Mum shares how her toddler has helped her cope with her clinical OCD

Mum shares how her toddler has helped her cope with her clinical OCD

04/01/2021

Mum obsessed with cleaning and organising her home reveals how her toddler HELPS her – and the 5/5/5 rule she follows to keep sane

  • An Australian mum with OCD has shared how motherhood is often ‘challenging’ 
  • Tiffany Norman, 36, has been living with the condition for most of her life 
  • But after having her first baby in March 2020, her lifestyle and routine changed 
  • Tiffany said her OCD fixates on cleaning, organisation and perfection
  • But she prioritises her baby’s happiness, which has been a coping mechanism 

A first-time mother has shared how her young daughter helps her cope with her obsession to clean and organise her home. 

Tiffany Norman, 36, from New South Wales, has been living with obsessive-compulsive disorder since she was nine, but was only formally diagnosed in 2019. 

Tiffany said physicians were uncertain what exactly caused the condition to occur, but said it was probably a response to separation anxiety at a young age. 

‘My OCD is specifically cleaning or organisation related, rather than being concerned about germs,’ she said.

Tiffany admitted she was a perfectionist as a result of OCD, and her 12-month-old daughter, Kayla, has definitely challenged her long-held habits. 

‘Having a baby has really tested my ability to walk away and learn when to pick my battles,’ she said.

Tiffany Norman (pictured) has been living with OCD since she was nine, but was only formally diagnosed in 2019

‘Having a baby has really tested my ability to walk away and learn when to pick my battles,’ she said 

Prior to motherhood, Tiffany said her house was always spotless with everything placed in a certain position, order and sequence – whether it was the dishes in the sink or books on the shelf.

But having Kayla changed her routine and desire to constantly ensure everything in the house was perfect. 

Tiffany said her first priority now was to always make sure her daughter was happy and healthy, which overrides her obsessive urge to clean.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions)

Although people with OCD may know that their thoughts and behaviours don’t make logical sense, they’re often unable to stop them

Source: Healthline 

Tiffany has returned to work part-time as a check-out operator at her local Woolworths, where she has been employed for the past 20 years.

Due to her condition, Tiffany said she needs to count every item she picks up, even when packing bags for customers.

‘It can be exhausting because if I lose count I need to empty everything and start again – but on the other hand I know how much of each item every customer has,’ she said.

At home when tidying the house, she will place books in order of size, stack the dishwasher twice in two different ways and neatly lay out nursing bottles to feed her daughter.

But when rushing and noticing a mess, Tiffany will refer to the 5/5/5 rule she has been using for years. 

‘When I’m met with a task I ask myself whether it can be done in five seconds, five minutes or five hours,’ she said.

‘If it will take five hours to complete, I leave it if I don’t have time.’ 

Due to her condition, Tiffany said she needs to count every items she picks up, even when packing bags for customers while working at Woolworths 


Despite her condition, Tiffany’s first priority is to ensure Kayla is happy and healthy, which often overrides her obsessive urge to clean

To keep her OCD under control, Tiffany said she takes 200mg of medication twice per day.

‘For my condition I’m quite lucky because unlike others I am aware when I need help and can recognise when there is a problem,’ she said.

‘Sometimes it can be as little as something a customer has said that I’ve taken to heart that can trigger a response.’ 

Tiffany said that while motherhood is challenging and tiring, it’s always rewarding 

Tiffany said her husband Anthony is her ‘rock’ who helps her cope with her condition.

‘My husband is amazing and helps so much with Kayla and knows when my condition is at a peak,’ she said.

She also explained how while motherhood was challenging and tiring, it’s always rewarding.

‘It cost my husband and I $30,000 to have a baby through IVF, and we consider ourselves to be so lucky to have Kayla in our lives,’ she said.

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