Kids are stressful! Or am I the only one who thinks that?
The internet says stress is bad for you, which means it must be true. I’m not into the typical anti-stress activities like spas, manicures or massages. But there are a few ways I’ve found that help me to de-stress as a stay-at-home mom of two gloriously crazy little boys. Here are six of them.
1. Go Out with Other Moms
It may seem counter-productive to get together with other moms and talk about the source of our stress — our kids — but surprisingly this is one of my favorite ways to unwind. There’s something healing about hearing others share that they have the same or similar stresses as you do. But we always try to keep our “kid talk” short so there’s ample time to discuss “grown-up” things. We laugh. We cry. We commiserate. For me, coming home from a mom’s night out is way better (and usually cheaper) than returning from a spa.
When the majority of my day is spent in chaos, clutter and chocolate-covered fingers, there’s nothing more calming than creating order. I love to see a sparkling clean kitchen, toys put away, shoes tucked neatly in their bins, and an empty trash can. My poor husband has come in some evenings to see me frantically scrubbing away at a stubborn stain on the counter like my life depended on it. Without even asking, he usually knows I’ve had a stressful day.
This one could be dangerous. Let’s be honest, we’re parents, so we’re stressed a lot. But I don’t have a lot of money. So my favorite places to go when I’m stressed include the dollar store, the dollar aisle of Target, or the clearance section of K-Mart. If I’m splurging, I’ll go to a craft store like Michaels or A.C. Moore. I can de-stress in those places for hours. If I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown and need something drastic, I head to Home Goods or Bed Bath & Beyond to redecorate a room in our house or shop for holiday decorations. But those kind of stress attacks are far and few between, luckily for our bank account.
4. Binge Watch a Show
This kind of activity usually happens before stressful events like the holidays or a big event I’m planning. I tend to spend all day wrapped up in the stress of whatever that impending thing is, so in the evenings, when the kids are asleep, my favorite thing to do is to completely zone out to a favorite show. I think my husband secretly enjoys these stressful times in my life because he gets to jump in on the de-stress bingefest. And there’s usually snacks and tasty adult beverages involved. I think that helps.
5. Plan Something
This only works if I’m not currently stressed about something I’ve already planned and usually leads to binge-watching a show. But in those seasons when it’s just every-day stress getting me down, I love to escape by planning something that I can look forward to. It could be jotting down some ideas for a future birthday party, or browsing Pinterest for a holiday centerpiece or wreath I could make. Maybe it’s as simple as texting a few friends to setup a play date or a crafting night. It could be calling our babysitter and picking a random night when she’ll watch the kids so I can plan a surprise date night for my husband. There’s just something about looking ahead to something fun that makes the rough times not so bad.
Sadly, I don’t always turn to this one first. Whenever I do remember to count my blessings, however, it’s always an instant stress reliever. This is especially true if my children are the source of the stress. Sometimes I’ll leave the room, find a quiet spot, and just start making a mental list of what joys my children bring me. I can feel the stress start melting away when I think about these things. I also keep a daily journal that I try to write a few short lines in every night. Just putting on paper the cute things my kids have said, or how I felt at certain moments, can be a great way to let it all go at the end of the day. Because frankly, we have to let it all go. Tomorrow will have it’s own slew of new stresses, so we can’t keep carrying around the ones from today.
So off to Target I go!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.