I have had several times in my life when I have felt depressed or overwhelmed. What is really hard is being in that state when our kids are around and we know we want to be more fully alive for their sake, when we know that we just haven't got what it takes to be the 'sunshine' in their lives at this particular time.
A few things that I found helpful when my children were younger:
I had a dark period at one stage as a mum with a young baby, and felt that tears were welling under my eyelids much of the time. Nothing much seemed to help, but I decided to meet weekly for a while with a wise older woman. She did a Bible study with me. To be honest, the Bible study didn't bring relief at the time, but I remember so clearly her care for me and a question she asked me.
"Helen, where is the light for you?" she asked. I had no idea. But the question set me on a search which resulted in some lifestyle changes, and the 'light' began to sneak into my soul again.
When my children were more at preschool and junior primary school age and I felt tired, and sick of the screaming, stubborn child or the bickering and arguing or the deliberate scratches in the newly painted wall, I found myself developing a habitual response.
"Grace and patience, Lord", I would often whisper under my breath as I went to deal with the latest issue, sometimes rolling my eyes! Some days it was a feature of the day.... But I think it really did help because in this simple act, which became almost like a mantra at times, I was able to rewire my negative thinking in the moment, bringing God into the situation.
I remember at one stage feeling as though everything was hard work, and decided I needed some help to lighten up when I didn't feel like it. So I started to gather ideas of things that might bring a lightness and a laugh when I didn't feel I had it in myself.
One thing was our Secret Huggle Box. This was a box of old business cards. At times when I needed to lighten the mood or wanted a surprise celebration, I would let a child go and choose a card from the Huggle Box. On each card there were words describing a particular version of a crazy hug. The kids would pick a card, and that would be the hug they would get.
Huggle Cards included:
A hug and a hop, A hug and a bikkie, A hug and a bump, A hug in a rug, An upside-down hug, A triple hug, A double hug, A high-five hug, A low-five hug, A hug and a thank you prayer, A club sandwich hug (with the child squished between two others) , A no-touch-but-get-as-close-as-you-can hug, A no-hands hug, A hug and a buzz, A loud hug, A hug of your choice... you get the idea. Basically it was an excuse for a bit of nonsense and a cuddle and a laugh - something to change the mood.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I needed a 'go-to' box to help shift my mood or theirs, and these silly little things became treasured memories.
Setting clean-up jobs to crazy fast music and a timer worked a treat. I would announce "Funny Pickup!" and we all went crazy racing round the room for 2 minutes picking up things and putting them on the couch for sorting and then putting them away. A fast burst of energy and some speedy music with a strict time limit meant a lot got done in a short space of time, the mood shifted and the place instantly made me feel better!
Now with teenagers, I sometimes hear them say, "Let's do a two-minute tidy up!" and the timer gets set, the music goes on, the kitchen gets tidied...aaaaah!
So, when times are hard, remember:
It's just a season - this too will pass.
Where is the light for you?
'Grace and patience, Lord!'
And kickstart yourself to do a few crazy things... sometimes you just gotta laugh!
May you find lots of light and laughter in your week.