This year as a mom, I get to experience a whole new level of change, especially in the transition from summer. In two weeks, my daughter, who is my older one of the two, starts kindergarten.
WHOA. Just whoa.
It didn’t all really kick in my head any till I registered her last week. Then this weekend we did back-to-school shopping. And now it dawns on me that she has two weeks!
For somebody with my mental health status, this can be a whirlwind of mixed everything. It’s really messing with my head. Every single detail of everything I need to know and don’t know yet runs through my brain.
How does drop off work? Pick up? What if she rides the bus? How is her teacher? What should I pack for lunches? Should I buy her lunch? Breakfast? How does she know how to get to her class? WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO TO MY CHILD?!
It’s like a panic party in my head.
It doesn’t help that I never went to public school until my junior year of high school. I remember being excited to ride the bus for kindergarten only to find out I didn’t need a bus for the living room. (Yeah. Home school if you don’t remember.) So I don’t know how any of this works or what to expect.
This journey these past few months has basically been me learning to fight away negativity in my mind. Now is probably the biggest challenge as new beginnings and change approach. For me and my whole family.
So how the heck do I approach this? Anxiety causes me to worry about all of it. My mood disorder causes chaos in my mind thinking of readjusting our entire routine. Depression just tries to tie it all together.
Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.
These are the techniques I implement every day. (Though not 100% perfectly. Which is ok. Part of the learning process, too.)
1. I wake up early.
My wake up routine is super important to how my day goes. I shoot to get up around around 5 to get in a jog on my treadmill and do my devotion/personal time with God.
Lately I’m trying to do that jog very first thing because it is so empowering if I can get straight out of bed, into my workout clothes, and on that treadmill. Why? Because it takes LOTS of willpower when you’re already not a morning person. Talk about self discipline. I feel like I can take on the world after that jog!
Then my devotion and prayer time are what encourage me and fill me with extra peace. That is my connection time with God. It is when His power is most evident to me. It sets me up for the day.
2. I follow time blocks.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, put briefly, time blocks are time periods throughout the day dedicated to a certain thing. Here is a good article on how they work.
Time blocks are crucial for someone with a mood disorder. We need structure. We need a schedule to help keep moods and brains on better track.
My time blocks basically consist of a specific time to clean, to work, to workout with Tony, family time, and so forth. I also try to make sure I include short breaks for myself, too. Once one time block is over, I move to the next one, no matter where I’m at.
Now, with a new schedule coming up, all I’ll do is set a time aside to make up a new time block schedule. Of course, it might need adjusting. But that’s life, right? We learn and adjust as we go.
3. I tell my thoughts where to go.
This is a big one I’m learning to practice via my therapist.
One thing I tend to do is remember something I need to do or get inspired to look into something and do it right then and there because I’m afraid I’ll forget. Like make a phone call or look up something I need to buy. Then I start doing it and get completely distracted from what needs done then and there.
I now keep a little notebook on my kitchen counter labeled “thoughts.” So when something pops in my head that doesn’t necessarily need immediate attention, I write it down. At the end of the day, I look through the notebook and either take care of those things I write down or put them in my calendar for when I can take care of them. My Google calendar has become very full of reminders, but it is so helpful now.
For instance, if I need to make a phone call about a medical bill, but it doesn’t need my attention for a week, I’ll schedule it for a week later. That way I don’t have to worry about remembering it.
Then, there are the more complicated thoughts. The ones that cause worry that don’t need to be thought about at all. Like what that person thought when I said or did this. Or feeling suddenly like the world is falling on you.
I try to remember to do two things.
A– Pray. Prayer is what got me through my earliest times of anxiety, even as a kid.
B– Actually out loud tell the thought or feeling to go away. Seriously. Like, “Anxiety, go away. You’re not welcome here.” Or, “Worry, leave me alone. You’re driving me nuts, and I don’t like you.” I will even close my eyes and make a motion with my hand like I’m pushing something away. It seems crazy, but it works!
4. I breathe.
When all else fails and my temper and emotions are at the top and even overflowing some, I take a moment to stop and take a couple of breaths.
This happens most of the time when the kids are fighting or they just keep interrupting something I’m doing. I notice I’m about to lose it and use the mean mommy voice (and start to use it, too). So I just stop and breathe until I’m calm enough to talk to them.
I like to think of Daniel Tiger. You know,
“When you get so mad that you wanna ROAR!! Take a deep breath…And count to four!”
That show teaches good therapy lol. Am I right, parents?
5. I end my day with thanks and relaxation.
Just like I start my day with positivity, I end my day with it, too. After the kids are in bed, I make some Sleepy Time tea and sit down in the easy chair with a small lamp and my Pandora station labeled “yoga.”
This is my time to reflect. I do a short devotion, a bit of personal development reading, and I pray a prayer of thanksgiving.
No matter how my day has gone, I think of at least 3 things to be thankful for. I try to write them down, too. If it felt like a bad or wasted day, it helps me shift my perspective to feeling like the day was a success. If I already feel the day was a success, it only confirms my perspective and gives me hope for the next day.
I have issues with falling asleep, too. So I have to be sure I don’t leave the day with anxiety or things that cause me stress. This includes trying to stay off electronics for at least a half hour before I go to bed. This really does have an effect on my ease of falling asleep. Having a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader helps with this as it eliminates any strain on the eyes. It allows me to read a relaxing book when I lay down in my bed without disturbing Tony.
So as I go into this period of change in routines and schedules, my child showing signs of growing up, and the potential for stress, it only strengthens my determination to fight this battle. I’ve basically been preparing for this the whole summer, and I’m ready.
How about you? Do you face the same shift with school starting? Or even just some kind of change in the coming season?
Don’t let it overwhelm you. Just don’t. Let’s not waste our precious time worrying about tomorrow or two weeks from now. Instead, let’s empower ourselves and each other to face the change head on with a positive attitude and determination.
You can do it.