Being a mother can be very stressful. There are articles about throwing the ‘perfect’ party, buying the 'perfect' present or whatever. There is plenty of talk about 'having it all.'
A mother may find herself feeling guilty about many things and fear she is letting her family down. Here are a few ideas for reducing the stress experienced as a mother. (Note: These ideas are written by a mother who doesn’t have it all and is never perfect. However, her two sons survived childhood and are now adults.)
Image by Marie Vonow
1. Don’t try to be perfect Perfect doesn’t exist. If it did exist and you were perfect, people wouldn’t feel comfortable around you. Your children would feel they had to live up to your unattainable standard and would suffer low self esteem when they didn’t succeed.
2. Lower your standards You can’t do everything you did before you had a child to love and care for. You still need as much sleep and probably more. Drop activities that aren’t essential. Cut corners and lower your standards wherever possible as long as doing so doesn’t cause a safety issue.
When I became a mother, I was fortunate to have the friendship of an older woman who had four children. She was a second mother/mentor to me. I recall her saying she dropped her standard a bit further each time she had a baby. Her children grew into fine healthy adults.
3. Accept any help offered Do not feel like you have to and should be able to cope with everything yourself. Sometimes others will have a different way of doing a task. As long as it doesn’t pose a safety risk to anyone, it’s an acceptable way to do it. You may even learn a quicker or easier way to do something by observing what someone else does.
Looking back, I wish I had asked for help more often.
4. Trust your instincts Mothers are given so much advice by magazines, the internet, well meaning friends and professionals. Some of the advice is contradictory and confusing. What works for one baby/child may not work for another. Theories on the correct way to do certain things, like how to get your baby to sleep through the night, will change over the years. A current theory may be frowned upon a decade later.
It’s worth listening to suggestions made by others. You may try some of their ideas. However, sometimes you just feel something is right (or not right) for your child. Trust your gut feeling and try what seems right to you.
5. Go for a walk Being a mother can be very tiring and possibly the last thing you feel like doing is getting exercise. However, a stroll, not a power walk (unless you like power walking) can reduce stress.
I recall a particular day when my toddler was grumpy and I was at the end of my tether because I couldn’t get anything done. In frustration I plonked him in his pusher and headed off for a walk. His mood improved immediately and I was soon feeling happier. By the time we got to the park we were both more relaxed and we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.
Time in the fresh air at a park will reduce your stress and be good for your child too. Image by Marie Vonow
When going for a walk, a young baby may enjoy being in a sling close to your body. This leaves your hands free if you need to carry anything. If you are using a pram, pusher or stroller make sure you have one that suits your child and the terrain you will be traversing.
6. Shop the easy way If you find it difficult to shop with your baby or child try to leave him/her in the care of someone else so you can shop alone. Alternatively, it is possible to shop online for all sorts of things. You can get your groceries delivered at a time that suits you. A late delivery, when the children are in bed may allow you to put your groceries away in peace. There are ways of avoiding a delivery fee, depending on the supermarket you do business with.
Image by Marie Vonow
Stress has a negative impact on your physical and psychological health. When you are stressed to the max your health suffers and you miss out on enjoying the positive aspects of motherhood. Finding ways to reduce stress will benefit you and those around you.