Mama (In)sanity: Self-regulation to stay sane

Posted: 8 February, 2019

By: Annebel Labuschagne

Section: Parenting

Mama In(sanity)

In the eye of the storm

Today was my 6-year old’s hair-grooming day.  He has a sensitive sensory assess, and the cutting of his hair resulted in tactile discomfort. He generally finds it hard not to change clothes more than once a day so it came as no surprise that he wanted to shower and change when we got home.  I admire his self-regulating attempts to relieve his stress, but his ‘dirty’ clothes and wet towel on the kitchen-, bathroom- and bedroom floors were the start of my inner Titanic sinking…

My 4-year old daughter finds delight in collecting and gathering ‘stuffies’ (my term for all her tiny bits of collectables).  Today she played out three different imaginary scenes at once, occupying almost every single open space in the kitchen.  She is also a master ‘treasure-hider’ and tends to forget her hiding places.  Once I had to find my way to the stove stepping over Ponies, LEGO and soft toys under their “blankies”. I also made a wonderful discovery of some of her baby sister’s toys in one of the drawers.

My baby girl’s movement repertoire spiked during the past 2 weeks and she, with her toys and teething biscuit, scooted backwards through the limited open spaces like a pro.  She got stuck in a corner and made sure that everyone around knows about her barrier to movement.  Once again I have to find my way through the evolving obstacle course to save her sinking ship.

It is weekend and my house is a mess! What was supposed to be a ‘relaxed’ Saturday morning turned into visual madness and I found myself in the eye of an emotional storm!! I started picking up pieces of soggy food, socks and sanity while the creators of the chaos all fell asleep.

As mamas, we are all too familiar with days like these.  We anticipate them, we fear them… and we load our already stuffed brains with more tips on how to deal with them more effectively.  But most of the times we are overloaded, over-tired and the stress hormone Cortisol, together with Adrenaline, ‘flow’ freely.  We want to stop the storm, anchor the ship and get off! Because when these storms rage,  we sometimes lose our ability to care properly, to love abundantly, to sing for joy.

We usually know what we can do to regulate ourselves:

  • go for a massage
  • take a deep bath in the dark
  • go for a brisk walk, ALONE
  • paint: nails, walls, antique furniture
  • trip the main switch and pretend it is load shedding, and then light some candles
  • go to a restaurant other than Wimpy, with your husband, and call it a ‘date’

…but we tend to put these activities aside because we are mamas and we are naturally altruistic.

While ‘restoring’ my house and myself, I take deep breaths, make myself a cup of coffee and listen to Lauren Daigle singing to my heart:  “You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing, You say I am strong when I think I am weak….”.  Tears reach my eyes, not because of sadness, but because of absolute thankfulness that we were created with the ability to be resilient.

I went out to pick myself some beautiful roses and put them right in the middle of the cleanly swiped kitchen table.  I realise that my family members will soon be awake, so I indulge in the silence for a few more minutes…..I know that the obstacle course will rise again, because in this house we live, we learn and we grow and it is beautiful to witness.

So for now, dear Mama, be brave and let your eyes seek for the beauty in the midst of storms to come.


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