And if you’re a work at home mom, that stress can be crazy!
First of all, you’re home all day with kids, so you’ve got that special kind of stress.
Then, in the middle of that, you’re working an actual job. Just like any job, that’s got its stresses too – only now, you’re trying to do it all while the 7 year old pouts and rolls her eyes, the 4 year old is singing “Let it Go” over and over and over at the top of her voice, and the baby is latched to your boob like it’s a life support system.
Ok, technically, it is a life support system, but I digress.
What I’m saying here is it’s hella stressful trying to be a work at home mom. And all that stress can play havoc with your life. Chronic stress – day after day – can have an effect on you both physically and emotionally.
Physically, you may have:
- Aches and pains
- Stomach upset and digestive problems
- Nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness
- Chest pains and rapid heartbeat
Emotionally, you can suffer from:
- Irritability (and how!)
- Agitation and an inability to relax
- Loss of libido
- Isolation, Loneliness and depression
Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
So we know what stress is and what it can do. As a mom, how do you fix it? After all, quitting isn’t really an option.
Your first step should be to find ways to avoid unnecessary stress. There are certain things like teething babies, spilled milk and looming deadlines that can’t be avoided. But are there other things in your life that cause stress that you CAN avoid?
1) Learn how to say no.
Both in your work and in your family life, know what your limits are. Don’t take on more work than you can handle. If a particular client (say, a brand that you work with, or a coaching client) causes you a lot of stress or is difficult to work with, maybe you should think about cutting that relationship.
Are there people in your personal life that wear you out? Maybe your next door neighbor stops over too often during the day – or maybe it’s your mother-in-law. Stop it now. Nip it in the bud. Be nice but firm, “I love to spend time with you, but this is when I need to get my work done. Can we get together for coffee on Saturday?”
Stop talking about politics on Facebook. If you have friends that constantly post things that upset you or get you worked up, unfollow them. You don’t have to unfriend them (although that’s always an option) – just click on their post and choose to no longer see their posts in your timeline. This saved my relationship with a few people and lowered my stress quite a bit!
Finally, look at your “to do” list. There’s probably more on there than you can really deal with. Decide what items are “shoulds” and which ones are “musts”. Separate them out. Deal with your “must do’s” first and handle the “shoulds” as you have time. If you can swing it financially, you might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to handle some of your more mundane tasks and give you a breather.
2) What If You Can’t Say No?
Of course, it’s all well and good if you can avoid a problem. But what if it’s something you simply can’t avoid?
For instance, bath time with kids can be stressful. Are there things you can do to cut down on the stress? How about taking a little one in the shower with you? If you have a large enough walk-in shower, put all the kids in together and let them play in the rain!
Getting help from your partner in situations like this can be good too. If there are times when you need him or her to step up and take over some of the chores, talk about it – not in the heat of the moment, but during a calm time. Remain open to compromise – maybe alternating bath and bedtime chores could work for you.
The same is true for problems that may come up in your work when you’re dealing with sponsors, brands or clients. Don’t let things fester, deal with any issues head on. It’s always best to anticipate problems as much as possible and prevent them, which definitely gets easier with experience.
Learning to manage your time well is important, as it keeps you from getting stretched too thin and falling behind schedule. I think that’s one of my biggest stressors, when I know that I’ve got clients waiting on my work. It actually puts my brain in a deadlock where I can’t get anything accomplished because I feel like I’ve got to do everything at once. So don’t do that! 😉
3) Change Your Point of View
If you can’t avoid or change the thing that’s stressing you out, try to reframe your point of view. Caught in a traffic jam with the kids? Put on their favorite music and see who can sing in the silliest voice. Turn it into a fun time.
In Peru, there’s a saying that goes “No preocuparse, ocuparse” – it basically means “Don’t worry about it, deal with it.” I think I love it.
Look at at the little things that cause you stress and think “How much is this going to matter tomorrow? How important will this be in a year? Will I even remember?”
It’s also important to adjust your standards. Don’t set yourself up for failure by demanding perfection from yourself or others. Focus on the positive by thinking about all of the blessings in your life, including your positive qualities and gifts.
4) Accept the Things You Can’t Change
Some things are simply uncontrollable – but what you can control is how you react to them. One of those things is other people’s behavior. You can’t control your mom, and how she insists on giving the kids candy and blue box mac and cheese every time they visit. All you can do is decide how to react to that.
Are you going to stop letting the kids go to her house? Or are you going to decide that once a month or so, to hell with the real food, grandma’s gonna be grandma? Both options are viable – it’s up to you to decide which one will bring less stress to your life.
It’s also helpful to have someone with a kind ear to talk to. It might be a good friend, a therapist or clergy, but being able to express your feelings can help lessen the stress you feel about things you simply can’t change.
5) Forgive and Let It Go
Like how I brought us back to that song? 😀
The deal is this – we live in an imperfect world. Stuff happens, people make mistakes. Accept that it will always be this way, let go of anger, stop holding on to resentments and move on with your life.
I used to have an issue with this, until I learned the Ho’oponopono chant. I’m not a spiritual person, but I use this chant in my own way – not to forgive others for anything they’ve “done to me”, but to forgive myself for being angry about it and to give myself permission to let it go. Because of it, I was able to resolve the issues I had with my father, before he passed away last year. I let go of pain I had been holding for years.
Close your eyes, take nice steady breaths, and tell yourself “I’m sorry. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.”
Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so take time to relax and have fun when you detect symptoms of stress in your life. Set aside to time to rest, spend time with positive people, and do something you enjoy every day. And most of all, keep your sense of humor – including your ability to laugh at yourself.