Dear Dr. Yael,
I love drawing and painting. However, I never have time since I am busy with my young children as well as working. I also love singing to my children. My husband feels that the painting course I took is too time consuming. I got married in my late 20s and we have several young children. When I was single I worked at my career and still had time for my art and exercise classes. My husband is a great father, who works hard and learns every night. Somehow, there is no time for my interests. I am feeling a little overwhelmed and sometimes sad.
An Overwhelmed Mother
Dear Overwhelmed Mother,
Many mothers of young children feel overwhelmed, but you must find time to do what you need as well. If you do not take care of yourself, you will not have the energy and happiness you need in order to take care of your family. It makes sense that you have more limited time now with your children and your work; however, it is imperative that you carve out some time for yourself as well. When you are flying, they always review the safety rules. It is always drilled in that you need to put your own oxygen on first before helping others, even your own children. The same is true in life, if you do not take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your family. Parents who attend to their own mental, emotional, and physical health are better able to handle the various challenges that come with raising children. Research shows that these parents can adapt to changes, recover from setbacks, and build stronger relationships. Perhaps you can share this article with your husband, so you can both sit down and figure out when you can take some time for yourself. This does not have to be a significant amount of time, but you must take time to do something you enjoy.
Art and music have especially been found to be beneficial to an individual’s mental health. Research has shown that drawing, music, and writing can elevate your mood. Studies have also shown that singing reduces cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone released when the body is under stress). If drawing and painting is something that you do for yourself, it would be extremely beneficial to continue doing it as it is both something that you enjoy, and something that can help improve your mental health. Please try to find a way with your husband to continue your classes. Perhaps if your husband realizes how important this is for you, he will help you make it happen.
I will also share some tips to practice in order to help you feel better emotionally:
- Notice the positive in your life. When you take time to notice positive moments in your day, your experience of that day becomes more positive. A gratitude journal can also be very helpful. Write down one good thing that happened each day or something that you’re grateful for each day. This will go along way and changing how you perceive and experience life and will help you see your life in a happier, more positive manner.
- Avoid feeling guilty. You are allowed to have feelings without judgment. It is okay if you need a break from your children or some time alone. When you notice your feelings with out judgment, you feel less stress and more in control. When you feel less stressed, you’re able to have more thought before acting, which helps as well.
- Prioritize date nights! It is imperative that you put some time aside for you and your husband. As parents it is very easy to get bogged down in your everyday life and forget to make time for your relationship.
- Accept that you need help and cannot do everything on your own. Getting a babysitter or family to help out is imperative for you to have. No one can do everything on their own.
- Lastly, find a good friend network. You probably don’t have a lot of time for friends, but it is important to make some time so you do not feel lonely or isolated.
I hope that these ideas are helpful. If you find that you’re still feeling overwhelmed and sad, even after implementing some of these ideas, please seek out professional help. Do not wait until you’re feeling depressed. It is much easier to deal with an issue in its infancy than it is if you let depression take over. Hatzlacha with your beautiful family and with feeling less stressed!