Being a mom is hard work. Stay at home moms often struggle with social isolation and burnout while working moms are faced with the added stress of juggling childcare, housework, and a career. Any way you slice it, there are plenty of opportunities for struggle in motherhood. Self-care is too important to ignore.
Handling all of the demands of life with kids creates a lot of additional stress. Unmanaged stress can make life less enjoyable, lead to long-term physical health problems, or contribute to mental health problems that impact one’s ability to function in relationships and in life.
Actively working to recognize and reduce stress is necessary and should be a priority for all moms. Here are some practical ways to incorporate healthy, stress-reducing activities into your already busy schedule.
Kids of all ages can be loud and obnoxious. As much fun as little ones can have to play, the constant drone of noise and squeals of laughter can contribute to a stressful environment. Sometimes we all need a little time out of the noise.
If your kids still take naps, the quiet time is sort of built-in and you may not immediately notice the change as they transition to shorter and less frequent naps. Quiet time does not have to be nap time. It can be any age-appropriate activity that promotes quiet activities.
Here are some ideas for quiet time:
Some moms might feel like they don’t want to encourage unproductive activities like video games or tablets. Every activity may not be a good fit for every child or every family. But remember that your sanity and mental health is more important than being a perfect mom. Any of these activities in moderation is perfectly ok if it gives you a break.
Sometimes the chaos of family life is fed by inconsistencies. Human beings, and especially children, thrive on consistent routines. If your day-to-day lacks a planned schedule or simple routines like a bedtime routine, creating some structure can mitigate a lot of the stress that you might otherwise feel.
Make a list.Write down all of the activities that you need to do and all of the activities that you would like to do with your children on a typical day. If your needs or wants vary widely, consider creating different schedules for each day of the week.
Use Time Blocking.Scheduling down to the minute will only create more stress as you try to keep the trains running on time. Instead, use blocks of time to schedule out different activities. Leave plenty of flexible time blocks in your schedule.
7:00 AM Wake Up + Morning Routine, Breakfast
8:00 AM Coursework or Learning Activity
9:00 AM Arts & Crafts
10:00 AM Physical Activity or Outdoor Play
11:00 AM Coursework or Learning Activity
12:00 PM Lunch + Leisure TIme
1:00 PM Quiet Time
2:00 PM Coursework or Learning Time
3:00 PM Chores
4:00 PM Independent Play
If you begin to run out of time, just pick up at the next time block and get back on schedule.
Sometimes life gets away from us. We get really busy just being busy and lose sight of the bigger picture. Meditation, more specifically mindfulness meditation works to help keep you connected to your reason why.
Practicing mindfulness will help you sort out necessary, productive activities from the unnecessary. Armed with more purpose, you will naturally start eliminating the unnecessary stuff and learn to be more content with less.
Physical activity releases endorphins and reduces cortisol levels. One reason for your stress might be that you are not getting enough physical activity. If you are not big into working out, try starting small. Take the family on a walk to the park or go for a hike in a nearby forest preserve. Aim for three times per week to start.
Find fifteen minutes to start writing down your thoughts. Journaling is recommended in therapy all of the time because it works to help process your feelings. It is common that busy moms will vaguely attribute their stress to being ‘busy’. And while that is undoubtedly true, there are likely certain activities that are disproportionately contributing to stress levels.
Journaling can help you process your feelings and identify the sources so you can begin to work on eliminating the things that contribute to your stress levels.
One of the common themes in motherhood is a lack of socialization outside of the household. Human beings are social creatures. Meaningful connections with peers, friends, and romantic partners are absolutely necessary for mental health.
Stay at home mom’s should plan one activity that is out of the house and away from the kids per week. If you have trouble finding childcare to allow this, get creative. You can kill two birds with one stone by snagging a friend and joining your local YMCA or family gym that offers childcare while you work out.
Pick a day (or two, or three) and meet your friend at the YMCA for a workout. Drop your kids off at the facility childcare center and break a sweat while getting some face-time with a friend.
High-stress levels not only saddle you anxiety and unstable emotions, but stress also has long-term negative effects on your physical and mental health. The nature of motherhood presents a lot of opportunities to create stress. Using effective habits to manage that stress is not selfish. In fact, it is actually selfless because you are taking care of your own physical and mental health so that you can be there - in your best version - for your family.