The Number One Reason You’re Stressed Out as a Mom
I’ll get right to it. The number one reason you’re stressed out as a mom is because you are always ON. I know, I know. Many of you are thinking a contemptful “Duh?!” right now. That’s what you’ve been saying for years. Moms are always on, alert, attentive, vigilant, observant . . . you get it.
Some of you, maybe newer moms reading this, just had an “a ha! moment”. Some of you have wondered if you were just feeling overly dramatic about constantly being on call and I’m here to validate your feelings – you aren’t being dramatic. You are truly always on, mama.
Motherhood is NOT a Full-Time Job
Before you throw tomatoes at me, read on.
Motherhood is not a full time job because a full-time job is 30-40 hours per week. Motherhood doesn’t stop at 5 PM and wait quietly for your return at 8 AM. No, motherhood even pops up while you are working your full-time job. It demands your attentive presence while you’re sleeping, while you’re eating and while you’re . . . well, you know.
You see, motherhood is not a job at all. Motherhood is a gift. And if we mamas weren’t so darned stressed all the time, maybe we’d see it as such in each moment and not have to wait until our baby birds have flown the nest before we can feel how precious motherhood is.
Since it’s not a big secret that moms are stressed and that parents experience lower levels of happiness than non-parents (check out All Joy, No Fun. It’s real.) we really need to talk about what to do about it.
So, let’s get to it.
5 Ways to Lessen Your Stress as a Mom
Over the years I’ve discovered ways to lessen my stress as a mom and to get breaks from always being on. Seriously, the number one reason I created this website was to pass on my stress-reducing tips and tricks to you. So, here are my top five ways to lessen your stress as a mom. Tried. and. true.
Simplify your life. Cut out all of the unnecessary things that suck away your time, money and energy. Prioritize then say goodbye to the things that don’t make the cut. Eventually you won’t even miss them.
I don’t know what that means for you, but for me it meant making a daily schedule that only allows me to work, do housekeeping, homeschool, have screen time, etc at certain times of the day or certain days of the week.
I wake up with a raging to-do list, both written and in my head. In the past, that would lead me to fervently pursue things (work, writing, housekeeping, errands) that took my attention away from my children.That unmanaged to-do list made me feel stressed when my boys needed me and I was reminded that they are my first – and sometime only – order of business at certain times of the day.
To overcome this stress-inducing, chaotic lifestyle I put time in my schedule before my children wake up for doing those things on my to-do list that will nag me all day if not completed. I also have a posted schedule for my family so that my children know when meals and snacks will be served, when they are expected to homeschool and do chores and when they have free time. Because I’m interacting with them at regular, expected intervals throughout the day, they skip off happily for free time, which allows me to focus on other to-do list items – or even (gasp!) get an introvert recharge.
Here’s how to make over your mornings so that you start the day ahead of the game.
Here is a sample schedule I used when my children were younger.
Soon I’ll write about our daily schedule now that they are older.
Ask for Time Alone
Guess what? Your children are never willingly going to go to your husband for help before coming to you. Also, your husband may not realize that you need regular time alone to refresh and de-stress. If you’re a single mom and your ex-partner has limited or no visitation/custody, you are truly on all the time.
You have to ask for what you need. For those of us with a partner at home, you may have to disappear for a bit (into a hot bath or out to a coffee shop) in order for your children learn that they can rely on dad to answer their questions, make food for them and kiss their ouchies.
For the single mamas, you have to ask for help. Whether it’s childcare swapping with another mom or relying on a family member for a few hours per week, you have to ask for what you need.
Pick Your Battles
I mean it. Sometimes we moms force ourselves to be on when we don’t even have to be. Why do we do that? Because we’re good moms, right? Well, maybe. But maybe we can take a break from the smaller battles every now and then.
Here’s what I mean – don’t engage in stuff that doesn’t matter. If your little one doesn’t want to wear a coat outside, don’t turn it into a battle. When they get outside and get cold, they’ll ask for a coat.
You really have to stop thinking of parenting as an “Us vs. Them” war to do this effectively. You also have to stop caring what other moms will think of you if you let your child wear flip-flops in the snow. You don’t have to fight every battle. I promise.
Stop Worrying About Screen Time
I don’t limit my children’s screen time. I never have. Even though I once fell into the trap of hyper-vigilant, attachment-parenting, natural-living mom I attempted to get my oldest to watch Scooby-Doo at the age of 6 months so I could zone out for five minutes. As it turned out, my children rarely sat still for the length of an entire 20 minute kids show.
Even now, they don’t abuse screen time even though they all have iPods, TVs and XBoxes in their rooms, and access to the family computer. We cut the cord on cable a few years ago and no one has missed it. We got an antennae for local channels, but we only use it during college football season. As I’m writing this, during their daily free time, only one of my children is actually having screen time when all three of them could be if they wanted.
I said all of that to say – I did not limit screen time when my children were toddlers, preschoolers or beyond. As an introverted mom, I treasured any amount of time they were engrossed in a show or game and used it to refresh my mind and ready myself to be on when they were done.
Remember, if you have a daily schedule as I talked about already, they won’t have the opportunity for too much screen time.
Have a Daily Quiet Time
I’ve talked about this one before – you can read about how I started a daily quiet time for my children, and how much better it made our days.
When you need a break from being 100% on, a daily quiet allows both and your children to get some space and turn your focus elsewhere for a predetermined amount of time.
If your children are under the age of 2-2.5 and can’t be left alone for a quiet time while awake, please try to nap when they nap. If you can’t sleep, at least take one nap time each day to do absolutely nothing except something refreshing and relaxing.
So, mamas, when you’re feeling as if you are always on and you just need some time to focus on something besides your duties as a mom, put these tips into practice today.
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