Discover practical tools for balancing mental wellbeing and motherhood
Psychologists from LightHouse Arabia share effective strategies for balancing personal and parental responsibilities, allowing parents to foster a healthy connection with themselves and their children.
By Tanya Dharamshi
Sometimes it can feel that that the concept of mental wellbeing and being a mum cannot coexist. As parents we are extended everyday with our children to ensure their needs are met, to be in service of our children, and in doing that the day is gone and there is no time for oneself.
Twenty-four hours does not feel like it is enough time to do all that we need to do. As a mother of a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old, I have consistently (maybe not always effectively) been the driver, the doctor, the nurse, the party planner, the teacher, the playmate, the nurturer and the Chief Operating Officer in our home (I’m sure I have missed a role or two); all while working full time.
I learned quickly that to ensure that there is enough time for me and my mental health, while still trying to show up for my family in the most authentic and supportive manner- would mean that I would need to find small moments of self-care in the day instead of waiting for extended periods to miraculously be available.
As I reflected on all the various quick and impactful ways I have managed my mental wellbeing over the years, I reached out to other psychologists who are mothers at LightHouse Arabia and here are some tools that we use to keep ourselves balanced:
From Tanya Dharamshi
- Every morning when I wake up, I sit in silence in my bed for a few moments, place my hand on my heart and my stomach, take 4-5 deep breaths and say “Thank you” for the day. I do not touch my phone for the first ½ hour to ensure I am not jolting my brain into stress action mode but rather allowing myself to stay in a place of connectivity to my body and my breath. When my children were young I would sit with them and “blow our bellies up like balloons” and do breath work with them as well.
- Playtime! What a wonderful time to stay present with our children and reconnect with our own inner child. Use this time to engage with creativity within yourself. My favourite was using dry erase markers and drawing with my children on the big windows we have in the house – of course with music on and the occasional breakout into a dance off with them. –
- 3-4 times during the day I take a few moments to ground myself. I do this by walking barefoot on the floor/carpet, take deep breaths in with a longer exhale out, and placing icepacks (cold water will do the trick too) on the sides of my neck for a few moments and then my wrists (pulse points) for a few minutes. This helps me reset and relax my vagal nerve which allows me to have a calm approach to what comes next.
- I am mindful of the language I use for myself. Showing up for myself with kindness and compassion and removing judgement (words such as good, bad, right, wrong, must and should) and leaning into my responses and feelings with curiosity and acceptance of myself as a human helps me to show up the same way for my family. This gives my family the permission to be gentle with themselves as well and explore what emotions they are feeling with curiosity, kindness and acceptance towards themselves and others.
- Bedtime routine with my children was used to connect with them in a safe, curious space. We would then do guided story meditation. It gave my children the tools to come into awareness of their body and gave me the opportunity to meditate. A win-win for all! Now that my children are older, every evening before I go to sleep, I take my 5 deep breaths in again with my eyes closed and hand of heart and stomach. I then write down 3 things I am grateful for in a journal by my bedside and listen to binaural beats as I fall asleep which allows me to stay in stage 3 sleep longer, improve my cognitive functioning and mood.
From Dr. Saliha Afridi
- Most mornings I wear a facial sheet mask and do deep breathing and meditate or have a mindful cup of tea before beginning my day. This way I have tended to myself before I prepare to be of service to everyone else. – Dr Saliha Afridi
- Throughout the day I take 5 minute breaks in between my meetings, at lunch time or before I head back home from work to check in with myself by doing a body scan. I ask myself “Do I need anything?”
- On days I am tired or overwhelmed I conserve energy by taking an Uber. It is amazing how much energy and thinking goes into driving!
From Dr. Summer Fakhro
- I sleep with my phone outside my room. This gives me the permission to maximise on my sleep and not have the temptation to check the time if I wake up in the middle of the night.
- I try to wake up 10 mins before my children wake up and engage in regular breathwork or meditation practice. This helps me connect my mind and my body and set my intention for the day.
- I use moments of free time to do something that I truly enjoy, not scrolling on my phone!
It is important to remember that as parents, the best way for us to show up with our children in a manner that fosters healthy growth is for us to be, not just do but also be, be in tune with ourselves, be compassionate, be gentle and be forgiving with ourselves. I hope these “hacks” help you along your journey of parenthood.