5 Thrifty Ideas to Manage Mom Stress
Mom stress – the struggle is real! I know you are with me on this. If you are a mom you’ve learned it comes with all new joys, adventures, and worries. As I sit here, there is a whole new level of stress that’s been added to our lives with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. No matter what decisions you make for your family regarding how to live in a pandemic era, you are being required to think about things in a whole new way. You have to make decisions you never thought you would face when you brought your little one into the world. I want you to hear me though, are you listening? . . . you are amazing and you got this. So, keep reading for some thrifty ideas to help you manage your mom stress.
Impact of stress
We all know stress is bad, it effects every part of the body in a negative way. But stress isn’t all bad, the negative effects happen when stress levels stay high for too long.
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond. Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health.” Ann PietrangeloThe Effects of Stress on Your Body, Healthline.com
Everyone experiences some stress, and I don’t want to downplay the stress any individual is dealing with, but it seems from a multitude of research that moms in particular deal with high levels of stress. Which is becoming ever more acute with the pressures of meeting impossible standards to be the perfect Pinterest mom, and now lets add working from home while simultaneously being solely responsible for your child’s education. The stakes have never been higher or more challenging.
“U.S. moms are caught between conflicting cultural schema—that of worker devotion and devotion to children.” Alison Escalante M.D
“Sociologist Caitlyn Collins spent five years studying parenthood in four wealthy western countries for Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving. The combination of impossible and incompatible ideals of work and home, with a lack of policy and social support for working families, has put mothers in a no-win situation. When I asked Collins about this, she explained, “I want American moms to stop blaming themselves. I want American mothers to stop thinking that somehow their conflict is their own fault, and that if they tried a little harder, got a new schedule, woke up a little earlier every morning, using the right planner or the right app, that they could somehow figure out the key to managing their stress. That’s just not the case.”Alison Escalante M.D., Mothers Are Drowning in Stress: New research suggests saving U.S. mothers should be a national priority.
Moms are in a uniquely tough spot and subsequently end up being forced to walk a tight rope with no net below with family on one side and work on the other. And now with my experience as a stay at home mom, I’ve seen the other side. Many tasks that were delegated out when I was working are now my responsibility. Stay at home moms also end up in a hopeless game of tug of war between family and life balance. No mom is exempt from mom stress. The worst part is, our kids can feel it too. When I am stressed even my 2 year old will ask, “What’s wrong mommy?” At her young age she is already aware that something is off when stress levels are high.
“To examine how stress is passed on from parent to child, Sara Waters from Washington State University Vancouver and colleagues looked at the physiological responses that occur when parents suppressed their anxiety. The stressed-out parents were then assigned to either a “suppression” or control condition, before being reunited with their children.
Those in the suppression condition were asked to mask their emotion, behaving in such a way that their child would not be able to know they were feeling anything at all, while those in the control condition were told to act naturally, as they would at home. Parent and child were then asked to engage in a six-minute conversation about a source of conflict in their relationship, a six-minute cooperation task in which they built with blocks, and six minutes of free play.
Trained observers who rated these interactions found that parents and children were less warm and engaged with each other in the suppression condition. There was also a significant link between a mother’s physiological stress and that of her child: mothers’ PEP reactivity at one-time point was related to children’s reactivity shortly thereafter. In the control group, however, stress was not transmitted from mother to child.” Emily Reynolds Children can “Catch” their mother’s stress — particularly if she tries to hide it
Ways to find time for you
Take a deep breath, there is hope! Some stress is unavoidable. Just living comes with a level of stress much less when you add tiny humans into the mix. We all need help managing our mom stress, and finding ways to get some much needed me time. Yes, moms need me time too! The other day my daughter was playing upstairs and I told her it was time for lunch. Her response “No thanks, I want to read by myself.” Even at 2 years old she likes some me time!
Find some relief from mom stress by asking for help to get some me time. Communicate with your spouse or significant other. Everyone needs some time to relax and decompress. Both you and your partner deserve a night off, so take turns. Maybe there is a designated night each week that one person is responsible for the dishes and putting the kids to bed, while the responsibility is shared the rest of the week. Or maybe there is 1 day a month each person gets to have the free time they need.
Ask family or friends for help. If you don’t have grandparents to lean on ask another family member or friend if they can help watch your kids 1 day a month. Or even swap with another mom. This is a great idea to save money on date night as well by swapping childcare with another couple.
Thrifty Ideas for Me Time
The American Institute of Stress gives 4 proven techniques to decrease stress; viewing nature, exercising, getting crafty, and yoga. Read more here. All of these are great for helping find me time that will decrease mom stress. I’ve got my 5 thrifty ideas for low cost options on finding me time by yourself or with a friend.
Read a book. I love to spend quite moments, when they happen, to escape into a book. Entering another world through reading is an enjoyable and relaxing way to spend some time in the morning or before bed. I like to grab a cup of tea and snuggle up on my favorite chair or outside on the patio if the weather is nice. If my daughter is home playing with daddy inside I will put my earbuds in to listen to some classical music too, but it’s even better to send her for a walk in her stroller so the house is quiet. I get most of my books on Thrift Books. They have the same books you would purchase on Amazon at a half to a third the cost as they are used. But, you can choose the quality. They have everything from “like new” to “acceptable” depending on the book and what is available. I’ve always been pleased with the quality of the books I have ordered, and while they don’t come quite as quickly as Amazon, the cost savings is worth the wait.
Home Spa Treatments. Spend some time after breakfast or in the evening pampering yourself. Invite a friend and take turns painting each other’s nails. Or enjoy a home mask like this or this. Then enjoy a glass of champagne and play your favorite spa playlist. If you can get grandparents or friends to watch the kids and have a spa date with your significant other. Take turns with a foot massage! Splurge on a nice scrub for your feet and finish with your favorite scented lotion.
Exercise. It’s proven how exercise can boost endorphins and improve mood. Enjoy some me time at the gym or going for a walk. If you can’t find time away from your little one check out The Fitness Mission on Youtube. There are great videos for exercise routines that include your kids.
Sweet Treats. Nothing says me time or helps me destress like a sweet treat, especially if it’s chocolate. My favorite place to go is Trader Joes, and they have no shortage of sweet indulgences priced just right. I can never get enough of their amazing Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Actually my husband doesn’t let me come home from Trader Joes without them! Not near a trader joes you can actually but them on Amazon here. Check out more tasty options from Trader Joes here. For something extra special try these Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes. The recipe is the perfect size, since it only makes 4. You can easily half the recipe to make two -one for you and one for a friend or that special someone.
Get Creative. You may know exactly what creative outlet melts that mom stress away. Make time for your favorite hobby. Or if you aren’t the creative type I highly recommend Yaymaker. Currently, due to Covid-19, they have moved many of their classes online and are adding more all the time. I hope this doesn’t change anytime soon! I’ve gone to paint and sip classes before and had a blast, but they are soooo expensive! Usually at a cost of $40-$50 plus add a glass of wine, I have a hard time justifying the cost. But, their online paint classes are just $15. You do have to purchase your own paint supplies, but you can do that on the cheap too. I purchase my canvases in bulk at Michaels or Amazon. To get me started I got this kit here.
If all else fails, and you don’t have any energy other than to lie on the couch – NO judgement, I’ve been there- then there’s always Netflix and Amazon Prime!
No matter what you choose, make time for yourself. You spend so much of your time taking care of others, you need a moment too. You’ll be happier and your family will be too!
Want tips to manage stress as a family? Read my article, 4 Steps to Less Stress as a Family here.
THIS MOMMY TRIED IT AND YOU CAN TOO!