Mom duty is a 24/7 job that is both physically and emotionally draining. We're taking kids to soccer practice, helping with science projects, wiping noses, breaking up fights and attempting to keep little minds and bodies healthy and active on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Oh, and let's squeeze in teaching love, respect and kindness all while attempting to emulate those qualities ourselves (sometimes on little or no sleep). It's a tall order being a mom — definitely not for the faint of heart. Some days (or weeks) it can feel as if we are literally running on fumes and can barely form a coherent sentence let alone take a shower.
The crazy thing is, sometimes we get to that burned-out, worst version of ourselves without even realizing it. All it takes is hearing one more fight, one more shrill scream and suddenly we're momzilla, barking out threats and losing our cool at the slightest mishap. Then we go to bed wondering what happened and berate ourselves for the day's low points. How do we break the cycle? By setting up time to de-stress and safe guarding our time for those who matter most in our lives. Here are just a few suggestions.
Women are very good at staying busy and, thanks to Pinterest, making a good idea a phenomenal idea. Sometimes it's rewarding and fun to go above and beyond the norm. Other times it's just foolish and adding unnecessary stress to our lives. Does your child really need one more activity to attend? Maybe your daughter's kindergarten teacher doesn't need a hand stitched pillow with "world's best teacher" embroidered on front. People can still feel loved with a simple card, hug, or telephone call. Learn to let go of the nonessential stressors. They could be the very things keeping you from focusing on the most important people in your life.
Meditation or prayer
. How many of us really take time to just listen to the quiet in our mind or connect with a higher power? It's not easy with little ones or with all the distractions vying for our attention. I usually have to find a time of day (like nap time or bedtime) that will allow for some introspection and calmness. Even then, I have to turn off the TV or phone so I am able to be more in tune with myself. Prayer is a beautiful communion with God that provides a much-needed perspective and strength during stressful times. Either one is worth a try if you would like a little more tranquility in a hectic mom life.
If your children are not sleeping well at night, don't feel selfish in carving out some time to take a nap here and there. If your kiddos are pretty good sleepers, try to go to bed at a decent time. I know, it's a tough thing to ask of moms. Our "me-time" in the evening is so priceless and fleeting. But I've noticed even on the nights that I go to bed just 30 minutes earlier makes such a difference in my mood and thought processes the following day.
It's OK to say no
Many women feel as if they are guilted and pressured into all their commitments. Saying "no" at times doesn't make you unkind, it means you are being wise with your time and your family's time. Dr. Susan Newman is a social psychologist and author. She says if we are more selective in what we agree to do, it will prevent us from feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed.
Easier said than done, right? If you are unsure whether you can commit to something right away, the best response is, "Let me look at my schedule first. Can I give you an answer in an hour or two?" This gives you time to think over the request and assess whether it's doable or if it will only add to your heavy load of duties.
Laugh it off
Laughter sometimes really is the best medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has many short-term and long-term benefits which include: soothing tension, better immune system, relieving pain, and improving one's overall mood. Some suggestions for a much-needed laugh could include: hanging out and laughing with friends or family, watching a funny movie, or listening to a favorite stand-up comedian. Also, learning to laugh off the eggs thrown all over your porch and driveway instead of erupting into Mount St. Helen, is a much healthier response for you and your children. (True story, by the way.)
Ask for help or breaks
I think sometimes moms feel asking for help or a little break makes them look weak or selfish, when actually the opposite is true. Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert, professor of sociology, says “One of the biggest habits moms need to break is thinking they can do it all themselves. The simple fact is, whether we stay at home or combine work and family, we need help and we’re better parents when we get it.”
Take a long bubble bath, have a night out with some friends, get a massage or a pedicure, ask a trusted friend to watch your kids while you run an errand or two. You'll return as a refreshed, new mommy.
We can't give our best to the people in our homes if we aren't taking care ourselves. Remember to simplify, meditate and get adequate rest (as much as your circumstances allow). Also, saying "no," laughing and asking for breaks when needed can make a world of difference in your stress levels. When you properly balance "me-time" with the demands of motherhood, you will discover a much healthier, happier parent and spouse to those who occupy your home and hearts.