Let’s just go ahead and say it: Mom-ing is stressful. Everyone has stress, but mom stress is on a whole other level. Being a mother is possibly the most amazing, fulfilling thing you’ll ever experience, but it’s also likely the most stressful. Here you are, suddenly in charge of another human’s life; in charge of caring for them around the clock as you shape them into a productive member of society.
No pressure, right? You also have a career, a spouse, family, and friends all vying for your attention. Oh yeah, and you still have to care for yourself! It can be very overwhelming, but we have some tips to help get you through stress – or better yet, head off your stress before it even begins.
Acknowledge your struggles. Don’t live in denial. It may seem easier to ignore your stress and hope it goes away, but chances are that won’t happen. Instead, acknowledge what is stressing you out. You can move forward out of your stress if you allow yourself to “sit” in it instead of avoiding it. There is power in being honest with yourself! Once you mentally accept your struggles, you can take the next step in addressing them and finding ways to make improvements.
Find your peace. Studies done on happiness reveal that it’s the small rituals in our everyday lives that make us the happiest. Try to find at least a couple of special things you do each and every day that bring you joy. It can be something small, like drinking your coffee on the front porch alone for ten minutes in the morning. Or, it could be reading books with your toddler at bedtime. Once you find your peace, commit to it.
Keep on keeping on. Don’t let stress slow you down. It’s easy to allow stress from one aspect of our lives affect other areas. For example, financial struggles can seem like they consume everything you do. Unfortunately, you can’t just wake up one day and decide not to experience stress. Ask yourself: Are you stressing about something you can change? If the answer is no, then do your best to stop worrying. Easier said than done, but worrying won’t change anything. If the answer is yes, then look at ways that you can change the situation.
Stop chasing perfection. Sometimes, 90% is good enough. You cannot put 100% of yourself into everything all the time. Some days, you’ll be a stellar wife. Other days you’ll be a star in the office. One week you may be rocking motherhood and the next you feel like a complete failure. Take a deep breath and look at the big picture. You are ROCKING this life! Pat yourself on the back and give yourself credit. So what if the kids ate Mac N’ Cheese for dinner last night…at least they ate! There is time for vegetables tomorrow.
Be the change. Chances are if you’re stressed out so are the other family members in your home. It’s like the saying goes, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Then, stress ends up compounding and growing worse. If there’s an area where you can make a change that will affect everyone positively, do it! Maybe you’re stressed about the amount of screen time in your home – your kids pay more attention to their tablet or TV than to you! Be the first to put your phone away during family time and show your kids that you are setting the example and committing to your standard.
Create a plan. The best way to take control of your stress is to create a plan to tackle it. For example, if you’re stressed out in the mornings because you rush to get ready, that has an impact on your entire day. Take five minutes to make a list of ways you can make mornings easier: lay out clothes for the next day, pack lunches the night before, get up 15-20 minutes earlier. By writing down your action plan, you’re more likely to make follow through on it.
Ask for help. As moms, we often try to be everything to everyone. This leaves us feeling drained and overwhelmed. No one else expects you to “do it all” so stop holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. Ask your significant other, family and older kids for help when you need it. Ask your parents to sit with your kids for an hour so you can grocery shop or run errands. Ask your husband to do the bedtime routine so you can shower and have some time to yourself.
Let go of expectation. Sometimes, we build up expectations in our mind of how we think things should go. Then when a project or a schedule doesn’t go according to our plan, we get stressed. It’s ok to be a planner, but try to go with the flow. Don’t let your expectations rise so high or become so specific that you can’t reach them.
At first, taking steps to reduce your stress will seem overwhelming. Eventually these healthy habits you build will become second nature to you. Remember – by facing your stress you aren’t just helping yourself, you’re also helping your kids build the foundation for a happy, positive life.