It's 6:00 in the evening and piles of laundry greet you at the door. You realize you didn't defrost dinner and find the dog has left another surprise on your living room floor. Whether you just got home from work or are wrangling the kids after a long day of playing chauffeur, your everyday #MomStress is real. You could use a break, but who has the time or money for regular massages? Here are some quick and easy (and cheap!) ways to deal on a daily basis.
How to cope: Frenzied mornings can be intensely stressful for families with young children, says Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D., an associate psychology professor at California Polytechnic State University who serves on The Goddard School's Executive Advisory Board. Do whatever can be done ahead of time the night before—from packing lunches to selecting outfits. Also, try getting up before the kids. It's tough at first, but worth it in the end, Dr. Jipson says. Just think about how zen you'll feel taking a leisurely shower and sipping a cup of coffee without interruptions. And get children as young as preschool to pitch in during your morning routine, like bringing breakfast bowls to the sink or putting on socks and shoes.
How to cope: When her school-age son caused a small explosion in the science lab, certified meditation coach and co-founder of the OMG.I Can Meditate! app Lynne Goldberg knew how to keep her cool. "I took a deep breath, centered myself, asked for the details, and listened calmly," she says. When stress strikes, keep your breathing slow and look at the situation from your child's perspective. "My son is naturally inquisitive and impulsive. His desire to understand and experiment are qualities that will serve him well in life," she says.
How to cope: Boston mom-of-three Kara Carrero outsources household chores, like her laundry, so she doesn't stress so much about spending quality time with her kids. It ends up costing just $8-$10/hour, which is well worth it for an hour as a family. Her brood also realized that too much noise and too little personal space can trigger both parents and kiddos. So whenever the stress level is rising, everyone takes a "bubble break" and goes in their own zone of the house with headphones.
How to cope: Self-care is key. For New York City mom-of-two Alena Gerst, this means lying on a yoga mat with tennis or lacrosse balls (they're firmer!) under her shoulders while watching TV after her 1- and 3-year-old go to bed. Gerst and her husband have regular date nights about once a month, while she also has a good, trustworthy friend to text whenever she's feeling particularly overwhelmed ("so I can vent to her without fear of being judged"). And finding the time to hang out with friends who don't have kids gives her a chance to talk about other things that she might not with mom friends.
How to cope: Better to think of yourself as gardener rather than sculptor, says psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D. "Children come into the word with different temperaments and aptitudes. Our job is to nurture those and recognize their unique qualities while guiding them in learning about relationships," she says.
How to cope: Filling your routine to the brim can often backfire. There's coordinating transportation schedules for multiple activities and multiple children, on top of the financial cost of it all, says Dr. Jipson. So simply do less. Dr. Jipson recommends setting aside at least two evenings a week when nothing is scheduled after school so the entire family can be home together enjoying a meal or playing a game. More is not always better, adds Dr. Kennedy-Moore. "A certain amount of benign neglect is good for kids," she says. Give your children room to mess up and try again, and to discover their interests and the world around them.