Mothering When Life is Hard


Have you been there? Have you ever had days (or seasons, or even years…) when life just runs you over? And yet, you are still a mom. No matter what kind of day you have, there isn’t an option NOT to mom.

You don’t get a break. There’s no option to take the night off. The kids still need to be fed, groceries picked up, house cleaned, laundry done. You neglect any of these and you have some unhappy, naked, and hungry kids (maybe not unhappy about the naked part- I know of some who would love that!). 

If you know me, you know about my trying season since it was pretty public. I lost my husband of nine years when my kids were 5, 4, and 2 (more about that here and documented on my blog).

Hard was an understatement.

But I couldn’t not take care of my kids. In some ways, having them helped me continue on with life. But there were some specific things I did that helped me maintain my sanity even though my life had crumbled. There were moments when motherhood felt impossible. The kids were dealing with their grief and acting out and I simply did not have enough of myself to do it all. 

How to Be a Mom When Life is Hard

Self Care

I am not saying you need to prioritize your health over your kids, more like put your oxygen mask on first. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of your children well. I know, the thought of taking time to yourself when you are overwhelmed with your state of life sounds very contradictory, but I promise, you need it.

Take a look at your schedule. Do you have time to eat? Can you get to the grocery store? Make food? If you don’t, tag someone in. There is no shame in asking for help. Maybe there is a local church or program that offers some relief when it comes to physically caring for the kids. Tell your friends and family you are struggling to do it all. I can promise you they will leap into action and do what they can. A lot of the time people don’t know there is a need for them to help with. Once they know, they are able to help!

On the subject of taking care of yourself, evaluate if you have time for these other important things you should be doing for yourself so you can be a good mom.

Make time to exercise. Even if it is just a walk, a couple squats and jumping jacks in the living room floor, or a YouTube yoga or workout session. 

Spend time alone. Time to yourself is so valuable. If your kids are young and demanding and this feels impossible, try your best to make time for it. For me it meant waking up early before they did to sneak in a workout and time in my Bible without distraction. When the kids woke up, I was mentally prepared to take on the day because I had met my needs before theirs. I wasn’t giving myself scraps.

Find a safe place to talk. Sometimes, you need a safe place to vent. Be vulnerable with your people and express the things that are difficult in your life. Some people are afraid to do this with the thought that it is complaining- but that is different. Very different. Admitting you are in a hard place is a fact. Complaining about your situation and not attempting to find a solution is not productive. Talk therapy is invaluable. You can talk through your issues and feel heard, maybe have feedback of how to handle situations, and just have general empathy from others in your hardship. I also highly recommend finding a therapist if you have things you need to have guidance from a licensed professional to help work through.

The more centered and healthy you are, the better you can mother. 

How exactly do you mother when you just can’t?

Do your best. You simply show up for your kids, even though you might not feel like you are doing a good job. They will remember the way you made them feel and remember the fact that you showed up.

Take a break when you need it. 

Ask for help.

Do something for yourself so you have something to look forward to so you have the spark to finish out your day.

Pop in your earbuds and listen to music you like or a podcast that might refresh your soul (and not be driven insane by the kids’ annoying toys or screaming).

Lock yourself in the bathroom for three minutes if that is the only quiet place you can find to yourself.

Put on a movie for the kids, set up a playdate with friends so they have something to do.

Be creative and try new things.

Remember it is a season

It all will pass. Whether your difficulty is an external situation, your marriage, your job, or motherhood itself at the ages of your children, remind yourself it won’t last. Soon enough, you will be in a different stage, the work thing will get figured out, your marriage will settle, the situation will end. Keep your eyes set on the future and hope and pray for the strength to make it through. Because you will make it through and all of a sudden look back and realize the hard part is over! You will be ok. Your kids will be ok and grow up fine. Give yourself some grace. 

If you are dealing with grief or trauma, I wrote an article here that gives more advice on how to help yourself heal.

If someone has asked for help in a trying situation, here are ways you can help that would be so valuable to them.

I wrote this about accepting help from others, and how amazing it made me feel when others stepped in.


Please keep in mind the advice in this article is very generalized to appeal to the masses. If you have a troubled child, a trauma you are dealing with, struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts, or are in an abusive situation, please consult a licensed professional or the police for help. You are brave and strong for asking for someone to walk alongside you.


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