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I’m a first-time mom, so I’m not a pro at managing the most stressful moments of motherhood yet. I also have anxiety so it’s easy for me to get very wound up on special occasions, which is really unfortunate. I’m talking about things like holidays, birthday parties, family photo day, play dates, hosting events. You know, all those times when our expectations are extremely high, so we put a ton of extra pressure on ourselves for perfection? So to help you, and me, navigate these moments like experts while staying cool, calm, and collected, I’ve gathered 10 great tips on how to de-stress as a mom.
By the way, some of these ideas came from the members of my Facebook Community Group. It’s open to every current or future mother who wants to help support and validate other women. Check it out! Now onto the tips.
10 quick tips on how to de-stress during special occasions:
10. “Always plan a backup outfit.” We’re coming out the gates with a practical tip. I can literally think of so many reasons a child might come home in a different outfit than they left home in, For my 7 month old, it’s all about the drool and solid food stains. For other kids it’s blowouts, and a million other messy situations. Plus, if you have a backup, whatever shenanigans transpire when you’re out and about are going to seem a lot less stressful. And let’s face it: it’s much more fun to let kids be kids and babies be babies when you aren’t worried they’ll be going home naked.
9. I just can’t vocalize this tip any better myself. So I’m using my friend, Ashley’s words. “Really ask yourself what’s important to you and focus on those things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of what we ‘should’ be doing and lose sight of what we want to be doing and what we like doing. As a mom, it’s so easy to overextend ourselves and I really think this is intensified over the holiday season because we want to be these perfect Instagram, Pinterest moms and we don’t take the time to ask if we really enjoy it.
As moms, we know we are the magic of the holiday season and it can really take a toll. Our kids don’t notice if we skip out on certain things. And taking those things off of our plates can minimize stress and increase happiness and enjoyment for everyone.” Bravo, mama. You’ve clearly got this figured out.
8. With birthdays, holidays, and other gift giving occasions, “get practical gifts for little ones.” It’s easy to get wrapped up (haha), in trying to figure out the perfect thing to give. But honestly, it’s all plastic junk after a couple days anyway. If you haven’t seen this hilarious video of a baby consistently choosing household objects over baby toys every single time, you’re missing out. By practical gifts I mean things you already need to buy for them or a college fund contribution. For little ones, it’s all about the fun of seeing gifts wrapped up and opening anyway.
7. Don’t overcommit yourself. During my maternity leave, I limited myself to only one outing or visitor a day. It was all I felt like I could handle. It also helped space out things that I had to look forward to. This has also come strongly recommended by other moms with kids for the busy holiday season. Again, focusing and centering around the real meaning behind the holidays or the goal of the day can help with this.
Yes, family is excited to get together, but everyone is going to be a whole lot happier if we don’t miss our regular nap time. So, we’re pacing ourselves. By the way, this is a notoriously difficult challenge for blended families, but it is still possible to keep preserve your mental health, I promise. Communicating healthy boundaries with family early and often is the best way to go about this. I say things like “We can’t wait to celebrate together this year, but we are committing to a schedule of visiting with one family per day. Let’s figure out when works best for us all.”
6. Remember these wise words from my mother. “I have enough. I do enough, I am enough. Whatever you’re doing, stop when it’s good enough. Let us practice mindfulness so we can identify and reframe the old, dysfunctional stories we automatically operate with. It’s been a lifelong challenge for me, and practice helps.”
5. Unplug and live in the present. This one is a challenge for me sometimes. And I know it’s something a lot of people struggle with in a digital age when it feels like our lives are completely tied to our phones. I need to remind myself to log off, put my phone away, and focus on the moment I’m in. Life is a lot more enjoyable when we aren’t always multitasking and are able to soak up quality moments as a family.
If you feel overwhelmed with all you have to do: try a brain dump of everything that comes to mind that you need to accomplish. Put them in priority order, and tackle 1-3 things a day. Even having that list helps you feel like you aren’t forgetting something important which gives you the ability to relax and stay calm.
I also have a spot in my house by the door where I put whatever I need to bring for my next event or special occasion. That way, I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off wondering where the bottle of wine went–while trying to get my family out the door on time.
4. Work as a team with your significant other. Whether it be creating a day-to-day family routine, or getting through those special–but stressful–days together. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s 1,000,000% more fun to be on the same page with each other than to feel like you’re on separate teams. My trick to this is communicating my needs and expectations as early as possible.
That way, husband isn’t required to drop whatever he is doing to assist in my sudden vision for what a perfect day looks like. The same goes the other way around. We use a family shared google calendar so he can see when I have upcoming appointments or engagements and he knows he’s got to do daycare pickup, etc.
3. Stop doing so much. That’s it. That’s the whole tip. Actually it’s kind of fun. Try making a list of all the things you refuse to do as a mother. It’s kind of empowering.
For example, yes we TRY to eat healthy as often as possible. But half the time we have sandwiches for lunch and we’ll do a frozen pizza for dinner here and there, Why? Because making 3 healthy meals from scratch 7 days a week just isn’t in the cards for this family. That is, unless my husband or my son want to do it. Because I just won’t. Cue my favorite meal delivery service, Hello Fresh, mama! Other things I thought I would do and decided I simply will not? Make baby food and use cloth diapers. I don’t care enough. Sorry, not sorry.
Here’s another example of what that looks like for our family. My son didn’t wear clothes for the first 3 months of his life. I mean that literally, not figuratively. I didn’t understand the point when he had to be swaddled in this swaddle sack thing we had every time he slept, which was frequently enough to put most cats to shame. We got a couple raised eyebrows and comments about it. But hey, my house, my kid, my rules, my way, and I DGAF.
2. Get in cahoots on gift giving expectations for kids in your family. Ok I’m actually obsessed with this concept which was my sister-in-law’s idea this year. We were laughing about the fact that we exchanged college fund gift contribution links with each other. And how it felt a lot like the mobsters in the movie who just exchange envelopes of cash at Christmas. So she said these magical words, “Want to just skip getting gifts for the kids this year since they aren’t old enough to know better or care?” And I was like YES, QUEEN.
Then we agreed to do a book gift exchange the following years instead of writing each other checks. Then I sighed a huge sigh of relief because I had waited until the last minute and was so glad I didn’t have to scramble to find something for her kiddos for Christmas, or get them ordered, wrapped and shipped in time!
1. Lower your expectations. If you’re wondering how to de-stress overall in life, this is my favorite tip of them all. Because it really says it all. I’ve talked before about the incredible pressure to be perfect that comes with being a mother in a social media driven world. And I really think we need to get back to being kind to ourselves. I mean I don’t know about you, but my life sure doesn’t look like the picture above. And that’s alright with me.
I hope this guide on how to de-stress helps all you mamas take a little pressure off yourselves in your day-to-day life. And on those special occasions and holidays where expectations of doing things a certain way can ruin our fun and wreak havoc on our stress levels. Got any other great tips to share with other moms? Let me know in the comments below.
And feel free to check out my little self care gift shop if you want to treat yourself (or pamper a friend) with something special today while supporting this blog and other mama-owned businesses!
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