4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

Parenting is the most rewarding job in the world, but also the hardest job you’ll ever undertake. You hear people say this to you before you have a baby, and you don’t know what it means until you experience those feelings for yourself.

It’s no secret I struggled with antenatal depression during pregnancy, and most of it was to do with the fear about how my life would change. Other people’s opinions also negatively impacted my mental health.

How life would change

For someone pre- dispositioned to overthink, focus on the negative, and be ruled by the anxiety voice in my head for 15 years, such a huge loss of control is a scary prospect. The thought that your life will never be the same again and your priorities will change. It’s a lot for one person to take.

It eats away at you. Will I be good enough? How will I compare to other mothers? If I don’t pay £1000.00 for a travel system, will be baby be unsafe? Breastfeeding or not? Will I be able to keep my career, because right now my brain doesn’t work very well?

For me, the questions circled in my head. Add this to working full time and pregnancy hormones and it was a recipe for disaster. I had post-natal depression. However, I realise it’s only now, almost three years later, that I can label it like this. Nobody suggested this label to me previously, not even the doctor.

My brain was in overdrive during pregnancy

I could go on with the endless questions I asked myself, but you get the picture.
You can see how damaging your thoughts can become during pregnancy when you already suffer from anxiety. It was uncharted territory for me the first time around. If and when we have another baby, I would look out for these triggers, and to be honest, I know now a lot of this thinking is utter rubbish. I would work hard to put these thoughts out of my mind and focus on the positive aspects of pregnancy. I would focus on the result because I’ve lived through the experience and I know the outcome is magical, worth it.

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

During pregnancy, other people’s opinions and viewing social media, only fed into these thoughts I was already experiencing. I, therefore, distanced myself and deleted all my social medial accounts. Setting up the social media accounts for the blog was a huge step for me, as I had to go back into a world that previously contributed to my poor mental health.

My advice to expectant parents

Do what suits you. All the unsolicited advice in the world doesn’t change the fact these are your decisions to make. Politely let people know this if they try and give you any advice you don’t want.

Buy a pram you like and can afford. We paid £180.00 for our full travel system, from a couple whose little boy had outgrown it. It was the best purchase we made and our little one was safe. Brands are there to make money out of you, listen to your gut, and stick to your budget. You don’t need money worries, in addition to the other worries you have.

Breastfeed or don’t. It still grates on me the healthcare system makes you feel bad if you don’t breastfeed. I get the science behind it, but give mothers with enough on their plates already, a choice and help them be empowered in the choice they make.

I didn’t feel empowered at all during my hospital stay. I felt judged. I had to constantly defend why I wasn’t breastfeeding, and it was to allow myself to recover and maintain my mental health. I don’t regret this decision at all. What’s the point in antibodies and breastfeeding benefits, if the mother is unable to cope mentally. I could rant about this topic all day, but I won’t. When you’re already suffering from the trauma of birth and have a pre-existing anxiety condition, you shouldn’t have to advocate for yourself in this way.

Other people’s unwarranted advice

I still don’t understand why everyone on the face of the earth feels they have some golden nugget of advice about pregnancy.

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

You may have lived through an experience, but my experience is completely different from yours. In the past, I’ve also had close friends who have experienced premature births and other complications. I am wary not to give advice or make assumptions because everyone’s pregnancy is vastly different. If advice is given on how difficult it is to move around during month 8 of pregnancy for example, to someone who had their baby three months premature, this would be incredibly upsetting. That person would feel like they missed out on a special stage of pregnancy. I wish more people would think about this before commenting.

I am the only one who’s lived my life, I am built on my experiences, my DNA, my personality traits, my personal brain chemistry. Therefore how can anyone else really, truly understand how I’m feeling, especially about an issue so emotive, like pregnancy.

I hated this advice during pregnancy and I wanted to scream at people when they tried to give it to me. Just think about our hormones alone people. Your advice is fed through a hormone filter, which means we can sometimes react irrationally. I was sick throughout my whole pregnancy and I basically didn’t want to talk to most people for fear I would be sick all over them.

Not to mention the mum experts on social media and various groups you can attend. If this option is for you, great. It wasn’t for me, and I wish people would realise there is no one size fits all approach to pregnancy. Pregnancy is a family experience and personal to you and your partner, nobody else. We are quite private people and the bump touching and advice annoyed us both throughout the process. You would never walk up to a person with a broken leg and start touching it. Stay away from the bump, unless explicitly invited.

Wooooaaahhh – I feel better after this rant.

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

Now to dive into my tips on maintaining your mental health during and after pregnancy. I would do things differently a second time around and here is my list…

Disclaimer – I am trying to include useful points for struggling parents and I try to stay away from unsolicited, useless advice. I am no expert on pregnancy, but I hope my experiences help you with the mental health side of things. I wish someone had given me useful advice on the fact I was suffering from antenatal depression.

Nobody helped me…

I must also make it clear I wasn’t mentally able to live a full life until at least a year after giving birth. Please don’t beat yourself up if you’re edperiencing this. Your feelings are completley normal.

Take advice when you feel mentally able to! Some amazing charities that can help with mental health are below:

  • Work as a team
    I argued with my now hubby in hospital, because I felt he didn’t understand me and frankly I came across like an unhinged, irrational expectant mother when trying to make everyone see a c section was the only option for delivering our little one safely. My instincts have always been strong and sometimes it’s difficult to tell the people around you something must take place. I now know my hubby is the only one who truly knows me and therefore I don’t have to explain myself around him.
    Since having a baby, we thrive when we parent as a team, support one another and both muck in (reality check – it isn’t always like this. We become frustrated and argue like everyone else, but we try our best!). We want our child to experience mum and dad equally, not one person working and the other spending hardly any time with our child. This is our personal choice and we are trying to achieve a good family and work life balance, for everyone involved.
    Stick together parents – toddlers can pick up the vibes when you’re weak or away from the pack, hehe! Especially our sassy one!
  • Take time for yourself Something I neglected to do, especially when I returned to work following maternity leave. Unfortunately, it also came at a time where the business I worked for was going down the pan and toxic behaviour began breeding. This culminated in a mental breakdown and almost 5 months off work. It’s now clear to me I must make time for self-care, otherwise, I will burn out.
    These are the things we both do and they help:
    Take baths
    Allow each other to have naps
    Carve out time for yourself
    Read a book
    Play the X Box game
    Go to the gym
    A 10 minute walk
    Get out of the house
    Enlist the help of grandparents, a nursery, friends
    It takes a village and this is so true. You cannot parent alone and ask for help is the best course of action. If you’re unable to do any of the above due to your circumstances, please see details of support groups below:
    It’s healthy for you and your child to spend time apart and come back to each other refreshed, or both in a social setting where the pressure is taken off your shoulders for an hour. As difficult as the first drop off at nursery is, it’s beneficial for your little one in the long run. Get over parent guilt and start showing your little one life means time apart, adults work, this is our family routine.
    Children are resilient and I want our little one to always understand this.
  • Be kind
    Be kind to yourself, each other, family members, and other parents.
    It’s a difficult job and it’s likely everyone in the same position as you, feels similar feelings, regardless of the public persona they create (I hid my anxiety condition for 15 years, it’s possible someone may be too embarrassed to be honest with you). Show another parent at nursery drop off you understand, don’t be too harsh with family members on parenting issues such as discipline. Children are hard work.
    Most importantly, be kind to yourself. You cannot function or be a good parent unless you take much needed time to rest and relax a little. I get it, it’s way down the priority list and there are too many other things to do. Pre-breakdown this is what I told myself. Now I realise daily self-care must be a priority for me to be the best parent I can be. I can’t care for my child unless I look after myself.
  • Be realistic
    Hello, former perfectionist over here!
    Having a child was good for me. I’m a lot more chilled these day, simply because I don’t have the energy to worry. I would rather sleep! My brain is sometimes mush, I forget to text people back, attend appointments and it’s all right. It’s life. One of my lovely friends & I have an agreement – cancel plans if you need to, don’t worry if you don’t text back for a week, and I love that I can be so relaxed about plans. It helps my anxiety levels.
    In our house, the cleaning takes a back seat, sometimes there are toys everywhere. It’s about lowering your standards and not trying to fight against the fact there will be mess with a feisty toddler running around. I maintain a reasonably clean and tidy house and frankly I have better things to do these days than worry about it. Pen on the wall, poop on the floor, it will wash and we will all live to see another day. Relax your attitude to these things. Go and play with the toys, join in the fun and enjoy yourself.

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

About the author

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

I am mummy to one feisty toddler and wife to a wonderful man, living in the North of England, UK and making it a priority to enjoy life every second we get to spend together as a family.

You will usually find me writing, anything from lists to blog posts, and excited by stationery – show me your post-its!

Following my recent breakdown, I believe talking about our struggles is the key to recovery. I started the blog because I felt compelled to share my story & my main goal is to help other people.

If you need other details, you can find them here – https://www.mummyconqueringanxiety.com/about-me/


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4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons

4 tips for parenting a fiesty toddler whist trying to battle your inner demons