Being a mum is definitely a great joy and a great challenge as well. We often find ourselves stressing over certain things and dealing with different problems and difficulties as we raise our children.
So what do us mothers stress about? And how do we deal with our stress 'triggers'? This article hopes to explore both questions, in the hope of helping all the mums out there be better, live better and do better by their children.
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Most mothers would probably agree that the demands on their time are mum's biggest stress-button. With an infant, there are the demands of feeding, changing, bathing… everything 24/7.
With toddlers, on the other hand, mothers stress about their kid's constant moving about. You’re always getting them out of one mess or another, making sure they eat properly, training them to use the potty, digging out cereal, rocks and whatever else they suddenly choose to lodge in their noses, and trying your darnedest to make sure they are loving and obedient.
Then, when your kids start going to school, you think you’ll have more time on your hands and stress less, but instead, you are running to and from their school, sports practices and games, music lessons and play dates, and spend the evening helping them learn to multiply and memorize their spelling words.
Is it a wonder then that mothers stress about everything related to their children — even if they're already bigger and more 'grown-up'? It's a never-ending process actually!
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Mums usually have the task of making sure there are enough groceries in the house, the kids have enough shoes, clothes, and school supplies, and the sports fees and the household expenses are paid. This has never been easy, but with the economy being what it is, it’s more difficult and more stressful than ever to make sure your finances are enough.
Childcare is also something mothers stress about in relation to finances. Mums who work outside the home sometimes find it difficult to get good childcare for their kids, which can sometimes lead them to ask: should I work inside or outside the home?
When faced with such a question, they'd have to decide how cost-effective it is to stay (or work) at home, after taking into consideration the cost of childcare, transportation, a professional wardrobe and so forth. Will not working affect their health care insurance? Would they be better off working from home?
This isn’t to say that all mums are making these decisions alone — many have the help and support of their spouses, but it’s simply the nature of a mum to hold these matters close to her heart.
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I'm sure more than one daddy has felt a bit neglected after the birth of a baby — especially the firstborn. The mum of a newborn (first or fifth) is tired, feeling a bit frumpy and not exactly in the mood for sex every night.
Hopefully, your man isn't laying a guilt trip on you over your 'inactive' sex drive, but either way, you need to take the necessary steps to not lose your identity as a woman — a woman who is desired and sexually attractive. So get dressed, put on a bit of make-up, put the kids to bed early and get it on with your man.
On an unrelated note, some mothers stress over losing contact with their non-mom friends. If this applies to you, go get a sitter or leave the kids with your husband or mum, and spend some time with the girls — even if it's just once a month.
On the flip side, other mothers stress about not having mummy friends. If this is the case, take the time to establish relationships with other mums at your kid's playgroup or school, or with mums in your neighbourhood.
Stressing over safety
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Mums also stress over keeping their children safe, which is only natural. The dangers our children face includes stranger dangers, physical dangers from sporting activities and bullying.
Sadly, in today’s society, it's getting harder and harder for us to feel OK about sending our children outside to ride their bikes or play with the neighbourhood children — because there is a chance that danger (in the form of child predators, etc) is lurking nearby.
How to deal with stress as a mum
Being a mum is hard work. You worry about everything, with questions about almost anything and everything popping up in your head:
Are they dressed warmly enough?
Are they eating properly?
Will they learn to crawl at the right time?
Will they ever be potty trained?
What wrong did I do to make them say "I hate you"?
Why did they have to kick Aunt Ethel in the shins?
Is my child the only one not invited to the party?
Will they ever learn to divide?
Is making the soccer team at age 9 a signal of doom when it comes to scholarships for college?
The list is endless and so is the stress that comes from worrying about such things. I could try to be coy and tell you not to worry, but as a mum myself, I know how useless that would be.
So instead of saying "Oh, mothers stress about everything all the time, it's not a big deal," I’ll give you a bit of advice that has helped me through the years:
Do something or let it go
When you catch yourself worrying about something, ask yourself:
- What can you do about the situation in the next 10 minutes?
- Will that particular 'stressor' matter in a day, week or year?
Once you answer those two questions, either act accordingly or let it go.
Keeping our kids safe
How about when it comes to our kids' safety, as mentioned earlier? How can one stress less over it?
Prevention through educating your children is the best measure. Keep your kids safe and teach them to scream, run, and give them a code word to alert you to the fact that danger is at hand.
Aside from safety education, wearing the right equipment, playing by the rules and having a relationship that fosters communication and trust will help keep your child safe — and relieve at least some of the stress you might have.
Remember that you have the best job in the world
Being a mum is hard, wonderful, stressful and rewarding — all at the same time. The pay isn’t all that great, the hours are long, there’s not a lot of room for advancement and there’s no guarantee it will always go as planned, but there is no job as rewarding or rich in returns.
So if you're feeling stressed about all the things that come with being a mum, just remember — you've got the best job in the world!