Tips To Relieve Mommy Stress
It has been a truly crazy, hectic, absolutely-more-than-I-can handle past few weeks after Eid! I don't really know how it became so hectic, but I felt like my responsibilities were getting the better of me. I had no time to write a blog post, no time to call a family member, and no time to even keep a thought! I felt cluttered and overwhelmed by all my to-do's. I had to decide...was I going to burst into tears, or take the bull by the horns and change my tactics. Well, I did both! But for embarrassment's sake, I'm only going to share with you about the latter.
Have you ever wondered what is causing your mommy stress? I think my reasons are:
When I have more things to do and not enough time to do it.
When I'm not prepared in advance for important things.
When I don't focus on one thing.
Normally, I am a very organized mommy, but since moving to a new home in June of this year, my regular organizational methods went out the window and I needed to start from scratch. Here are 16 tips that helped me relieve some stress when the going got tough.
1. Ask Allah (SWT) [pullquote]We forget that Allah (SWT) is the Only One that can truly help us,[/pullquote]
I started to ask Allah (SWT) for help more often. We forget that Allah (SWT) is the Only One that can truly help us, so we need to get into the habit of asking Him for help first! When we feel stressed out, we call a parent, a sister, a friend, or we pick a fight with our husband and kids. What we fail to do first and foremost, is ask the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate One to help us, He is the Best of Helpers.
2. Write It Down
I started to write down everything and anything that I could remember and needed to do. It will feel as if you are clearing your mind from clutter and transferring the clog in your brain onto a page that you can actually see. After I wrote down everything that I needed to do, I formulated categories, and put my to-do's under the correct category.
3. Become Organized [pullquote]Organizing is one of the best ways to get yourself on track[/pullquote]
I started making lists for everything and anything. Organizing is one of the best ways to get yourself on track. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to a mommy. Next, I printed out lists for myself and each of my kids (even hubby has a list). I made the print-outs a little decorative by adding columns, stickers, and pictures, especially for my kids. Some of my lists were made into charts and hung on the fridge, and some of my lists were printed and put in my home file. I made meal plans and cleaning lists as well and added it to my home file, which I set on my kitchen counter for easy access.
4. Start Routines
I started to make routines for everything and everyone. Routines form into habits that will be easy to do often. I ensured that everyone knew what to do and when to do it. I made routines that were easy and quick from the lists on the fridge, and in my home file. I told myself and each of my kids that every day these tasks needed to be completed or else!
5. Limit The Web [pullquote]I would only touch my laptop when I had something important to check[/pullquote]
I started to put a limit on my internet usage. Usually, when I go on the web, I have a purpose or goal, but somewhere along the way, I get distracted by reading something new or checking a link that leads to another link that needs to another link...(I think you get the point). I end up taking way longer than I originally planned. I decided to commit to myself, that I would only touch my laptop when I had something important to check, do that one thing only, and return when I had another important thing to check.
6. Use A Timer
I started to set a timer when doing certain tasks. Sometimes we mean well and start a task, only to go too deep into it. So, if all you intended to do was wipe some spills on the fridge shelf, but ended up cleaning the entire fridge, which made you late to make dinner (sigh), a timer will stop this from happening. A timer will serve as a reminder to complete that task only in that amount of time (it might make you feel like a kid, but hey, it helps).
It also works well for web surfing. When I go on certain sites that I know can be distracting, like Pinterest and recipe sites, I will set a timer for myself and only browse for that set amount of time, then I force myself to leave. Give yourself anywhere from 10-15-30 mins to surf, once the buzzer goes, leave your computer and return when you have a moment to browse again.
7. Use Bookmarks
I started using my computer's bookmark function more. The bookmark option in your browser is a wonderful tool to save a page for later perusal. I started to bookmark interesting tabs and sites that I wanted to explore, for later, when I had more time to do this.
8. Take A Time Out [pullquote]The best way to declutter one's mind and get back on task, is to find some peace and quiet to think.[/pullquote]
I started taking a time out for 10-15 mins. No, I wasn't punishing myself, actually, I was rewarding myself. When we are under pressure, we get overwhelmed and forgetful and become less productive. The best way to declutter one's mind and get back on task is to find some peace and quiet to think. This is not possible with kids, I know, so what I do is explain to my children that mommy is feeling a bit stressed-out and needs to think for a few minutes (kids really understand honesty the best). Then I ask my older kids to keep my younger kids busy by playing with them or reading them a story and I go to my bedroom. Once there, I sit on the floor, close my eyes, make some dhikr, and let my thoughts flow. I do not take my laptop or phone with, I just focus. After about 15 mins, I know what I need to accomplish and I mentally set my steps and go do it!
9. Cut down Kitchen Prep Time
I started to find easier ways to prep for meals. I discovered that when I buy frozen vegetables, (onions, carrots, spinach, green peppers and celery) instead of fresh, I don't have to run to the store last minute, wash, drain and chop the veggies before every meal. It is also more frugal because I never have my vegetables go bad. I also started to keep the peels on some of my vegetables (potatoes, carrots) when I cook, so it saves peeling time and is hardly noticeable and healthier! Another thing I do is boil my potatoes first, then add it to my food, to save on cooking time.
10. Cut down on Fussy Eating [pullquote]Eat it or leave it, there are no substitutions![/pullquote]
I never allow my family to be fussy eaters. It makes me cringe when I see children making demands on their poor mother by telling them that they don't eat this and they don't eat that. Cut this out, if your kids do it! If you're feeding them healthy, tasty meals, they have no right to complain. The rule in our home is 'eat it or leave it, there are no substitutions!' I make quick meal substitutions for busy moments such as smoothies. I freeze fruit such as bananas and berries, so I always have it on hand and blend it with milk and a dash of honey. My kids love it as much as ice-cream and it will hold them until your meal is ready!
11. Make One-Pot Meals
I started to find recipes for meals that don't have too many sides. I make meals that can be put together in one pot on the stove, or a pan in the oven. I make meals such as soups, goulash, chili, stews, casseroles, pilafs and curries, and use convenient appliances such as a rice maker, slow cooker, and pressure cooker to save time in the kitchen. I freeze pita, tortilla and naan bread, so I always have that on hand. You can always go back to making time-consuming meals when you're back on track.
12. Give Your Kids More Chores [pullquote]Remind yourself that your home and your stuff are just dhuniya[/pullquote]
I started adding more chores for my kids. My children already do basic chores, but my husband keeps telling me that they are capable of bigger tasks. I realize that the reason why I didn't give my kids the bigger tasks before, was because I like things to be done a certain way (like every other mom I know). I had to let that go. Remind yourself that your home and your stuff are just dhuniya, and then take the time to teach your kids the right way to do bigger tasks. Have the patience to train them, and the result will be less work for you!
13. Reduce Some Cleaning
I started to take shortcuts on cleaning. I now clean areas of my home thoroughly only once a week, then do quick clean-ups throughout the week to maintain. I assign each of my kids an area of the house to keep clean, so it reduces my burden. It also helps a lot to remove clean-ups that never end. For us, it was our kitchen table and chairs! We started to eat the sunnah way, on the floor, and it has become much easier to clean-up after every meal, compared to when we had to wipe tables and chairs and sweep every time!
14. Declutter and Buy Less [pullquote]If it doesn't have a purpose, or it's not pretty, remove it![/pullquote]
I do this all the time and I have said this many times on Muslimommy, less is more. I notice many homes just have too much stuff. A lot of stuff all over makes a cluttered home and clutters your mind. Try to reduce your things and give it Fi Sabilillah for charity. My rule of thumb is, 'if it doesn't have a purpose, or it's not pretty, remove it'! Also, now when I buy anything, I first ask myself, 'do I really need it and where will I put it?' If I do not have these answers, I do not buy it. Live simple and clutter-free and you will be less stressed.
15. Take a mommy break
I am going to restart taking my precious mommy time. I used to go alone at least once a week to do errands, normally when my husband was at home on weekends. Since moving to Georgia, life has not settled into a regular routine, so I have not been able to do this. It really gets me down when I don't get a mommy break. If your situation does not allow you to go out and take a break when hubby is home, then make a day and time once in the week, when your kids are at school, or if they're home, put on an educational movie for them, and use that time to do a hobby or something that you love. It makes you a better mommy because you feel like you have a life!
16. Get Help
I used to get a mother's helper when all these steps did not help me enough, Alhamdulillah, I'm doing ok on my own now. If you try to do as much as you can to de-stress, but you still feel under pressure, then that means your load is just too much and you will need to get help. Hire a mother's helper (they are cheaper than a cleaning lady), and get her to do some tasks for you once, twice or even thrice a week, depending on your budget and your needs. There is no shame in saying that you need help, and I talk from experience when I say that getting a helper really, really helps. I would usually get someone to clean instead of babysit for me because I rather spend more time with my kids than on my house. [pullquote]Remember that when the going gets tough, think of the eternal Jannah promised![/pullquote]
I pray your burdens ease-up and these steps help you to de-stress somewhat. I will be posting some of these tips in greater detail in the next few weeks, Insha Allah. Keep your Imaan strong my dear sisters and remember that when the going gets tough, think of the eternal Jannah promised!