Cure for the common household blues
When every day begins to look the same…
Minions tugging on your arm. Laundry never ends. You cook. You clean. You kiss the boo boos. You are the hero to everyone’s fight. The villain to every drama. You make rules so everyone can play fair, but they use the rules to see what they can get away with…
Somehow at the end of the day the minions have more energy than you do… or rather they are using more and more of it to stay awake.
And then you get up and do it again the next day.
No one warned us that motherhood was like this. How did those women have the strength to go on like this for 20 years?
The truth is most didn’t. The stress shortened their lives. They threw themselves into their work. After all there is salvation in work… when you are too busy to notice you can do some pretty impossible things without blinking your eyes. If you are not careful you can push yourself too far and… snap. The only that has changed is that we traded our petticoats for jeans and we drive better cars.
The rest hired outside help so they could focus on other responsibilities.
A couple of years ago I was participating in every activity at church and at school. We took a deep breather and felt that renting a 3 bedroom home in the middle of a ranch would help us live more simply… and it did. It was peaceful. It was simple… and it was like living in our own little world.
Then my husband deployed again. It felt like a little piece inside of me had died. For the first time in my life I felt very alone. It was like I was a single mother all over again… People are too busy to even notice anything was wrong. Or maybe they didn’t know how they could help.
One thing I remembered about being a single mother was that no one was coming to rescue me from this situation. What I learned about being a part of the military community was that most of us was in this situation. Stuck between a rock and a hard place… How can I even dare to ask someone else to help me?
Everyone I knew was too busy with their own lives. Busy running from one activity to another. It felt like robbing them of the valuable time with their family. Who could I ask… to socialize a little… or babysit my kids… especially if they would never allow me to return the gesture?
No matter how perfect it may seem that the little house on the ranch was, the hardest part was finding time for myself… time that was not spent on running errands but rather a way for me to breathe and reset. Time away from the little arms that demand my every attention.
In the middle of that deployment I finally reached out and asked for a referral for counseling. I didn’t want drugs because I felt it might help me short term but would not help me learn to deal with depression long term.
What I discovered was that I needed someone to talk to. An open place. A place where the person could ask me questions without judging and give advice without prejudice… and most importantly I could talk about anything without it coming back to bite me in a social setting. This woman that I talked to was my sounding board. And even though I moved on, there are times I truly miss her.
At that point I began to blog. It helped me to recognize what I was feeling. Once it was on paper or on the screen, I could release it. I found friends who leaped at the chance to get out and grab lunch with me. I hired a friend to help me with my home and as an office assistant. I looked for every opportunity not to drown and was thankful when my husband returned to me in one piece. My heart felt whole again and you could feel it in our home.
When we moved to Georgia I started seeing myself go through the same indicators as before. The best part of drill duty was that I could reach out and touch him. It was still a strain and I miss having conversations with him. He was too tired to be present. When I could get time I blogged. It still released a lot of built up tension but I needed something more.
I realized I was losing interest in the simple pleasures that made my day most rewarding. Worse it seemed like this life was doomed to repeat itself for the next 12 years. What was the point of getting up and doing this all over again tomorrow? No one seem to appreciate anything I did. No one wanted anything better. Who cares. Pieces of my heart had been ripped from my life and I was never going to get it back.
It took a health issue that made me feel like I was on my death bed. I had no desire to get up and be a good mother or attend to the house. My strength left me. It would have been easier to let things be and possibly die.
Then one day I thought about what my death would mean to my children, to my husband. I didn’t come this far, I didn’t make these sacrifices to give up now. When I finally made a decision to live, I had my motivation to make some changes in my life.
I know that depression will look and feel different to all of us… so maybe my story sounds off the wall to you. I am leaving out bits and chunks but that’s not the point. The point is I do care that you learn to pay attention to what your body & soul is trying to speak to you! I care that you check in with your friends and see how they are doing…
When things that seem most precious, those simple things, those boring little details that happen in our lives… make you feel dead inside… or maybe the things you used to get a lot of joy out of, you find hold nothing for you… It’s okay. It could mean one of the following;
- It is time for you to move on. You are letting something hold you back and it’s time to do something about it. Stop making excuses.
- You learn and grown into new interests. You have grown out of what you’re doing. The challenge or the pleasure you received from this interest is gone. You can either find something to take you to the next level OR you can discover a new interest or activity. A quick trip to the donut shop. Lose yourself in a book/shoe store. Hike a new trail. Take the time for you… Find your new joy.
- If you find that your social circle has slimmed down, maybe it’s time to explore new social groups or seek more variety. People come and go from our lives. If people leave or move away but we forget to get out and make new it’s easy to fall into depression. Changing your social setting can make a lot of difference for a little effort.
- You’re stressed. Lots of changes and you think you are handling it well. Things that you don’t think are that big of a deal… really can be. Relax or mediate. Slow down and reconnect. Not sure if this is you? Take the test —> Depression-Anxiety-Stress test
- Finally, You have lost hope. I think this is the hardest one because the message in your environment is that nothing will change. You don’t feel love or a certain level of satisfaction. Things didn’t turn out the way you expected or it feels like something was taken from you. Life is not fair. How can anything get better? It can… but we have to desire something better and believe it can get better.
Personally my first step to a healthier me was taking some time for me. Sometimes I call this my adult time, but it is time that makes no demands on me. Running errands does not account for me time. Making time for you is sort of like making time for your spouse. A marriage counselor once told us that at bare minimum we needed to date each other once a week. Which can be hard to do when we are busy running in different directions. So imagine making the time to date yourself… it doesn’t even seem possible.
The second thing I did was stop myself in the moment I recognized my state of blahness and made the moment more exciting or more silly. Simply I had to replace it with something better. I collect quotes and use post-its to remind me of my positive thought or motivational moment. My goal is to to find something that uplifts me each day, with no prejudice to the source. When I feel hopeless I immediately injected it with a positive affirmation. Even if things didn’t work out the way I hoped, I at least had a better attitude about it and the strength to go on.
The third thing I did this time around is help the minions to express more of our feelings to each other. As mothers we set the tempo for our home. Just like we help them communicate that Lil Man hurt Purple Minion’s feelings… it’s also important to let kiddos know when they hurt mom or dad’s feeling too. Not in a manipulative way but in a way that lets them know what they do or don’t do influences their environment. Ignoring mom when she reminds you of your chore means you are choosing not to care… and make it harder for mom to drop what she is doing to help you spell out S-H-O-V-E-L for your next Scribblenauts puzzle level.
Basically 4 minions demanding my attention at the same time can be draining. Admitting that make me feel like I am failure, but I think helping them to understand the difference between stealing my energy/ time and working together/ taking turns is more important than worrying about meeting someone’s idea of a perfect mother. Giving my energy and time to them freely makes a big difference between a crazy mama and a happy mama.
I would love to tell you that I was instantly cured but it’s something I am working on everyday because there are so many distractions. Plus we are entering different stages of growth. They are not the same kiddos. They are changing everyday and that means the environment we are living in changes everyday. I fail. I win. I get back up and do try again tomorrow. Every day is an adventure, even a little adventure that takes up and down the stairs six times. All I know is tomorrow is different, even when I have nothing planned. I have to keep looking for that “different” and celebrate it.
Some days I let the dishes go or serve the frozen $20 meal. You may not be able to do that. I am not going to judge you. You are the only one who can decide what’s really important… your OCD or your happiness. You are the only one who knows when your next opportunity for a break is coming…
If you are still struggling with the idea of enjoying or even scheduling adult time or hiring a housekeeper as a guilty forbidden pleasure of motherhood/fatherhood… somehow that you fail as a parent if you take a breather… then think about this.
50 years ago it was common to outsource and get help with the chores or a nanny for the kids while you handled other responsibilities. So right now the homemakers of today are doing twice as much work than before.
Who are you trying to impress? No one is passing out awards for the best looking homes! So get over it. If a clean home is keeping you from happiness, start interviewing! Time is precious!
Which reminds me. Things did get better for me when I brought in someone to help me out, both back at the ranch and here in GA. hmmm? Coincidence? If nothing else bringing someone into your life that you can talk to as you do your chores may be the win-win you were looking for. In my case I seem to get a lot more done with the extra help!
***If you have never hired a housekeeper before it may weird you out at first and you may try to clean up before she/he gets there, but give it a chance on a trial or probationary basis and see if it makes a difference. Embrace it and let them do the job you hired them for!
The thing is if you have it in your heart to create something different than what you have… Make the effort and change what you’re doing to get it.
Right now you are teaching by your example what’s inside your heart… One day your kids will become the hearts of their home and they will use what they learned from you to make a life and a living. Find your spark and then shine that light with your loved ones!
Bless your home with joy and happiness by helping the heart of your home thrive. 😀