Endorphins Help Me Parent
Parenting is the hardest job I've ever had, yet with a boost of endorphins after a quick workout, I feel like this parenting gig gets easier.
When I was in high school, I first learned about what neurotransmitters were and how they work in our brains. I understood what they were all about and how they functioned, but not until recently have I really been able to feel their effects, or rather be conscious of them, especially as I parent my children.
Two years ago I began running. I ended up craving breaks from being a mom to go for a run, because when I returned home I felt like a new person thanks to the endorphins that were racing through my mind. It helped me to refuel and be able to deal with life better. So it’s no surprise that as I’ve been struggling through this new parenting of two kids gig as of late, I’ve realized that endorphins are the key to helping me deal with it all. In a sense, endorphins help me to be a better parent.
Since I’ve been home on maternity leave, I’ve been stressed as I began adjusting to my new normal. Having a baby throws all the routines out the window. And with that comes frustrations. Why won’t the baby nap? Why won’t the preschooler eat her food? Why won’t the baby stop crying? Why won’t the preschooler listen to me? Why won’t the baby let me put her down? And now why did the preschooler decide to stop napping?
These, amongst many others, are the thoughts that have been swirling around my head lately. It’s enough to drive one crazy. And yet another item on my brain has been my desire to exercise. Why won’t my kids give me some time to myself AT THE SAME TIME so I can get a little workout in?
Last week, after about a month of not finding time to work out, I had my mom come with me to the YMCA. She held the baby while watching the preschooler do gymnastics so that I could get into the pool and swim laps for 30 minutes. And when I got out of the pool and met back up with my mom, the endorphins had me in a tailspin – a good tailspin where my head was clear and I felt like I could tackle any parenting woe that was thrust my way.
A few days later I was able to get some time on the elliptical at the Y while my preschooler did ballet and the baby was occupied. And again, those endorphins reset all that stress and negativity clamoring around in my head and I felt like I had this parenting gig in the bag.
It’s no surprise that endorphins have this effect on me. These chemicals that are released in my brain while exercising have been known to help those with depression. They stave off pain, whether it’s physical or emotional pain. And after having a baby, with your hormones a mess, and trying to adjust to the chaos of having two small children, feelings of loathing and frustration and stress run rampant in your brain. I’ve had a lot of hard mental moments since having my second daughter, and having the time to exercise and get those endorphins going has helped me so much to deal with all the bedlam I find inside my mind.
Part of me always knew deep down inside that finding time for and making exercise a priority is more than just trying to lose the baby weight. Rather, it’s for my mental stability. The benefits it has for my mental health spreads to my family. A happy mom is a happy family. So now, I’m going to be realistic with my time and not fret over how little time I have to get a work out session in. But I am going to try harder. I’m going to stop making excuses. My main goal is to help me curb the adverse thoughts I have whirling around in my head. And if it helps take the baby weight off quicker, that’s a great bonus. My focus is to be happy and the best parent I can be, and I’m grateful that endorphins can play a role in my plight.
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