Motherhood has plenty of amazing moments to recommend it – remember the first time your baby smiled at you? – but it also has its share of stress. Whether you work outside the home, are self-employed from a home office, or stay home full-time with the kids, the stressors can pile up: The house gets messy, you get very little time for yourself, maybe you answer to a demanding boss (or an equally-demanding toddler). Next time you feel like you’re reaching your breaking point, try one of these solutions for de-stressing.
It may seem easier to do your chores, errands, or work projects all on your own—because at least then you know they’re getting done properly. But trying to do everything is a sure-fire way to boost your stress level. Take some of those items off your to-do list: Ask the receptionist to screen your calls; hand over some basic research duties to your intern; hire a housecleaner (and don’t feel guilty about it); enlist your husband to stop at the post office; take your mom up on her offer to do some laundry. By clearing some of the smaller items off your list you’ll be able to focus on the more important stuff without distractions.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities at home, at work, and with your family, don’t underestimate the power of a plan. Taking an hour or so at the beginning of each week to map out your days sets you up for a much smoother routine: Include what the family will be doing for all three meals each day, figure out when you’ll have time to pick up more dog food, check for school events that require your kids to wear certain outfits so you can be sure those clothes will be clean, and mark off important meetings and deadlines. A little preparation can help you avoid the last-minute surprise tasks that can turn an easy day into a stress-filled mess.
Get Out of the Car
Whether you have a traffic heavy commute or just spend your days carting the kids from the grocery store to the library to the park to the bank (and so on, and on) spending hours in the car can leave you frazzled and annoyed. Improve your commute by taking public transportation, if you can, and giving yourself a little time in the mornings and evenings to read a book or listen to your favorite playlist – consider it “me time”. And if you are a stay-at-home mom, up the amount of time you’re actually staying home by condensing your errands into just one day, ordering household supplies and groceries online, and looking for events and playgroups near your neighborhood.
Change Your Job
Getting a new job isn’t a snap-your-fingers-and-it-happens kind of life change, but it can do more than almost any other factor to lower your stress level. Whether it means getting away from your irrational boss or your mean-girl coworkers, ditching your exhausting commute or finding a career you find truly fulfilling, a new job can give you a brand-new outlook. And if you’re currently staying home and feeling drained from days that leave you with very little adult interaction, then going back to work – even part time – can give you the break you need to come back to your family refreshed and rejuvenated.
Spend Time with Your Family
Maybe this seems counterintuitive – especially if your kids are the people who are stressing you out. But setting aside time to just be together, without the distractions of work, house projects, or everyday errands, lets you appreciate your spouse and your kids in an entirely different way. Try a day trip to your local zoo or aquarium, play hooky from your regular responsibilities for an afternoon and get midday milkshakes, or just have a PB&J picnic in your own backyard and take a few minutes or hours to just enjoy each other’s company.
Take Time for Yourself
Easier said than done, right? But grabbing some time alone doesn’t have to mean an entire weekend away at the spa. You can come up with plenty of ways to de-stress in under half an hour: Try a burst of quick creativity, like working on the next page in your scrapbook or spending 10 minutes on a writing project. Take a power nap. Set up a babysitting swap with a neighbor and use that free hour to get a manicure instead of scrubbing the baseboards. Head to the park near your office for an impromptu alfresco lunch with a novel you can’t put down. With everyone else in your life in need of your constant attention, scheduling some time to give yourself some attention can go a long way toward your overall happiness.