Coping with stress and mental health challenges
Farm supermoms. This name is fitting because the various roles and responsibilities these women take on require them to possess superhero-like qualities. Being a farm mom can be extremely taxing and often involves these women wearing many hats throughout the day. Being a mom in and of itself is a full-time job, irrespective of farming responsibilities. Farm moms often spend their days being the chef for the entire family, running around bringing their children to various sporting activities, as well as volunteering, grocery shopping, housekeeping and some working part-time jobs on top of everything. Not to mention helping out with farming tasks. We asked 5 farm supermoms to explain their diverse roles and how they cope with stress and mental health challenges. This is what they said…
Lizanne is a full-time mom, as well as a chef to about a dozen people; ensuring the shack is always filled with snacks, drinks, and baked goods, making coffee for the day, as well as feeding everyone a hot dinner. Lizanne also has taken on othe
r roles such as volunteering, grocery shopping, housekeeping, and working part-time.
Lizanne copes with the stress of everyday living by reaching out to her ‘gang of Supermoms’. She gives herself a couple of hours some mornings to go for a coffee with the other moms, where they have the opportunity to vent and destress. She explains that this is a great way to recharge her batteries and realize she is not alone in her struggles. Lizanne’s mother-in-
law and husband are also amazing supporters. She described how thankful she is for the help and support of her mother-in-law, but also admits that asking for help is a challenge for her. Her husband is a huge help around the house and with the kids during most of the year. However when farming season hits, she feels like she becomes a single mother. Although this is challenging, she copes by reminding herself that harvest season does not last forever and that it is important to just take life day by day.
Krista’s roles have varied throughout the years. There were times where she was at the barn non-stop and other times where she didn’t go to the barn for days or weeks. She and her husband have three older kids (13, 10 & 8) as well as two younger kids (3 & 1). Krista’s roles as a supermom not only include barn work, she also spends time driving the kids around, cooking, cleaning and changing dirty diapers. Since her last pregnancy, Krista stepped back from barn work and directed her focus to her mom duties and homeschooling her three oldest kids.
Krista has experienced postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of her first, third and fourth child. The first time Krista experienced this, she had no idea what was happening to her and wasn’t aware of the fact that PPD is very common. She felt ashamed and ultimately suffered in silence. By the fourth child, Krista felt more equipped to deal with it.
Alyssa and her husband have two children (2 ½ & 13). She reports that she will “do anything that is needed or asked of me. I will hold a gate, sort cattle, make lunches, run for parts, keep the bookwork, or feed the animals”. Alyssa also enjoys gardening and plans to expand her garden this spring. She started a social media page @raisingkidsandcrops as a creative outlet for herself. She has realized the need to share her family’s farming story with people outside of agriculture.
Alyssa personally struggles with her mental health, it is a daily battle to keep her anxiety under control. Alyssa does several things to help her cope with the anxiety she experiences, such as exercise, daily anxiety medication and CBD supplements. Her advice to those looking for ways to cope with their mental health issues is to find something that works for you, because what works for one person may not work for another.
Tiffany and her husband have three children. Her third child, Natalie, was born with a genetic mutation, which resulted in a diagnosis of Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. Tiffany is the primary caregiver of Natalie, which leaves little time for hobbies. Natalie requires multiple medications a day and needs constant supervision because her epilepsy is drug resistant and is not completely controlled. She has multiple types of seizures and she has at least one type of seizure everyday. Tiffany brings Natalie along for sheep chores daily and she picks up jobs that allows Natalie to tag along. Tiffany explains that most of what she does revolves around the needs of her daughter. However, she loves advocating for the agricultural industry and often does this in her spare time though her Instagram @prairiepretty or her blog www.prairiepretty.com.
Tiffany has been reaching out for help for a while now. She expresses concerns with our government-run mental health system, as it takes a long time to process needs and requests. When she applied for respite, it took Community Services Living a year and a half to finish processing her application and begin the interview process. This is an issue Tiffany is passionate about. It is important to bring public awareness to this issue and ensure those in rural areas get the support they require.
Katie has two young boys, ages 6 and 8. She explains that being a mom is the most important role she has at the moment and notes that her and her husband are “raising the next generation and there is no job more important in the world.” Along with working hard, they want their children to know it’s ok to take a break, a vacation, or some down time in whatever capacity you can. She explained that their career and lifestyle doesn’t always make doing that easy, but it’s necessary. Along with being a mom, Katie also helps in nearly all aspects of the farm, from operating equipment to quality control and so much in between. She also manages their website, social media, and some record keeping.
Katie finds that one of her biggest challenges is the pressure she puts on herself to do it all and to ask for help when she needs it. She explains that moms are programmed to believe and accept that they should be able to do it all, but the reality is it can leave them feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed.
An important message to take away from these farm supermoms is that asking for help can be tough, but when you do, you’ll realize that there are so many people behind you that are more than happy to lend a hand. From being full-time moms, to taking care of their farms, these women have truly earned their super-status.