5 Practical Ways for Mums to Overcome Discouragement


5 Practical Ways for Mums to Overcome Discouragement

Get out of a rut – for good

By Tracey Or | 5 May 2022

The dishes from lunch are still occupying the sink. The toddler has been screaming ad nauseam for the past five minutes to eternity, having woken up from an unsatisfying nap and not finding you there. The kids are rolling into their fourth hour of television- while you are hacking your way through conference call after conference call. The house looks an epic mess, with toys strewn all over like a disaster zone. You have no clue what you’re going to put together for dinner, and you don’t care. You can’t care. Your boss is awaiting impatiently for your monthly sales report.

I guess it’s not hard to imagine ourselves in the story above. We’ve all been there at some point, haven’t we?

Days where we felt physically ill, mentally stressed, and simply overwhelmed as a mum, defeated and discouraged from the frontlines of motherhood.

It’s easy to fall into that rut of despair and self-doubt when:

  • The opinions of those in (or outside of) our circle nag at us
  • We experience physical limitations, lack of time, lack of money, lack of space, sleep deprivation
  • Our children’s and spouse’s attitudes, health concerns, or behavioural shortcomings wear us down

Before we know it, we are at rock bottom.

How do we dig ourselves out from the trenches of guilt and failure? Having to juggle work and kids can be tiresome enough, and even more so in this pandemic.

It’s so easy to feel overworked and under-appreciated. Apart from fishing for gratitude or affirmation from the husband and kids, what can we do to help ourselves ride out the tough days?

Rather than focus on the negative moments, look instead at how far you’ve travelled.

Here some practical tips that can help turn our day around and get us off the ground and up on our feet again:

  1. “Life is a video, and not a photograph”
  2. In other words, our bad moments do not define who we are in one freeze-frame. Our journey is made up of changing snapshots in time that could and often do get better, even if they occasionally dip and get worse. It is normal to feel discouraged today, but find hope and motivation tomorrow. We can get unstuck from a single frame!

    When a few days don’t work well and we hit some kinks along the road, have faith that it will all even out. We may lack the skills in the present for some things, but we can surely make up for it in other areas. Your kids can’t have a mum who whips up nutritious meals daily – but they usually have nourishing food on the table, save for some junk meals once in a while! Also, no mum never yells -ever!

    Rather than focus on the negative moments, look instead at how far you’ve travelled. And focus on growing a little every day.

    With the 90-second rule, it is important to acknowledge and accept that strong emotion, and to breathe through it. Otherwise, we may remain stuck in that feeling.

  3. The “90-second rule”
  4. In her study of the brain, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor discovered the “90-second rule of emotions,” which illustrates how transient feelings are.

    According to Bolte Taylor, “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.”

    With the 90-second rule, it is important to acknowledge and accept that strong emotion, and to breathe through it. Otherwise, we may remain stuck in that feeling.

    For example you might say out loud or think to yourself: "I am feeling very tired and grumpy right now,” and then find a way to move on: “But I will look into this after my bath.”

    Another way is to pause, and to visualise a wave washing over you. Name that wave of emotion, and allow it to subside.

  5. Accept where you are at
  6. We don’t have to make excuses when things don’t turn out right. But we need to be honest and kind to ourselves to accept where we are and start making little steps to improve.

    “The house is a mess, it bothers me, but it won’t be like this forever. I can cope for a time and make small changes to the way I do things.”

    Don’t be tempted to start a pity party but take time to have a good cry and recentre your priorities. Avoid minimising the failure or frustration you’re feeling, but take the healthy step towards forgiving yourself and making progress forward.

  7. Have a long-term growth mindset
  8. Acknowledge that the parenting journey is for the long haul and some seasons are going to be tougher than others – New job transitions, getting pregnant, relationship issues with teens, health and personal losses.

    In the grander scheme of things, all these experiences can help to stretch us to become better, stronger and wiser than we already are. The growth mindset isn’t just for academic or athletic pursuits: it can be applied to parenting too! Don’t waste these difficult periods – even if they can be such a pain in the butt! These times will pass.

  9. Reposition your heart with gratitude
  10. Positioning our parenting with a vantage point of gratitude is an important pick-me-up for how we see things on a bad day.

    Tweak our words. Resist saying “I have to,” and replace it with “I get to.” It really makes a significant difference.

    Compare this:

    “I have to drive my kid to gym class” versus “ I get to drive my kid to gym class today!”

    “I have to put the baby to bed” versus “I get to put the baby to bed!”

    This isn’t about bluffing ourselves or sugar-coating, but the words we use can make a huge difference to nudge us about the little things we’ve taken for granted that others can no longer turn back time to enjoy.

    A few bad days are just hiccups compared to the privilege of raising our little ones – and we all know we won’t trade it for the world!

© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Tracey Or is a full time mother of six, part-time dreamer and writer at her blog, Memoirs of a Budget Mum. Those who know her well knows she gets through life with a good joke, coffee and the occasional Netflix.

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