Are you stressed out Mama? Trying to juggle it all often make for a perfect recipes of stress, overwhelm, impatience.All of which, can lead you to yelling at your children, or to mom burnout. Change your perspective to stress, simplify and say yes to more fun & connection to finally give stress the boot it deserves. Plus, if you want to curb the yelling, the Stop Yelling Handbook is a great starting point to turning down the dial on your anger.
STRESSED MOM? Simple Strategies to Help You Let Go and Have More
I had a parenting wake-up call recently and realized it’s time I do a major life overhaul in order to stop living as a stressed out Mom always on the fringe of losing it…
I was yelling too often at my kids for and losing the invisible thread of connection I had with my kids. Plus, when I look at my actions from the eyes of my children, I totally understood why they didn’t want to listen, didn’t want to behave or cooperate. I was a grouch and not very deserving of their love or attention.
Here’s what happened…
I loaded all three kids into the car and was backing out of the driveway getting ready to take them to the gym because I had signed up for an exercise class that started in exactly 15 minutes. I still had to get there, sign the kids in at the child care area and hustle to the class on the second floor hoping I wouldn’t have a spot in the very far back corner.
My oldest daughter abruptly unbuckled herself and popped right out of her seat, saying she had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t hold it.
I put the car in park, opened the garage door back up and told her to run into the house and do her business and do it fast.
When she ran back to the car, my son promptly unbuckled himself, chimed in he had to go now, too.
That was it, that was when I lost it.
“I asked you guys to go potty five minutes ago, why didn’t you do it? Now I’m going to be late to class!”
I opened the other car door for him to climb out but not before I heard my daughter whisper as he moved past her, “don’t worry about it, sometimes Mommy isn’t very nice.”
The drive to the gym was quiet as I fought back tears.
She was right, I did get frustrated and it wasn’t because I had reminded them several times to go to the bathroom before we left the house and that they hadn’t done it (clearly.)
I was frustrated because now I was pulling up late to a class I really liked, would walk in late and probably not even have the right sized equipment I’d need.
I had to remind myself my kids are only six and rushing to get out the door makes everyone forgetful.
Maybe it’s the keys, phone, purse, or even the grocery shopping list when you’re heading to the store to go grocery shopping that you forget and it throws everything off.
Heck, I usually walk out of the house without the one thing I really need 90% of the time and have to run back inside to grab it after I’ve already pulled into the driveway.
Looking at My Stress-Induced Response From a Clear Perspective
The problem wasn’t my children making me late, it was my own issue with being late and not on time which made me frustrated, yet I had taken it out on my kids. which I’m sad to admit, wasn’t the first time as of late.
I felt awful because my stress had spilled over to my children and was creating a rift between us, and their view of me as well.
I usually keep it from affecting how I parent, but this year there have been a lot of things I can’t control like illness, last-minute work projects, a teething baby, lack of sleep and my husband’s travel schedule being over-the-top crazy.
These stress have nothing to do with my children, yet, their little hearts bear the burden.
Kids are certainly aware of grown-up stress but should never be directly in the line of fire of it. I knew something needed to change and it wasn’t my kid’s bathroom habits. It was me.
After my workout class and not thinking about the movements, but the change I needed to make, I declared I didn’t want to be a stressed parent anymore.
I’ve been putting in practice a lot of changes the last two months to see what worked and what didn’t before I wrote this article. Today, I’m sharing my top tips that’ve helped me stay calm, juggle the chaos of motherhood, and responsibilities of raising children, and what to do when I start feeling overcome with stress or feel it mounting again.
1) Stress Accumulates from Feeling Like You Need to be in Control all the Time
You cannot control every aspect of your life, or your children’s – no matter how hard you try.
This is the hardest truth for parents who don’t like uncertainty or unpredictability to swallow.
Sometimes you need to take a deep breath, and let it go. Remember to practice the art of the parenting pause, and consider the age of your children and what size of expectations you place on them.
Here are some things I’ve recently had to let go:
- The need to control what my kids wear: When my two year old wanted to wear a swimsuit over her clothes for the day, instead of thinking of the accidents she might have trying to get undressed to go to the bathroom on time, I had to look at it from her perspective.She loves that darn swimsuit, she feels good in it and man, she was rocking that outfit.. so I let it go and will likely be cleaning up an accident later in the day.
- The need to worry about how my kids make me look: When my son wanted to wear sweatpants to the school play, the size of the battle I knew I’d have by forcing him back upstairs to change wasn’t worth it.When I ignored his mismatched outfit and let him wear brown sweatpants with orange stripes and a nicely pressed button-down shirt, I thought of the goofy pictures we’d have to look back on, instead of how ridiculous he may have looked.
- The worry that my kids are going to starve and go hungry: When my kids refuse to eat dinner and say they’re full, I save their plates for later when they say they’re hungry and won’t worry about it for the moment.
Being in control all the time can be exhausting and also take a toll on your emotional, mental and physical health, as well as your children’s. When something doesn’t go as planned, this can easily ruin your day unless you learn to… let it go and roll with the unpredictable, unexpected, and know mistakes, accidents, changes are bound to happen with kids.
Children are excellent at shaking things up and going against the plan, and the sooner I learned to roll with it and be flexible, the better I felt and less stressed I became.
2) Pick Your Battles Wisely to Stop the Build up of Power Struggles (and Stress)
My son will argue with me for the mere principle of needing to be right until he’s blue in the face. Even if it means arguing to wear shorts in a snowstorm because he’s “not cold” or that the sky is green, not blue.
Not every battle will be worth it, so choose wisely.
It’s important to figure out what your non-negotiables are and what are you willing to compromise on?
Sometimes we must pick battles with our spouses, children, colleagues and family but we can’t always tow the hard line and be inflexible won’t relieve you of stress… it’ll only help it build up until you explode.
For example, if your mother-in-law is watching your kids while you run errands, what are your non-negotiables?
- Non-negotiables may be not eating candy or sugary foods and making sure follow their daily routine of napping and bedtimes per their regular schedule. If these non-negotiables are agreed on, what would you then be willing to be flexible with?
- Another example is if your child doesn’t want to eat the dinner you prepared, would you be willing to accept a few bites instead of a clean plate as long as they still got something in their stomach? Something is always better than nothing, right?
Showing flexibility goes hand-in hand with letting of some control, and the stress that comes along with it!
When you feel like you have to be in control all the time, which is taxing on your emotional and mental health, if something veers off course you’re more likely to become irritable and stressed, than accepting of a change of plans.
If you’re more flexible and maybe that means allowing your kids go to sleep 15 or 30 minutes later than normal for a special occasion, versus getting upset they’re completely off schedule, you’ll limit the stress you feel and stop it from trickling down to your children.
3) Redo Your Mornings or Evenings to Carve Out Time for Your Priorities
Juggling many hats as a busy Mom can quickly make you feel overwhelmed.
When you wake up in the morning, or go to bed at night feeling worn out because you don’t have any time to refuel your own tank, you know it’s time for a change.
Something has to give because you can’t keep living on empty. Amiright?
I know how it feels to physically feel beat down by 5pm and without energy to make it to bedtime after a long day with my kids. To make matters worse, I used to look around to house and see a mess in the sink, hear a dryer full of clothes I still needed to fold and lunches I had to pack for the next day and just want to crawl under the covers and pretend none of those things were real.
It felt like the hamster wheel was getting the best of me, and that’s because it was.
When I felt like I was constantly falling behind with my responsibilities, I’d feel like I could never play “catch up” because the mountain only got bigger and bigger to climb.
I took the makeover your morning class by by girl, Crystal Paine who is also the author of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and it’s changed how I approach each day and prioritize self care.
If you need helping figuring out how to get all.the.things done, then I recommend either of these 14-day classes to help you feel less overwhelmed, get all your responsibilities done each day and still have time for that book you’ve been dying to read or bath that’s been calling your stressed out Mom name.
4) Stay One Step Ahead and You’ll Avoid the Stress Trap
I get the most stressed when things happen last minute and I’m rushing around like a frazzled crazy person trying to gather everything I need and still get out the door on time.
Packing lunches at night, cleaning your house the day before guests arrive so you’re not scrubbing toilets down to the wire and making a weekly meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner are all easy ways to prepare and avoid rushing around last minute.
- Pack lunches the night before
- Set out clothes the night before so everyone getting dressed in the morning takes 5 minutes, not 30
- Shower the night before
- Pack up backpacks, papers and school supplies the night before
- Meal plan – plan all your lunches and dinners, snacks and breakfast items for the week so you don’t hit 4pm and have nothing in your fridge for your hungry kids
- Keep your home organized and items always in the same spot to easily find everything when you need it
- Keep a bag or bin in your car with extra supplies you might need (change out seasonally)
- Have a bag, backpack, shoes and jacket station in your house so these things are never lost
- Pack and set out all your supplies for the next day, the night before
I like keeping a to do list and paper planner to stay organized. I have a daily to do list, a calendar of our family’s activities so we never over schedule or overlap, and weekly meal plans to keep grocery shopping and dinner as organized (and painless) as possible.
When you know something is coming up, you can prepare and be ready ahead of time. This is the easiest way to keep stress away.
Sure, sometimes things pop up and plans don’t always go as planned but if you’re organized when things come up, you can handle them without feeling burdened by one more thing.
5) Learn How to Say NO & Don’t People Please
Learn the power of saying no and setting healthy boundaries – for your work, for your personal life, and for your family.
Feeling like a stressed Mom often comes from being a yes person too much of the time.
There’s nothing wrong with being a team player, and a people person, until it eats into your personal time and makes you want to cry from the stress it causes you.
Boundaries are necessary to increasing your own happiness and living as a less stressed parent. Boundaries are important for those things that make you uncomfortable, you feel obligated to do like another volunteer committee or commitment you feel more obligated than compelled to.
Obligations can turn into burdens and cause the stress monster to come out.
Cancel some plans and spend your time doing something fun and you really want to do, not things you always feel obligated to do.
Stop feeling guilty about saying No to obligations and time stealers which take you away from the things you really want to be doing whether that’s spending time with your family or taking care of yourself. Saying no is saying yes to healthy boundaries.
One easy mantra to remember is: Unless it’s a Hell Yes, it’s a Hell No!
6) Prioritize Sleep and Therefore Prioritize Your Health
I like staying up late after my kids have gone to bed because I really savor the time I have by myself.
However, sometimes this means I only get six hours of sleep before the kids are running and jumping in my bed the next morning. The less sleep I get, the more irritable I am and more likely I am to get stressed and overreact to little inconsequential things.
Your health is directly tied to how much quality, restful sleep you get each night. Adults still need between 7 – 8 hours of sleep without interruptions. Also, stress and lack of sleep can reek havoc on your adrenals and cause you to be fatigued and more prone to illness.
Ever notice around the holidays when all the parents are trying to bake all the cookies, attend all the class parties, buy the perfect gifts, decorate their homes like a catalogue and do it all… there’s an uptick in illness? It’s no coincidence that the less you sleep and more spread thin you are, the more susceptible you are to illness.
When I’m feeling the stress start to affect my mood, emotions and I’m becoming fatigued and feeling worn down, I make an effort to shut down early an go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
7) Ask for Help
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, or juggling a full plate, ask for help from your village.
My husband lets me take the lead on caring for our children because I stay at home with them and he works a lot, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed or need a break, he gladly steps in and takes the kids outside or out of the house to do something fun for an hour or two.
Ask your spouse, your family, friends or neighbors for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
If you don’t have a village, look for a babysitting swap, hire a babysitter for a few hours or a place to drop off the kids for a couple hours here and there to get things back in order.
Pay attention to what you’re feeling and watch your internal gauge for signs of overwhelm.
Don’t wait until you’re burnt out, be proactive in asking for help and making sure you take care of your own needs before the stress reaches your children.
8) Self Care Needs to be a Priority
When you go for long periods without taking care of yourself – your physical, emotion well-being – this can lead down a path to Mom Burnout which can be difficult to dig yourself out of.
Also, burnout and feeling pulled in so many directions can trigger you to yell and feel angry with your kids. This is why self care becomes increasingly important.
Find things which make you feel happy and give you a sense of accomplishment. Think back to what you enjoyed doing before you had kids or hobbies you can indulge in.
Even simpler, what makes you feel refreshed and happy? Is it reading a book, going on a run or having drinks with girlfriends?
Taking care of yourself is essential to giving your children a Mom who is whole and fully engaged in taking care of her family. What self-care practices can you start doing every day?
9) Squash Negative Thoughts & Complaining
The brain is hardwired for negative thinking which is why it takes so much effort to overcome those thoughts with positive ones.
The way you speak to yourself impedes your thoughts, it manifests in your body and negative self-talk is harmful to your happiness. This can be feeling badly about our parenting, as a mother, a friend, wife, or body-shaming and negative talk and focusing on our faults.
Ask yourself this: Do you speak to yourself like you speak to someone you love?
Positive, “feel-good” hormones are released every time we speak in a positive way and think positive thoughts. These neurotransmitters literally help to make our body feel good but are immediately stopped by negative talk and thoughts.
Kids would happen instead of criticizing and putting yourself down, you started improving your thoughts and words. Encourage and support, be a cheerleader and positive influence and see what happens. Practice positive thinking to stop negative thinking and see how you can transform how you feel.
The law of attraction states, “like attracts like.” When you’re stressed, if you complain and are miserable, you will attract more negativity and misery to you. When you turn a situation upside down and look for the positive, not only do your kids pick up on doing this, but at alleviates some of the stress whether it’s at work or home.
Need a little extra help to stop yelling or be a happier Mom? Here’s two FREE Courses that will help you turn things around and find more joy!
More Resources for Stressed Out Mamas:
- 6 Positive Parenting Techniques to Use Rather Than Yelling
- 9 Positive Parenting Solutions for a Yell Free Home
- How to Meet the Core Emotional Needs of a Child
- 10 Effective Daily Habits of a Happy Stay at Home Mom
- Unhappy Mom? Reclaim the Joy of Motherhood
- How to Create a Positive Home (And Why this Will Affect Your Kids Forever)
- Want to Raise Confident Kids? Do This!
- 25 Fun Ways to be a More Playful Parent with Your Kids