14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

Let’s give a big welcome to Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life} as she visits us today to share 14 tips for coping with depression while raising children. As you know from my recent post, Why Choosing Medication was the Best Move for Me, mental health and the journey towards recovering yourself and your life is very near and dear to my heart. Jenessa, thank you for sharing such a tender subject that can help so many!
Coping with Depression While Raising Children | Jenessa Mullen | Chaos & Kiddos
Hi, my name is Jenessa and I am so excited to be guest posting here at Chaos & Kiddos! I “met” Katy a few weeks ago through emails, and we discovered we had quite a bit in common. She asked me to share my story with you and talk about how I cope every day, raising my children while battling depression.

I have been battling depression since my early teen years. Sometimes I was strong and able to get through it. Sometimes I was down in a deep dark place and needed to seek help. Whatever the case, depression is a horrible battle to face. It gets even harder when you have children.

My latest battle with depression has lasted almost 4 years. 4 years of ups and downs and really, really low days. 4 years of not feeling “normal.” 4 years of feeling like a failure at everything. 4 years of still being a mom to my children, even though most days I didn’t even feel like a normal human being.

I have three children. My oldest daughter, at 14, has seen my ups and downs and although she doesn’t fully understand depression, she knows a bit about my situation. My younger daughter is 5. In the first year after she was born I was so overcome with joy that I can’t even explain how happy I felt. But not long after her first birthday, this latest battle with depression started. I like to think that she remembers how happy I was that first year, but it’s unlikely. My youngest, my son, is almost three and I have been depressed his entire life.

How do I cope with depression while raising my children? Here are a few things I have learned over the years.

1. Be there for them. I make sure that I am always there for my children. If it’s a special occasion like a birthday or graduation, or something as simple as a kiss for a boo ­boo, I’m there. Now, there are times when I would much rather stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep the day away. But I get up. Everyday. Because I know my children need me. I know I need to be there for them. And knowing this has got me through some dark days.

2. Make time for yourself. Now, I know I just said always be there for your children, but the other side to that is make sure you have time for yourself as well. I know. I know. It’s hard to find time when you are a mom with a houseful of kids. Believe me, this is a struggle for me. But finding time for yourself is so important. I try to remind myself that if you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to properly care for your children. So make time for yourself, even if it’s something as simple as reading a book when you have a minute or taking an extra few minutes in the shower.

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

3. Take care of yourself. Not only is it important to make time for yourself, it is important to take care of yourself. Eat right. Get lots of sleep. Exercise. There is a lot of research out there that links eating well and exercising to feeling good. And, if this applies to you, take your medication. I can honestly say that I get very low without my medication, and, even though I was against it at first, I have accepted the fact that I do need medication to function properly, and probably will for years to come. And I make myself take it every morning, before I do anything else. You can read my story here about how I feel without my medication.

4. Get support. Whether it is a friend, your spouse, a family member, a doctor or even a bloggy friend, reach out to someone. Let them know what you are going through. Let them be a support to you and a shoulder when you need it. I am so thankful for my support team. I not only have a supportive and loving family, but I also have a best friend who knows exactly how I feel, a team of professionals (including my family doctor, my counselor and my psychiatrist) and I attend a weekly support group for women. I wouldn’t be as far as I am today without these supports.

5. Ask for help. This is a hard one for me, and probably for a lot of moms out there. I hate asking for help. It makes me feel like I’m not good enough and I can’t handle everything on my own. It makes me feel like I will never be close to “supermom”. But guess what? No one is perfect! Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. Some people need a lot of help in their lives. The point is ­ don’t be afraid to ask. If possible, share responsibilities with your spouse. Divide up the housework, the bedtime routines, or cooking meals. Ask a neighbor to watch your children while you have a nap. Ask a friend and her kids over for a playdate so you have another mom to talk to ­ and don’t worry about cleaning the house before they arrive.

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

6. Be honest. I struggled a lot about being honest about my depression at first. I didn’t want to admit it to myself, let alone my doctor or my family. But opening up and being honest opened a whole new world for me. Not only did I feel like I had lifted a weight off of my shoulders, I was also able to connect with other people in similar situations and get the help that I needed. So be honest ­with your friends, your family, your spouse, your doctor and yourself. But most importantly ­ be honest with your children. Now, children don’t need to know every detail, but depending on their age, they can be told about how you are feeling and why. Younger children can understand if they are told “Mommy is sad because….” or even just “Mommy is having a sad day today.” Older children may have questions or want to talk about depression. Naming your feelings and being honest about them not only helps you understand yourself better, it also helps your children learn to express and identify their emotions, as well.

7. Let it go. (Let it go! Let it go! … are you singing, too?) Remember what I said above? No one is perfect. No one has the perfect house, the perfect spouse, the perfect body, the perfect kids, the perfect everything. Don’t expect that of yourself. Learn to let go of things that drag you down. Learn to let go of unrealistic expectations. Learn to let go of triggers that set you off. Learn to let go of negative people and negative relationships. Learn to let go of your insecurities. Learn to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back. Just let it go. (Let it go! Let it go! …)

8. Forgive yourself. I know part of my depression is feeling down on myself all of the time. Nothing I do is good enough? What if I’m a horrible parent? Why do I yell at the kids when I feel so low? Why can’t I be happy? One of the hardest things for me is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself, whether you made a life changing mistake or a simple mix­up, is important. You can’t be happy, or even start to work on being happy, if you can’t forgive yourself. Everyone stumbles. Everyone makes mistakes. Love yourself. Forgive yourself.

9. Understand your triggers. Maybe there are certain things that set you off? Certain things that make you feel angry or sad or worthless? It has taken me several years to recognize my feelings, and what triggers my feelings, but I know now some of the things that lead up to a panic attack, a crying spell or an out burst of anger. Once you know these triggers, do your best to avoid them, or have a plan to deal with them. This may seem like a lot of work, but take it a step at a time. A journal may help pinpoint triggers or give you a behaviour log to look back at. (An example is that being hot is a trigger for me that may lead to anger or a panic attack. I try to avoid being hot as much as possible. I dress accordingly, I use the air conditioning in the car, I leave my bedroom window open all the time, etc. I can’t always keep myself from getting too hot, but I can try to prevent it as much as possible.)

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

10. Find the positive. I am such a negative person when I am depressed. Everything is wrong. Nothing goes right. I hate this. I hate that. But one day I read a blog post (I really wish I could remember where!) that talked about finding the positive in everyday. Even the worst day has something about it that’s positive. Sometimes it’s easy to see, sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper. Some days, maybe the best you can do is basic things ­ “I have a house” “I have wonderful children” “I am alive”. But no matter how much negative is in your life ­ there is always something positive. I am a big believer in everything in life happens for a reason, and sometimes that’s the only positive I can find. I know that I will overcome my obstacles and be a better person on the other side. Find the positive in every situation. Find the positive in every day.

11. Get outside. Not only is fresh air proven to be good for coping with depression and mood disorders, it is also beneficial for the kids. So if your feeling really down, drop what you are doing and go play outside! Go for a walk. Sit on the patio. Just get outside ­ every day.

12. Tomorrow is a new day. You know that saying “one day at a time”? Well, it definitely applies here! That’s the best you can do. Take life one day at a time. If you mess up today, tomorrow is a new day to try again. And if you find one day at a time to be too hard, go hour by hour or minute by minute. You will get through. You will survive the day. Tomorrow is a fresh start. Tomorrow is a new day.
14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}

13. Love yourself. Oh, this is hard! Especially when you are already feeling so low. But by loving yourself, understanding your feelings and forgiving yourself, you can get stronger. And you are being a role model for your children. You are showing them that, even though you have flaws, even though you have made mistakes, you still love yourself. And I think that is such an important message to give to your children.

14. Remember that your children love you ­ just the way you are. Remember this. Every day. Every minute. Yeah, sure, they may be upset with you over something. Maybe you yelled at them. Maybe they had to be punished and they ran to their room screaming “I hate you!”, but you know what? They don’t. Your children love you. You. Just as you are. They will forgive you for messing up. They will forgive you if you loose your temper. They will love you ­ NO MATTER WHAT. Remember that. Every day. The love of my children is what gets me through this.

So, these are the things I try to remember every day. Battling depression is hard. Raising children is hard. Doing them at the same time can sometimes feel impossible. But you will get through it. I will get through it. And our children will get through it, too. And do you know what? They will be ok. We won’t mess them up. Just breath. And take life one day at a time.

14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In Real Life}
If you would like to read more about my journey through depression, come visit me at Mothering {In Real Life}. If you would like to talk more about depression, or even what coping mechanisms you use in your parenting struggles, please feel welcome to comment below. Or you can email me at
jenessamullen@outlook.com. I would love to talk with you and hear your stories.
Thank you, Katy, for allowing me this opportunity to guest post on your blog.
I have enjoyed my time here at Chaos & Kiddos.


Jenessa Mullen is an Early Childhood Educator and mother of three, living in small town, Nova Scotia. She blogs about her children, parenting struggles and her battle with depression at Mothering {In Real Life}. You can say hello to Jenessa on social media, or send her an email at jenessamullen@outlook.com.

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  1. says

    You should feel very positive about this blog post – these are great tips not just for moms struggling with depression. Your willingness to talk about such a stigmatizing subject is surely helping others. Thank you on their behalf.

  2. says

    Thank you so much for sharing a difficult truth with the blogging world. It is so helpful for so many. I wish you the best with your ups and downs. Just breathe indeed. Best advice.

  3. says

    This is a great post. I suffer from depression and when it flares up it can be bad. Thanks so much for sharing these tips. Depression is real and it is definitely a topic that needs to be addressed. #TurnUpTuesday

    • says

      Absolutely. Mental illness is so often overlooked. With the tragic death of Robin Williams, I am hoping there will be a renewed energy to address this challenge that so many people face alone. We need better support systems and ways to help people journey towards healing.

    • says

      That’s great to hear Bridget. When depression rears its ugly head, we need all of the support and help we can get. I’m thrilled to hear these tips encouraged you. Stay strong!

  4. sarah says

    I really wish i had half the strenght in you my depression has got such a hold on me n im screwing everything thing up all the time i have no suport family or freinds my ex partner hates me n dont blame him i have 3 young children 6 2 and 3months i dont no where to start i have no1 to turn to i nead help o dun wana b like this everytime i try n help by doing smit lil smit pushes me bk i dont want to fail my kids n have them hating me i get told wise up dont b selish n put them first its not about me n how i feel it is about them 100% im fed up of struggling thou alone n no1 understandering every day getting out of bed is a challange but its so hard no1 understands people just c me as pathectic help please xx


  1. […] Stacey chose 14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children: Guest Blogger Jenessa from Mothering {In … from Chaos & Kiddos: Mommy’s Survival Guide. “Jenessa wrote such a beautiful and heartfelt post! Struggling with depression myself, she offered many wonderful ideas to help muddle through those difficult times, especially when trying to raise healthy and happy children. Our children still need us no matter how we feel, and so many of her tips were completely spot on in coping with depression and raising children.” […]

  2. […] Today I am guest posting over at Chaos and Kiddos. I love Katy and her blog. I always look forward to her new posts! Katy blogs about parenting, step-parenting, kids crafts, recipes and so much more.  I am excited to be a part of her blog today! “Your children love you. You. Just as you are. They will forgive you for messing up. They will forgive you if you loose your temper. They will love you – NO MATTER WHAT. Remember that. Every day.” I am proud of this post, not just because I wrote it, but because I think it will help other moms struggling with depression. Raising children is hard. Raising children while battling depression sometimes feels impossible!  I hope these tips help other moms who are struggling, as well.  To read my post, head on over to 14 Tips for Coping with Depression while Raising Children. […]

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