Anyone who knows me well is probably laughing out loud at the title of this post wondering what I could possible have to say about being a low stress mom. I am more likely to be worried about how high my husband is throwing my daughter in the air than sitting relaxed on the sidelines at the playground. In fact, when our little girl was born, I couldn't sleep because I was so worried every time she coughed or rustled in her crib. I was constantly reading books to make sure I was doing everything "right" and checking websites to make sure she wasn't falling behind developmentally.
Whew! I am exhausted just reading that last paragraph! As you can probably imagine, that was not only extremely stressful for me, but it was making my family miserable. I was stealing the joy from our time together as a family and I was making all of our lives so much harder. Eventually I realized that I needed to take steps to de-stress or I was going to ruin our family. I started intentionally thinking about how I could improve the quality of my life and these were my favorite five secrets to becoming a low-stress mom:
1. Get Active
I'm not particularly athletic, but I really enjoy taking walks or following a fitness video on YouTube. I learned long ago (from one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, Legally Blonde) that exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy! Even taking ten minutes to get my blood pumping can make a drastic difference in my stress level that day.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
One thing that has been really helpful as a mom is to make a list of all the things that need to get done that day then focus on the top three. When I try to do all 25 things on the list, I can get discouraged and stressed out, but if I can check off those top three things, I will feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Some nights I will ask my husband "What's one thing I can do around the house tomorrow that will make your life easier?" Because he is my only sounding board, I love knowing that I will be accomplishing something that matters to him.
3. Post Reminders Around the House
I love having Scripture and quotes around my home and on my phone so that I can constantly be reminded of my true purpose. Even though it feels like a never-ending cycle of making meals and feeding diapers, I am serving an important role for both my husband and my daughter. Reading simply reminders throughout the day to be patient, kind, and worry-free help discourage stressful thoughts from overtaking my mind.
4. Go Outside
Honestly, I am a stay-at-home mom, an introvert, and a homebody, so I could probably go a week without leaving the house before I started to go stir crazy. But some days all I see around me is laundry that needs to be folded, toys that need to be picked up (again), and windows that aren't going to wash themselves. Those days I need to run to Target, take a walk, or call a friend to grab coffee in order to avoid feeling completely overwhelmed by my to-do list. Sometimes when my husband gets home he takes one look at me and tells me to run to the store by myself. That hour away from the house is exactly what I need to refresh my soul and de-stress.
5. Find a Hobby
It might sound crazy, but starting a blog has been one of the best things I have done for my sanity since becoming a mom. Even though it means more work, it is something I am passionate about and love doing. When you become a mom, your identity can become so wrapped up in this new little human that it's impossible to separate your self-worth from their emotions. Before I started blogging, when my daughter would be upset all day because she was teething, I felt like a terrible mom and a horrible person. In reality she was just going through a normal part of life and it had no reflection on me as a mother. I needed a hobby to have something else to focus on so that I could still feel like a productive person even if my daughter was having an 'off' day. If we want to be low-stress moms, our identity can't be wrapped up in our children, so it's important to find a hobby that is distinctly yours.
Of course, I am human - so even with these things I have days that are more stressful than others. When I find myself worrying more than I should, I try to take a step back and understand what's really stressing me out. I'm likely to find that I haven't left the house in two days or that I have been trying to check off a month's worth of tasks in a single day. Being a low stress mom is something I will continue to strive to be because I think it is worth it for myself and my family.
Share in the comments - Are you a low stress mom? What are your secrets?
This post was originally featured on Wit & Wander.