When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!
Sounds completely selfish, right?
But it has a bit of truth also. And here’s why…
As the lady of the house, you are the one who sets the tone for the family. Whether you do so intentionally or by default, make no mistake that you ARE doing it.
Add to that fact that being a mom is a tough job. Especially if you are very intentional about it. It can be downright stressful when you never seem to have a moment to yourself and the house is a mess and the children seem to be out of control.
On TV shows, when a mom is stressed or frazzled, she plans a weekend away with the gals, books a day at the spa, or registers for an expensive and trendy yoga class. While those sound great, that lifestyle isn’t reality for most of us.
So how do you relieve stress when you don’t have a bunch of extra time and money to work with?
If you’re perpetually stressed and worrying about everything you have to get done every day, it affects your entire family. You rush them and get impatient, and they start to feel stressed too.
Instead, here are 11 ways to reduce your stress so the whole family will be happier and calmer…
1. Be positive and express gratitude. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but when you start your day with a positive mindset and are thankful for what you do have – whether it’s your family, the roof over your head, or the food on your table – it’s far easier to face what the day throws in your face. Remind yourself of these things throughout the day and it’ll make just about everything else more tolerable.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is one of the absolute worst things you can do to yourself. You see a mom who looks great, has seemingly perfect children, and does it all… and you think you’re supposed to be like that as well. The problem is, we aren’t all the same and you probably have no idea what her life is really like. Be the best you can be, but don’t base your best on what others do.
3. Learn to say “no.” People constantly ask you to volunteer for different organizations and do favors for them, not to mention the constant errands for your own family and your personal needs, which usually end up getting lowest priority.
When people ask for help, don’t agree right away. Give yourself time to think about it first. Don’t let people flatter or coerce you into doing things. Finally, don’t feel guilty for refusing to take on extra responsibilities outside your family.
4. Redo your schedule and slash your to-do list. Stress often comes from over-commitment. If you like to make to-do lists, you’ll feel even better if you can get everything crossed off, right? The secret is easy – make a shorter list!
It’s okay to let things go a little. Your family will survive and the sun will still shine, even if the floor isn’t sparkling and the house isn’t in perfect order. Give yourself a break and schedule less.
5. “Make” your children grow up. Today’s supermom does everything for her family, but that attitude can be dangerous. Give your children some independence and responsibility. The amount obviously depends on their age and maturity level. But if you give them a little freedom, the results may surprise you.
Children should have daily chores, and their responsibilities should increase as they grow older – especially if they get an increased allowance. But you’d be absolutely amazed how much a two- or three-year-old can do. Especially if you can get them to mimic you or an older sibling.
Of course, be sure to give enough instruction so they know how to do a task. And tell them how very important it is. I recently did this with two of my grandsons, and they did an excellent job of the task I asked them to do. Very compliantly too, I might add.
6. Take some personal time every day. If you go, go, go all day long, you’re probably killing your productivity. Make yourself more efficient by taking a little personal time each day. Go for a walk, give yourself a pedicure, or just sit down and relax for ten minutes. If you don’t have time for this, then it might be time to make a few changes in your schedule.
7. Spend some time with your girlfriends. It’s easy to get caught up in family life and all the obligations that go with it. We all need someone to just chat and have fun with, someone who understands how we feel. Make it a priority to keep in touch and see your girlfriends regularly. Again, strive for balance. If you have lots of young children, it’s going to be a stretch to get away more than once a month. Maybe you make it FaceTime instead for this season.
8. Exchange massages with your husband. I’m sure we’d all love to get to the spa and have a nice, overpriced couple’s massage, but for many of us it’s just not possible. So read up on how to give a great massage. Get some essential oils or lotions and have fun. They’re great for relieving stress, easing pain and tension, and even boosting your immune system.
9. Exchange babysitting services. If you never go out because you can’t afford a babysitter, forget that excuse. There’s certainly another trustworthy family you know that feels the same way. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, why not exchange babysitting services? With a babysitter, you can go on a date, have coffee with a friend, or do errands – by yourself!
10. You don’t need a gym to exercise. Where did the notion that exercise is all about cardio machines and weights come from? There are many ways to exercise that don’t involve paying monthly fees to use equipment in a crowded room. You can play sports, walk, ride a bike, or go swimming. If you like using equipment, you could consider creating your own home gym.
Try making physical fitness a part of your everyday life. Walk or ride a bike instead of taking the car to run errands close to home. You’ll improve your health and your pocketbook. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and go for a walk during lunch. Exercise is one of the world’s best stress reducers, and has been scientifically proven to work better than anti-depressants. And with none of the side effects. It should really be #1 on this list.
11. Unplug regularly. We’re constantly bombarded with digital media through computers, TV, radio, and smartphones. Make an effort to unplug and shut off anything that beeps or flashes images at you. Whether you unplug in the evening, or choose one day per week to avoid electronics, you’ll be able to focus on the things you need to get done and connect with your spouse and children.
As a mom, you have a lot on your plate. Dump the unnecessary things, and add taking care of yourself to that plate. When you learn to say “no” and reprioritize your daily life, you’ll find more time for the things that bring you happiness and joy.
As you already know, being a mother is tough, and sometimes life can be hectic and disorganized. The truth is, you don’t have to accept the chaos or resign yourself to the attitude of “this is just the way it is.” By God’s grace, you can purpose not to settle for anything less than His pattern for motherhood, and His pattern is victorious, triumphant, and glorious.
Now, you can journey with Leslie Ludy through the realities of motherhood. She’ll encourage, inspire, and equip you to be successful in raising your kids, managing your home, and keeping Christ at the center of your mothering. Written from the perspective of a mom who is currently “in the trenches” with several young children at home, she will help guide you to become a mother who is set apart for God’s purposes. Check it out here: Set-Apart Motherhood: Reflecting Joy and Beauty in Family Life.