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