January 27, 2014

What a Mother Really Needs at Night. ~ Heather Sayers Lehman {Adult}

There is a distinct feeling at the end of a day as a mother.

It’s an ‘OMG/ Holy Hell/ Face Down on the Finish Line/ Can’t Do Another Thing’ Feeling. The level of depletion is unparalleled for me.

I. Am. Done.

I see a lot of moms in my work as a Health and Life Coach. A few days ago, I talked to two moms in a row who both had children with autism and both had a regular nighttime sugar routine for themselves. We had a really interesting chat about full-time work, getting home to a child that needs extra help, other children that need regular help, dinner, homework, baths, dishes, spouses and the ultimate post-bedtime tradition.

Because after the kids went to bed, guess what it was time for? A delicious sugary treat!

Yay, treats!

But with the treat came extreme difficultly getting up, expanded waistlines, extra television time and the warm cozy feelings of regret and shame.

As the mom of two boys aged 11 and 13 I understand the exhaustion after a full day. I do not know the exhaustion of caring for a child with special needs. I have friends that have kids with autism, behavioral issues, learning disabilities and physical challenges. They have so many stories of worry, time spent, money spent, therapies, teacher’s meetings, IEPs, lost sleep, relationship difficulties and divorce.

As a single parent, I don’t know if I could do it all.

I do know that all Warrior Mamas rise to the occasion and do the seemingly impossible.

So back to the end of the day…

I’ll tell you what you need instead of sugar: A fricking parade.

Since nobody is probably throwing you a parade after bedtime (why risk waking up the kids), we need to come up with something kudo-equivalent.

What’s the equivalent of a parade that you can give yourself? We’re probably looking on the scale of excellent self-care (I know it’s boring but that’s a sign of maturity: being boring).

For all of the care you put into making sure your little ones have the best chances, you need to put the same effort and love into yourself.

You are a warrior for crying out loud!

Warriors need healthy food, plenty of rest, exercise and stress management.

Warriors need more fortification than others.

I know that you don’t want to think anymore but please turn off the TV. Read or write.

If you start reading and you fall asleep, that’s because you are tired. Go to bed.

If you write, it’s so helpful to purge all of these feelings. Feelings can be beautiful, ugly, irrational, frightening and straight up loco. Our feelings can be all over the spectrum. Write about your feelings of hope, accomplishment, pride, connection and pure joy. Do write about how hard it is, how unfair it is, your fears about what will happen to your baby when you are gone, how exhausted you are, how expensive it is, how hard it is on your other kids, how guilty you feel or how pissed you are.

Get in touch with those feelings but please don’t stuff them down with sugar (or booze; to be fair – booze is basically sugar but in a different form of deliciousness). Let those feelings out. After your write, you can tear it up, burn it, shred it or keep it but it needs to be out.

No more sugar stuffing.

No more phone stuffing.

No more Facebook stuffing.

No more crappy TV stuffing.

No more shopping stuffing.

No more stuffing.

Journaling is key but there are so many other helpful outlets. I love creative outlets. Artsy fartsy things. Things that require focus. That focus lets your brain relax and get coated with feel-good hormones. I have spent time gluing beads onto cardboard. I’ve also done water coloring, jewelry-making, needlepointing, collaging, sewing, ornament making, floral arranging, acrylic painting and shredding of ex-boyfriend’s belongings. I’m really no good at any of them (except shredding of ex-boyfriend’s belongings because there is passion behind that).

I don’t really try to be good. I just do it because it relaxes my brain and I have something to show for my time. Be happy that the needlepoint phase is over or you might end up with a hand stitched birth announcement that you feel obligated to hang up, at least when I come over.

What about some caffeine-free hot tea? Or a quiet bath?

You can create new rituals that involve peaceful, quiet and calorie-free activities. It’s truly the ritual that we desire. Well, I desire some cookie dough so I see where you are coming from.

It is the ritual where we say, “Alright girl, it is time to shut this mother down”. And you deserve to relax. Create a new ritual to mark the end of your work and family day and then beginning of your, albeit brief, relaxation time. Even if it’s five minutes, punch the clock and call that time yours.

Expand your love and desire to make things best for yourself

(Unless you have time for a parade…but seriously who really has the energy for that business?)

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Assistant Editor: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: JD Hancock. Flickr

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