When Motherhood is Hard: 4 Ways to Cope

“What are you thinking?!”

“Can you stop whining for 5 minutes, please?”

“Just go to your room!”

I stomp angrily around the house, throwing random toys into the trash can and hurling plastic cups and plates into the sink. The baby has dumped her entire lunch on the floor (again) and the floor has to be swept (again). The kids are yelling and fighting and in those brief moments when they aren’t fighting they are screaming in my ear for the fun of it, and using me as a human trampoline. It’s been a long day and I’ve finally snapped. I banish the kids to their rooms. But, they are 5 and 3 so less than a minute later I see them running down the stairs. I look at the clock. 1 hour 43 minutes until nap time. I wonder if I’ll make it….

Nap time finally rolls around and I’m on the verge of insanity. I manage to stay in control until the last child is finally tucked in bed. Then I lose it. I collapse on the couch in utter defeat, tears burning my eyes.  I’m such a failure. I’m a bad mom. I yelled. A lot. The experts say that’s damaging. Why are my kids so crazy? I bet So-and So’s child would never behave like this. (I know because I stalk her Instagram posts). Clearly I’m not cut out for this whole “mom” thing. It’s just. so. hard.

Dear Mama, do you ever have days like that? Overwhelmingly hard days when you are positive you are the worst mom in the world and your children are destined to end up leading a prison gang? I want to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? It’s normal. You are not alone. Did you catch that? Every mom, dating all the way back to Eve, has felt that way at some point. You are not a bad mom. You are not a failure. Motherhood, like any other job, has its ups and downs. It’s triumphs and challenges. And let’s face it: being a mother is probably the hardest job there is. There are bound to be bad days. Tears. Frustration. But for every bad moment there are 10 times the amount of good moments. The joys of parenting really do outweigh the trials. Don’t let the bad days keep you from enjoying the amazingly good days. But maybe you’re in a season where you feel completely overwhelmed? What’s a mom to do when she can’t remember the last time she laughed? Here are some tips to helpfully help you through those rough days:

1. Stop Comparing.

Here’s another little secret: social media is a Big Fat Lie. It’s not an accurate description of what’s really going on. People don’t just put their best selves out there, they put their fake selves out there. What you see on Instagram is not always what it’s really like in real life. We do it because we want others to see how in control we are. And because we would rather read posts from someone who has it all together. No one wants to be labeled as a Debbie Downer. So next time you’re on Facebook remember that you’re peers are struggling just like you are.

2. Confide in a Friend.

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I can not stress enough the importance of having close friends while you’re in the season of raising kids. I have a few close friends who I confide in. I tell them I don’t know how I’d survive motherhood without them. And it’s true. They listen patiently when I need to vent my frustrations. They comfort me when I’m overwhelmed. They give me sound advice, and they genuinely love me and my kids.  They pray for us during those hard days. I really would be lost without them. Find your village, and do it soon. As a large-family SAHM I am so thankful for these friends. They don’t tell me it’s my fault for having so many kids. They don’t judge me when I announce that another is on the way. They don’t imply that I should go back to work or stop homeschooling. They simply listen without judgment. They understand that being a mother is sometimes hard, but that I wouldn’t trade a single one of these children for all the money in the world. Friendships can be formed anywhere, but church groups or baby and me classes are great places to start. And remember to confide in your husband as well if you have one. He is your best friend and desires to see you happy. He wants to help. So let him.

3. Let It Go.

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It’s no wonder that song from Frozen went on to be such a hit. There’s a lot of truth behind those 3 little words. Let go of the need for perfection. Unless you gave birth to Stepford children, they are NOT going to be perfect. Let go of the need for quiet. I once had a friend tell me, “When you have a lot of kids someone will always be screaming. Just embrace it.” Best advice I’ve ever gotten. Maybe you need to re-prioritize for a season. Prioritize the big things. The important things. Cultivate relationships. Spend quality time with your spouse. Find ways to fill your child’s love tank. Take time out for YOU. So read one more story. Watch another episode of your favorite show. Take a bubble bath. Eat the chocolate. I promise the laundry won’t be offended if you put it off 30 minutes.

4. Focus on the Good.

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On those days when you just don’t know if you’ll survive, focus on the positives. Actively look for them. Negative thoughts breed negative feelings which in turn leads to a very bad day. So count your blessings. Focus on what’s going right. The kids playing nicely. The baby giving you a slobbery kiss. The 3 year old helping you fold laundry, and the 5 year old “reading” a book to his sisters. Find those moments and hold on to them fiercely. Remember them when the days get rough. And always remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.

Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. Maybe at this moment you are lovingly whispering to a growing baby bump, or gazing at an adorably cute newborn and can’t imagine ever being upset at such a perfect being. I was there at one point. I had gotten a lot of advice on raising a baby, but no one warned me about the hard days. Yes, I knew of the sleepless nights and teething and diaper explosions. But the really bad days? The “I can’t stand this child” days? Well I had no idea that was even a possibility. And it scared me. I wish someone would have warned me. Told me it was normal.  So if you haven’t experienced days like this yet, know that I’ll be here for you with a steaming mug of coffee and a sympathetic ear the first time it does.

So, Mama, cut yourself some slack. We all have bad days. We all struggle. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean we aren’t cut out for being moms, it just means we are human. Our children really are blessings. They are precious gifts. And YOU are the absolute best mother for your children. Even on your worst day there is no one else who could love them more than you. It’s going to be ok. You’ve got this.

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