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We all have those days. Those days when your patience wears so thin, you feel like your head is going to explode into a million pieces.
The baby had an explosion poo: crap up her back, on her legs, living room floor, and a clean shirt, just as you head out the door to an important appointment.
You just swept the kitchen floor for the fourth time in two hours because your kids insist on throwing their just-prepared food on the floor instead of feeding their tummies.
Your teen responds with a bad attitude when you try to engage in conversation about school, ask for help around the house, or breathe near him.
Some days, it’s not easy to stay calm and composed when you feel like everything around you, even your tatas are headed south.
It’s everything from more intensive parenting styles, higher expectations for our kids’ success, relationship demands, lack of time and support, and financial woes.
You’re not alone.
Research states, “70 percent of U.S. moms say mothering is “incredibly stressful.” Ninety-six percent also feel that we are way more stressed than our mothers were.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it, mommin’ ain’t easy.
Here are 10 ways to keep your cool and prevent yourself from becoming an exploding head emoji. 🤯
Count your breath
Counting your breath is the quickest way to calm yourself down. Sit in the bathroom, closet, or wherever is a quiet spot in your home, and start counting your breaths. Each time you exhale, that’s “1.” When you get to “5,” start again from “1.” According to Dr. Andrew Weil, breathing activates your parasympathetic system (the one responsible for relaxation) and helps your mind simmer down.
“Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Go for a walk outdoors
Walking activates nerve cells in your brain, which help you relax. You see the trees, you get a little fresh air, and you see life hustling around you on a grand scale. When you’re angry and frustrated, sometimes seeing things on a grander scale helps redirect your attention and adjust your perspective. Your kids will benefit from walking around too. If they fight it, pop them in the stroller, and they’ll whisk off to dreamland.
Jump in the car and go somewhere
Sometimes you need to change up your view. Schedule a park play date, visit a local walking path or explore a free museum near you. I like to set two days out of the week to go somewhere other than a stroller ride around our neighborhood – the zoo, museum, forest preserve, a kid’s amusement park, a new library, and a little out of the way.
Related: The Four Parenting Styles: Which Type Are You?
Dance around the house
Blaring your music and dancing around the house allows you to blow off some steam and genuinely helps to elevate your mood. Nothing takes the edge off more than a little 90s hip-hop blaring through your living room speakers. A little House of Pain, Busta Rhymes, and Salt-N-Pepa is right for your soul. You can dust off those killer dance moves you learned back in the day from MTV’s The Grind. Plus, your kids will be thrilled to have the chance to jump around the house with you.
Give yourself a break
Studies show that when you’re kinder to yourself, you’re happier and less depressed. On those days, when you’re overwhelmed by your kids or work, do something nice for yourself. Eat some fro-yo, sign up with a friend for one of those paint and sip parties, read a book, chill out in your backyard with a glass of bubbly. Treat yo’ self.
Create quick fixes for your “hot mess” times
Stress can build up for mamas at predictable times, such as in the morning before you have your liquid sanity. One kid is asking for his shoes, the toddler crying for milk, and the husband is asking where his keys are. Identify when you are most irritable and find a quick fix to curb the chaos during that “hot” time. If mornings are stressful because your kid can’t figure out what to wear: lay clothes out the night before. If your husband is frantic because he can’t find the keys, make an extra set. Even better, put that coffee machine on an automatic timer so you can navigate the morning chaos with a warm cup of caffeine.
Readjust your expectations
Most days, we expect our toddlers and teens to act more mature beyond their years. While we get lucky some days with regards to our children’s moods and behaviors, it’s just not realistic to expect children to behave like our thirty-something old self with life experience. We need to get better at managing our expectations. We are going to drive ourselves mad if we expect our toddler to always sit politely and quietly in their high chair when they eat their PB & J sandwich and that your teen will graciously accept all your “take out the trash” requests. We must remember that our kids are still developing and maturing.
Talk it out
The sound of someone screaming. Ermagerd. I think it’s worse than nails on a chalkboard. Yelling aggravates situations, it elevates your heart rate, and it causes more stress. Establish a talk-it-out rule. You and your family members make a pact to use only calm speaking voices when talking to each other. No throwing hands in the air. No angry, loud voices. Just quiet, every day speaking voices. If you are still too heated to talk it out respectfully, use step #1 or # 2 to help center yourself.
Related: 20 Ways to Help a New Mom
Write down something you’ve accomplished recently
Our daily stress tends to worsen when we have loads of items on our to-do list, and we can’t get to them. You needed to run to the grocery store and library, but then your baby’s teething has her in an on and off again screaming fit, and you don’t want to risk a public meltdown, so you add it to your to-do list to complete later in the week. When you feel overloaded with your to-dos, try and write down a few things you’ve recently done or accomplished. It helps you feel more productive, and it will help boost your confidence.
Go off the grid.
Put your phone down, step away from your computer, and unplug from the electronic world. Otherwise, you risk frying your brain and burning out. If you’re feeling stressed or angry, surfing social media and jumping on the comparison train will not help you one bit. Try to be in the moment with your children or if you need an escape, pick up a book.
While I’m not a mother, a lot of family & friends are. I’ll share these fantastic tips with them. I know SO MANY great moms who get super stressed out. You all deserve a break, (and perhaps a medal, for being awesome).
I love this list. I need to save it for a later date. It is amazing how simply getting outside can calm you down.
Such great options to take care of yourself as a mom. I also believe that being able to remind yourself that your well-being matters and giving yourself permission to take some time for yourself is an important step, too!
These really are amazing tips. I need to cement them to my wall. Gonna try these out like ASAP.
I love these tips. Many of them I use myself with my kids who are both on the autism spectrum. Thanks for sharing!
Great tips! My favorite – Give yourself a break. My kids are very familiar with the fact that sometimes Mommy needs a time-out, and they are not to bug me when I’m in time-out 😉
Counting my breath is HUGE! And sometimes just having to walk away! Oh, and changing my expectations! SO IMPORTANT!
Such great tips for when stress starts to get the best of us! I am definitely one for dancing to relieve stress, I love music and believe that music is great therapy!
Me too! Dancing is such a great stress reliever and breaks up funky tension too!
Great tips. I try to walk away when I get super frustrated. Sometimes a few minutes apart does the trick for calm times.
These are some great suggestions! I will definitely be putting into practice. Thanks for this great post.
So funny, I just wrote a post about keep your cool, but I focused on how to do it when your tween has a bad attitude. You have some great suggestions here!
Yes, great information to remember for sure. Life can be stressful alone but as a mom it can take the stress to another level.
I have had to jump in the car only a few times in my parenting years and trust me the kids were standing with their mouths gaped open. Lol everyone knows if mom leaves it’s bad.
Amazing tips. Adjusting expectations is so important and a huge struggle. Definitely getting outside, getting out of the house and music are life savers for me.
As a mom of adults, one thing to add to your list. Remember that these moments are fleeting and they go by way to fast. Remind yourself that one day you will long for the crying little one that wants to sit on your lap all day! Take that time and enjoy the cuddles!
You’re so right! Thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s already flown by so fast already. Makes me sad. Lol
The two tips I’m trying today is to dance it out and write down something I have accomplished. Thank you for the great list of ideas.
These are great tips! I especially love the ones about not expecting too much from your children, as a mom of a toddler it can be difficult sometimes to remember where he is at developmentally and not try to force on him expectations that he can’t meet. I also like the one about only using speaking voices when discussing subjects that may get heated, that’s one that we need to work on!
I’m going to try the breathing and counting tip this week!
It helps me so much! Hope it works for you.
These are so good! Jumping in the car and going somewhere is my number one fix when everything gets to be too much. Just a quick drive helps calm me down and lets me refresh!
Ditto! The fresh air and music always helps me clear my mind and shift my perspective.
Excellent tips. Dancing is probably my go to. I love a good dance session, kinda like Meredith and Christian in the early Greys Anatomy episodes. And when dancing doesn’t work, the dogs get an extra walk that day. Creating fixes for your hot mess times is a great tip. While I do not drink coffee, it is a great idea to set your morning up for success by preparing the night before!
Walking is such a great way to clear your head. My problems always seem much smaller after I get outside in the fresh air in the hustle and bustle. It adjusts your perspective lickety split.
These are so great! I’m not a mom yet, but I get stressed really easily! Getting outside REALLY helps me!! But I love these other tips too!
When things get stressful, I like to jump in the car and take a drive or go shopping. It gives me time to relax and refresh!
As a mom of a 5 year old these tips are so needed. I always aim for self-care of some sort to relax myself.
Self Care is super important! A little me time goes a long way. 💓