Updated: Dec 17, 2021
I love being a mom, and I love my kids. They give me a sense of purpose in what I do. But along with all the good parts of being a mom, there is a lot of stress too. Some of it is personal, like not getting enough sleep or time for self-care. Other stress can come from constantly having to clean up messes, paying bills, finding childcare, working, taking care of the house, and worrying if we are being good parents to our children.
We may ask ourselves questions like:
Why isn't my baby sleeping?
Why does my toddler always say no?
Am I doing enough to help my child learn?
When am I going to have time to clean?
How am I going to afford what my child needs?
Do I listen well enough?
Is it OK for my child to have screen time?
What kind of family activities can we do?
Why am I always tired?
How can I lose the baby weight?
Should I go back to work?
Can I work from home?
Is my child meeting milestones on time?
How can I get my child to eat vegetables?
And the list goes on seemingly endlessly. We all want our children to have the best in life, but sometimes it is hard to know what that is. We try to strike a balance between providing our children love and attention, and working to make money to provide for their physical needs. And in there somewhere, we are supposed to make time for self-care, exercise, proper sleep, and maintaining closeness with our partners.
Even at the best of time, life can be stressful.
Wellness can combat stress.
When we are at our best physically, mentally and socially, we are better able to cope with life's stress and to be calm mommas. We are able to engage with our children, and be fully present with them when we play together. This makes maintaining our own health a priority, because it benefits our kids too!
According to the University of Minnesota, "Even if you cannot remove the source of stress from your life, you can take steps to react to it in healthy, positive ways.
Stress is deeply related to and intertwined with various aspects of your wellbeing; it affects and is affected by many lifestyle choices you make. Chronic stress can make it very challenging to effectively address addictive and unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and skipping exercise routines. This creates a problematic loop, because these behaviors then cause more stress!"
Basically, when we are tired and stressed, we tend to turn to maladaptive coping strategies, like eating too much chocolate, smoking, or binge-watching Netflix all night. These things in turn impact our health and make our stress even worse than it was before.
Have you ever sat up late into the night worrying about all the things you have to do the next day? Then, when the morning rolls around, you are exhausted and drink 13 cups of coffee, eat a box of donuts, and feel no motivation at all to complete any of your to-do list items?
Then, other days you have a peaceful night of sleep, wake up early and do yoga and journaling, and feel refreshed and ready to start the day?
Good health behaviors make us feel better and reduce our stress levels.
According to University of Minnesota, here are some activities that can boost wellness and reduce stress:
Physical Activity and Fitness
Diet and Nutrition
Thoughts and Emotions
By taking control of our wellness in these areas, we can drastically reduce our stress and be able to be happier mommas! Also remember that if you implement these type of good health, stress relieving behaviors with your kids, they will be able to develop more resilience to help them cope throughout life.
Types of Wellness
You can download this graphic as a printable to refer to later, as you work on your health & wellness goals!
When I think of wellness and stress relief, I think of physical health, mental health, and social-emotional health. All of these domains are things you can work on for yourself, and also for your kids!
Here are some strategies that you can use to reduce stress and improve your health in each of these areas of your life.
Get proper exercise. Experts recommend about 30 minutes of exercise 3 times per week. This can be as simple as taking a walk outside with the kids or riding a bike!
Get enough sleep. Especially if you have a baby this can be a challenge. I know everyone says sleep when the baby sleeps, but you can do that even until toddler age to make sure you are well rested. (I still nap when my 4 year old does, and go to bed at the same time.) Also, avoid looking at your phone right before bed, it can be over stimulating and increase your stress level. Also try to avoid staying up later at night to get things done that you didn't during the day. Once you are well rested in the morning, you will be able to get more done. As long as you are still feeling exhausted, the chores can wait a bit.
Take a Multi-Vitamin. This helps to maintain your health, and give your body nutrients that may be missing in your diet.
Eat a balanced diet. For me, this is the hardest part. It is just so easy to throw a pizza in the oven and not worry about dinner. If you are like me and hate to cook, try cutting up fresh fruits and veggies to have available throughout the day for snacks. That can help round out your diet and stop from eating too much junk food!
Drink a Probiotic. Mental health is linked to gut health. According to Healthline, about 95% of the Serotonin (the body's happiness chemical) is produced in your gut. If you are like me, you probably thought it came from your brain, but no! So, just drinking a probiotic can improve your digestion and your mood!
Practice Meditation or Mindfulness. According to Chester County Hospital, mindfulness can Relieve stress, Lower blood pressure, Reduce chronic pain, Treat heart disease, Boost the immune system, Alleviate stomach problems , Improve sleep (which benefits both your mental and physical health), Produce endorphins (chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers) and improve your quality of life. See again how physical and mental health intertwine? Improving one improves the other.
Get control of your finances. I know this doesn't really sound like a mental health issue, but it can be, since it is a huge cause of stress! According to CNBC, "73% of Americans rank their finances as the No. 1 stress in life." If you want to learn some tips for managing your finances, check out my blog post Stresses About Money?
Create a Schedule and Routine. Uncertainty contributes to a large amount of our life stress. So, when we can create a predictable day, it helps to alleviate a large amount of stress by planning ahead. Also, when kids know what to expect throughout the day, it helps them feel secure, and more likely to do what they know will come next (hopefully with less arguing!).
Pursue Your Hobbies. When you have a hobby or interest that you are passionate about, it can be therapeutic to spend time with doing something that you love! Whether you love baking, chess, crafts, or something else, any of those can help with your personal development and life enjoyment! Also, if you can involve your kids with your hobbies, it can become something special you love to do together!
See a Therapist. Therapy today isn't just for mental health disorders, it can be for anyone who needs a compassionate, listening ear. When you see a professional, you can get medication if needed, as well as learning coping strategies for your stressors. It also can help you enjoy your time with your friends or significant other more, since you don't need to spend the whole time venting your frustrations.
Social Emotional Health
Relationship with your Partner. When we parent, often times our relationship with our spouse becomes just about coparenting and house chores. Making time to share something special, or having a date night can increase your relationship satisfaction and resilience.
Relationships with Friends. Making time in our busy schedules for our friends is important. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and your friends are your village. Friendships can help you have fun and relax, as well as enjoying conversation and hobbies together. Maintaining friendships after motherhood can help you feel like you are retaining an important piece of yourself that may sometimes easily get lost.
Work or School Relationships. Relationships at work and school can allow us to express ourselves differently than in a personal space. They allow us to showcase our expertise, and use our intellect. When we excel in work or school, it allows us to take a sense of pride and purpose in what we do. Supportive work and school relationships help us aim for high goals, and to form a collaborative work environment. Having positive work and school relationships is also important just because of the sheer amount of time that we spend at work and school, and having friends or co-workers with a shared experience can help us feel supported.
Relationships with Kids. Our relationship with our kids is the reason we started reading this article, right? To deal with mom stress? Well usually I find that it isn't actually my kids making me stressed out. Typically, something else stresses us out causing us not to be present with our kids. If we take time to immerse ourselves in a game of hide and seek, playing with bubbles, or building a block tower, that can reduce our stress level too because we are having fun! Fun is a great way to reduce stress!
Happier Mom = Happier Kids.
When we are unhappy, our kids can tell. And since they think the world revolves around them, they often will self-blame for parental unhappiness. Have you heard of couples divorcing and kids blaming themselves? Even if your problems aren't to that point, it is the same principle.
Being healthier makes us happier. Being happier makes our kids happier. And you know what else? Happier kids listen better and do what they are supposed to more easily! So, working on your own happiness is a win-win-win!
Kids can teach us happiness too.
How is that? Because kids live perpetually in the moment. They are completely absorbed with whatever they are doing. It may be looking at a beautiful butterfly, or petting a cat, or drawing a picture. In any case, they become completely present and focused on what is at hand. They don't worry what is coming next. They don't understand time or money. They live in a perpetual, exciting NOW.
Being present is a key component of Mindfulness, which we talked about earlier! And, it is something our kids intuitively already know how to to. So mommas this is one area to take a page out of your kids play book. Spend some time each day playing with the kids, and be fully immersed in what you are doing. Let them lead the way, and follow along with their fun!
Kids are all about having fun, and guess what? Fun makes us happier!
If you like this article, please feel free to share on your socials. Let me know in the comments anything else that you do to reduce stress, and any other questions you would like me to answer! Also, don't forget to print out the free infographic above to pin up at your desk or on the refrigerator.
If you have tried all of these tips and are still feeling stressed, it may mean that you have Anxiety. It is still not an insurmountable problem to overcome, but you may want to consult with your healthcare provider.
More on coping with stress as a mom:
Happy. Healthy. Rich. The smart mom's guide to living your best life.
It talks all about how you can set goals to make yourself happier and reduce your stress level. Check out this video for a sneak peek!