Whether you’re a stay-at-home or working mom, single or married, with one or several children, parenting can be a very stressful job. The sources of this stress include everything from worrying about the well-being of your children and juggling the demands of a job, a marriage, and the management of a household, to expecting too much of yourself and feeling as if you don’t measure up to society’s or your own expectations.
As a mother, especially, you are often so busy taking care of everyone else in the family that you sometimes put yourself last on the list – or leave yourself off the list altogether. Since your family relies so heavily on you, it is important to remember to take care of yourself and to accept help from others. The following self-care tips can help keep you cool, calm and collected throughout your busy day.
- Decide what is really important by setting priorities. For instance, spending time with your children and showing them you love them by listening and encouraging them will have more long-term impact than having a spotless kitchen.
- Take care of your body. After all, it’s the only one you have! Get plenty of sleep and regular exercise (even if it’s in the form of a short walk a few days a week), and maintain a healthy diet. You’ll have more energy to burn, something raising children requires a lot of.
- Take a break. Even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes, kicking back and giving yourself a few minutes to catch your breath will keep the stress from building up and give you added energy to help you meet your daily challenges.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your neighbors, friends, and family to help you with tasks like shopping, babysitting, cooking, cleaning, and homework. A little help here and there can help take the burden off, and it never hurts to ask.
- Practice time management. Set aside time with the kids, time with your spouse, time with your friends, and time for yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests that interfere with quality time. Cut back on extracurricular activities that cause you and your family to feel rushed.
- Take time to recognize your boiling points, the types of situations which tend to cause you the most stress, and plan for dealing with them. If you know the hardest part of your day is when you get home from work, have the family sit down and talk about how you can all make it easier on each other.
- Accept that nobody’s perfect. You might be surprised at how relieved you’ll feel when you have more realistic expectations of yourself than what is imposed on you by public opinion.
- Avoid physical means of discipline, which will only teach children to use violence to get their way. If you are stressed, it’s easy to overreact. Remember that you’re modeling your stress management skills for your children and giving them groundwork for how to handle their own stress. Be the best example you can be.
- Never underestimate the power of human touch. A simple hug not only helps to calm the person who receives it but also the person who gives it. From a squeeze of the hand to a back massage, a little touch can go a long way.
- Keep your sense of humor. Put minor disappointments in perspective. In reality, most of what you get stressed about doesn’t matter in the long run. Take care of it and move on. Lighten the mood by laughing whenever you can