And I don’t get to decide when it sets in.
How can I sit here and encourage other women to talk about their mental health when I can’t even be honest about mine?
I know I could tell you that it’s about feeling sad, but it’s much more than that.
Content notice: suicide.
“Your father is ruining the country.”
I ignored all of the conventional dating advice and have no regrets.
Don’t be duped into thinking you’re supporting a good cause.
If your friend came to you, it’s because they trust you.
It’s hard to know what to say or do when one of your friends is dealing with grief. Grief is so different to all of us and we go through multiple stages of loss that affect all individuals in different ways. You can never truly relate to someone else’s grief, just like no one can truly relate to yours because everyone’s experiences are all so diverse.
While your friend is struggling with grief, the best thing you can do for them is be a line of support. Listening with compassion and empathy is very important so that your friend knows that you’re there for them. Simply listening is sometimes one of the best things you can do while your friend lets out their feelings to you, but other times, be prepared to sit in silence with them; just having your presence will show your support.
Accepting and acknowledging the feelings without minimising the loss that your friend is going through is also very important. It’s also best not to offer personal advice or mention anything about moving past this or what you have to be grateful for. While someone is grieving, let them grieve and accept the loss on their own terms. There is no time limit on grief, and we all work on our emotions differently.
That being said, offering long term support is important in knowing how your friend is healing. Making assumptions about how a person looks means that you could be overlooking how they are still feeling inside. Long term support means accepting how they’re feeling and helping out on special days such as birthdays or anniversaries.
Physical support is also often needed, such as grocery shopping, taking kids to school, looking after pets and helping with meals. Often grief can overwhelm a person, leaving them feeling helpless and as if their life is out of control. Giving physical support can help things continue smoothly so your friend can grieve properly.
Support is the one thing that your friend needs while going through a period of grief, so never underestimate just being there for someone. It’s a hard part of life for the both of you, but having a friend through this time is one of the most important ways to show that you care.
Image via blokesupport.com.au
Classrooms are becoming more and more crowded and kids could really benefit from a bit of outside assistance. Who better to offer it, than their parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles. Rather than having to hire an expensive tutor, there are some great ways to help with their homework. Rather than leave it to a stage where a degree in rocket science is required, sit down with them and give them some guidance.
Firstly, maths can be a torturous topic, yeah? If you catch it early enough, you can help kids with basic addiction, subtraction, division and multiplication. These are the basic building blocks for the rest of their mathematical education. If they are heading into the upper grades, like years 11 and 12; keep reading because I have some tips for you, too.
So, for primary aged kids, instead of sitting them down to hundreds of printed worksheets – which by the way, is what tutors will most likely do – engage them. Go and get some flash cards or play some games. Games are a great learning tool. They will keep the child interested and instead of homework being a chore, it will become a pleasure.
One of the best games around, to teach basic maths skills is Yahtzee. Yep; the dice game. It teaches them all the skills they will need and keeps them entertained. If you don’t want to pay for a set, print a template of the internet and go and buy a set of $2 dice. It’s that easy. Plus, print out a multiplication chart and teach them how it works. As they get older, manipulate the game and make up your own score sheets.
The concept of engaging the child, applies to any subject. Make education fun or at least interesting and increase their exposure. Exposure is key. Remember back to all those posters on the wall at school? If they are older, think out side the box and find ways to relate what they need to learn, to real life situations. There’s tonnes of stuff on the internet to help you grasp the concepts, kids are learning.
A third thing you can do, for all ages, is computer games. Now, you might be thinking, kids spend way too much time on the computer; but it really is an excellent tool for education. Educational games have been created for kindergarten aged kids to adults. Check out which ones are the most valuable; even if they need to be paid for. It will still cost significantly less than a tutor. Some kids play these games at school and may have access to certain accounts already. All you’ll need to do, is download them and watch the magic happen! Sit with them and talk about what they are learning. Increase the challenge as they progress and remember to review what they have learnt.
Lastly, be approachable and be realistic with expectations. When a child needs help with their school work; don’t send them away without some guidance. This is predominately, all which should be offered. Don’t take over and hijack their work. It’s about learning, not perfection.
It’s happened to me many times. I’d be overwhelmed and exhausted to the point of breakdown. I’d be daydreaming about a kind soul coming around and taking some of the load off me. Then that person would show up and I’d hear myself say, ‘No, thank you, I can do it myself’.
We, mums, are particularly good at rejecting help when we most need it. We’re used to being the pillars of strength for our families and we’re unable and unwilling to let go of that projection even when we’re inwardly falling apart.
Why we have a hard time asking for help
- We feel that we should be able to do it on our own. After all, we wouldn’t have been given the job otherwise. Yet, whether it’s something in our personal or professional life, we know we can achieve a lot more through collaboration.
- We feel that we have to be in control of everything. If we trust someone else with part of the job, it may not get done up to our high standard. Or we’ll spend so much time explaining what needs to be done to that we might as well do it ourselves.
- We’re afraid we’ll look weak or undeserving. This is particularly true for mums. If other people know we’re not coping, they might think we’re not enjoying motherhood… or even that we don’t love our children enough.
- We’re afraid that people will say ‘no’ and it will mean something about us – that we’re not worthy, not lovable or that no one cares. We forget that people may say ‘no’ for other reasons. Maybe, they’re really too busy. Maybe, they’re in the middle of their own crisis. Or maybe, they’ll say ‘yes’.
- We’re afraid that people will say ‘yes’ when they don’t want to and we’ll be a burden to them. This is usually the case for those of us who have a hard time saying ‘no’ and as a result over-commit. We dread that someone will ask us for help and we’ll end up adding yet another thing to our already impossible load and we assume that other people must feel the same way.
We may be able to continue on our own for a while, but sooner or later it’ll get too much. We’re social creatures, we’re not designed to function alone. Think about it, from the beginning of human history people have lived together in communities, helping each other.
Not sure how to transition from outwardly self-sufficient being to someone who can do with some help?
Asking for help: How to get started
To begin with, just start accepting help when it’s offered instead of rejecting it. Is someone offering you an umbrella when it’s raining and you’ve forgotten yours? Smile and say ‘thank you’ instead of the usual, ‘Oh, no, I’ll be ok’. A friend is taking her kids to a party and wants to takes yours, too? Enjoy your unexpected free time and try not to think how many lollies the kids will eat without your supervision, it’s ok once in a while.
The next step is asking for something small. If people say ‘no’, it would be easy not to take it personally and you may even find that hearing ‘no’ can be empowering. You’ll realise that people don’t just automatically say ‘yes’ to anything and it can give you the strength to do it yourself next time you’re faced with something you don’t want to do.
Image by babawawa via pixabay.com
I’ve often thought: How do we achieve world peace when families who share similar genes don’t even get along. Not all families mind you; some can weather the toughest crises and remain intact. Others, however, are completely disconnected. There are a few basic reasons why. Once we understand this, we can reconnect and move onto greater cohesion.
The reasons families don’t get along is very similar to why world peace is so difficult to achieve. These things include being exceptionally similar or total opposites, strong personalities, assumptions about people without actually knowing and understanding them or the possibility of mental illness.
Firstly, people who are similar often clash. People assume they should get along but sometimes this isn’t true. The easiest way to ease the conflict is for both people to acknowledge the similarity and understand why a person makes them feel uneasy. In many cases, this is easier said than done. People with similar characteristics can readily identify faults in others but are often unwilling to see these faults in themselves. If this is causing a lot of conflict for a family other members may intervene and act as mediators as they work through their issues. Alternately, family counsellors could be a useful resource to reduce the stress on the family unit.
Another common cause of issues between people is being complete opposites. Yes, opposites can attract but, generally, total opposites don’t understand each other. For example, introverts prefer to steer clear of attention, while extroverts seek it out. It is therefore understandable that polar opposites may find discomfort in each others company. Being tolerant of others differences is imperative to getting along.
Strong personalities breed strong personalties, so it’s no wonder tempers flair. Loggerheads usually occurs out of sheer determination and a strong will to get one’s own way. It’s very easy to say the best way to have a cohesive relationship is to compromise, however, there are people who just won’t budge. If this is the case, good luck!
There is no ideal solution to this because it takes two people to compromise. The best option you have is to choose which battle or war to win – and leave the rest. This will reduce the friction which occurs over small issues.
Not really knowing someone, or assuming you know them, can cause a great deal of heartache. No one appreciates being judged. If you have a problem with someone who you really don’t know or understand, you have two options. Either take some time to actually get to know them or reserve your judgement. They maybe nothing like what you imagine them to be and you are condemning them based on ignorance.
If you are feeling judged by others, confront them and tell them how you feel. If it continues, as a last resort, you may need to decide to save yourself the pain and surround yourself with people who understand and appreciate you.
Lastly, mental illness can put tremendous strain upon families. This is exacerbated when people don’t understand it or know how to help. Acquiring diagnosis, knowledge and support will reduce the impact of mental illness for all effected. Visiting a GP about mental illness is an recommended starting point.
“What can you do to promote world peace. Go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa
Image via waveofaction.org/file/pic/photo/2014/04/8a2f70d9b863e7449c7314dddca9f1aa_1024.jpg
By Kim Chartres
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” – Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
There are two types of women in this world – those who love and support their fellow sisters and, by stark contrast, those who view other women as a competitive threat. And so it is, as a new mum, that you may want to be a tad wary of mothers’ groups.
Let’s face it, you’re no doubt exhausted, emotional and hormonal and in need of a jolly good hug/glass of wine/week’s worth of sleep post-birth – last thing you need is to surround yourself with “mean girls” akin to high school. In fact, when I told several best friends I was intending on joining a mothers’ group post-second baby (I ran out of time and was too shell-shocked with my first), they were incredulous. “What would you do that for?” said one. “That’s hell!”
“Talking about poo and sore boobs all day with bitchy, competitive women, that’s not you?!” said another. Countless others warned me off joining one lest I encounter, as they had, Stepford Wives-esque, robotic women, all proclaiming they had the “perfect baby” who slept all night. I call bullshit!
I was determined to take their advice on board, but go in with an open heart. I thought, at best, I might make new friends with other like-minded women and gain comfort, knowledge and support from other newbie mums.
And I was lucky, I’ve made one cherished friend for life out of my mothers’ group and met many other lovely women, who were perhaps best left as acquaintances, given we didn’t share much more in common than having had babies born at the same time. Here’s my advice on what to look for in, and how to approach, a mothers’ group:
Knowledge is power: Find a mothers’ group with an expert leader. Ours was a child health nurse who cleverly soothed many a stressed mum worried about baby weight, breastfeeding and cradle cap, for example. Many mothers’ groups also offer guest speakers and seminars, just as ours did, on reading to your baby, swimming lessons and how to connect with your little person.
Just be yourself: Be gentle and kind with other mums, while being true to yourself. If you have to stifle your personality and pretend to find talking endlessly and incessantly about different shades of baby poo fascinating, then keep looking for a new group, sister, or be OK with the fact that it’s not for you.
Don’t compete: Everyone’s path is different; every baby journey unique – motherhood is not a race. Just because your baby isn’t sleeping through the night now, like other mums will claim, doesn’t equal disaster. Most babies don’t, in fact! Experts say don’t expect your baby to sleep through most of a night before three to six months. And, even after that time, it’s normal for babies to wake up several times during the night.
Be authentic: You’re not helping yourself, or others, by pretending to be perfect, or by claiming motherhood is a breeze. Be open and honest about the very normal stresses and strains of early motherhood. PND is very common – reach out for help if you need it, or if you’re feeling strong and can offer support to others who may be struggling, do.
Support each other: Finally, this, for me, is key: look for a mothers’ group with a supportive bunch of women, who genuinely seem interested in learning about and helping each other. You shouldn’t walk away from mothers’ group feeling sapped and dispirited, instead you should ideally find it a positive, nourishing and strengthening experience. Ask yourself: “Is this one hour a week helping or hindering my journey as a new mum?”
Image via pixabay.com
By Nicole Carrington-Sima