Your heart pounds frantically as your alarm sounds, and a hoard “of must do’s” shove their way into your consciousness.
You get out the door, trek through the busyness of the day, back to the chaos of evening activities, and limp through to bed time. All day you try to put your disheveled thoughts in order. Try calm your nerves with chocolate. Deep breathe. Sneak 1.5 minutes alone.
You wouldn’t trade your child for the world, but your stress level is soaring and you don’t know how to bring it down. You are embarrassed and worried about the example you’re setting.
Words leave your mouth, and you feel terrible. It’s not that what you said was wrong, but the volume. Way too loud.
Your kids cringe. Or, at least they used to. After a while they seem to go numb. When you notice them yelling at each other, you know it’s your fault.
The yelling incident confirms the thought bouncing around in your head, “I’m a failure of a mom.” Maybe nobody else would call you a failure. In fact, you probably hear over and over “I don’t know how you do it!”
You don’t really know either.
Food is on the table. Clothes are on the kid. Life is good, but you feel terrible. Deep breathing helps for a minute or two, but if your stress is like what I’ve faced, you need an entire change in mentality.
1.Know what anxiety is, and how to use it
Anxiety is not just an emotion clogging your air way. Anxiety is energy. Allison Edwards, author of “Why Smart Kids Worry” encourages parents to help their children burn excess energy that is manifesting as anxiety in healthier ways. The same concept applies to adults.
Moms who overcome stress know it’s impossible to relax your way out. You have to work your way out. Exercise. Clean the kitchen. Listen to something educational and complicated. Do an activity with your kids that takes all your concentration.
You’ll be surprised how much better you feel.
2. Pick the right friends
Maybe your life involves extra anxiety. You’re a single parent. Your child has a disability. You constantly receive advice that doesn’t work and blank stares. You feel alone, weird and helpless.
Stress free moms choose who they listen to both in real life and in print. They find positive people who can empathize with their struggles. Single moms need single moms. Parents of kids with Autism, need friends whose children are also Autistic.
Moms who have walked in your shoes can tell you how it’s done. Give them the chance to help you. Give everyone else a nice cheery smile.
3.Know the secret of an awesome childhood
No matter what our circumstances, we all want our child to have an amazing childhood.
Maybe you orchestrate a vigorous schedule, but still feel like your failing your child. Studies are showing that busy schedules are not producing happy kids or functional adults.Pushing for bigger houses, nicer clothes, and more organic food isn’t doing good things for our kids either.
Awesome childhoods involve a full stomachs, basic education, and basic emotional security. Everything else is negotiable.
An average childhood is awesome. Stress free moms learn to rock “average”.
4.Turn off false alarms
If you struggle with stress, sometimes your brain will scream, “high alert” even though everything is fine. Your conscious objective becomes paramount. You pressure your second grader to get her shoes on with the intensity of a matriarch running for her life. Why do you care about being three minutes late?
The threat to your life isn’t being tardy once. Maybe your identity has disappeared with lost dreams. Maybe you feel your health failing. Maybe you sense that you will never ever sit down and relax again.
Stress free moms learn to recognize false alarms, and turn them off. Figure out what is making you sick, or sad. Attack the real danger. Start sleeping later, or devote fifteen minutes a day to sharpening the skills you’ll need to get a job in a field you love. This is where the chocolate and deep breathing can come in. Ask moms who face similar real life stress how they turn off the alarms.
Stress free moms have learned what their alarms are, and know how to turn them off.
5. Recognize a good thing when it happens
Another way to have fewer panicked moments is to accept a very important truth.
Failure is a good thing.
Too often we moms feel that our child’s failure is our failure. In reality, that social faux pas is a chance for your child to learn how stable your love is. The failed exam might give the clue their teacher needs to really help. The poorly played game might signal their other parent to get more involved.
Children need to learn to pick themselves up and go on. Children need to feel our arms around them as they sit in the dust and cry. Failure is part of life. If your child never fails, something is amiss.
Stress free moms see failure as a needed opportunity.
6.Become an efficiency expert
Stress free moms have learned how to organize their time and money so they can engage with the task at hand, then move on when time or money is gone. They know that old fashioned to-do lists won’t work in today’s world.
Stress free moms get to play with their kids before they make dinner. They clean, then go read their kids a book. They buy the best they can afford, but don’t stretch the budget.
Moms who can overcome stress know the major principles involved in managing time and money. They’re always on the look out for another great tip.
7.Accept your place
Effective resource management means knowing your limits.
Your child’s teachers need you to pick up the slack for what didn’t happen at school today. Your mom is hoping for a hand drawn picture. Your child just thought of what they really want for their birthday, tomorrow.
Stress free moms have learned to accept their place as one limited part of their children’s lives. The rest is up to some one else, or many someones. Trying to take responsibility for every aspect of your child’s situation will make you neurotic. You are not God.
The stress free mom has the confidence to say that the extra assignment can’t be done tonight, and swap grandma’s request for a phone call. They can admit that the birthday dreams have to be pared down.
Stress free moms know they are human, and live like it too.
7.Focus on the true task of motherhood
In this moment, you have one job, and that is to love the children currently in your care.
Too often we let ourselves make a list of things we’re going to do in order to love our kid. We refocus on accomplishing our list. Loving the kid gets lost in the shuffle. Remember, to-do lists aren’t an effective way to handle complex modern life. You must force yourself to simplify your focus.
Love your child.
Not only is everything else negotiable, but when you let yourself love your kid in this moment, everything else can be put in its proper place.
Your lovely new perspective
Take two minutes before you move on from this article to consider your path. If you believe in a higher power, ask for guidance.
Write down two mothering truths you want to remember and put them where you will look at them every day. Make a note in your planner or on your phone to spend a few minutes reflecting again at the beginning of next month, and the one after.
Six months from now, you’ll catch yourself laughing at jokes from the back seat.
That will be good day.