Mom stress... or is this the new norm? As a child counselor, I sometimes feel like people may think I know all of the answers to raising a perfect angel of a child and being that perfect stress-free mom. But I am hear to tell you that I in fact am not. Why? Well, for starters because there is no perfect child, or perfect way to parent. When I was searching for pregnancy books, I found this title on the shelf and had to laugh out loud:
I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids
Most people think they have all of the answers before they have kids, but they don't know jack until they have to face it themselves. It's funny to hear people say, "I will never let my kids do that" because chances are, you probably one day will be standing there eating your words :)
Parenting is the most rewarding job I have ever had, but also the hardest job. Ever. Because not only is it mentally and physically exhausting with the day to day tasks, but it's also hard in the fact that you are teaching, enriching, modeling, and planning for your child's future, which is a stress in and of itself.
How do you get through it? Here are a few things that have helped me:
We all eventually get through it, the stress and the joys of parenting. But what I forget and take for granted sometimes, is the support group of moms that I have to help make life as a mom easier. And all I have to say is I don't know where I would be without them!! They make me feel more grounded and I know how normal mom stressors can be. I met most of them in my neighborhood and in my area Early Childhood PTA.
I forget how great they are, because I will be talking to a friend on the phone that is also a mom but may live out of town or I don't see as often, and she will tell me about her crazy day with her kids and ask, "is that normal for my child to....?" and I will think she is crazy for asking, because we have all already talked about fighting that battle with our kids in my mom support group, and so thankful for that!
My friends that struggle and don't have a support group of moms will call and tell me things like "my husband walked in from work and asked what was for dinner, and after having a rough day of my kids demanding a lot of attention and 20 questions, I could not handle one.more.question, and lost it." I wanted to tell her, "girl, you have no idea how normal that is."
Having my support group, we will text each other with questions like, "My child just pooped on the floor, what do I do? " and we all help the poor mom out.
Or the group text asking us all if it's normal to take your kids out to eat at the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru every night for dinner one week, because their husband is out of town and can't deal with cooking dinner. Normal? Check. (And one of those things you probably swore you'd never do before kids).
We also get together for playdates weekly and sometimes daily, and talk about potty training strategies, preschool choices, TV as a babysitter? what to do when our child says, "no!" and we start to feel sooo normal and not so isolated out there.
As a mom, whether you are working (which can be even harder to find mom supports at work), or staying at home, you need that female support because feeling isolated can cause depression and even more stress.
Where to find a support group?
LOOK for that support group in your area, because it's such an important part of being a mother. They have working mom groups, single mom groups and area early childhood PTA's. There are groups you can find on meetup.com and if you don't see one that fits what you are looking for, form your own!
If you want to find a preschool PTA group, go to this PTA link to search for an 'early childhood' PTA or 'preschool PTA'.
Another support that has helped me is being a member of a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in my town, where we meet twice a month. It's a church sponsored program that provides free childcare so we can have a break :) We eat brunch, talk to other moms (socialize, what's that?) and listen to speakers teach us about discipline, child nutrition, and how to be a stress-less mom. We especially love the speakers that are the seasoned moms telling us, "it's okay to NOT have your house clean every day! Leave the laundry on the sofa, the dishes in the sink, and don't feel you have to do it all!"
When my day is busy, and my house is a mess, my kids are screaming and I want to scream right there with them like a 2 year old, and throw myself on the floor, I think about those speakers and the moms in my MOPS group and remember that it's normal, and I am not alone.
Other great supports for me have been living in a family friendly neighborhood, finding a great preschool for my daughter and of course my family. You can also meet other moms at various children activities like storytime at your local library/bookstore, indoor play gyms, and mommy and me classes like Kindermusik, and Little Gym.
One speaker from my MOPS group once told us that having that group of women (moms) you can talk to is a biological, hormone stress release. So that means no complaining to your husband about your day; call up a friend or meet up with some moms, you will feel 100% better :)