Parenting: Living in Survival Mode
Most of us who are parents (and some who aren't) know that being a parent can be very challenging. It pushes us way past our limits and stretches what we thought we could endure. Of course it goes without saying that we love our kids very much and there are definitely many good moments and up sides to being a parent. As a parent there are different stages we all go through and all are hard in their own way.
With a newborn you're in survival mode, just trying to keep yourself and your baby fed, changed and alive - barely getting by with so little sleep and trying to heal from your body carrying a baby for 40 weeks-ish and giving birth (ladies) and so many other challenges. Some of us go back to work while others stay at home - both are hard in their own ways. Then comes the crawling, walking and toddler stage. This can be better for many people with sleep, but as some things get easier a shift happens and some get harder. Baby proofing everything, trying to figure out how your toddler got into the cabinet in the 2 seconds you looked away, you have to constantly be paying attention and can't let your guard down at all or they're they're into something else.
Next up is the preschool age, which comes with some more independence for most kids (thankfully). With my first son this was tough in some ways, but I didn't truly know what tough was then. With my second born son there are some fun and awesome times and SO many hard hard days. He's my tiny tornado who pushes the limits, he is fiercely strong willed and wants to be independent in so many ways at 4. He tries to run out the front door over and over, doesn't take no for an answer and is also extremely loving on the other hand. He pushes us until we can't take anymore in every way possible to the point of us being ready to throw in the towel. Then he comes back with some love, hugs and kisses and tells us how beautiful we are. I'm sure some of you have a little one like this and understand exactly what I'm talking about. As I write this my heart rate is highly elevated and stress is flowing through my body like crazy and I'm not easily worked up (be right back - going to get some Cedarwood essential oil to calm down).
When the kids move on to school age and beyond those all come with their own challenges like attitudes, fighting with siblings, tough parenting talks, rebelling, worrying about the choices your kids are making and many more, but I'm imagining and have heard from many others that it gets easier and you get out of survival mode at some point as the kids get the point where they can do a lot of the things to take care of themselves and can help out more around the house too.
Although sleep is better these days than when the boys were very young, I'm in a different kind of survival mode at this stage with a 4 and 8 year old. I know that things will get better at some point and that I won't be raising kids forever. I never understood the kind of strength and perseverance that you have to have a build as a parent until the past few years. Are you in survival mode too? I know we will all get through this and hopefully raise loving, kind humans who do good in the world.
I have some suggestions that I can offer as a lifeline or to help support you in some ways as you go through your own survival mode:
1. Me time or taking care of yourself isn't optional when you're in survival mode. Or ever, really. If you're struggling and not taking care of yourself or finding time for things that help you calm your mind, bring happiness to your life or work energy and stress out of your body you're simply not going to feel good. The less you're taking care of yourself, the harder it is. Find a babysitter - ask family or friends, trade babysitting or whatever you need to do to get that time.
2. If you don't ask for help, people may not know that you need it. Most people aren't mind readers and when you look like super mom and act like everything is good, people won't always offer to help you or give you a break when you need it. Start to become aware of the feelings and emotions going on in your body and ask for help before you reach your breaking point.
3. The better you eat, the better you'll feel and the more energy you'll have. I know it is hard enough taking care of the kids and all of the responsibilities that you have. Everyday I struggle with not having the motivation or will to cook dinners lately. I've found that if I make something that is good for me and I make extra or if I have better food on hand at my house I will choose those foods more often. So, even if you can't muster up the will to cook super healthy meals regularly or even cook full meals regularly, find some ways to eat easy, better for you food to fuel your body and help yourself. One of my favorites is dragon fruit cut up into chunks with pomegranate seeds mixed in. I also love ancient grain toast with avocado on top and pomegranate seeds on top of that. Find some things that you can eat or make that don't take long, but are overall good for your body and that you love.
4. If you need some help, add in good quality whole food supplements. I have said it before and I'll say it again many times: I am able to make it all day and feel good most days through the day (without caffeine) because of my Lifelong Vitality Pack supplements (I take the vegan option). They are SO GOOD for my body, make me feel better with stress, energy, my health and I don't feel nearly this good without them. If you have questions about these, send me a message and I'll be happy to chat with you or answer your questions.
5. If you're nearing your limit, take a time out. Go in a room and lock the door for a minute and breathe, go outside, close your eyes and breathe in fresh air or whatever you need to do to remove yourself from the situation.
I know everyone's situation is different and we all have our own hard. Rather than struggle and barely survive, try to find some ways to thrive or feel good during these days or years of survival mode. You will make it through this, I will make it through this and we will come our stronger, more patience and more resilient on the other end. Do what you can to feel good along with hugging more, looking in the eyes more, playing more and dancing more. Find what works for you and your family.
Do you have some tips you'd love to share on how you handle or thrive in survival mode? I would love to hear in the comments!