Sometimes we have days and weeks that are just much worse than usual. For me, I’ve had terrible migraine headaches the last few days. For others, it can be anything from colds and flu, pain of all kinds, harder than usual depression and mood disorders, a cluster of meetings and appointments, or just about anything that doesn’t fall under the heading of “usual stuff that happens.”
That said, never discount the accumulation of stress, fatigue, and mental and physical exhaustion that comes from long stretches of difficult challenges. These can all of the sudden rear up and take over your life. They can affect you just as much, and perhaps more, than catching a virus or other draining disease.
During these times, just enough to get by is OK. We expect so much of ourselves. We expect ourselves to keep going at our usual, relentless pace, and there’s no way that’s possible when you’re completely drained mentally and physically. You can only do just enough to get by, and that’s OK.
If just enough means getting fast food a dozen meals in a week for your kids, so be it. If it means you eat chocolate and popcorn for dinner, so be it. If you or the kids have to skip a bath, no one is going to die. If you put off laundry, washing sheets, or what have you a few days, that’s fine. If you mail stuff out a couple of days later, almost never will anything bad happen. What if it were OK that you allowed yourself to handle life like this for a while?
One thing I do want to say, if you find yourself in these really down patches frequently, it’s time to seek help. There is a point where doing just enough is no longer a good idea. Start with other parents, make connections, and ask for advice and support. Just knowing others have been where you are and getting support from them may be enough to lift you out of the hole you’re in.
But if you are still stuck often and finding things too hard over and over again, seek professional help. You are not admitting defeat. You are not admitting weakness. On the contrary, you are proclaiming your strength. You are strong enough to know when you need to ask for help and then to go get it.
Asking for help is hard. But sooner or later, doing just enough is no longer enough. When you seek professional support and help, you are in good company. A whole lot of us are in some sort of therapeutic process to help us handle all the challenges in our lives. We are people with difficult challenges, mood disorders, addictions, and needs for how to handle a whole host of personal issues.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weird or a failure. It means you’re just like so many of the rest of us seeking better ways to parent.
So, remember. If you need to buy everybody fast food, forget baths today, and you didn’t remember to send in lunch money to school, you still did OK. You’re having a hard time, and just enough to get by is OK. If you have a lot of these days in a row, it’s time to summon up the strength you already have and seek help from other parents and a professional.
The most important thing to remember is that you aren’t alone. Do the best you can. People want to help you. Other parents are in the same boat as you. And deep down, you are strong enough to ask for help and get the resulting support that’s designed to help you.
You got this. Hang in there.