7 Top Tips for Handling Stress as a Stay-at-Home Mom

7 Top Tips for Handling Stress as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Stress-busting hints to help you keep your sanity as a stay-at-home mom.

By Heather Chaet

All moms get stressed. It starts on the first minute of Day 1 when they hand that seconds-old bundle of joy to you. You aren’t sure what the future will bring, but you know there will be some stressful times.

Moms who stay at home full time with their kiddos experience a unique kind of stress. Sure, you wanted to be a part of their lives all the time, and you adjusted your life so you can be around for every single moment. But just because you made this choice, it doesn’t mean each day is full of dancing rainbows and singing unicorns. (That would be a sight, eh?)

What can a frazzled stay-at-home mom do when her stress-o-meter is nearing that red zone? We have seven tips to try, including some ways to manage that stay-at-home stress before it starts.

1. Get a hobby. You may think a hobby is the last thing you have time for, but having a go-to activity that switches your mind from stressed mommy mode to chilled-out mommy mode is key. Knitting, doing crossword puzzles, learning how to play guitar -- basically anything that works to calm your mental state and give you a different sense of purpose is a valuable stress-busting must-have.

2. Identify your most stressful times. Think about your day. Is there a time when you always feel your stress level start to inch up? Maybe it’s bath time, perhaps it’s the morning rush-around, or right around that 3 p.m. mark. Once you pinpoint those situations or times, it helps you manage the stress when it is about to occur and allows you to figure out ways to prevent at least some of it. Little tweaks around those trigger times -- such as getting up 20 minutes before the rest of the family wakes for some “alone” time or allowing your kids one TV show before dinner so you can have a little break before the hectic nighttime routine -- can have a huge effect on your stress level.

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3. Set a daily routine. A stay-at-home mom’s daily lack of structure may contribute to stress. Create your own “workday routine.” Maybe on Mondays, you head to the library with the kids for Reading Hour. Tuesdays can be Errand Day, and perhaps Wednesdays are when you do laundry. Knowing what is going to happen for at least part of each day helps you control the flow (and stress) of the day.

4. Embrace the power of music. They say music calms the savage beast, but it also calms a frazzled mom. Make a few playlists that you can turn on when you are in a less-than-OK mental state. Also, blasting some tunes and having a dance party or sing-along is a great trick to help refocus the whole crew if it seems everyone needs a little mood-boosting mojo.


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5. Move that body. A 20-minute workout video on your computer. A brisk walk with the stroller around your neighborhood. A Mommy-and-me yoga class at the community center. No matter what you choose, devote a little time each day to exercise, which is great for your body and your mind. If you can, carve out two or three times a week when your partner takes the kids, and you go do a kicking karate class or sweaty spinning class by yourself – a bit of “me time” that’s a double-duty bonus for your overall stress level.

6. Get the kids involved with more than just playing with you. When you are a stay-at-home mom, it often feels like you have to do everything: the child care, the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, everything. Get your kids to be a part of your team, and divide and conquer. See what they can tackle in terms of housework. Does your middle child love to vacuum? Let him be in charge of it. Have your 13-year-old be in charge of dinner once a week. Let your little one organize the front entryway glove mess. Taking a little bit off your overflowing plate, while at the same time teaching your kids some essential life skills, can make a big dent in your everyday stress.

7. Remember to breathe. This sounds obvious, but when you are stressed, your breathing changes and magnifies those frayed emotions. You can calm yourself by merely taking a few minutes, focusing on the way you are breathing, and purposely changing your breath pattern. Here’s how: Start with a smooth and steady slow inhale. Then hold it for a few seconds, and exhale that breath at a somewhat slower pace. Do this maybe five to 10 times, and feel the calmer mood settle in. Ahhhhh.

What’s the most stressful part of your day?

Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.

Image ©iStock.com/Thomas_EyeDesign

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