Drive Days – One mum’s mental health survival strategy

Helen, the Founder and Editor of Driven Women Magazine, talks about what cars and driving mean for her mental health wellbeing.

Being a mum can be really stressful at times, especially in those early years when your children are completely dependent on you. Trying to juggle a million things at once, always thinking hours or even days ahead, all while trying not to forget what you actually have to do in the present. It seems sometimes like it just doesn’t stop!

I think all mums need to have an outlet to help them deal with the pressures they face. It might be having a coffee with friends, doing an exercise class, reading or listening to music; whatever it takes to keep you motoring on.

For me my outlet is cars and driving; getting behind the wheel just to go for a drive, with no particular place to go. That feeling of freedom, even if just for hour, does wonders to reset me emotionally.

But you can’t really go for drive by yourself when you have small children to look after. If I feel my stress levels rising at home I just tell my children “mum is going to sit in the car”. They know this is when they have pushed me too far! You see even just the smell and feel of the car parked in the dark, quiet garage is enough to calm me down.

The other thing I love to do with my car is wash it. Sunday morning is usually when I get to do it after the breakfast rush has finished. My husband will often say “go and do your therapy session”, which means go and wash the car. I follow the same washing sequence every time including working around the car in a clockwise direction.

My love of cars was born at a young age. My father and grandfather had vintage cars and we would go out on ‘car runs’; mind you when you are young riding in a vintage car is really not that fun. I have memories of drives that seemed to never end and being cold because there were no windows, with just a blanket to keep me warm.

But it was clearly these trips that awakened my passion for cars and now as a parent I’m doing my best to instil this passion into my children. Going on a Drive Day is one of our favourite family activities.

The road has to provide some enjoyment for the driver and the destination has to be somewhere interesting for the children. Thankfully Sydney offers great driving roads in every direction with many destinations within two hours driving of the city.

So for me cars and driving are both my escape for keeping me sane for when my family gets all too much and a way of creating memories for my children. Cars are my mental health tool of choice for keeping my brain running smoothly.

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