Motherhood is hard. I’m almost 16 years into this rewarding, challenging role. Over the years, I’ve found some ways to help relieve the stressful demands, which can feel constant. Of course, motherhood is a journey. Some days feel like survival is the goal; others give me the time and perspective to take care of myself too!
Some surveys show 55% of stay-at-home mothers always or frequently feel burned out, which is why we should be aware of ways that help us relieve the stress that can negatively impact mental and physical health. Reducing motherhood stress also can cultivate stronger connections with your family, improve child development, and create a more positive family dynamic. Here are some ways to make motherhood less stressful:
Get dressed — even to stay home
Getting ready for the day can have a positive impact on your confidence and self-esteem, which can, in turn, make motherhood less stressful. When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to approach challenges positively and handle them more easily.
Admittedly, some days I like a slow morning in my pajamas. Plus, and this is no secret to those who know me, wearing comfortable clothes is a priority in my life. But brushing my teeth and showering always make me feel ready for the day. Plus I like to get my hair cut and colored and went through a phase of enjoying going to get my nails done.
Different people care about different aspects of “getting ready” — and that’s fine! Do what works for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extensive. Perhaps you’re obsessed with 90s hairstyle trends and want to treat yourself to an iconic 1990s hairstyles. Go for it.
Self-care is a trendy phrase that kind of gets on my nerves. Of course, yes, care for yourself. Go on walks, read books, get a massage, phone a friend. Caring for your physical and mental health is important but looks different depending on our preferences and personalities.
As a mother, it can be easy to put your family’s needs before yours, but neglecting self-care can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and increased stress levels. By making time for activities I enjoy, I find myself recharged and ready to return to motherhood.
Ask for help
Juggling the demands of childcare, housework, and other responsibilities can be overwhelming. Asking for assistance can make a big difference. Maybe ask another mom to carpool with you or hire someone to come clean the house. Ask your husband and kids to help conquer a chore list.
Delegating tasks can also foster a sense of teamwork and collaboration within your family while encouraging your children to develop responsibility and independence. Young kids can help too! Putting away the clean silverware is a great place to start with toddlers. Older kids can put away their laundry and clean up after themselves (when they remember and notice!). I have kids who help with laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and tidying their rooms.
Asking for help also is one way to create a supportive community of moms who come together to alienate stress and make life more enjoyable. (I wrote about hospitality and why we need one another in my book, “Bringing Home More Than Groceries: Stories About Gathering & Nourishing People.”)
Greg and I talk about jurisdictions. We’ve been married 20 years, so we are settled into our ways together! He has things he does regularly and I have my things. Of course, we help one another as needed, but we also trust one another to take care of our responsibilities. Be willing to discuss these things and recognize when changes are necessary. Establishing a strong partnership with your partner can create a more supportive and fulfilling environment for yourself and your child.
When we have established clear expectations and priorities, much of life falls into place. I handle our family’s calendar, so I know our priorities are immediate family, close friends & family, church & school, and other people in our community. The order matters because we have to say no sometimes. We only have so much mental capacity and time in our days.
Nobody needs to sacrifice sleep! Most evenings, after the kids are in bed, which is becoming later as they get older, I’m also done for the day. Sometimes I will tidy the kitchen and or change over the laundry, and then settle in my bedroom. This is a good time for Greg and me to catch up while the kids are winding down too. We may watch a show together or read books separately. But then we sleep. My goal is 10 p.m. to 6:15 a.m., when my alarm goes off most mornings. I usually get close. I also like tracking my sleep on my Apple Watch and have my phone & watch go into sleep mode at 9:30 pm. In sleep mode, I don’t get any notifications.
Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, decreased concentration, and a weakened immune system, making parenting even more challenging. I’m not a napper, but this is how some moms, especially ones with young children, survive. Our overall well-being improves when we prioritize sleep and rest.
Planning fun helps it actually happen! I know, we all want fun and adventure to happen as life unfolds — and sometimes it will. But often we have to schedule blocks of time to go on adventures or enjoy fun at our home.
These kinds of memories help me remember the joy of motherhood, which, truly, helps wipe away the stress. Often fun still involves teaching moments, but our kids will remember the trips, snow days, game nights, and sporadic adventures! This also helps break up the monotony of our daily routines.
Pep talking myself here! I can look at a situation, place, or person (including my children!) and see improvements. I can anticipate scenarios and work to prevent mishaps, but life still happens! I’m constantly working on embracing imperfections — in myself, my husband, my kids, and my home. Obviously, my whole family, definitely including myself, are all better off when I loosen my grip and rest in reality.
Embracing imperfection can teach our children the value of mistakes and resilience, helping them build important life skills. It can also create a more optimistic outlook on motherhood, leading to greater enjoyment and satisfaction.
Motherhood is a constant responsibility and often the rewards are delayed. But stop and think about all we accomplish in a day, reflect on an encouraging conversation with a child, or remember an interruption that turned into a blessing.
Being a mother comes with many daily challenges, and you need to recognize each minor victory and accomplishment you make in your motherhood journey. Doing this can help reduce stress and remind us why we are investing in our families.
We can do this, mommas!