As busy moms, it’s important to incorporate stress-relief techniques into our daily routines. While kids contribute a lot to our tension levels, it’s the accumulation of many stressors that end up pushing us over the edge. For instance, our dog is an absolute lunatic when anybody comes to the door. If he so much as even senses someone approaching, it’s as if he’s got blinders on and only sees one thing, INTRUDER! The hair stands erect on his back and foam pools in the corners of his mouth. Like something unworldly taking over his body, he thrashes about, barking uncontrollably. We yell, throw shoes, and literally have to wrestle him away like bouncers breaking up a bar fight. It’s no use. He won’t stop until the “threat” is gone.
When it’s finally over we’re exhausted. Our pulses race and blood pressures peak. It’s incredibly stressful. At 7 months pregnant with our first, we hired a dog trainer for help. While she was cheaper than an exorcist, she turned out to be a total waste of money, not to mention a little on the crazy side. She did say something though, that has resonated with me over the years. “Losing your cool makes you look unstable. Dogs are looking to you to be alpha, so you must always keep a level head if you want them to do the same”. While this has never actually worked on the dog (he’s certifiable), it’s something I remind myself of daily while raising my kids.
Fast forward to the present day, and my husband and I have two babies, Jameson and Charlee, in addition to our snarling canine. I’m not even going to pretend it’s been easy. At times it can be loud, frazzling, and overwhelming. Scattered toys have turned our living room into a minefield, and getting through unscathed requires a master’s in hopscotch (for tips on reducing toy clutter, click here).
Toys alarming, kids screaming, and dogs barking, are enough to make any mom question her sanity. I often marvel at parents of multiple kids, and wonder “how do they do it?” Then I realize, they must not have a psychotic dog. Just kidding. They are without a doubt, nothing short of saintly. So, what do you do when you feel like a teapot reaching its boiling point? Well, you can scream, or curse, or lose your temper, but as the crazy dog trainer reminds us, this is no way for an alpha mom to act. I have found when feeling like that teapot, to do as a teapot does and BLOW OFF SOME STEAM!
It’s amazing the negative effects stress can have on our bodies; anxiety, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, a propensity to illness, muscle tension, headaches, and a general feeling of malaise. Letting it build up over time is unhealthy. I come from a family of Italians where expletives are used in place of common exclamations. Prior to having kids, I never gave a second thought to my undesirable utterances.
Transitioning from a loose-lipped Lucy to a role-model mom has been challenging for me. Not losing your mind is like an Olympic sport, it takes a lot of practice. Having to warn the other preschool moms that my kid is saying “Goddamnit”, was a hard and embarrassing lesson. Kids are sponges. Noted. While I definitely don’t have it all figured out, I’ve adopted some strategies along the way that have come in handy in times of intense stress. Below are 5 stress-relief tips for moms to help keep a level head.
1. Scream into a pillow – Stress-Relief Tips
I’m not even kidding. I know this sounds absolutely demented, but you’d be surprised what a good scream can do for the nerves. Try not to let anyone see you obviously, because well, the whole unstable thing, but give it a try and see how you feel. Go ahead, let it all out!
2. Get out of the house! – Stress Relief Tips
This isn’t always feasible if you’re a single mom or have no one available to watch the kids. If you can manage it, take the dog for a walk (or in our case a pull), or go for a drive. For me, just going to the grocery store has become a welcomed retreat from the chaos. If you find yourself with a little more time on your hands, focus on self-care. Get a massage, a manicure, or get your hair done. You deserve it!
3. Nap Time- Use ‘em if you got ‘em – Stress-Relief Tips
If you’re fortunate enough to have kids who still nap, take advantage of it! My husband and I will turn off the TV and just enjoy the silence. Use this time to take a nap yourself, read a book, or sip a nice cup of tea. If naps aren’t an option, there are other options. My cousin does something called “blanket time” in her home. She spreads out a blanket for each of her kids and has trained them to sit quietly for a certain amount of time. They can play with puzzles or read books, just as long as they remain quiet and on their blankets. This teaches them to self-entertain, and it’s a great respite for mom to relax or get things done around the house.
4. Exercise – Stress-Relief Tips
I never enjoyed working out prior to having kids. Lately though, going to the gym has become a pleasurable escape. I look forward to the time away to focus on myself and break a sweat. Exercising isn’t just a great release while in the moment, but over time it helps to reduce pent-up tension and stress. It’s nice to put some earbuds in and just zone out a bit.
5. Meditation – Stress-Relief Tips
Meditation is something I try to integrate into my schedule as often as possible. What’s great, is you don’t need to dedicate a lot of time to it in order to reap health benefits. You can meditate first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed when you’re already calm and clear of mind. Nowadays, apps like “Calm”, “Headspace” and “The Mindfulness App” offer wonderful guided meditations. From breathing exercises to calming music, they’re great for helping you relax and find peace of mind.
Parenting is hard. Taking a break from your kids (and dog) from time to time is healthy for everyone’s headspace. Don’t worry, this doesn’t make you a bad mom. On the contrary, it makes you a better mom. Pressing the reset button every now and then recharges you. Upon your return, you’ll be less agitated and more attentive jumping back into the action. Furthermore, getting a chance to miss one another makes you better appreciate the things you love about them. Remember, your children mimic your actions. As the pack leader, they’re looking to you for leadership, structure and a positive example. Hmm, maybe that dog trainer wasn’t such a waste of money after all?
Related to “Stress-Relief For Moms”:
Mom Guilt: Why You Should Cut Yourself Some Slack
Anxiety: When To Worry About Worrying
The Shame Game: An In-Depth Look At Mom Shaming
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