Knowing how to deal with stress will help mothers to avoid the feeling of being stressed and overall, promote good health and increase their productivity. For mums, the word ‘stress’ is probably one of their most used words. This is just another way to say that mothers are very familiar with stress and the feeling of being stressed.
Children unarguably bring joy, love, fun, and countless gifts to our lives, but let’s face it, the process of raising a human being from a tiny helpless kid to a full-grown adult is a tasking one and comes with an additional load of stress for parents. For mothers, this stress can be significant.
Before we properly go into how mums can deal with stress, we need to examine the causes of stress for mothers. When the cause of a thing is known, it becomes easier to find ways of dealing with it.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON STRESSORS THAT MUMS DEAL WITH?
- Lack of alone Time: Most mothers find it difficult to make time and save energy to care for themselves. Sadly, many mothers need this time to be alone and take care of themselves to be in a good position to care for others. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. How is a stressed mum expected to provide comfort to others? This is one of the most common causes of stress for mothers.
- Time constraints: Children require plenty of care and nurturing. Coupled with household chores and demands from other members of the family, many mothers feel a shortage of time or as though there is a lot to do and not enough time. This can cause maternal stress.
- Income concerns: caring for children is expensive. Children grow quite fast. As they grow into new clothes, new activities, and new classes and levels educationally, each child can pose a strain on a family’s budget. Although children are more than worth the expense, parents do tend to face greater financial stress. Whether using daycare, a nanny or surrendering a full income to stay at home, the financial burden associated with child raising can be stressful.
- Self-doubt and comparison to other mums: It is not unusual for mothers to constantly second-guess their parenting style, compare themselves to other mums and feel as though they are not doing enough. It’s easy for mothers to question themselves, and become stressed by the consequences of making a mistake.
- Relationship demands: As mothers invest the necessary time into their relationships with their children, sometimes other relationships are relegated to the background. This is especially true when children are young and need more attention. Mothers of young children often feel torn between meeting the needs of their little one and still having the energy for stimulating conversation, playful times, and even sex with their partner. They may also find it more difficult to make time for their friends. Single mothers can face this to an even greater degree.
- Motherly/ Protective Instincts: Mothers worry about their children’s behavior and social development, which makes every new stage of development a challenge. In general, they worry about the multitude of dangers their children face daily, whether as toddlers with the tendency to put everything within reach into their mouths or as adventurous teenagers keen on exploring the world. This can add to a mother’s source of stress.
Other causes of stress for mothers include:
- Juggling work-life balance as a primary caretaker
- School/daycare closings and childcare logistics
- Frustration or anger at a lack of resources or support
- Lack of time for physical activity
- Over-scheduled children/family demands
- Unrealistic demands and expectations from supervisors/careers, especially applicable to working moms.
And many more.
HOW CAN MUMS DEAL WITH STRESS?
Now that we have identified some of the major stressors of mums, let us now examine how mums can deal with stress.
- Understand how you experience stress. This is very vital in trying to deal with stress. Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed? How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed? Some people eat more when they are stressed, while others tend to eat less. Some sleep more as a response to stress, and others sleep less. Also, some people may notice their blood pressure rising, and their heart rate going up, and they might feel their chest pounding or even getting a little dizzy. Take notice when feeling these physical signs or when your mood changes. It is important to identify how you experience stress so that you do not miss the signs.
- Understand that each child has unique temperament traits, needs, and quirks: Because children grow and change all the time, it’s impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to mothering. Focus on doing what is best for your child according to his/her individual needs and temperament and do not try to copy other mums’ parenting styles or compare yourself to them. This can be a very effective way to deal with stress.
- Identify the times of the day most stressful for you and your family. Stress mounts for moms at predictable times. For example, is it in the morning when you’re getting all your kids off to school, or at night when you’re cooking dinner? If we plan and we’re prepared for those times – maybe like setting out clothes the night before, there are things you can do to prepare for breakfast the night before at dinner time, choosing options that are going to be more time-effective for you and your family. In summary, identify when you are most irritable, and find a simple way to curb the friction during that “hot” time. This is a sure way to deal with stress.
- Exercise: This is even something that you can do as a family. Pick an activity you all enjoy doing, and maybe you can rotate and let each family member pick what it’s going to be for the day, whether it be walking, bike riding, jogging, biking, or swimming. The research is growing that exercise is a super effective way to deal with stress. The trick is finding the type you enjoy. Best yet, find a strategy to do with your kids so everyone benefits.
- Plan and be Organized: Being organized is a vital skill for working moms. If you’re able to anticipate accidents on the way, and prepare for them, like having a change of clothes for example, in anticipation of a clothes-soiling accident, a near-catastrophe becomes an easy fix. If you plan and streamline your routines, there’ll be less fussing, forgetting things, and stressing as you move through your busy day.
- Find a support group or a Mum coach: Don’t stress alone about your kids. The truth is that finding a group of moms like you who are also looking for ways to deal with stress, can be very helpful. You can all learn to share tips and resources with each other. If you can’t find a group around you, there’s nothing stopping you from creating one! Relationships help reduce our stress and restore balance. Also, a mum coach can be very helpful. Share your concerns with another mom and vow you’ll be one another’s cheerleader. Talking about your stress with someone who cares can reduce anxieties and help you deal with stress.
- Talk to an expert or professional: If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist who can help you deal with stress and change unhealthy behaviors.
Why is it important to manage stress?
Now that we have talked about how moms can deal with stress, it is important to understand why this is necessary. The ability to manage your stress is an important skill to have because stress can negatively impact a host of different areas in your life including work, relationships, health, and body functioning.
Being able to manage your stress can make you a more effective and happier mom. When you can effectively deal with stress, you are better able to teach your children how to manage their stress too. Managing your stress gives you more patience, tolerance, and the ability to handle all the challenges that come with raising children.
Also, it is important to note that long-term stress can lead to health problems. Preventing and managing long-term stress can lower your risk for other conditions — like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.
There’s a reason flight attendants remind us to put on our oxygen masks first, then on the kids. We can’t take care of our families unless we take care of ourselves. Mothers often put their family needs first and neglect their own. Learn to take time for yourself.
Always remember that it’s okay to relax your standard. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ house or be the ‘perfect’ mother. No one expects you to be Superwoman. Identify ways that help you deal with stress and practice them when necessary. Make sure to check your stress. After all, a happy, less-stressed mom makes happier, less-stressed kids.