Understanding what causes your mom stress is crucial to your being able to manage it.
Time on social media contributes to our feelings of stress.
- Most of us mothers are feeling short on time. Whether it’s insufficient time to get the laundry done, not enough time to play with the kids, too little time to yourself, or no time for other important activities, many mothers feel that there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that they need to do.
- Recent research found that half of children queried said their parents were distracted by their phones and/or computers. Your kids see you with your phone in your hand much of the time, & your interacting with social media gives you unnecessary stress.
- Seeing perfect Facebook posts by our friends puts unrealistic pressure on us. We all want to be a perfect mother, but that woman does not exist. Besides, what most people post on social media is not an honest picture of their life. In fact, most of our friends are not posting about frustrating mom days when your kids are wild, something gets broken, someone is sick, or nothing gets done.
- Social media use has been correlated with both depressed mood & postpartum depression (PPD). Several studies have shown that excessive use of social media correlates with depression-and-anxiety. Excessive use of social media is really bad for new mothers. Researchers has shown an association between higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms & a lower proportion of posts showing photos of baby smiling.
- Try to postpone your scrolling until after the kids are in bed.
Relationship demands are always challenging.
- As we invest more time into raising our children, sometimes our other relationships get neglected, especially when our children are young & need lots of attention. Mothers of young children frequently feel torn between meeting the needs of their infants & toddlers & having enough energy for conversation & commiseration with their partner or spouse.
- Busy mothers find it more difficult to make time for their friends as they juggle all the responsibilities of motherhood. As our children grow & change, we also change & grow in new directions. This change puts pressure on your longstanding friendships & other significant relationships. You will have to make extra effort to maintain those relationships or decide to let them go during this phase of your life.
- Most important in your trying to spend time with your partner. Their role is crucial as you proceed through the various stages of parenting together. Even though it may seem easy, try not to put your relationship on the back burner. Especially try not to relegate sex & intimacy to an afterthought. Sex is extremely important to our healthy partner’s life.
- Try to have one simple daily conversation with your partner to tell them how you feel. This will give you the emotional boost you need on those days you are feeling exhausted & overwhelmed. Connecting with your partner every day can make a big difference in your outlook. Hugs, kisses, & conversation mean a lot. (Having sex means even more.)
- Simply looking forward to the evening when you can talk & decompress with your partner at the end of the day can get you through some challenging parenting times.
- We each need to learn how to put our partners to work. You & your partner are a team. Your spouse can help you, but not if you think they can read your mind. Our partners generally want to help, but we can make them feel badly if they’re not feeding the kids the way we do or putting them in right pajamas the way we would. Let go of your expectations for perfection if they are trying to help.
- Try to step back & let them do their thing. It really doesn’t matter if the kids eat hotdogs & fruit cocktail once in a while. It certainly doesn’t matter what pajamas or school clothes they wear if dad is trying to help dress them. Invite them to help out & be specific with your requests.
- We all have to learn to delegate our needs to accomplish childcare & home maintenance.
Lack of sleep, weak boundaries, and self-doubt contribute to our mom stress.
- Typically, we think of mom exhaustion as something that moms of newborns experience, especially because of sleep deprivation. But mom burnout can happen at any time if you aren’t getting enough rest.
- Regardless of your children’s ages, you know that they need a good night’s sleep. You also need a good night’s sleep to keep yourself energized.
- Chronic sleep deprivation makes us short-tempered, easy to anger & prone to yelling. Taking care of kids can be hard work, & exhausting, so you need to get some good rest to be a happy mom. Without energy & rest you cannot be ready to face another day of in-home learning, sibling fights, toilet training, & driving kids all over town.
- Learning to say no is one of THE hardest things. None of us can do everything, so why do we try? Saying no to the requests of others may make you feel guilty, but it shouldn’t. We all must learn when & how to say no. Since you are only one person, there is no way you can do it all.
- Limit the projects you accept to one or two, whether they are projects for school or work. Taking on more than you can handle, more than your fair share, will set you up for mom burnout bigtime.
- Self-doubt can be a large contribution to mom stress. Many of us mothers fear that we are not doing a good enough job. Because each child has unique temperaments & needs, & because children grow & change all the time, it is impossible to apply only one approach to mothering.
- We allow our negative self-talk to invade our thoughts about being a mother. These thoughts are from patterns in our past, or from unmet expectations about mothering. Most of these negative thoughts are NOT helpful. They represent our insecurity, our fears, & our expectations. We must try to recognize these negative thoughts & tell ourselves that we are doing a good job as a mom.
- None of this is easy. Reiterate that you ARE doing a good enough job managing everything right now.
- You know that you are always trying to be your best self as a mother. Self-doubt only drags you down.
Methods to combat against your mom stress & prevent burnout.
- Time alone & self-care are crucial. Among the issues leading to mom overload, many of us find it difficult to make time & save energy to care for ourselves. Hobbies & enjoyable activities with friends before we became a mother are past. However, many of us still need time to be alone, reflect, explore in a journal, & take care of ourselves.
- What’s a mother to do in order to maintain some sanity & serenity? Make time to take a break & decompress. Can you escape into nature? Can you all go to the playground? Nature in a great stress buster. The natural environment is calming.
- Recognize your favorite ways to recharge your batteries. A walk around the block, listening to music, playing a game, baking cookies, riding bikes could be fun & recharging. Would you rather all take a nap or read together?
- Exercise is a crucial part of self-care, & this might be something that you can do as a family. Exercise boosts mood & lowers anxiety.
- When you do find a quiet moment, have you tried meditation? What about practicing deep breathing? They say journaling is also helpful. It did not work for me, but I always loved to escape into a good book.
- Take time to laugh. Our children are always doing or saying funny things. Children can be so lighthearted spontaneous & entertaining.
- Seek out pleasant social interactions, pay attention to your child’s smiles, watch for opportunities to show physical affection & give hugs. Reflect on happy memories, read uplifting stories, share jokes, & pet the family dog or cat.
- Allow yourself more time to get things done. Little kids do things slowly! Time pressure is one of the great stressors. In my household they called this “Susan time,” because I always tried to cram too many things into too little time.
- Call a good friend. You are not alone with mothering stress. We all deal with it. Find a good support group, on Facebook or elsewhere. Enjoy some levity influencers on Instagram, such as @fruitsofmotherhood.
- Your family’s health & happiness is bound tightly to your attitude. That makes your ability to care for yourself especially important.