parenting with depression

Parenting With Depression: The Ugly Truth

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world.

But being a parent who has a mental illness?

This can feel impossible.

Parenting with depression is incredibly hard.  You know my least favorite part of the day? I hate bed time.  And I don’t just mean in the sense of, it’s cutting into my TV watching time.  I mean, it gives me a very real sense of anxiety.  I dread it all day long. 

My husband and I have two kids.  We alternate which child we put to bed each night, since that process is significantly easier with one than it is with the other.  Tonight is my night with the more difficult child and I’ve been dreading it from the moment I woke up this morning.

Depression is a beast no matter who you are.  My particular form of the disease’s worst symptom is that it leaves me incredibly fatigued all day.  This fatigue makes me want to go to bed around 7pm every night.  The more tired and I get, the more I think about bed time.  The more I think about bed time, especially as it pertains to our kids, the more anxious I become.

I know it is just a season.  There will come a time when we are able to just say, “Okay, it’s time for bed,” they go into their rooms, and go to sleep.  Let me just say though that, right now, that seems about 100 years away.  I keep telling myself that I will miss this stage of life one day. 

Right?  Won’t I?

Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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My advice for parenting with depression or anxiety

So what do I do to fight the anxiety that comes with putting my little ones to bed (especially the littlest one)?

  • I relax as much as I can during the day.  This puts me in a better frame of mind for approaching difficult tasks, such as wrestling a 2 year old into sweet slumber.
  • I take my meds.  Seems like a no brainer, but this is NOT the season to be lax with my meds-taking.  They need to be taken every single day to give my brain’s chemistry a fighting chance in hell.
  • I try to “unplug” early in the evening.  I have found that for me, personally, plugging my phone in for the night around 7pm or so helps calm me down for a more peaceful bedtime.
  • If they are fighting bed time, maybe it is time to try cutting out their nap.  That is where we are at with out littlest right now.  Unfortunately she fell asleep for a nap today, but I know that if I just power through the afternoon and don’t let her nap, bed time is that much easier.
  • Look into “out of the box” tools to help.  For example, maybe a weighted blanket would help your little one calm down for bed time quicker.  Or try aromatherapy!  It may not be the right fit for every child, but it could certainly help yours.
purple background with white text that says "Parenting With Depression: The Ugly Truth," a black and white photo of a woman who looks sad or stressed and is rubbing her eye

But seriously, parenting is hard.

The ugly truth about parenting with depression (one of them, anyway) is that it takes something mundane like putting your child to bed, and makes it almost traumatic. 

I can feel the blood pounding in my ears just typing about it.  My heart is beating like a jackhammer. But the more we can talk about these things, the more we normalize them.  And the more we normalize them, the more people we can help who are battling the same things we are.

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What are some of your tried and true tips for navigating difficult times in this parenting game? Any advice for someone parenting with depression?

It might be the hardest job in the world, but you can live with depression and be a good parent.


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Related posts about parenting:

Using Positive Affirmations with Children

7 Types of Rest- Which One Do You Really Need to Help You Feel More Emotionally Well?

Raising Happy Kids: How You Can Foster Happiness and Confidence

19 Fun Things to Do With Kids (And how to not lose your mind when you’re trapped at home!)

38 thoughts on “Parenting With Depression: The Ugly Truth”

  1. Natalia Voche

    Yes, Being a parent was really hard and exhausting and I am so glad you share your tips with us

  2. The time that I will say only “it’s bed time!” it’s so far away from me too. Suddenly the kids have all the energy from this world just when need to go to bed.

  3. It is nice to rad about someone struggling/ dreading something “small” and “mundane.” I dread leaving places because it becomes such a struggle to get my little one in the car. And same thing, I know this will end and I will be able to just say “get in the car…” but it doesn’t take away from my dread now. It makes me not want to do things. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes mine feel a little lighter.

    1. Aww I’m so glad you found it helpful. These are really hard times, when they’re little. One of mine did their first amateur haircut last night 🙁 But it will end. Thanks for reading!

  4. You are right about normalizing things. That’s one of my favorite things about reading blogs, it’s that moment that you stop and think, “me too!” knowing that you aren’t the only one and you aren’t alone is really important.

    1. Same here! We have to keeping talking about things if we ever want them to improve. Thanks so much for reading!

  5. I can completely understand this. It’s very difficult to deal with. I’m glad you shared with us, and these are some great tips too.

  6. Great tips and this will definitely help a person not only to those who are suffering from depression but all the parents out there. Thank you!

  7. Yes being a parent is hard. I love all of your tips for helping fight the anxiety, I need to start unplugging earlier like you suggest.

    1. It’s hard at that age. Hang in there, and give yourself a pat on the back for making it through each day! Take care, and thanks for reading.

  8. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a parent – I can only think it would be so so hard, especially when you are suffering with something such as depression.

  9. Pam Wattenbarger

    I totally understand where you are coming from with this! I had one kid that was much harder to raise all the time. The medication really does help keep me on an even keel.

  10. I cannot imagine looking forward to a fight daily at bedtime, especially when already dealing with depression. Luckily, our biggest hurdle is our son wanting a million stories. We established a bedtime routine early on and have tried to stick to it consistently. He receives a bath, gets some tv time, then mommy or daddy read, we say prayers and then it’s “night night” time. Ever so often he has nights where he doesn’t want to go to sleep, but thankfully, they are few and far between.

    1. It’s so hard! It’s better now since writing this. But our kids are clingy little ones! LOL. Glad you seem to have an easy time of it. Thanks for reading!

  11. I understand completely where you’re coming from. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for almost 9 years now, and the only thing I can say it that it does get easier. Keep fighting mamas. You’re so much stronger than you give yourself credit for ❤️❤️❤️

  12. I totally understand this! I’m a single parent so I’m putting them both to bed alone! What helped me was a children’s stories meditation app. IDK WHY it works so well but it does! My son loves listening to it then he passes right out. Gives me the time I need to unwind.

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