There are many words to describe parenthood.
Joyful. Enriching. Life-changing. Exciting. Fulfilling.
Positive words all. And parenthood is all of these things; for many of us, raising children is a wonderful experience, and we wouldn’t want to swap the experience with our non-parenting friends at all.
But (and there is always a but isn’t there), parenthood is also exhausting, time-consuming, challenging, and yes, you knew it was coming (our title gave you the clue), stressful!
Are you with us so far? Are you nodding your head in agreement?
Stress is common to all of us, although we don’t always realize we are stressed until the tell-tale signs befall us. And what are these signs?
Signs of mom stress include…
Forgetfulness. Do you ever walk into a room and wonder why you went in there in the first place? Do you forget important school dates in your children’s calendar? When we have tired, stressed-out minds, we can’t be blamed for momentarily losing our proverbial marbles once in a while!
Snappiness. Sometimes we yell for no or little reason. We snap at our partners and kids, and they wonder what they have done to deserve it. And they probably don’t deserve it; it’s just that we are at the end of our tether!
Physical symptoms. Do you have constant headaches? Are there aches and pains in your bones and muscles? These are just two of the physical symptoms brought about by stress. Stress can age your skin too, causing it to dry up, wrinkle, and break out in spots! And while there are many dry, flaky skin causes that don’t involve stress, know that if you have been itching recently because of eczema and other rashes, know that is probably because of stress.
So, here’s a question for you. How are you feeling today?
If you have noticed the signs of stress in your life, then it’s time to get on top of things before you burn yourself out.
The following are some of the common causes of stress in moms. And while we aren’t stress experts, we have still provided a few tips based on our own experiences. We hope they are helpful to you.
Stress Factor #1: The constant demands on your time
Do you ever feel as if there isn’t enough time in the day to do what you want to do? Your children need a lot of care and attention, and your partner needs a little bit of tlc too, so to actually find time for yourself can be difficult. There’s the school run to consider, the household chores to complete, the meals to prepare, your children’s homework demands, and probably a thousand other things that fill up your day.
We would love to offer you a magic wand; something to wave over your day and freeze time. Unfortunately, we don’t have that capability. Sorry. But it is important to try to find time in the day for yourself. You need that me-time, as stress will rear its ugly head eventually if you don’t.
You might want to get up before the kids and give yourself some time to eat breakfast and chill out before they eventually tumble out of bed.
It might be that you utilize the power of the word ‘no.’ You don’t have to attend every PTA meeting, and you don’t have to commit to everything your children or partner wants. If you need time for yourself, you need to timetable it and let other people know you are unavailable.
You might want to let go of perfection. Your house doesn’t need to be sparkly clean all of the time, so when the kids are otherwise engaged, be that at school or elsewhere, use the time you have in the day to put your feet up for a while.
And you might want to make the most of your time when your kids are in bed during the evening. Relax with your partner, watch a movie, drink a sneaky glass of wine, and unwind. Make that time for yourself, and you will feel better for it.
Stress Factor #2: The strain on your finances
Do you remember when you had spending power for yourself? There may have been times when you were free to shop for clothes for yourself; those days before you had to buy outfits and shoes for your ever-growing kids. There may have been times when you were free to spend money on activities you loved; those days before you felt the need to spend money on keeping your children entertained. And there may have been days when you had money to save for a rainy day; those days before your children came along and drained any hope you had of saving up your hard-earned cash. Kids are expensive, and as parents, we can experience financial stress as we so desperately try to budget.
If only you had a money tree growing in your back garden. Sadly, you probably don’t (but let us know if you do), as we aren’t living in fairy tale land. We are living in reality, and there will be a strain on your finances when you have kids in tow. Still, you can make life easier for yourself.
As we suggested in our last point, remember the power of ‘no.’ If your child doesn’t need something, you don’t always have to give in to their demands. Let them know early on that you aren’t a walking and talking ATM, and they might eventually tire of saying the words, ‘Can I have…’.
Look for ways to save money at home. We have some ideas here, so take a look. By doing such things as comparing prices online, buying certain items in bulk, and finding ways to entertain your kids for free, you should be able to make savings on a weekly basis.
You can save money on your children’s clothes too. For example, you might buy clothes out of season, when stores bless you with favourable discounts. Or you might have clothes swap parties with other moms you know, where you can exchange clothes your children no longer wear. Check out these tips too, for other ideas on saving on your children’s clothes.
Stress Factor #3: Danger alert!
As a mom, your protective instincts will kick in on a regular basis. It’s a natural thing because you want to care for and protect your children. They are constantly doing things to put themselves in danger, from eating things they shouldn’t to wandering perilously close to places of danger. There are worries about school bullies, concerns about strangers, and other possible dangers that our children could fall prey to. The world is a perilous place!
You could cover your children in bubble wrap or cotton wool and keep them confined to the house 24/7 under your ever watchful care. That’s an impossibility, of course, but there are more practical steps you could take.
For starters, make your house safer for your little ones. By child-proofing each room – putting dangerous items out of reach, locking kitchen cupboards, and doing anything from this child-proofing checklist – your child will be safer, and you will have better peace of mind. You should also follow our tips on making your backyard safer, as this will give you some comfort when your children are playing outdoors.
You should also talk to your children about the possible dangers that await them in the world. As you can’t always be there to watch over them, a little education can go a long way. So, talk to your children about such things as stranger danger and the perils of traffic on the road. Source child-friendly information online, be that through interactive games or YouTube videos to teach them how to be responsible. And let your children know that you are always there for them, so if they do have an issue with bullies at school, or if a stranger has spoken to them, maintain an open line of communication, so they are always free to come to you with their concerns.
We haven’t covered every stressor on this list, but we hope we have covered at least one of the stress factors that are relevant to you. To help you further, here are some other tips to help you deal with stress.
Talk to somebody about how you are feeling. It might be your partner, your best mate, or another mom at school. By venting your feelings, you might be able to ease your stress, whether the people you talk to give you advice or not. Sometimes, just having a listening ear can be enough to calm us.
Focus on your lifestyle, doing those things that will also ease stress. This includes eating a healthy diet, eating those foods that will energize you and give you the ability to cope, as well as those foods that are known to be stress-relievers. And find time in the day to exercise, so those feel-good chemicals can counter the stress hormones that are threatening to take over your mind.
And finally, be kind to yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t get everything right, all of the time. Don’t stress out if you’re not the super-mom you have always wanted to be. Just do the best that you can, and give yourself a mental break from the guilt or feelings of inadequacy you might sometimes feel. It’s easier said than done, we know, but we hope you get the point.
Take care, and thanks for reading!