I won’t lie to you, being a busy mum of three can be stressful. Like off the charts stressful. Especially when things don’t go to plan.
I had a long list of things to do this week and I got none of them ticked off the list. I have a baby who takes about an hour and a half to settle for a 20 minute nap. And then is really grumpy all day because he’s tired. I’ve got two kids off school because of the weather. I’m starting to have to sort out things ready to move house shortly. I’m exhausted because baby wakes at least twice in the night. Plus I’m desperately trying to launch my new course and get my business off the ground so that I can be around for my kids rather than go back to a 9-5 job.
This week has been frustrating to say the least.
But that’s life as a mum for you. You don’t get a choice in a lot of things and that can be really stressful. I don’t get to choose if I spend 90 minutes trying to get my exhausted baby to sleep rather than working. I don’t get a choice if I have to look after him when he’s grumpy and grizzly or wants to be walked around. If I don’t get things sorted then we can’t/won’t move. If I don’t get my business off the ground I can’t be at home for my children as much as I want to be. That’s a lot of pressure and I will quite openly say that I am stressed the fuck out.
Right, rant over!
Even as a Life coach I can still sometimes forget to look after myself when times are stressful. Which just makes me more stressed. I don’t always follow my own advice about asking for help or making sure I’m organised. So, partly to remind myself and partly because I know I’m not the only mum who feels this way, here are 5 things you can do if your busy life is getting you down.
#1 – Ask for help
I’m terrible at this. I will quite happily try and achieve everything myself. Muttering complaints and moaning under my breath at those around me who are able to put their feet up. I’m also a control freak so want things done a certain way or in a certain order. Which means that I don’t really trust other people to do a job properly. But there aren’t many jobs that someone can get really wrong and when I ask for help people are always willing to give it. Being able to ask for help is an important skill in life but particularly when you are a mum. You are not superwoman and cannot do every single thing yourself so if you are feeling overwhelmed then outsource what you can to those around you.
#2 – Prioritise. Ruthlessly.
It feels like everything on my list is of the utmost urgency. But the reality is that most things aren’t. Some of the deadlines are self imposed. Does it really matter if I didn’t manage to launch my course by the end of the month? No, not really. It was just a deadline I set myself that meant I got more and more stressed the closer it got. Yes, of course some things just need to be done but usually, there is a lot that we can drop or postpone.
If you have a long to do list ask yourself which tasks are essential or must be done. Be really ruthless about what you allow on this list. Think about whether it really needs to be on there. Then you can go through the remaining tasks and get rid of any that don’t really matter. Be warned though, changing your thinking to only deal with things that are essential and not bothering with the rest can be very liberating and addictive…
#3 – Take time out to relax
So many mums don’t do this but when you are feeling stressed it’s essential. It can be easy to kid yourself that taking time out will mean that you get less done. But actually, if you are feeling relaxed you are probably going to be more productive and better able to get on with things efficiently. Whatever you do to relax – warm baths, glass of wine, seeing friends, yoga class, dinner out with family – do it little and often. A small act of self care daily will make more of a difference on your stress levels than taking a single day off every few months.
#4 – Organise, plan and plot things out
I can’t state this enough, if life is getting stressful or overwhelming then get organised! There are lots of tools to help you do this now too. I use Asana to organise everything, even my house move. But scraps of paper with to do lists on them work just as well. Think about what you can do to stay ahead of the game. Is it preparing things the night before? Spreading tasks out over a few days or weeks? Can you break things down into smaller, manageable chunks? Can you enlist help and allocate tasks to other people? The benefit to being organised and planning is that it feels great when you are able to see things being done. Being able to tick things off your list will definitely help to reduce your stress levels.
#5 – Watch your mindset
This last point is to highlight that we can often make our own stress worse. I caught myself this week falling into the trap of what I call ‘defeatist’ thinking. I was saying to myself that there was no point trying to get my course written because I don’t have the time. That I shouldn’t bother planning March because there is too much going on and I won’t be able to stick to it. Not only does this make me feel shitty and like I won’t be able to achieve anything but I also actually reduce my chance of achieving anything because I’m not trying. It’s a lose lose situation.
And so, I gave myself a pep talk and made myself think positively to find solutions. I committed to writing just one section of one page a day of my course because any progress is progress (and guess what, I’ve actually written a lot more than that!). I’ve planned March and set goals so that I have a good chance of achieving some of them rather than none of them. Remind yourself that you are capable and able to cope with whatever life throws at you. If you catch yourself thinking negatively, pause and take a breath. Then look for the positive encouragement you can give yourself instead.
These tips seem simple but can be hard to put into practice. Persevere though and it will pay off. You’ll feel less stressed and will most likely start to feel more organised, productive and positive!
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