Millions of adults struggle with mental illness, and millions have children. So, it’s not uncommon for people to worry about managing mental illness and parenthood after receiving a diagnosis. With the right treatment and ongoing support, it’s possible to manage even lifelong illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and still live a happy life while supporting your children.
Learn more about our Pennsylvania mental health treatment center today.
Managing Daily Activities
Managing mental health and parenthood starts with daily activities. Family rules, relationship boundaries, and everyday routines can help keep things running smoothly. It also gives your children a chance to feel secure and safe, knowing that there are daily tasks that each person completes.
If you are struggling with mental illness, there might be times when it’s more difficult for you to get through simple chores like cooking or to balance your family and professional responsibilities.
If you work to manage your condition openly with all members of your family, children or spouses might recognize when there’s a day that they need to step in a little bit more with cleaning, cooking, and other household chores.
No parent is perfect, and they don’t have to be as long as they stay connected and help their children feel secure and loved.
But as you stay connected with your children, you need to make sure you also put aside time for yourself. Many conditions can be more effectively managed when you actively rest, exercise, eat healthy, and do simple things like yoga or meditation. It might be wise to include your children in these activities as they can benefit from them as well.
Talking to Your Children
One of the keys to managing mental health and parenthood is being open and honest with your children. The level of honesty you provide should be a personal decision, contingent upon their age and maturity, but in general, children are very knowledgeable of their surroundings, and they can sense when things aren’t right, when parents are hiding things, or when there are emotional struggles.
Talking with your children can give you an opportunity to teach them how they can best help in situations where you’re not feeling at your best, and you’re struggling with your symptoms.
This might look like:
- Your child getting you medication when you are sick
- Your child helping to clean the house or make meals when you are struggling
- Your child offering love and encouragement to keep you on track
Before speaking to your child, it might be a good idea to speak with a therapist or doctor about how to bring up the information. Many parents want to seem strong and invincible, and they think it’s their role to always care for their children and never let their children see weakness, but in reality, sometimes things might go the other way around, which is perfectly fine.
What to Expect
When speaking to your child about managing mental illness and parenthood, they might be angry or mad at things like the world, God, or themselves.
Your child might be afraid of whether you’ll be able to take care of them, how your mental illness might impact the relationship or other fears. Talking to your child openly about these issues can provide a chance to reassure them of the reality.
Children can experience shame, embarrassment of a potential negative stigma, and guilt, which causes them to disguise their problems so that they don’t accidentally contribute more to your load, anxiety, sadness, or even relief.
Get Professional Help Managing Mental Illness and Parenthood
If you are managing mental health and parenthood, it’s okay to get help. There are several circumstances where you might need to consider help if, for example, your children are taking over more daily tasks regularly than they should be. Hiring a maid, even just once or twice per month, can make a big difference in managing simple household chores when you aren’t at your best.
Accepting help from other people, friends, and family is perfectly acceptable. You can open up a discussion with those with whom you are closest and let them know that there might be times when you need a little extra help. Family and friends want to help, but sometimes they don’t know how, so it’s good to give them a list of examples of how they can help when you aren’t at your best things like:
- Giving your children a ride to activities or school
- Spending time with your kids so you can recover
Professional help comes in many forms. If you have talked to your children about your mental health and you see that they are struggling with things like anger, shame, or anxiety, it might be helpful to have your children participate in family therapy sessions as part of your outpatient treatment. This can allow everyone to talk about their feelings and learn ways to view emotions in the scope of reality and not let them control everything.
With Water Gap Wellness, you can get professional care in many forms to help you manage your mental health and parenthood. Call us today to learn more about our outpatient mental health services in NJ.