Mom stress is something that’s different from non-mom stress in so many ways. It’s constant, it never ends, and it definitely doesn’t end even when your kids are all grown up. How to manage stress for moms seems like something most moms would just laugh at. All those beautiful sounding self-care tips about running a bath and lighting a candle are really meant for women without kids. We, moms, know that within 5 minutes of running that bath, all the kids will want to get in, too. Then, they’ll knock over that candle and light your house on fire or you’ll all end up bathing with candle wax.
All moms are functioning on a higher level of stress than most people because they are trying to make sure that little life/lives make it to the next day. Moms are also under so much pressure, set upon by society, themselves, or people closest to them. The great thing with moms is that most of us have become very good at hiding all that stress under a tired, yet presentable facade.
Most moms are juggling about a million things at any given time. It doesn’t matter if you’re at-home mom or an at-company mom. The work with kids and home life never ends, it’s just a matter when you actually get to all of it.
How can moms manage stress better? First, don’t read anything written by a person who doesn’t even have kids. Everything they write will sound gorgeous in theory. Childless people actually just don’t get it because they think the solutions are easy but it’s not always the case. Grabbing a random baby sitter so you can get a break or just leaving them with your spouse? Who on earth would fathom leaving their kids with a total stranger to get a break? That’s not a break. That’s called stress. What if your spouse is burned out, too? Balancing everything, even between you and your help can be tricky business, too. In theory, our lives are governed by our child’s needs in addition to work obligations. At the end of the day, week, or month, is there really that much time to be drawing baths with the risk of burning down a house? It’s essential, yes, to take time for yourself, but what’s realistic?
Here are some ways Moms can manage stress better if it’s at all possible. I say if because not every mom is parenting with a partner, holding just one job, one baby, nor is she set up in a perfect situation to deal with children and work.
Be very strict with your time and who you give it to so that you don’t end up trying to make everyone happy. It’s truly impossible. You have obvious obligations. Children are an obligation (love it or not) and so they get the priority. Children shouldn’t take over your entire being but they are in your life now. No matter what, you now have a neverending purpose in life and that is to be a mother to the best of abilities. Your job is also a priority because if it’s not, the consequence is not being able to provide for your children. However, the key is to prioritize the amount of time you give to work and everything in addition to children and work. Learn to say no if you can. Set boundaries and time limits for yourself so that you aren’t feeling like you are spreading yourself thin. You don’t need to make cookies for the bake sale again this month. You don’t need to host another family get together again if you can help it. And, you shouldn’t be answering work emails after a set time because this is what will actually make your anxiety grow. So many things can wait until tomorrow, even laundry. Cut out everything and anything that gives you grief (e.g., social media or baking cookies every two weeks although this actually just sounds really enjoyable!).
Cultivate a Good Support Group
This is probably where having good mom friends can be a blessing. But, there are plenty of childless people who really get it. Find people you can commiserate about motherhood with. Find people who can give you a mental break from your children and help you let loose. The key is finding people who can really understand otherwise you will feel alone and frustrated. If you end up venting to someone who doesn’t understand or value spending time with family or the fact that you as a mom have to be very vested in your children’s lives, then you shouldn’t share your life with them as a mom. They are unable to support you and fully grasp what it is you are actually trying to juggle in life. You are short on time, short on sleep, short on patience, and short on nutrition. To say that you are living in survivor mode is to put it nicely. To stretch yourself even further for anything and anyone who thinks you have an abundance of time to deal with childless people things is ludicrous. Find the person who understands that if you have free time ever, you’re going to sleep and they will be ok with that.
Give Yourself a Break & Don’t Beat Yourself Up For It
This is an open-ended tip. My break isn’t going to be the same as yours, so whatever that thing is, find time to do it. I know that finding the time is the tricky part. I’m not going to suggest a random person on the street to come babysit your kids, so you may have to take a mental health day from work when your kids are in school to get that break. Yes, I also know that’s going to take about 5 years from birth, so make that a goal to look forward to. Whether you are at home or at the office if you can take that mental health day, do it. And the key is not to feel guilty about it. You absolutely deserve it and no one can tell you otherwise. Sometimes, your happiness and well-being need to come first so you can go on being the superwoman that you already are juggling work, children, children activities, loads of laundry, bills, and making sure your house literally doesn’t burn down.
Get Help & Don’t Feel Bad About It
I honestly don’t think this is stressed enough. That it’s ok to get help. Any help. A housekeeper, a nanny (if you can afford it), dinner delivery service (again if you can afford it), or a therapist. Many moms feel like they are not performing at their best or doing enough all the time already. Give her a break because she’s actually desperate for one on the inside. Sometimes, moms feel bad if they hire a housekeeper. I mean, how could you? Can’t you even clean your house? Excuse me, Felicia, who are you to judge? Do what you need to without worrying about all the Felicia’s who are ready to judge you. They aren’t juggling your family, work, or life, so do what you need to do to get the help that you feel comfortable with.
Remember to Breathe & Believe It Will Be Okay
This one is easy but I’m confident that many of us don’t actually do it. I know I find myself gasping for air by mid-morning because I’m just seriously not even breathing. This is free, this doesn’t require being fancy and carving out time to do, and it can be done anywhere. Trying to get kids out the door every morning is a feat every, single day. Childless people only know to rush for themselves and when you listen to this, you kinda thing they’re being dramatic about it. You rush into work trying to get situated and the next then you know, it’s 6 pm and you’ve got to rush through traffic and make dinner for your family. At-homes are rushing to get their kids who may or may not be grumpy and trying to get groceries for dinner. It’s easy to say to just have someone else make dinner, have someone else grab dinner, or get food delivered, but some of us don’t have that someone else or definitely that kind of money for this luxury. Every day, moms are rushing to do something but most people who aren’t moms just don’t realize it. I know I’ve talked about meditating, journaling, slapping on a sheet mask, reading a book, going to the spa, and I also realize that’s just not doable a lot of the times for many of us. So, the best I can do is tell you to breathe and tell myself to breathe. And I will tell all of us that we have to believe that by the end of the day, everything will be ok.