Moms may seem to have an easy job, but in reality, although it's a wonderful profession, it includes quite a lot of stress. Many people (including women before they have kids) may think of the life of a mom as days on end of freedom from time clocks, bosses, commutes and difficult co-workers and or customers. I remember when I was a child, I loved playing house, dressing my dolls and pretending they were real babies. I honestly thought it was going to be just like that when I brought my first baby home. I had worked in a bank before I had kids and when I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to quit and really play house.
When I said, “I do,” I had no idea how much had to be done! As a young mom, I was shocked at the scope of my responsibilities. I was also stunned at how little sleep I got. I’d never known sleep deprivation like I experienced as a young mom. In fact I coined a word for how I felt. “Panicky tired.” In that state of fatigue, I lacked any plan. I slept when I nursed the baby and when he was awake; I stared at him a lot and relished the miracle of this human being that came out of me! The house suffered, the daddy suffered and I ultimately suffered from the stress that goes along with running a household and having a family.
One of my daughters, said to me once while we were watching her two-year-old manage a small step up onto the patio, “It’s really like taking care of a small drunk.”
So now that you’re in the middle of caring for small drunks, I have learned some ways to relieve stress that just might help you.
I almost didn’t put this tip in my blog because it’s such a “given.” We all know that exercise relieves stress, yet it’s one of the easiest things to put off (because we’re so tired). But once we get exercise on our calendar, it can become a habit. If exercise is not part of your routine, I suggest starting by going for a walk every day. I have a friend who walks her dog every morning and takes care of clients as she walks. (She’s a consultant.) As moms, there are so many opportunities to walk with our kids (and babies). So get that stroller out, find the leash and head out. It takes 21 days to establish a habit and once exercise is part of your daily routine, you won’t have to think about it.
2. Be Organized
Being disorganized compounded my stress level and lack of sleep. Being organized is a vital skill for moms, even when it doesn’t come naturally. When you are able to anticipate what triggers a tantrum, what to take with you when you leave the house with your children, and what actions to take to preempt your anxiety, you'll find fewer crises.
As Flylady says, “If you plan ahead and streamline your routines, there's less fussing, forgetting things, and stressing as you move through your busy day.” My book, The Joy of Being Disorganized is the perfect book for young moms as it gives a system for being organized just enough to please you.
3. Just Say “No”
Before you had kids, the jobs you worked at, had specific times to start and end, and you had days off. Now you're on-call 24/7. And, because you're “not working,” you're likely to be expected to volunteer more, plan more activities, and keep the house spotless, too! Unfortunately, sometimes moms end up trying to be like Martha Stewart, forgetting she has a staff of many to pull off her household recommendations. During the childrearing years, don’t try to be a gourmet cook, keep the house spotless (if someone in the family has a higher standard, show him where the rags and cleaning utensils are) or dress like a model.
If you don't set boundaries, you can easily take on more work than two or three people can comfortably handle, and subject yourself to burnout in the process.
Just say “No.” Put a 3x5 card in every place you’re likely to say, “Yes, I can bake 1,000 cookies for the holiday bazaar,” and just say, “No,” and make no excuse.
4. Keep Your Perspective
One of the main reasons moms choose to stay at home with their children is that they don’t want to miss the special moments of their growing-up years. In addition to child care, housework must be done, dinners must be made, and children need social activities. Remember what's really important: quality time with your children! If you find that you're working too hard to keep everything perfect, let the house go a little, find quick and easy recipes, and just have fun with your kids. When your kids grow up, they’re NOT going to share this sort of memory: “I remember Mom always washed windows every Thursday at 1:00, she never missed!”
5. Be Selfish
I call it enlightened selfishness. It’s the same notion used when we fly. “If we lose cabin pressure, put your oxygen mask on and then assist your child.” As you already know, if you aren't at your best physically and emotionally, you won't be your best for your kids. To maintain the kind of stamina required to keep up with kids all day, it's important for moms to care for themselves the way they care for their children: by getting plenty of sleep, healthy food, and "down time."
Use some of that down time with good friends, who understand what you are going through. A very good friend of mine who is in her early 40s, said to me, “Every woman needs a woman friend who is at least ten years older than she.” We will always get advice from our mothers (wanted or not), but having a woman friend younger than our moms, but older than we are, is so good for the soul. Their energy and promise that everything is alright, will give you a boost. That woman will have the Been There, Done That T-Shirt that’s more current than your mom’s.
Thank you for reading my ideas. Be sure to share them with your mom friends. If you think these 5 tips will help you, don’t miss (Part Two) with 5 more tips.