have a routine, but be flexible. (Easier said than done, right?) You may want to go to the park, but your toddler throws a massive tantrum. Suddenly it’s an hour later and you’re still not out the door. At moments like these, life presents you with a choice: You can try to reason with a screaming child (sounds fun, right?) or you can slow yourself down. Maintain your ground. Ride that tantrum out until you’re able to leave for the park, or even change plans entirely.
As much as you want to, you can’t dictate how the day is going to go from minute to minute. What you can do is have a game plan, and also be ready to change it. For all you moms out there second-guessing yourself, you’re not alone. It is brutal being a mom sometimes. And it’s also wonderful. You’ve got this, mama.
Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. After her HuffPost Parents article “3-Year-Olds Are A**holes” went viral, she wrote a book on the subject. Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats.