I am often asked if we ever took anything into consideration when planning to have more children. I have shared already on my blog how we would write out a pro's and con's list on when to have a baby to get an idea of if we were really ready to have another child join our family. In reality, for Matt and I, the only real consideration we looked at was my emotional and mental health.
I say, my mental and emotional state, because generally Matt was away from the home working and I was the one who was handling most of the pressure and burden with raising the children, dealing with the finances, disciplining the children and keeping our home running smoothly whilst being seriously outnumbered!
There have been times when my mental and emotional state was not as good as I wanted it to be and we held back from having children. I know, this sounds weird seeing as we had seven children in nine years BUT we did not plan on twins and basically I would have had my children closer together if I felt I was more able to cope.
Of course with seven children so close together my main goal for myself has been to stay mentally sane, which at this stage of my life, as I start to now have teenagers, is highly questionable!
I believe that taking care of your mental and emotional health is so important if you are a mother. Children can test you in ways you could never dream of and the pressure of caring for so many young children can seem like a great burden some days. I also believe that many women suffer from some sort of mental health problem in those early years of having children and don't take the time to nurture themselves as much as they need to.
I am a big advocate for taking time out for yourself. I have had times where I have had to just stop and let life go. I have had to give myself permission to fall apart so I could see what state I was really in. To stop, to acknowledge and admit that yes, mentally and emotionally I was a mess and was struggling.
I guess for some women, admitting that they were mentally and emotionally a mess is not something they would ever do but for me I don't have a problem admitting it at all. I don't see myself as weak or a failure as a mother, I know I was just tired and had lost my way.
As I took that time out to rebuild my mind and to change my thoughts I was able to feel stronger, more able to cope and more able to lead and guide my family. Taking the time to say no to helping others, to attending events and as many commitments as I could allowed me to find the time to help myself, to find a new direction and to nourish my heart and mind.
Mothering is mentally and emotionally challenging. It tests you and stretches you. It also uplifts you, inspires you and allows you to use your mind in a new way as you ponder and dream of ways to raise your children. I find that being a stay at home mum gives me enough mental stimulation to keep my mind active and I love the challenge and find joy in the work I do in my home.
Even though I do enjoy it and love it, I still have days and weeks where I struggle. That is why keeping my mental health well is a priority for me. So much so, I wrote an ebook about how to find more meaningful moments in your life and to find those little pockets of happiness during your day.
Every so often I get so busy that I let it slip and it becomes not as good as I would like. I start to speak badly to myself and put myself down. When this starts to happen I know I need to nourish and care for myself as much as I do for my children and family. I am after all, the one they look to, the example of what happiness is and if I don't care for myself then how will they know to care for themselves....