You’re a parent: how do you make time for mental wellbeing?
Friday 14 October 2022
There are many challenges to being a parent: the sleep deprivation, never-ending to-do lists, balancing family and career, not to mention the pile of laundry sitting in the corner.
It’s a constant juggling act, which can make it hard to find time to look after your own mental wellbeing.
We spoke to parents from across Queensland who shared how they nurture their mental wellbeing. It might surprise you how many others have had similar experiences and how their stories can give hope to others.
The first time you bring your baby home is a special time for any new parent. But what happens once the dust settles on parenthood, and it all becomes reality? We spoke to mum-of-two, Deanna about how she balances self-care and mum life.
When her second baby entered the world, Deanna was overjoyed, but didn’t realise how much it would change her routine.
‘I think bringing a second baby home is very different to bringing your first baby home. I just found we had to get on with life, because our other small persons world needed to stay as normal and settled as possible,’ she said.
But Deanna maintained her go-to method of self-care - exercise - by making it part of her daily routine.
‘So, what I do is, I get my cycling kicks on and my socks, and my heart rate monitor, and all the things that I want, when baby Ava looks like she's getting sleepy.
‘My bike is set up in the study room on the smart trainer, with the iPad hooked up, and then the computer program I can use.
‘I do that (cycling) a couple of times a week because exercise is really important for my mental health. And when the weather's good, I actually walk in the afternoons to pick up my oldest from childcare.’
Deanna’s golden piece of advice for other parents struggling to make time for their mental wellbeing is not to compare themselves to others.
‘We get so slammed with sanitised social media versions of what parenting should be. It's not like that, it's gritty and it's raw and there's days where you're the best version of yourself, and there's a day where you're a mediocre version who makes it through the day with two fed, clean, alive, small people.’
It can sometimes be tricky adjusting to the many challenges of parenthood. The stress, interrupted sleep, and 24-hour demands can take their toll on our mental wellbeing. But they can be more manageable when we care for and nurture ourselves too.
First-time mum, Sarah, is currently on this journey with her 15-month-old son, Leo.
‘I'm probably at the stage where a few of the warning lights are coming on, it's just exhausting at times balancing work/life and then motherhood,’ she said.
Sarah’s thinking around mental wellbeing changed drastically after becoming a mum.
‘I feel like your expectations around mental wellbeing really adjust after having a baby. I loved having a night to myself of doing face masks and things like that.
‘Now I find everything is so planned out and it's the little things now. For me it’s listening to a podcast on the bus in the morning on the way into work and being present in that moment without having a child hanging off my leg.’
Her tip for better mental wellbeing during the fourth trimester is to be present when possible.
‘Sometimes when you're deep in the trenches, it feels like it's never going to end. When you're having the bad days, you're like, “Oh, this will pass and wash away”.
‘But also enjoy those really good days and the good moments.’
Proud Torres Strait Islander father, Harry, has had plenty of experience being a dad of four children. But growing up, mental health wasn’t something Harry knew about, let alone understood.
‘It took me until probably my thirties until I realised I was living with mental health issues, and I needed help,’ he said.
‘So, I've taken the journey to go back to seeing another side of who I am spiritually and physically.’
When asked about what advice he would give to other parents looking to improve their mental wellbeing, Harry believes it’s about connection to family and getting support when you need it.
‘It’s like a child that falls over for the first time trying to learn to walk. We keep encouraging the child to stand up.
‘I wish I’d had the fortitude, the family connections, and the guidance of my community to help me with that transition through life.’
How can I get more support?
It’s normal to feel sad or worried sometimes, especially when life gets tough. Sometimes, you might need some help to feel better again. If you’re struggling with your mind, support is available. There are a range of services and organisations that can help.
Find support now
For immediate help contact triple zero (000) if it is an emergency.
National 24/7 crisis services:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 or suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au