12 Tips to Help Overwhelmed Mamas Reduce Stress
About two years ago, I started working in the corporate world full-time after staying at home with my four kids for 16 years. Needless to say, this took a toll on my family and made me feel like a giant ball of stress! And, your kids pick up on that! You definitely want to teach your kids how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way, but you can’t do that if you aren’t already doing it yourself. So, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and read these tips.
Tip #1: Admit that being a mama is a HARD job!
Being a mama is THE HARDEST job in the world. I have to fulfill deadlines at work, I have to find time for my kids, I have to find time for my husband, I have to find time for ME, and I have to find time for other responsibilities outside of the home such as volunteering at my church or studying for CPA exams. It’s enough to make me feel like I could burst into tears at any moment! And, I do! At the most inopportune times!! AT WORK IN FRONT OF MY BOSS!! Yikes.
OWN YOUR AMAZINGNESS!! (Is that a word even? We’re making it one.) You are doing something hard and part of getting past the frustration is acknowledging that you are creating miracles every day.
Tip #2: Be willing to accept all the help!
Being a mom is a very overwhelming thing. Get some help! And, I’m not saying you have to get help with ALL of your kids or ALL of the things! Sometimes just unloading ONE kid can do wonders. Here are some resources:
- Do you have an elderly neighbor who might enjoy having one of your older kids over?
- Do you have a young teenage girl in your neighborhood who loves to play with babies?
- If your parents live close by, ask if they can take your kids for a few hours.
- IKEA has an awesome play area. Go drop your kids off there and wander around for an hour.
- Take your kids to the daycare at your gym so you can release some of your pent-up frustration on the treadmill!
Be SURE to not fall prey to the myth that you have to do everything on your own!! You are not a one-woman-band, Mama. You are allowed to accept help and you SHOULD!!
Tip #3: Take some time for you!
This one is so freakin’ important, Mama! You know the old saying that goes something like, “You can’t fill someone else’s bucket if yours is empty”? Yeah, that’s completely and utterly true. What in the world makes you think you can take care of your children if you’re curled up on the bed, crying? Totally been there, by the way.
You don’t have to go all out, either. You can just take your phone with you to the toilet and watch a few soldier reunion videos. (Been there, done that too.) Go buy yourself some really, really nice-smelling hand soap and wash your hands every once in a while. Go to the candle aisle at the store and you and your kids can smell ALL the candles together (this one is still a favorite for my kids and they are teenagers!),
Tip #4: Wake up earlier than your kids!
I know I’m not the only one who is craving a quiet house. This is STILL the case now that my kids are nearly grown, but it was even more important to me when they were little. There was SO. MUCH. SCREAMING. That extra half-hour or hour before your kids gets up is PURE GOLD, Mama. It’s the time where you can grab your favorite beverage, read a great book, practice meditation, nurture your spirit, or catch up on a few episodes of your favorite TV show, uninterrupted. Seriously, I can’t stress it enough. It’s a wonderful thing, mama. Give it a shot.
Tip #5: Don’t expect perfection!!!!!!
Do you see how I added six exclamation points there? It’s because it’s THAT important! You are NOT going to be able to constantly have your home clean, especially if your kids are little. They are not going to look like perfect little angels all the time because there will be poop explosions, there will be projectile vomiting, there will be Desitin smeared on the counter top when you aren’t looking, there will be bangs cut with the cat nail clippers, there will be stickers or marker all over the baby sister’s face…can you tell these are personal examples?
ANYONE who has kids, no matter what age, knows that nothing is ever perfect. DON’T compare yourself to your friends or public figures on social media. Seriously, how often do you post a picture of your uber-messy kitchen and say, “Guys, look how my kitchen looks day in and day out. I’m so proud.”
Uh…never. NOBODY does. Everyone wants everyone else to think they have it all together. It’s a natural human thing and it’s been around since WAAAAAAYYY before social media was even a thing. Totally be okay with Sometimes I Have it Together. That’s the reality, folks. And, it’s beautiful!
Tip #6: Learn how to say NO!
Just because you have to be everything to your kids doesn’t mean you have to be everything to everyone else. When I was in elementary school, the thing was Just Say NO to Drugs! Just Say NO to any request that will stress the crap out of you, mama. It’s SO PERFECTLY FINE. I give you full permission to put your sanity and your children’s well-being first. If it’s going to make your life miserable, for heaven’s sake, don’t do it!!
Tip #7: Choose your core priorities and let the rest go!
What are the things in your life that you can’t give up, Mama? For me, it’s my husband, my kids, my religion, my sanity. Everything else falls to the wayside sometimes and that’s okay. Time is such a precious commodity, so don’t spend it frivolously! Be picky about how you spend your time. This really helps reduce your stress and helps you realize just how important some things are…and more significantly, just how important some things AREN’T.
Tip #8: Tackle big jobs in super-duper small steps!
If you want to tackle a really big problem, you have to break it down into smaller ones and tackle them one at a time. Breathe. Try to look at the big problem’s components. Your kitchen is a HUGE mess (again!) and you have NO idea where to start. So, start with something small. Gather up every bit of garbage and throw it away. There, you’ve accomplished something! Now, wash all the silverware. Yay! That’s done! Now, wash all the cups. Do you see where I’m going here? If you can break a large task into many smaller tasks, you can feel a sense of accomplishment more often and feel better about life in general.
Tip #9: If your kids are three or older, put them to work!
SO MANY moms think they have to do everything themselves and they forget about the minions to whom they’ve given birth. Why in the WORLD do so many parents feel like it would be a horrible thing for their kids to have to work around the house?! You are teaching them LIFE SKILLS, mama! Not only will it help you to have less work on your plate, but it will help them learn how to be good, contributing members of society. Instilling the value of hard work in your kids is a really great thing!
Tip #10: Set aside a date night with your spouse once a week!
This one is so important! Make it a really fun date, too! It doesn’t have to be expensive, but make it special! Get dressed up! Pretend it’s your first date again! Don’t talk about the kids or the house! Talk about what you love about each other. See if there’s anything you don’t already know about each other. Here are some other ideas:
- Go to a park and play on the toys together.
- Go bowling or mini-golfing.
- Go to an arcade and play some video games.
- Go to a local pool together and go swimming.
- Go for a run or a bike ride or a hike.
- Go out for ice cream.
Whatever you do, enjoy yourselves like you’re kids again and laugh together! Talk about a stress buster, man!
Tip #11: Take a freakin’ long shower!
This one can also apply to Tip #10 if you want to include your spouse, but if you prefer to shower solo, make it a good one. Soak up the warm water and the scent of the soap. Shave your legs and maybe your armpits if that’s your thing. Make sure your body wash smells divine (in case you can’t tell, smells are a HUGE thing for me!) and don’t rush. Obviously, there are going to be times where you will have to rush through a shower, but every once in a while, give yourself a treat and relax. You deserve it, mama!
Tip #12: Hug the crap out of your kids!
Coming from a mama who only has six more years with her kids at home, this one is important. Someday, your kids won’t want to hold your hand anymore, mama. They won’t really want hugs anymore and they might not realize how much you wish they would put their arm around you and give you a squeeze. Teenagers tend to not look outside of their little bubble and realize that mama might be suffering a little.
So, for me, hug your babies as often as possible. Hugs are one of the BEST ways to reduce stress. Trust me.
Back to the beginning…
If you want to reduce your stress and actually find joy in your motherhood, try these things! Try one, try a few, try them all, but TRY THEM. You might find a favorite and you might finally see just how beautiful being a mama can be.
Your friend to the finish,
Lindsay Jenkins is a busy mama of four kids and married to pretty much the best guy on the planet. She’s been doing this mom-thing for nearly 20 years, but she is also a tax accountant, a chocolate junkie, and a scrapbooker. When she’s not belting it out in the shower or dancing with her husband, Mike, in the kitchen, she can be found creating her blog, The Elusive Follow-Through, or thoroughly embarrassing her teenage children. Check out her blog!