Stress solutions for busy mums

oost mothers who work outside the home are feeling overwhelmed, unsexy, under-supported and terrified of making the wrong choices. With over 900,000 working mums in this country, it appears that life is proving to be hard work.

Australians Jodie Hedley-Ward and Angela Huntsman invited 4708 Australian and New Zealand women to answer 131 questions about their role as mothers. The survey’s preliminary findings showed only 12% of the women felt satisfied with their appearance, just 13% said they spent regular quality time with their partners and a mere 12% felt satisfied with their health and fitness. A miniscule 5% reported that they felt they looked their best ever. If you’re in that category, it’s time to step back and see if you can take some of the pressure off yourself. Here are a few tips to try:

  • Enlist your husband. You are both parents and have equal responsibilities in raising your kids. There is no excuse for a husband not to be involved in day-to-day chores such as washing, cooking, dishes, school lunches etc. Consider taking turns making dinner while the other parent baths the kids; fold the washing together in front of the TV, and while one parent gets breakfast ready in the morning, the other can be making the school lunches.

  • Accept that your husband or other people in your extended family who may help out won’t do it the same way you do.That’s okay. The thing you should remember is that a meal has been cooked and dishes and laundry have been done. The fact that it’s not the way you do it is of no concern – criticising their efforts will only make them feel bad so they’ll be less likely to help out in the future.

  • Don’t feel that your house has to look like something out of a homedecorating magazine.The important thing is that it is clean. Clutter isn’t the end of the world. So rather than race around the house as soon as you get in the door, turning it into a show home, pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea, sit down on the couch with the kids and ask them how their days were. By the time you get up to cook dinner, your stress levels will have decreased substantially and cooking dinner will be more enjoyable. And if anyone criticises the state of your house, suggest that they try living your life for a day!

  • Love the body you’re in.It’s unrealistic to expect that your body will spring back to its pre-baby form without a personal trainer, dietitian and perhaps even cosmetic surgery. That’s how many celebrities do it, so don’t look at pictures of their amazing recoveries and feel fat or unattractive. Give your body time to recover and be proud of it for producing such gorgeous children.

  • Give yourself time to exercise during the week. Exercise reduces stress, while burning calories, so it’s a good idea to try to do some kind of activity nearly every day. Consider watching an hour of TV instead of two and go for a walk instead. In summer, head to the park with the kids before dinner and kick a ball around. You could also buy an exercise DVD and use it while the kids are doing their homework and your hubby is cooking dinner or take a walk in the fresh air at lunchtime.

  • Make time for your partner. It’s easy for couples to become so focused on their children that they forget about nurturing their relationship. oany successful couples organise a date night once a week. Book a babysitter and head out to a movie, take some fish and chips to the beach, or go to the local pub for a drink. It’s important to set aside some together-time apart from when you’re in bed exhausted at the end of the day. You’ll be surprised at how much you share and how enjoyable it is.

  • Kids are tough. They will survive if you feed them baked beans on toast occasionally.They will also survive if you forget to iron their uniform, have to miss a soccer practice or haven’t changed their bed linen for a few weeks. When it comes to parenting, the 70/30 rule can work well for busy mothers. As long as you do the things you should 70% of the time, no-one will notice the other 30% of the time when you need to take a nap, go for a walk or have a drink with a friend after work.

  • Banish guilt from your life. All mums feel guilty sometimes, but it is largely a wasted emotion. If you forgot to pick your child up on time, forgot to check their homework or gave them reheated leftovers for dinner, forgive yourself and move on. Nobody is perfect and you are doing the best you can.

  • Stop being so green-focused and eco-friendly.It’s good to be aware of the environment and make good choices, but it is also good to relax and enjoy things with your kids. Junk food is fine in moderation, organic certification is great if you can afford it but locally grown, fresh food is still nutritious. And, yes, disposable nappies fill up rubbish dumps. Simply focus on feeding your family the best food you can afford and reducing your carbon footprint in ways you can manage.

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