Written by: Shani Fowler
There are undoubtedly many benefits to having children when you are older: finances can be more stable, patience more abundant and life experience plentiful to name but a few. For a woman looking after a young child/children and going through the perimenopause (the years travelling through to the menopause) it can be exhausting and very testing.
Of course not all women have a difficult time with it – many simply breeze through it with barely a mood swing, whilst others can suffer from awful symptoms such as hot flushes, heart palpitations and mood swings to insomnia and depression. It can be a long and arduous road. There are things we can do to help ease the situation, let’s have a look at just some of them.
Listen to your body
All those hormones can wreak havoc in the perimenopausal body. It demands we listen. Many women suffer from mood swings. One minute you are Mrs Nice Guy, the next you make Cruella Deville look like the caring, sharing type! Try to recognise when your mood is changing. If something, or more likely someone, is annoying you, or the children are testing your limits, give yourself ‘time out’ from the situation (if it’s possible). Mood changes can be fleeting or may last longer – take the time you need and let the moment pass.
Many women suffer from crashing fatigue during the perimenopause. If you feel depleted of energy and you can have a rest – do. It’s tempting to carry on and get things done, take a bit of time out and rest, let your body do the talking.
Ask for or hire help
With work, looking after children and the everyday demands of family life, things can feel more than a little tough at times. I know I sometimes feel like I’m on an eternal hamster wheel! If you have family that can help with any chores or have the children whilst you have a bit of ‘me time’, ask them.
Though few of us are rolling in money, if you can afford it, hire some help. Maybe get a cleaner who can give the house a good clean once a week or pay someone to do your ironing. It’s money well spent – an investment in time, freeing you up and taking a little bit of the pressure off.
Also (again if it is financially possible) consider reducing work hours – this too can help stabilise the situation.
Insomnia is a classic symptom of the perimenopause, sleep deprivation on top of everything else can leave you with little left in the tank. Try to establish good sleeping habits and patterns, avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
With our busy lives we sometimes skip meals or don’t eat as well as we should. Look out for vitamin supplements designed specifically for women going through the menopause, these help to keep those levels topped up. Keeping our bodies happy with the nutrition it needs is essential at this point in a woman’s life. There are many over the counter herbal products available that might assist with the perimenopause, products that may be able to help with anxiety and/or sleeping difficulties.
When we have little ones we get plenty of ‘the run around’, making time to properly exercise can be good for your well-being and keeping that middle aged spread at bay! Joining a dance or Zumba group is a great way of combining exercise with a little bit of socialising too.
Remember, there is always your GP to discuss any difficulties you might be having with this phase of your life. Your GP may recommend HRT. Although this might not be suitable for everyone, it is worth making an appointment with your GP to discuss the possibilities of taking it or anything else they may recommend to help you through. The perimenopause can make many women feel thoroughly miserable, if there is suitable help out there, why suffer?
The perimenopause can be a difficult time for many, it can last several years. We need to make sure that we listen to our bodies, ask for or obtain help where we need it and look after our general well-being. Also remember to seek professional help such as your GP where necessary. We need to recognise that we cannot do what we could two decades ago. It important to adjust to the here and now, look after ourselves properly whilst maintaining the energy and vigour we need to feel our best, enabling us to look after those little ones.