Motherhood. It’s not for the faint of heart. It can be lonely, exhausting, and stressful. It can also be full of community, joy, and love.
My family and I just returned from a mini-vacation where our days were full of fun, new adventures, too much sugar, and not enough sleep. It was great! Until, Monday rolled around, my second set of hands went back to work, and I was surrounded by grumpy little humans, loads of laundry, and a to-do list that was overwhelming. When these types of days come around, I try to remember these tips to keep my stress levels low and their little spirits high.
1. Get Out
Yes, you may have a loaded to do list, what’s new? But happy bodies and brains need movement and sunshine. I learned early on in my motherhood journey that getting out of the house every day does wonders for my mood and the baby’s. St. Augustine offers lots of fun places for you to take the kiddos. One of my favorites is the beach. For a list of family friendly beach locations in St. Augustine click here and if it’s raining or just too hot check out this list of Indoor Play Places (Library, Museum, Yoga, etc…). And a walk around Target with Starbucks Cappuccino in hand is always a good idea too.
Motherhood can be especially lonely for moms of little ones. Nap times and conflicting schedules can make it hard to connect and have relationships with others. Mom groups are an excellent way to meet other local moms and feel more like you’re part of a community and not on this journey alone. For a list of local groups in the St. Augustine area click here.
2. Time Out
You heard me, time out. Sometimes Mama needs a timeout too. When and how depends on your situation. Maybe it’s when your husband comes home, maybe it’s when Grandma can babysit, or maybe it’s when you settle the little ones down for nap time. The point is to schedule a mental timeout where you can decompress and do something you enjoy. Even if it’s something small like enjoying a cup of coffee during the peace and quiet of nap time or something that requires more planning like a moms night out, schedule it and make it happen.
3. Work Out
I know, maybe not what you want to hear, but a good workout will reduce those nasty stress hormones and increase those happy endorphins. Who couldn’t use more of those? Don’t feel like you have to run 5 miles for this effect. Even something slower paced like yoga can help relieve stress. And if it’s near impossible for you to fit exercise in when your children are running circles around you, join a gym with childcare. You get a break, and they get some social time, it’s a win-win.
4. Play It Out
Without fail, the days when my to-do list is the longest are the days when my children want/need the most attention. That’s when I have to remind myself that they are tiny humans with emotional needs just like me. Some days I need more interaction with people, and they are no different. So on those days, be purposeful about taking breaks from your work and really play with them. Don’t “play” while going through your e-mails or simultaneously cleaning the playroom (guilty). Give them your full attention (even if it’s for a short time) and just play. Get on their level, engage, and feel free to act silly. It won’t take long before you are laughing (another stress reducer) and making sweet memories together that they will always remember. When I’m purposeful about taking breaks to give them that undivided attention, both of our attitudes are better.
5. Dance It Out
Whether it’s Beethoven or Bruno Mars, listening to music can affect the brain in positive ways. When I need to get things done, or I need something to help calm down our crazy, I reach for Pandora. Within minutes I feel better, and my kids are dancing/singing along. Now if only Pandora had an edited Salt-N-Pepa station, that would be perfect.
Those are a few of my tips for handling stress. Motherhood is a constant balancing act. One that I admittedly fail at repeatedly. We all have jobs that need to be accomplished, and little people who are dependent on us physically and emotionally. It’s natural to get stressed trying to balance the two–that’s ok. Just keep loving, keep breathing, and enjoy the moments during the mayhem.