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5 Stress-Reducing Tips for Busy Moms

  • By Teri Cettina
  • December, 2012
  • published in: Health & Wellness

Between working, family finances, home maintenance, and carpooling, is it any wonder so many moms feel tired and stressed? A 2012 State of the American Family Study issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) showed that 50% of moms believe they contribute more to household finances than their spouse or partner, 58% feel they contribute more to childrearing and 68% more to household chores. Furthermore, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 40% of today’s working moms say they “always feel rushed” (compared to just 24% of the general public).

There’s that old saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? When you’re rushing and stressed, the feeling can quickly spread to the rest of your family. But the alternative can also be true: Being a calmer mom can help your kids and spouse relax more, too. So here are a few ways to stop stressing and start decompressing:

1. Do a brain dump. “Most people—especially moms—keep tons of details, tasks, projects, and ideas in their heads,” says April Perry co-director of and the mother of four children. Instead, “write down every detail you've been storing in your memory,” says Perry. Your list could range from getting the bathtub drain fixed to researching college savings plans. Next, jot down the next actionable step to take on each item. Instead of “get bathtub drain fixed,” it might be “Ask Heather for a referral to the plumber she liked.” You’re more likely to tackle a task if you know exactly what you need to do next.

2. Do what you do best. Minimize the rest. Focus on the things you do better than anyone—usually your job, nurturing your family, and taking care of yourself (no one can sleep or exercise for you!). As for the rest of your chores, find creative ways to reduce or delegate them, suggests Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Was there a task on your “brain dump” list that you dislike or don’t do well? Start there. Could you negotiate with your spouse to take over that chore, outsource it to your kids, do laundry less often, or even send clothes to a wash-and-fold service? Stop assuming you have to do it all.

3. Build a financial cushion. Is your family’s savings account so low that you live in constant fear of an unexpected car repair or roof leak? You’re not alone. According to the same MassMutual study, 23% of moms feel they should be doing more to save for the future, but are struggling to get by. Relieve some anxiety by saving up just $1,000—enough to take care of a small emergency without resorting to credit cards. Sell something, cut back on eating out, or whatever it takes to save a grand. After that, work your way up to saving several months’ worth of your family’s monthly expenses. Also consider meeting with a financial professional to help build a strong foundation to help meet your family’s needs, plans and dreams.

4. Stop following the “parenting pack.” Don’t feel pressured to sign your kid up for piano lessons just because other parents are doing it, or to lay out big bucks for elite kid sports teams if it’s not right for your budget or your family’s schedule. “You are still the best judge of what is right for your family and your child,” says Denise Schipani, author of Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later. The benefit: Your more relaxed family will have the time, energy, and money to jump in on last-minute fun activities, like a movie night or potluck with good friends.

5. Take control of your calendar. Look for one stressful, time-consuming, or non-essential commitment on your upcoming calendar. Maybe there’s a volunteering gig you no longer feel passionate about or a book group you’ve outgrown. Vanderkam suggests phasing yourself out of it—starting today. You’ll be amazed at the immediate sense of relief you feel.

What do you think?

About the author

Teri Cettina is a freelancer who writes regularly about personal finance and family issues for consumer and corporate magazines and websites. She’s also the mom of two daughters.

The content on this web page has not been previously published and is sponsored by MassMutual.

Insurance products issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), 1295 State Street, Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and its subsidiaries C.M. Life Insurance Company and MML Bay State Life Insurance Company, 100 Bright Meadow Boulevard, Enfield, CT 06082.

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives.


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