If you're under stress as a mom, today we are talking about my favorite 4 ways to reduce mental stress.
What we know is that the research shows women are experiencing MORE stress than men, and we all know it has to do with the visible and invisible work of motherhood.
Reducing your stress IS worth it (which I talk about here and here) but I want to address SELF CARE first.
"Self care" doesn't reduce stress as a mom
Self care is a phrase used sometimes to talk about how we can give ourselves a treat: bubble bath, day off, facial, etc. (why are so many of them beauty related??)
Sometimes it’s a Starbucks or Target run by ourselves.
All of these things are good.
I’m NEVER going to frown on a woman (mom or not) taking time to do something SHE wants on her own terms. We get every message in the world that this is not what we should be doing, that our lives are dedicated to service. So YES get the facial or the pedicure.
But I want to talk about SYSTEMATIC ways to reduce stress as a mom.
These are not one-time strategies. These are not “get so stressed I want to die and then I get a bubble bath.”
We want to reduce stress as a mom OVERALL so the job of parenting and managing a house is more fun, more enjoyable, and you have time for more of the good stuff with your kids.
Establish a baseline of care you need and accept nothing less
First up, there is a BASELINE of care you need.
You need to be able to shower, brush teeth, and eat. Those are not extra.
If you are not getting that, it’s time to wave the EMERGENCY flag and work this out.
But I'm assuming you are getting that baseline of personal care. Many of us stop there, but I don't think you should.
Let's talk about where the most mental stress comes in:
-it’s the invisible mental load
-it’s the unending chores
-it’s being the stop gap for the family emotional needs
We are not going to solve #3. I’m not here to give you strategies to get your kids to need you less. I don’t know how to do that.
But I do have strategies for the others.
Moms, show your work
What we're talking about here is making the invisible work you do VISIBLE to your family.
How do you even do that, says every mom everywhere.
We’re talking about making it visible by talking about it.
Perhaps your partner doesn’t know the work that went into putting the birthday list together. Or the work that goes into the laundry. Or that you manage everyone's schedule or know the teachers at the kids' school.
Instead of being alone with that work, start talking about it. Even if it’s just to your kids.
Examples of talking points:
I’m talking about actually making your mental work visible to the people around you by talking about it.
Once you start talking about it, the people around you will hopefully develop a better appreciation for the work that is going into running the home.
This isn't everything, but it's a first step.
Batch your work to reduce stress as a mom
You do not have to work all the time. In fact, I’d appreciate it if you worked less.
HOW even? In my workshop (sign up below!) I talk all about batching.
This is when you put a bunch of work together that takes less time because you’re doing it all at once.
I do this with meal prep, with kitchen chores (I only work in the kitchen on Sundays) and the mail.
Find out how batching can save you time and mental energy. It actually means LESS work!
Once a system becomes visible, you
can think about perhaps delegating it. Your kids, your partner-- they’re capable of doing these jobs.
Delegate some of that stress as a mom
Once a system becomes visible, you can think about perhaps delegating it.
Your kids, your partner-- they’re capable of doing these jobs.
I know what you’re going to say: they won't do it right. I know.
But there's a principle I use when I coach principals and executives: it's the 80% rule.
If they can do it 80% of the time or 80% of the quality, delegate that job.
That means you might get cinnamon rolls instead of pita bread from the grocery, or that the recipe will be missing garlic. NBD. You can handle that.
It's MUCH better to have the job done than done perfectly, and you deserve to lighten your load.
AND your kids and partner helping is the BEST way to achieve that.
Stop to enjoy the good stuff
One thing I know is that moms work. All the time.
Have dinner with a mom and she's up ten times while the whole room is seated and enjoying dinner. Moms are working non stop and thinking non stop.
This can't go on. You have to stop.
You have to carve out times for yourself to actually ENJOY life.
I know, getting the laundry done would be enjoyable, but each week you need time where you pledge to do no work. Just enjoy life whatever that means to you.