Doing It All Without Losing Your Mind
You can handle everything on your plate. You can be there for your kids, maintain a close relationship with your partner, rock your job, and keep your house stocked with paper towels and vegetables. You can't do it all at the same time, though, and things will fall through the cracks some days. Those little stumbles and frustrations only add to your stress level, which is why it's so critical to diffuse stress before it builds up and becomes overwhelming.
Moms and Stress
Parenthood and stress go together like peanut butter and jelly. And while dads certainly deal with their own stress, moms, who often bear the brunt of the housework and childcare responsibilities, never get to clock out. Dealing with the logistics of everyday life (such as scheduling appointments and making lunches) and the bigger picture concerns (terrorism and bullying) can be all-consuming, to say nothing of the deadlines and obligations that come with having a job.
Of course, knowing that every other mom on the block feels stressed too doesn't take anything off your to-do list. But reminding yourself that feeling stressed is a normal part of parenthood may help you feel less alone when you're going through a tough period.
Get Some Help
It takes a village to raise a child, so it may be time to invite some new people into your village. If you can afford an occasional babysitter, make a standing appointment with one for a few hours each week. Use the time to do yoga, get a manicure, take a nap or even just run errands alone. If paying for childcare isn't possible, join forces with another stressed mom. Arrange a play date co-op, in which each of you takes a turn caring for the kids while the other gets a break.
Therapy may prove useful too. Talking to a professional mental health counselor allows you to both vent and feel supported. A therapist also can help you identify your biggest stressors and help you develop some tools to deal with stress when it strikes. Thanks to the invention of telemental health services, you no longer have to arrange childcare to make a weekly therapy session. Use a remote counseling service to find a qualified therapist and have a session over video conference while your child sleeps or plays with your partner in the next room.
You also may find it useful to make a list of everything that's making you feel stressed. Looking at the main triggers can help you identify things that are beyond your control and, therefore, not worth worrying about. If you feel constantly stressed about world events, for instance, limit the amount of time you spend watching the nightly news. You also may realize that you need to let go of some things or people from your life if they only cause you stress.
Other Remedies for Stress
Doctors most commonly recommend exercise as a remedy for stress. Of course, when you're already over-scheduled, it's tough to fit in a daily gym session. Take a brisk walk around the block when you feel ready to melt down, or do a quick burst of jumping jacks and pushups when you're experiencing stress at home.
Yoga and meditation are proven stress relievers, and you can try them in the office or at home. Follow an online instructional yoga video or download a guided meditation app and turn to these stress relievers when you feel overwhelmed.
Women tend to be social creatures, and many women say that just talking to a friend makes them feel calmer and happier. Call or video chat with your funniest and most sympathetic pal when you need a quick pep talk. Hearing her tell you that you've got this might be all you need to realize that you do, in fact, got this.
Kathryn Walsh has more than 20 years of experience working with children and has been writing about children and parenting topics for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including TheBump, Working Mother and Mamapedia.