It is easy to get overwhelmed as a mom. Life is busy, unpredictable, and a lot of times messy. Not only do you have to take care of your kid(s), the house, food and activities for numerous people, but you also have all the emotional weight of carrying out these tasks day after day with no real “break”… all while trying to maintain your own health as well.
I find the demands of motherhood can lead to rising stress levels, especially when I lose focus of how I am really feeling. If I am drained emotionally, physically, or both, I have learned that it is important for me to step back and figure out a way to address my stress versus simply going on autopilot. Lack of attention inevitably leads to burnout.
Here are 10 ideas that help me intentionally manage stress in my own life. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments.
1) Ignore the mess for a while.
Life is messy, especially with kids. I like to give myself a break and not worry about the cleaning, if only for an hour or two. It will always be there to come back to later, and stressing about it all day does me no good.
2) Eat a nutritious snack, or drink a cup of water.
I am pretty sure I am not the only mom who overlooks her own daily intake of food and water. Some days are just so full on that I literally go half a day without eating. I can reduce or prevent a lot of stressful feelings simply by making sure I am well fed and hydrated.
3) Take my “emotional temperature.”
I have found that taking my “emotional temperature” is very helpful for managing stress. Never heard of this? Basically it is a simple exercise for reflecting on how you are feeling at any given moment. Are you happy, sad, anxious, or exhausted? Next consider if any of these feelings are contributing to your actions. When you recognize how you are feeling, you can gain more control over your emotions and become more mindful of how you are acting on them.
4) Focus solely on your child for 10 full minutes.
Sometimes I just have to stop and ask myself, “How am I making my child feel right now?” Most likely, if I am frazzled they are picking up on it too. I like to take 10 minutes (setting the timer if I need to) to focus on the present without worrying about everything else going on. I try to let my child know they are important to me and that things are going to be okay. Usually after they have some one-on-one time, they will play independently for a while and therefore I am able to do some jobs. Win win.
5) Spend time outdoors.
Just going outside for a few minutes can help calm me down, and as an added benefit the kids often play a lot more happily when outdoors as well. Remembering that there is a great big and beautiful world beyond my messy house is a great relief.
6) Delegate tasks or get outside help.
I am finding as my kids get older, they are becoming increasingly able to contribute to the household tasks. Whether it is tidying, setting the table, or getting their own snack, I find giving them the chance not only teaches them responsibility but takes some of the workload off me as well.
I personally do not have any of my kids’ grandparents living nearby (or in the same country, for that matter!) but I hear they are very handy to call up for a quick break.
In any case, finding a way for the family to work together or deciding to ask for some outside help (or hire it, if necessary) can work wonders for my stress levels.
7) Choose one quick job to do right now.
It may be putting the clothes in the dryer, clearing up the sink, or doing a quick clean of the toilet. If I just choose one job that takes less than 5 minutes and get it off my “to do” list, I can stop stressing about all the jobs I have to do and propel myself into action. Sometimes figuring out where to start can be the hardest part.
8) Smile, laugh and whistle.
Even if I have to “fake” it, smiling and laughing will immediately make me feel a bit better. Somehow these simple actions can literally take some of the anxiety off my shoulders. My husband finds that when he is stressed, one trick that works is to simply “whistle a happy tune.” The mere act of having to focus on trying to whistle plus the uplifting melody can help break the stress cycle.
9) Find something to be grateful for.
Sometimes I get bogged down by thoughts of what I wish would happen or what I wished I had. I think that is pretty normal. Remembering what I am grateful for helps me stay in the moment and find the positive view on my situation. I wrote more about that here.
10) Take some breaths and start over.
I like to remember that I am not bound by this moment to keep doing what I am doing nor do I have to live in the past. Taking some deep breaths in and out can help “reset” my perspective and remind me to dust myself off and try again. Counting can also help take my mind away from itself for a few moments.
What helps you on a busy, stressful day? Please add your tips below.
Really great list of tips that can really turn the switch! Thanks for sharing, pinning 🙂
Turning the switch is a great way to describe it Kelly 🙂
As a born ‘stresser’, this post is truly helpful. Spending time outdoors is one that I have been using lately. I am off to look at what Wagner has to offer 🙂
I can totally relate to being a born stresser LOL – my hubby is always shocked when I describe what I’m “stressed” about 🙂
rebecca at thisfineday
Everything you said is so so true. My plate is stacked so high with all of the things life keeps dishing. I love your tips. I think I’ll print them out to keep them handy! The emotional temperature and the taking time out to just be with the kids for a second are huge game changers for me. Thanks for the reminder!
Hi Rebecca! After a few more of my “top 10” lists I will be making a printable of all of them 🙂 I need to hang this list up myself!
I always stress and like your #1 tip. I am constantly trying to get the house looking respectable because I feel as though I can’t function well with a messy house. The battle at times is just too big and I need to let go. Thanks for all the tips. I’m sure I’ll be using them in the future.
I’m surprised how much I’ve let the cleaning go lately. It used to really, really, really bother me. But I’ve been really focusing on this one over the past 6 months or so, and I’ve seen a huge difference in my stress levels, just to be okay with “mess” for a while. It has definitely taken time to break the habit of stressing over it though… and I still have a long way to go!
Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy
Tip #1 is one I struggle with. When my house is messy, it brings down my mood big time. I feel so great when everything is spick and span. #2 has been a struggle of late, I tend to focus on feeding my son and doing everything for him that I really don’t look after myself when it comes to eating properly and I’ve suffered the consequences! Great list!
As the kids get older and busier, the dynamics definitely do change! I’ve gone through stages of caring for myself and not doing a good enough job at it… it goes in cycles, just like anything I guess. Best not to let it go too long though, we gotta look after ourselves 🙂
Christie - Childhood 101
Whenever I feel overly stressed I find it best to pack everyone up and get out of the house – preferably off to somewhere outdoors like the beach or a park but even a trip to the library helps.
That’s a great addition, Christie! Getting away can help reset focus, for sure.
A great list of stress tips, thanks Chelsea. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with the work, mess and emotional stress generated by my 2 lovely kids I think of my grandmother who had 6 kids in 7 years with no dishwasher, no licence to drive and not even a double pram (gosh she must have been housebound!), then I feel a little bit better. A night in front of the box with a good movie and a glass of wine helps too 😉
Great tips! One thing I’ve been working on is making my own priorities. For me, playing with my kids is more important than a tidy house. But my mum comes over and tut tut tuts about the mess. I have to remind myself that I care about my priorities, not hers. And that if I take hers on board, then I will have less time for the things that are really important to me.
Loved this… and very timely for me today too!
When I am feeling overwhelmed I often clean something. I try to pick a task that I can do without thinking so I can let my mine wander or ponder what is stressing me while still feeling like I am moving forward… at least on the pile of washing!
Thank you for this list Chelsea! I am feeling so overwhelmed and stressed at the moment and my twins are tipping me over the edge daily so I am going to try a few of these and hopefully have a less stressful week ahead. The stress test sounds interesting and goodness that holiday sounds fabulous!
A lovely list Chelsea. I find that ignoring the mess by getting outside is my number 1 saviour. There are days when the inside of the house can literally get overwhelming and I find it so helpful just to get the kids and go to the park. I always come back to it with a different attitude 🙂
Great tips. I espeically love going outside. Just ten seconds in the sun, or fresh air does wonders.
Elise @ Creative Play Central
Lots of helpful tips here! Sometimes playing music and having a dance with my children really helps reduce my stress levels. Getting outside is another favourite (and it works every time).
This is awesome! Love the idea of the healthy snack and water. Food does affect our stress levels and moo, know it from my own experience. Thank you for sharing.
I enjoyed reading this, always nice to see my options before totally losing it! Right now, I am making a “Stress Relievers” list that I will tuck into my family management folder for easy access (as some of the daily tasks will cause daily stress). To add to your suggestions, this is what I use most the time: I turn all the lights low in the house and put Relaxation Radio on Pandora. Not only does it help calm others in the house down (my son who might be throwing a fit over something that did not go his way), but it calms me. It is very hard to be stressed out when you have soft nature music playing 😉