Motherhood is a constant rollercoaster. From finding out you’re pregnant to the birth, feeding, nappies, lack of sleep, to becoming an expert in first aid and mastering the art of folding a double buggy with a toddler and baby in tow. These are the physical demands, but at the same time, you're struggling to navigate the stormy sea of emotions, from teary-eyed pride to nail-biting frustration. There is no one ‘right’ way to cope with the emotional hurdles of motherhood but here is our advice on developing coping strategies that should make the journey of motherhood smoother.
 
1. When you (temporarily) don't like your child
Sometimes when your child misbehaves, or embarrasses you, it is perfectly normal to feel that you don’t like him and you may even say horrible things. Then, because you also love him, you will feel a tremendous wave of guilt.

Coping strategy
Always being 100% calm and reasonable when your child misbehaves is impossible. You're human and you need to have reasonable expectations of yourself and your child. For instance, can you really expect a small child to be quiet and docile on a lengthy shopping trip? You also need to ask yourself if your angry outburst is this an isolated event or a regular occurrence. If you find you have regular overly angry reactions, you need to work out why you are so upset. You may need to examine how consistent you are about discipline - perhaps your child may simply not understand what his limits are if the goal posts keep changing. Figure out the root cause of your outbursts and you will avoid getting to that anger/guilt cycle in the first place.
 
2. Letting Dad be a parent too: 
Mums want everything to be perfect for your kids, and (usually) being the main care-giver can turn them into control freaks. Does letting Dad take responsibility set your teeth on edge? Does he do the nappy too loosely? Does he dress the kids in mismatched outfits? Does he throw them up in the air putting them in danger (even though they squeal with delight)? Do you complain about how hard motherhood is but are you reluctant to let go? 

Coping strategy
It's easy for mums to fall into the trap of 'if I don't do it, it won't be done right’. But as frustrating as you may find your partner's easy going parenting style, you should recognise that it's great for kids to have a positive male influence, to bond with dad and, God-forbid, give you a break. Refrain from criticising him, trust him to be as concerned as you are about your children’s welfare and you will engender a sense of respect and harmony in your relationship, which is a great atmosphere for children to grow up in.
 
3. Separation anxiety: 
Starting crèche or playschool is nerve racking - for mum. You are naturally worried and emotional about being separated from your child, perhaps for the first time. How will she cope without you? How will you cope without her?

Coping strategy
Understand that your feelings and anxieties are separate from your child's. Even if she is bawling, you need to realise: (a) she'll probably be fine two minutes after you leave and (b) adapting to a new environment is one of the essential life experiences that will help her grow and develop into a happy, independent child. It's OK to break down in tears (out of her sight) and to feel sad. You're saying goodbye to life as you know it and so it’s a bit like grieving. Life is a journey and as your baby is moving forward, so are you, and remember - you will get a bit of your life back.
 
4. Accepting your child's failures: 
You're a football crazy family. Little Johnny got a football when as soon as he could walk and you assumed he would be a star player but as he grows up he shows no talent and no interest. You're gutted. When your children don't live up to your dreams and expectations, it’s only natural to feel disappointed. But make no mistake: the deeper disappointment and sense of loss is the one you feel for yourself.

Coping strategy
Parents secretly hope their kids will win an Olympic gold medal and discover the cure for cancer, but ask yourself: did you achieve those things? If not, why should we expect them of our children? Don’t let your disappointment blind you to how unique your child is, with his own talent and dreams. Take pride when your child does what he loves and is even if he doesn't excel, be his cheer leader and remember he's doing his best.
 

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