If you’re a mom, chances are pretty good that you’re experiencing some level of stress on a regular basis – even daily. And that’s not surprising, considering that according to a recent study 70 percent of American moms rate motherhood as “incredibly stressful.” What’s causing all this stress? A variety of factors that will probably sound familiar – lack of partner support, career and other out-of-home responsibilities, kids’ structured activities, financial stress and strains, and something called “time famine” which is just what it sounds like – the stress caused by the lack of time to get things done.
Of course, this is not good. More significant than the cause of stress is the way that, left unchecked, stress can hurt our health and our families’ well-being. Chronically stressed moms tend to be more insensitive to kids. Studies also show that a parent’s ability to manage stress is a strong predictor of the quality of her relationship with her children and how happy her children are – not to mention her spouse.
If all of this is sounding a lot like you, don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to combat stress, restore some sanity, and help ensure that your relationships can be happy and healthy. At the root of your stress may be questions about your identity, of who you are as a mother and how you see yourself. Many of us identify with our own mothers or grandmothers and hold them up as the standard-bearers of motherhood. It’s important, though, to realize that they dealt with the trials and tribulations of momdom in another time and place. That was then, this is now. Times, society, and people change and so does the concept of what defines a “good mother.”
So, if your family seems to be clawing at your ankles to get your attention and you feel your stress level rising, here are some ways to take charge, get organized, and get them to appreciate what you do:
Plan and organize Being organized is Key Factor Number One for reducing stress and gaining stability in your life. Some moms take pride in being able to “roll with the punches,” but if you plan ahead and streamline your routines, there's less fussing, forgetting things, and stressing as you move through your busy day.
Set boundaries You play a lot of roles in your life, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a go-to-work mother. You only have so much time and energy on any given day, so learn to say “no.” Say “no” to your kids, co-workers, other family, and friends for things that aren’t important to you or in your family’s best interest. In fact, saying "no" to responsibilities that aren't vital to your success and your family’s enables you to say “yes” to the things in your life that are.
Take a break You may not be able to avoid all the stress, but you can get away for just a few minutes to feel less overwhelmed. Giving yourself permission to take a brief “stress break” is often enough to decompress or just gain a new perspective.
Stay connected with family and friends Believe it or not, there is life outside of your kids and spouse. They’ll appreciate you and what you do more if you show them that you have other interests as well. So plan time with friends, stay connected with your extended family. Go do things. It’s okay. If mom’s not around every minute of the day, your family will learn how to fend for themselves (within reason) and gain a greater independence. That’s a good thing.
Take care of yourself first If you aren't at your best physically and emotionally, you won't be performing at your best at work or with your family. To maintain the kind of stamina and focus required to give your best to your children and to work, it's important for you to care for yourself in the same way you care for your children -- by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy food, and setting aside some "downtime."
The goal of all of this is to help you understand the stresses that can affect you and adopt ways to address them so you can be the good mother you aspire to be. Once you understand your challenges and accept that you really are the family quarterback, you can ask for help from the other “team members,” including the children (for age-appropriate tasks). The load is not yours to carry alone – it’s important for your family to recognize that and work as a family unit. Journaling helps you explore the stresses of being a full time mom and reflect on the real you. Consider a journaling course to get you started.
In the end, they’ll all have a better appreciation of mom and what a “good mother” really is. And so will you.
If you want to learn how to get a break while being a full-time mom and help your family appreciate your value and love, please download the free eBook titled Avoiding the 24/7 Motherhood Struggle Through Journaling.