We have the pleasure of introducing our friend Megan Blandford. She has just written a brilliant book called ‘I’m Fine (and other lies)” which comes out in April. She explores what it’s really like to go through postnatal depression and how hope can be found within the challenges of motherhood. You can purchase the book here.
So without further ado, please enjoy the wise words of Megan Blandford…
5 ways to be a fun mum when you’re struggling
Fun! Games! Craft! Music! Laughter!
Being a mum is fun, it’s true. But let’s be real: sometimes the fun is a bit hard to find.
If you’re struggling – as I was while going through depression during my children’s early years – being a fun mum can seem impossible. Here are some ideas for getting by while making the kids think you’re still a riot:
Do what you find enjoyable
There might be some parts of parenting that you really do enjoy, even in low moments. Do those as much as possible, I reckon. (Even if you have to bribe your kids to let you.)
For me, that’s always been reading – I love books, and I love (most) kids’ books. I’ve been known to spend hours at a time reading aloud with my kids, partly for their enjoyment, and partly for my own benefit. It’s kept them happy while distracting them from expecting anything else of me for a while.
Avoid the play that makes you feel low
Confession: playing make believe games with my kids doesn’t light up my day.
It’s just that there are so many rules to their games, and I never do them properly, and then the kids tell me off. “Mum! You’re doing the wrong voice!” they’ll say, or, “Muuum! The rule is that you have to wear a hat while you play that character, didn’t you know that?”
So I actively avoid those games – oh look! There’s a toilet I have to clean, that’ll be more fun! – and leave the kids to it. It’s okay not to enjoy every moment, and I think that giving ourselves permission to avoid a few things we don’t like can help us get through a tough day.
Get out of the house
Being home all day with young children isn’t always fun. If you’re struggling with something in life, it can be really easy for cabin fever to set in and to feel stuck.
I’ve often found that, although it could be hard getting out of the house sometimes, it became a bit easier to be a cheerful parent outside. Whether it’s at the park where the kids’ high energy levels seem less intense, walking up the street to get an ice-cream (always guaranteed to make the kids think you’re fun) or taking yourself and the trackie pants into the backyard with paint for the kids, good things happen when you get outside.
Keep it simple
If you’re going through a tough time, try not to add too much extra stuff in. Give yourself the gentle space to keep things easy, so that you can recover or rest.
There were some days when I was struggling that getting to the end of the day consisted of a little play (when I was pregnant with my second and feeling low, that play was simply lying down outside and blowing bubbles while my toddler chased them), taking care of the kids’ basic care needs, and having baked beans for dinner.
The irony was that, the easier I keep things, the more fun my kids seem to find within that simplicity. “Breakfast for dinner!” they cheer. Kids don’t see our struggles as failures, just as a part of life.
There will be days like that, and days you can manage more – both are perfectly wonderful for your children.
Remember that this will pass
Sometimes it all feels so hard, but try to stay focused on the fact that this too shall pass.
There’s lots of good life ahead after this, and lots more fun to be had with your little ones.