Hello, my name is Amber and I’m a stressed out mom…
and all the mothers said “Amen.”
Being a mom is hard. There are days/weeks/months that are just too much. I get it. I’ve been there. I am there. Over the last 9 years of motherhood, I’ve had plenty of mental and emotional breakdowns. Most have happened in the shower, some in the car, and then there was that time in the underwear aisle at Target, for which my kids may need therapy. I’ve tried a lot of different “de-stressing” activities: daily walks, eliminating caffeine, listening to relaxing music throughout the day, going to bed earlier, even medication. While these activities helped at first, the continually changing seasons of life made it nearly impossible to sustain any new stress-relieving habits. There are, however, four things I’ve been able to maintain (mostly), in an effort to avoid the epic mommy-meltdowns as much as possible.
1. Take advantage of the shortcuts.
Our to-do lists are impressive on paper, but overwhelming in real life. When opportunities to shorten those lists come up, take them. It’s not laziness; it’s called survival. Identify the things on your list that raise your blood pressure and look for ways to make them less burdensome. Two of my least favorite mom-jobs are (1) planning for and packing school lunches, and (2) grocery shopping with my toddler. Since those are both perpetual items on my to-do list, I decided to find shortcuts to make them less stressful. I adjusted our food budget so the kids could buy the school’s hot lunch three days a week, and I switched grocery stores to take advantage of the “order my groceries online and someone else shops for them and puts them in my trunk” service. Those may seem like small changes, but the minor adjustments have helped my brain-space, and reduced my mom-anxiety immensely. Look at your list and find a few shortcuts.
2. Prioritize “Me Time.”
Self-care is a legitimate need. It’s also biblical, so there’s no need to feel guilty for wanting to partake. Jesus modeled it for us in the gospels when he would get away from those he was serving to reflect, recharge and reconnect with the Father. Motherhood is a 24/7 job and, if we’re not careful, burnout is entirely possible. But, let’s be real… there are seasons where “me time” seems entirely impossible. That’s OK. Take it when you can get it. Pick a night to get everyone to bed early and enjoy a long bath. Even putting on a movie for your kids and retreating to your bedroom to read a book… or fold laundry in silence… or clean the bathroom, while listening to your favorite podcast, will be helpful. Regardless of the parenting season, get creative. And, most importantly, don’t listen to the lie that says your desire for some personal space is selfish. You are important, so your mental health and emotional care deserve to be prioritized. Your family will be better for it.
3. Minimize whatever and wherever you can.
A huge trigger for turning up my stress level is clutter. Cluttered closets, cluttered social media accounts and a cluttered calendar can send me over the edge. I’m not a clean-freak and I wouldn’t characterize myself as “organized,” but I know my brain can only handle so much messiness before it shuts down and “mean mom” takes over. Every 3 to 4 months, we have a Saturday when we purge as much as we can. We go through closets, toy bins, desks, and dressers and fill “donate” boxes and trash bags. I recommend these “purging days.” I would also recommend a regular purging of social media accounts. If you don’t have a good reason for why you are following a person, business or organization, don’t follow them. Same goes for a busy calendar. There is no law that says every evening needs to be booked. Minimize where you can. Trust me… as painful as it might be to start the process, once you get the hang of minimizing, you’ll be addicted.
4. Get to church.
There is something so refreshing about taking a couple hours every week to focus on eternity rather than laundry. Church, or a MOPS group, or a Bible Study — whether on Sunday morning or Wednesday night — is a time to be filled up and recharged so you can go another week. There have been seasons when we’ve not been able to go to church on a regular basis; each time, the lack of fellowship has taken a toll on our family. Maybe you’re limited by health issues or work schedules or transportation. There are some incredible online resources you can take advantage of. Many churches now live-stream their services and there are many, amazing online Bible studies you can join for free. I’ve found that getting involved in online, faith-based communities can be just as encouraging as meeting in a physical location. Regardless of how you choose to fellowship, however, nothing will bring rest and peace to your mind, body, and soul like time with Jesus. Doing it surrounded by His people only sweetens the deal.
Say “Goodbye” to Stressed Out Mom
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. We deal with little people, who are demanding and confusing and who fully rely on us to get it right as often as we can. There’s a lot of pressure to do this “mom thing” well and that pressure can be suffocating if we’re not taking the time to stop and breathe. Being a stressed out mom isn’t fun. So, if you need someone to give you permission to de-stress, here it is: Take a few shortcuts, enjoy some space when you can, get rid of the extra stuff, and let God fill you with peace. You’re worth it, mom.