juggle of motherhood mama disrupt Woman walking in desert

5 Ways to Overcome the Juggle of Motherhood

In Features, Motherhood, Stories by Nicole Fuge

By Amy Molloy

Feeling the pressure of being a mum and everything else? Follow these steps to overcome the juggle of motherhood.

1 // A REMINDER TO RELEASE LETTING GO OF YOUR GRIP

Whenever I feel out of my comfort zone, I can fall into a space of ‘over-coping’, refusing to accept help and pushing away the people who love me.

This happened after I became a mother, both times to varying degrees.

After unexplained infertility, I had desperately wanted a baby. This meant I entered motherhood with a burden on my shoulders – I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, to complain or ‘burden’ my husband with anything.

It took an outsider to (gently!) point out that I’d fallen into an old pattern of ‘unhealthy independence’. She used the analogy of a hand. I was living my life like a clenched fist – hard, uncompromising and unwelcoming – when I should be living life like an open palm – accepting, open and welcoming.

That afternoon, while I was sitting at my desk, I drew a gold dot in ink on the centre of my palm. Throughout the day, it was a reminder to unleash my grip. To see the golden circle, I had to open my fist, release and let go. I drew that dot on my palm every day for a month. Could one gold circle be the difference for you in overcoming the juggle of motherhood?

juggle of motherhood mama disrupt Woman having fun in trolley
2 // THE TWO SIDES OF DENIAL GIVING UP OR GIVING IN

Self-denial has become a trendy pastime.

Among millennials, a growing number are choosing to abstain from alcohol. There’s also been an increase in veganism and plant-based eaters.

However it’s not all done with the best intentions. It can feel easier to quit than stick. We can deny ourselves an opportunity, a friendship, an income stream, or a career opportunity. We delete a phone number because we feel judged. We pull out of a project because we didn’t execute a perfect outcome.

In children, sudden self-denial is one of the warning signs psychologists look out for when assessing whether a child is recovering from a trauma.

This is true for adults too – so look out for the warning signs.

Today, whenever I have the urge to abstain, I ask myself these questions.

Do I really need to quit or can I reduce? What is the emotion behind my motivation? If I choose to remove something from my life, can I add something else in its place?

Initially, I quit alcohol because I was a heartbroken drunk. I used to abstain because I feared who I was after drinking. Now, I abstain because I love who I am when I’m dry.

Contraception Options After Pregnancy mama disrupt Woman sitting on bed tired with cup of tea
3 // RIGHT PLACE, WORST TIME HOW TO FIND PEACE ANYWHERE

My father volunteers at a children’s hospice that provides palliative care for terminally ill children and young adults.

When people hear what he does, they always ask how he copes with the sadness, but he corrects them. The days he spends at the hospice are full of laughter and gratitude-reminders, despite the shadows of sickness.

As children (and adults), we’re conditioned to believe certain environments are negative places – hospitals, traffic jams, our boss’s office. In our mind, spaces sit in categories – a place to desire or dread. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A supposedly ‘unsafe’ space can hold a special place in your heart – if you’re open to it. When I feel anxious on a turbulent flight, I imagine stepping into the thoughts of an air hostess who is unfazed by the bumps. In your office, inhabit the excitement of an intern. When you’re happy in an unhappy place it’s memorable, because it’s unexpected.

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4 // RELEASING ROLES AN ANTIDOTE FOR OVERWHELM

Talk about the juggle of motherhood. We all have multiple hats to wear – wife, mother, daughter.

So when adversity strikes, it can add even more to our collection – carer, job seeker, confidant, counsellor.

Practically, it’s not possible to shed all our responsibilities, and who would want to?

Instead, I’ve discovered a simple sentence that reduces my overwhelm in an instant.

When I feel like my (multiple) hats are toppling, I choose one ‘person’ to be in that moment and then I honour her – for one inhale and one exhale.

When I’m breastfeeding and work creeps into my mind: ‘Be a mama, just for this breath.’ When I’m writing, while worrying about emails: ‘Be an author, just for this breath.’ When I’m in the shower with my partner, thinking about deadlines: Be a wife, just for this breath’.

Next time you’re overwhelmed by the ‘slashes’ in your world (lover/manager/daughter/creative…), try it for yourself. When life feels out of control, we have to remember that we choose every role that makes up our portfolio. And, we have the power to walk away from them, even if it’s for one breath of fresh air.

Woman happy smiling standing against greenery
5 // ABOVE ALL ELSE, LEARN FROM LOVE HEALING WITH CARE

Love can feel like sadness. That’s the greatest lesson I’ve learnt from motherhood. Or, it can be so closely intertwined with sadness that you can’t tell them apart.

The guilt I feel when my daughter is hurt – that is love. The frustration I feel when I can’t match her joy – that is love. The grief I feel when I think about the day we’ll say goodbye – that is love.

As is the weight I feel when I wonder how I can fulfil my roles as a mother, a partner and more.

One of the reasons I put off dealing with my condition – Postnatal Depression – is because the effort felt exhausting and the energy of ‘fixing’ something felt too stern.

But it all felt easier, softer and gentler when I could see my distress as a side-effect of love – the love it took to create my baby, birth my baby and devote myself to his care.

That love just needed to be smoothed and thinned out, in a good way, so I could breathe again.

Your life is in transition – and it may not be entirely comfortable.

You may feel more vulnerable and raw than ever before. But that’s ok. Let love lead the way.

Now, take a deep breath. See, you can overcome the juggle of motherhood. You got this, babe!

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