May is always a month of excitement, busyness, and transition. We’ve got Mother’s Day (the invisible load personified), a three-day weekend, children’s sports and activities at their peak, and the unofficial start of summer as school winds down and we make plans for the months ahead. It’s no wonder they say May is the new December and we all feel a little overwhelmed. It’s only fitting that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Change and transition are hard. Managing a family’s packed schedule is hard. Carrying the mental load is hard. But there are some things we can do to mitigate these moments and cope with transition — things we can do to better manage our mental health.
1. Care for your body like you care for your child’s
How often do we make sure our kids are getting enough fruits and veggies, drinking enough water, and getting enough rest? It’s amazing how much we “mom” everyone but ourselves.
Maybe it’s time we take care of the body that needs love and care and nourishing just like the littles in our world. Choose a water bottle you’ll actually keep with you and use, and take a sip (even if it’s in between cups of coffee). When you fill your bag with snacks for your toddler, pack something for yourself as well. And when the little ones are fast asleep in their beds, think about winding down yourself instead of gearing up for revenge bedtime procrastination.
2. Take a step back to maintain perspective
I’ll never forget the sage advice about “L & D” I received during my first foray as a restaurant manager: “It’s lunch and dinner, not life and death.” Now this is easier said than done, but in many situations — and even amidst daily life tasks — we would do well to ask ourselves, “How important is this?” “Will this matter tomorrow, next month, next year?” Simply put: “Can this wait?”
Prioritizing your to-dos with intentionality — and getting real with yourself about the sense of urgency that is felt during every mom’s day to day — will help you slow down.
Just breathe. Simple in theory, possibly tough in practice. But really impactful when done right! Maybe we can all take some advice from the MBTA and just slow down. Take a moment — whenever and wherever you can find it. In your car, on the T, at the park, while the baby naps, while you play. Just breathe.
4. Make time for movement
If it’s hard to make dedicated time for movement and exercise, find small ways to work it in to your everyday. If you work in an office and are sitting all day, step outside occasionally and do a lap around the block. Stretch when you get out of bed in the morning. During your commute home, get off the T a stop early and walk a bit. Take those small bits of time and take up space. Exaggerate your body, elongate it, take a moment, and give air to your body in ways you might not have in months.
Whatever you can do to slow down this May and pay attention to your mental health, do so. Not just as a mama, but as you. Your body will thank you, and your mind will, too. We can do hard things — I mean, we’re moms after all. So let’s be kinder to ourselves for all that we do.