As we turn toward autumn, there is so much to be grateful for while we are in harmony with the seasons: the first day of preschool, pumpkin patches with petting zoos, the fact that we and everyone around us are completely healthy, how wonderful it is to have kind, trustworthy and loving friends and family, and that we have the ability to decorate our cozy home for fall.
We love snuggling in blankets on chilly evenings, chasing the hot air balloons together in the crisp morning air as they soar over our house, exploring the family walnut orchards together as a family, watching our children run together toward the playground; their laughter that fills our home, and gathering up our gratitude is what sustains us through the winter months and the hard times. When I reflect on how far our little family has come, it makes me so thankful that we have each other.
Our world has seen so much tragedy but there is still light all around us, even during the darkest of times. Goodness has a ripple effect; it starts with your loved ones at home and it spreads around the world.
With all the overwhelming events going on, it can be hard to focus on gratitude but that’s when it’s most needed. I don’t mind people knowing that I sometimes experience mild anxiety/OCD. It doesn’t control my life, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Everyone experiences some kind of anxiety after having a child, and by our second, it had gotten significantly better. With our first child, I wanted everything to be done correctly and by the book, but by the second I’d learned that can’t always happen and in fact it’s fun to get messy and learn together.
As parents we want only the best for our children, and in the events of so much uncertainty with shootings, natural disasters and illnesses, we must be mindful not to let fear ravage our mental health. Our kids benefit when we’re at our peak, so to avoid panic attacks we must do what helps us.
For me it’s making sure my basic needs are met: Have I slept enough? Probably not, but I can squeeze in some more ZZZs. Have I had water today? Yes, a couple of glasses… Did you stop to eat, Jessica? I’ll whip up a sandwich. All of these things are self care, and all of them are necessary when we are caregivers.
My husband and I want to be the examples of what we’re teaching our children, so we do our best to show them that we’re taking care of ourselves and each other. It’s what families do.
Anxiety happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to define us. The sad part about anxiety is that the fear might not make sense at the time, but your feelings are still valid. It’s always important to get regular appointments with your primary care doctor to check in on your mental health, as I did, and it was so mild they only suggested lifestyle techniques like yoga and meditation, time with friends and family, nature walks. For others medication or therapy can help.
There’s no shame in asking for help, and there’s no shame in receiving it. The more we talk about our shared experiences, the less others can use it against us. I encourage you to look at the root cause of your worry. For most of us it’s ensuring that our families are healthy and safe.
I find ways to empower myself so that I can empower them. If anxiety is occurring over guns after Las Vegas, I learn about gun safety and being aware of our surroundings. If anxiety is showing up over natural disasters, I give back as well as make sure we have a safety kit.
We will always protect and provide for our precious little ones, and we are blessed to be surrounded by an amazing community. So instead of getting overloaded with how much suffering is happening on our planet, shift your perspective: Find the good stuff or make the good stuff where it’s needed. Be aware of current events and make the world better for all of our littles, but also remember to enjoy the day to day events with your family as I do, because those are the memories we hold in our hearts.
Twirling with our kiddos in the living room, making meals together, group hugs when their daddy gets home, field trips and looking at the stars, getting up early and gardening outside together… all of these things help me stay grounded in the current moment and make their childhoods the best they can be.