Even in two-parent families, it appears that the bulk of child-rearing duties still fall to one person.
For all the help dads give, it is moms who take on most of the emotional labor of parenting, according to a recent study by researchers at Arizona State University and Oklahoma State University. Mothers handle grocery lists, doctor’s appointments, playdates, homework help and other responsibilities.
And sometimes juggling all those duties becomes more than they can bear, creating a strain on their mental health – as mothers themselves can tell you.
“I hit a time in my life when my ability to cope with the normal challenges of every day was weakening,” says Fran Pitre, a mother of three sets of twins and author of the book “TwinsX3,” in which she describes the joys and stresses of raising six children.
“Looking back, I realize that I was experiencing mild anxiety attacks, and the situation would grow even worse when my husband was away on business trips. I found myself snapping at the children over the littlest things.”
When other relaxation measures didn’t work, a doctor temporarily prescribed to Pitre an anti-anxiety medication to counter the chemical imbalance that the non-stop daily stress had created for her.
She says that medical assistance was critical at that time in her life. But, as the mother of six, she also found that staying organized was also crucial to keeping her family – and her mental health – under control.
Her tips to help other mothers avoid being overwhelmed by the normal stresses and strains of raising children include:
• Know everyone’s plans. Children and parents have plenty of activities, and family members can end up going in many different directions. To avoid becoming frazzled, Pitre says it was imperative she know everyone’s plans for the upcoming week.
• Everyone must pitch in. At one time Pitre exhausted herself physically and emotionally by trying to keep her children’s bedrooms organized and clean. “I gave that up when I began going to school while working outside of our home full time,” she says. “Not only did I believe each kid had the ability to take over this task and should, I was just too tired and had too little time.”
• A curfew is a must. Few things take more of a toll on a mother’s mental health than worrying about where her children are and whether they are safe. Pitre says that’s why a curfew is a must, and should be adhered to except on special occasions, such as a prom.
About Fran Pitre
Fran Pitre, author of the book “TwinsX3,” is a proud mother but she refuses to let that role define the rest of her life. Visit www.franpitre.com for details.