Being a mom is wonderful and rewarding and all of the sweet hallmark words you want to use about it. It really is. But it is also hard. I have given more than I ever thought possible as a mom. There were days when I knew I couldn’t do it. There were days when I just had no idea which fire to put out first, sometimes literally. We are told as moms that we need to take care of ourselves so that we are able to take care of our families. (1) Somehow, though, when you have the breasts and the baby wakes up two hours after you just laid that adorable thing down, the need seems pressing and the responsibility undeniably yours. Who else can do what mom can do?

Yes, us moms are amazing. In a pinch, however, you might be surprised how your village might find ways to support you. We need to think about our mental and physical health. In researching the things that really lead to relaxation and can help return us to our normal blissful patient state I have totally come across a few articles encouraging us to just take the day off or get away for the weekend. I know when my kids were little and my husband was working full time and going to school there was not a magic fairy that was going to watch my toddlers so I go into Dothan, Alabama and have a big time. I stifled the desire to smack those well-intentioned authors and made it through in my own way. The things I will ask you to try seem to me to be doable, even with tiny needy humans at your side. See if something resonates with you. Once you find your outlet remind yourself and all those around you that this particular activity is not optional.

9. Take a Sip

For your tea or water, or possibly even some wine.

This shouldn’t be just any sip. Tea and water are some of the best drinks to choose. (2) We could all use the hydration simple water can provide. When that gets boring tea can have many healthy properties depending on what kind you choose. The warmth can be comforting, and encourage us to slow down. Maybe buying a unique cup or water bottle can make your daily beverage seem rewarding. Take a moment to stop cleaning and rushing and appreciate the small kind act of giving yourself a drink.

8. Sleep

I know. All of you newborn moms and dads want to bean me with a pillow

Catch some sleep in style

right now. Please, just hear me out. I understand that Junior has you up at all hours, and you don’t get to choose which hours. I’ve been there. I’m not asking you to skip a feeding. What I am saying is that lack of sleep can make you grouchy, less focused, and even make you gain weight. (3) There are real consequences for allowing sleep deprivation to do you in. So the next time you could nap with baby or do the dishes, taking the nap may truly, medically be the best choice. Also, if the spouse who is about to comment on the undone dishes likes sex, you may mention how lack of sleep can diminish desire. Just Sayin’.

7. Meditate

I grant you that as you watch thing 1 chase thing 2 through a giant tower of blocks meditating can seem as far away as a quiet stream by Mount Everest. The key is to start small. I like to use an app on my phone. I try to set aside 10 minutes. That is less time than an episode of Paw Patrol. The Calm app is one of my favorites. It offers quiet scenery that looks nothing like my messy living room and will guide you through the meditation if you don’t know where to start. One of the catches with meditation is that it is not intended to calm you down in the moment. If you have just sucked in your breath to give Johnny a good talking to, letting it out slowing would be a better choice, but an instant meditation session may not be the answer. I have noticed when I make time to meditate my fuse lengthens. I can handle just a little more in the next hours and even the next day. Meditation has even been known to help with managing many health conditions. (4) The gains for this practice are definitely worth the minimal time commitment

6. Color

If the idea of staring into a pixelated mountain lake is giving you hives, then

Color the adult way

relax. There is an alternative to meditation. Coloring has been shown to help with stress and relax you as well. (5) feel free to invest in colored pencils and one of the many coloring books for grown-ups now available. Experiment with shading and technique if you like. You could even draw the munchkins up beside you with their own clunky crayons and paper so you know where they are. Don’t get caught up with any details that may stress you out. Just enjoy making art.

5. Time out

I’m not talking about one for the kids, but you could kill two birds with one stone if your timeout coincided with theirs. There are times when you just

The multitasking mom timer

need a minute. You need to breathe, or punch a pillow or take a sip of wine. (6)  If you need Dora’s help with this one you should take it, just not for hours at a time. Maybe limit your break to one episode or one game of solitaire on your phone. This contraption, while meant for children could accomplish a lot for a mom. Set the appropriate amount of time on the timer to charge your phone while playing solitaire and listening to waves. Leave it to us moms to multitask relaxation.

4. Laughter

Understand this is not laughing at hours of episodes of the Housewives or

You know that’s funny

mercilessly at your kids, or even maniacally while chopping carrots for dinner.  This laughter is about being present and sharing moments of fun with the people you love. It’s hard to stay stressed when a smile breaks out on your face. (7) Just for a moment go ahead and let yourself get lost in that completely corny joke your five year old just told you. Who knows, that might be the moment he remembers when he gets older. You’d be surprised how you can still get things done, even if you take momentary breaks to laugh at Spongebob or tickle your child’s feet. Not only will they feel closer to you, but you can let go of a bit of the stress you have been building up.

3. Journal/Be present

I’m sure you have heard about how worry really only robs you of today’s joy. Being present means you see the joy right in front of you. (8) I have

Write it out

been working on this for years. Honestly, as a middle-class American woman with kids, I have a lot to be thankful for. The problem comes when I spend the time my kids are growing up worrying about which college they will get into. That adorable attempt to make PB and J just won’t have the same hilarious glow when those same kids are teens and won’t clean up after they made lunch. The more you can draw yourself into every day and say, ”Wait, right at this moment I am happy.” the better. You don’t have to be happy 30 minutes before that, or even 30 minutes after, but if you can be present and acknowledge the moment you are, that is what it is all about. Writing about it can help.

2. Exercise

You were hoping I would forget about this, weren’t you? Sorry, exercise just

cures, or at least helps a lot of what’s ailing ya’. Besides helping with general physical issues, exercise can even help with mental issues like depression. It can definitely ease stress, even in small doses. (9) Maybe you and the kids can walk to the park, or have a very energetic dance party. When your kids see you exercise they are more likely to pick up the habit, which can have long term effects for them, as it did in the girls in this study. (10) Don’t worry about being embarrassed. Just think about how much benefit you and your family are going to gain.

1. Encouragement

This wiki about how to make moms happy hit the nail on the head. (11) When I read it I immediately texted it to all of my teens and sold it by pointing out the easy instructions and anime-esque illustrations. I have yet

Do Unto Others

to see firm results from them. But these notes I found on Amazon gave me an idea. A few years ago a friend of mine presented me with a magnet that tells me, every time I hurry to grab something out of the fridge, that “You are enough”. I don’t always believe it, but I always remember that she took the time to encourage me by making me that. Maybe we won’t have anyone following really, really super simple instructions (come on, people) to show us the support we need, but we can still support each other. You can send a note to a mom you respect, or one that seemed frazzled in car-pool. Send out a butterfly to those around you. Who knows what kind of effect it could have.

Being a mom can be a thankless job. Tiny humans don’t yet understand labor laws. Toddlers won’t cut you slack the way they cut their heads on sharp corners. You will have to look out for you, for everyone’s sake. From one mom to another, you deserve it. Go close the door and have a timed, 10-minute yoga infused movie binge right now. No really, do it before the kids know you’re gone and shoot the whipped cream all over the kitchen.

Sources

  1. Roberts, Lindsey. “Why self-care is an important part of parenting, and how to make time for it.” The Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/in-defense-of-a-parents-day-off/2017/01/23/270ffafc-d8f2-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html?utm_term=.37ed5449e133.
  2. Wiener, Lauren. “Stressed? 28 Ways to Unwind—By Tonight.” Parents, www.parents.com/baby/new-parent/emotions/ways-to-unwind/?slideId=slide_0913dc2b-ba13-4f04-bb79-c2574ab0a9b1#slide_0913dc2b-ba13-4f04-bb79-c2574ab0a9b1.
  3. Beckerman, James. “10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss.” Web MD, 13 Feb. 2014, www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-results-sleep-loss#3.
  4. “Relaxation Techniques for Health.” nccih, 20 Nov. 2018, nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm.
  5.  Nazish, Noma. “Five Science-Backed Relaxation Techniques To Try If You Hate Meditation.” Forbes, 24 Nov. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2017/11/24/five-science-backed-relaxation-techniques-to-try-if-you-hate-meditation/#5560b28a76a4.
  6. Kirschner, Chanie. “5 ways for moms to relax in 15 minutes.” mnn.com, Jan. 2014, www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/stories/5-easy-ways-for-moms-to-relax-in-only-15-minutes.
  7. Borba, Michele. “7 tricks to help stressed moms chill out.” Today, 14 Oct. 2016, www.today.com/parents/7-tricks-help-stressed-moms-chill-out-1C7397996.
  8. Hochbaum, Ziona. “10 Stress-busting Tips for Busy Moms.” Parenting, www.parenting.com/article/10-stress-busting-tips-for-busy-moms.
  9.  Bracco, Natalie. “5 Relaxation Techniques to Help Stressed Moms Chill Out.” Working Mother, 26 July 2017, www.workingmother.com/5-relaxation-techniques-to-help-stressed-moms-chill-out.
  10.  Madsen, Kristine A., et al. “Parent Modeling: Perceptions of Parents’ Physical Activity Predict Girls’ Activity throughout Adolescence.” NCBI, Feb. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654401/.
  11.  “How to Make Your Mother Happy.” WikiHow, www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Mother-Happy.

 

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