09 February 2015

Note to Self on New Baby Depression Failsafes

This post is in case I get low again after the next baby to help me remember my failsafes.

Plan the Food, Assert its Goodness 
 I find a huge amount of joy and satisfaction in planning, preparing, and eating a delicious meal. I also love trying new recipes, whether from Pinterest or my food magazines. Sometimes my children try to rob me of my joy by complaining. My husband refrains from complaint even when I cook something so revolting that I decide to throw away the rest of the pan. It is a privilege to be the wife of such a man. So when the kids start in on my delicious home cooked meals I just tell them loudly what I want to hear. "Mom, thank you for all of your hard work making this meal! You're welcome my beautiful, grateful, kind children." They usually get the hint.

A house does not have be immaculate and sparkling all the time. Cleaning is the area in which I struggle the most. However, from being around various women who have clean houses, and observing what they do, I have realized that, like cooking, it is a skill that can be mastered through hard work and habit. It takes me about 10 minutes to just pick up the floor of the family room. I do not straighten, vacuum, dust, and put everything away every day. But I have noticed a significant psychological improvement in my state of mind and that of my husband if there is a basic semblance of sanity when he gets home from work.

Stock the Kitchen
Sometimes when I have a baby, I do not have time to cook elaborate meals for myself or my family. We all have to eat anyway. I need to keep bread, milk, eggs, and especially fruit and vegetables on hand so that we can all eat every day. If I have to buy pre-packaged baby food rather than making my own in my blender, so be it. Conveniences are there to help us when we are overwhelmed, and we should take advantage of them.

Last year I made a psychological breakthrough in the area of exercise. I used to try to exercise in a significant way two to three times a week. That meant if I missed session of exercise, I only got once or twice a week, and it was very easy to let go of good habits. When I worried about my fourth baby coming out ginormous, I decided to walk every day except Tuesday. This made a huge difference in my way of thinking about exercise. If I missed a day it didn't matter, because tomorrow was another day. I always felt capable of exercising because walking for short periods of time was so easy. Changing my thinking about exercise enabled me to form and keep a habit with a little bit of work instead of a lot.  

Think Positively
I have a problem with negative thinking. It has been so bad at times that I thought, "I need to find a book about Stopping Negative Thinking." I later realized such a book would be called a book about positive thinking. Duh. It has been a long time coming, but I am finally forming thought habits of looking for good, refraining from criticism, and allowing others such as my husband and children, to make their own choices instead of trying to control them. 

Reach Out
Talking to other adult females during the day lifts my spirits considerably. I realized how true this was one day when my lunch pals and I had an extensive discussion about socks and the folding thereof. It didn't matter that we were talking about socks. Talking to them made me feel better, and it is okay if I have to call or text three or four people before someone is available to talk or play. Someone else might need to talk, too, so I should reach out.

Be Mindful
This is a technique I use to fight anxiety and depression. I focus on the moment I am in. I focus on what I see, what I hear, what I smell, what I physically touch. This has been the single most helpful parenting and life in general technique I have found. So many times in the past I have put my children off because I was blogging, addicted to my phone or email, busy cooking, or really just busy off in my mind thinking about things that are totally out of my control. Yoga helps it. Exercise helps it. Cooking and quilting help it. When I am able to focus the full power of my mind on the present moment, my quality of life significantly improves.  I can celebrate those beautiful little moments of parenthood the way I have always wanted to when I am mindful.

So there you go, self. Now, don't forget like you did with the caramel tips you blogged and then forgot to review before you made caramel (and overcooked it) again the next Christmas. There are lots of coping strategies for blues. Use them! 


Ivy Nicole said...

I truly LOVE you! Thank you for being real and being you! You amaze me everyday. I am so blessed you are mine!

The Yoder's Five said...

Great post!! New babies seem to put us in a little hole that we have to figure out how to crawl out of. It's like we have to relearn how to do everything again. I haven't felt depressed, per se, but just behind on life, feeling like I'm spinning my wheels and not accomplishing anything, and I haven't had a moment alone or a good night's sleep in months. The saggy belly does not help. Solidarity, sister!

Marie Says Yes said...

Like a lightning bolt out of heaven. This is smart. Sometimes I think we have the very best advice to offer ourselves, if we'd just listen! I shall take my mind that late at nights says "I'd like to sleep but I'm so profoundly SAD. That is dumb." And keep working to rewire! Especially the exercise part. I know it would help me feel so much better. I'm stealing the "Every day but Tuesday" idea! You're a keeper.

Holly said...

You just condensed 30 years of hard-earned wisdom into one blog post. Amazing!