7 Takeaways from Therapy that Have Made Me a Better Mom

A mother shares why she decided to put herself in therapy after the birth of her second child.
benefits of therapy for moms

I used to think that therapy was meant for people who survived an earth-shattering life event. For example, after my brother killed himself at age 14 in May of 2015, one of my immediate reactions was, “Oh, I guess I’m one of those people that needs therapy now.” But, after going through three therapists during that dark time in my life, I gave up on traditional talk therapy. 

Then after becoming a mother a second time, I began to notice my inability to control my emotions, my short temper and my anxious and depressive episodes. With the addition of swinging hormones while breastfeeding, I was a complete and utter mess.

So, the decision to put myself back in therapy wasn’t because of the handful of times my daughters witnessed their mom completely lose it in front of them, as though I had transformed into a toddler myself. It wasn’t because of the post-bedtime, emotionally-charged arguments with my husband that I confessed, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I’m just a broken human being.” It wasn’t until I looked into my daughters’ tear-filled eyes and red faces and confessed, “I can’t do this right now,” and barricaded myself in my bedroom to cry and try to pull myself together. 

There wasn’t a single, solitary event that pushed me over the edge. In fact, the choice to re-enter therapy was because of the multitudes of tender moments: feeling the warmth of my daughter’s embrace, accepting the intangible and spontaneous gifts like an “I love you, my mama” from my eldest and witnessing the magic and the pure delight of my daughters’ exploration of the natural world in these Appalachian Mountains, surrounding our home.

I wanted to be better for them, for my husband and for me. I finally came to terms that I couldn’t do it all; I needed help. And now, I’m nearly a year into bi-weekly appointments with an understanding therapist, and here are my takeaways:

Schedule in time to cry.

Seriously. Whether it’s while taking a hot shower, post-bedtime or with your therapist, you must make time to allow your emotions to move through your body. Otherwise, that emotion becomes “stuck” inside, and you will inevitably discharge that “stuck” feeling in times of stress, emotional dysregulation, etc. It’s better to release and let go, so that the feeling doesn’t become misplaced (i.e. when your child is having their own big feelings and you snap).

Adults need emotional regulation, too.

Take time to do the research or, like me, find yourself a somatic psychotherapist, so that you can begin to learn ways to physically cope with the wide range of human emotion. Long, solo walks outside, yoga and group workout classes are just a few ways that help me stay regulated.

Plan for when you’re emotionally dysregulated.

On the weeks that I don’t have therapy scheduled, when my husband is working late or when I skip my “self-care Sundays,” I am running on empty as a mom, and it shows big-time with my inability to be patient or gentle with my daughters. By actively paying attention to the decrease in emotional regulation, you can have a plan in place for how to respond to your child’s emotional dysregulation.

For example, on my “empty” days, I ask my partner to completely handle the bedtime routine, or I hire a “mother’s helper” during the most challenging stretch of the day, when I’m preparing dinner, giving baths, etc.

You cannot change your past, but you can change your mindset

Accepting what was and adopting a growth mindset will put you on the path to healing and becoming the best version of yourself—as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a human being. Instead of feeling shame or guilt about how I handled my toddler’s tantrum, I respond to these feelings by telling myself, “I’m still learning” or “I haven’t figured out how to appropriately respond to my child yet.” And, the added bonus? By sharing these affirmations with your child, your child will innately begin to adopt and enact their own growth mindset–for life.

Get curious, right alongside your kids.

One of the gifts of motherhood is witnessing your kids explore and learn about the world around them. Therapy has taught me to be inspired by their fascination and to revive my own dreams that I’ve allowed to die, like returning to writing. As adults who have become parents, it’s easy to forget who we are at our core–our dreams, our ambitions, our own inner child. If you follow your child’s lead and example, I can assure you you will become lighter and happier.

Perfection cannot be attained.

Stop comparing yourself to the “happy homemaker,” “the mom-fluencer,” or the “gentle parent” on Instagram. No one is perfect, and no mother mothers perfectly. However, you are the best mama for your child, and you make the best decisions for you and your family. Find comfort and confidence in that truth—it’s all that really matters in the end. Your child will remember how you handled your own emotions–even in the wake of imperfection.


You read that correctly. Find the time to simply rest. As mothers, you are doing all the things. The mental load is real; burnout is real. There are days that you must allow some of the balls to drop. For me, household chores like laundry, organizing or leaving the toys strewn through the house are the “balls” that I have learned to let go.

Rest is productive, despite the irony. Enlist your husband, your babysitter or a close friend or relative to help with childcare and allow your body to find its breath, to feel the weight of your body in a reclined position and to dismiss all the intrusive thoughts and nagging items on your to-do list. You will emerge a more patient and compassionate parent.

Without question, my first three years of motherhood have felt like a treading-in-open-water marathon. I have felt like I could barely catch my breath before dealing with the next tantrum, the next family event, the next school function, the next day of household chores, the next–day, even. 

I’m glad I took the plunge and made the free 15-minute consultation call with the woman who later became my therapist. She made me feel truly seen; I was a mother having a hard time because being a mother is hard. Since then, I feel more regulated and capable of dealing with all that motherhood throws my way. 

Therapy is certainly not a cure-all, but it’s a starting point. My hope is that other mamas give therapy a chance, even if it requires trying out more than one therapist. Finding the right therapist is worth the trial-and-error in order to become the best version of yourself and the best mama you can be.


  • Katrina Donham

    Katrina is a wife and SAHM of two, living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. In her past life, she was a middle school English teacher in Austin, Texas and NYC. When she can carve out time to herself, she enjoys writing personal essays about parenthood and mental health, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, cooking nutritious meals for her family and dreaming about a life well-lived.

Share the Post:

Related Posts