It’s Okay To Feel Stressed Out (And To Ask For Help)

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There is not a mom out there who has not felt completely overwhelmed at one point or another. It seems like that is the nature of being a mom – there is something about “moming” that makes you want to be Super Mom and do everything for everybody all the time. The flip side of doing everything is that it leaves mom feeling stressed out and feeling bad about feeling stressed out. The truth is that it is okay to feel stressed out. The bigger truth is the fact that there is nothing wrong with asking for help.  


Super Mom

Moms go to work, cook, clean, chauffeur kids from place to place, help with homework, find the perfect gift for their mother-in-law’s birthday, spend two hours talking to their BFF on the phone to console her after a bad day, and organize the school’s bake sale all while trying to find time to read a few pages of the novel that has been sitting on the bedside table for six months and fit in a yoga class once a week. That is a lot. No wonder moms feel stressed out.

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The problem is that moms want to feel like they can do it all on their own. All moms want to be supermoms. Working moms want to be able to have a career and take care of their children. Stay at home moms often feel like they have to be the perfect mom who devotes all her time to her family without asking for help since being a mom is her priority.

Whether a working mom or a stay at home mom, both situations have the same problem – moms put these insane expectations on themselves. That is, society has taught moms to put those expectations on themselves. Society has taught women that if they have children (and they should want to have children, but that is another story!), they should make their family the priority. 

Moms tend to feel like if they try harder, they can do everything. If they were a better mom, they would not feel so stressed out by all the expectations they try to meet and all the tasks that need doing. But waking up the next morning and trying the same thing all over again is not going to change the outcome. The fact of the matter is there are only so many hours in the day and you are only one person. 

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Even Superheroes Ask For Help

It can be hard to ask for help. Asking for help is admitting that you cannot do everything. It is saying that you need support. The idea that when a mom asks for help she is not a good mom or she cannot handle her responsibilities could not be farther from the truth. The opposite is actually true. Even superheroes have to call in backup. 

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Asking for help does not mean you are not enough. Again for those moms in the back – asking for help does not mean you are not enough. Asking for help, like when superheroes call in their friends to defeat the bad guy, means you are looking for the best interests of your kids – and yourself. Because being stressed out is not only bad for you, it affects your kids too. When you are stressed out, you will eventually get tense and irritable. That is when you become impatient and start yelling, which does not accomplish anything.

There is a reason the saying “it takes a village” exists. The idea that moms can be an island needs to be forgotten and quickly. No one can raise a family single-handedly. 

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Take A Breath And Call In Some Backup

Moms are always being told to take a break or to take time for themselves. That is easier said than done. When you are stressed out and feel like you cannot get everything done, that is not the easiest time to step away and take time to regroup. First of all, walking away or taking a break goes back to the problem of asking for help. There are not many moms who can take a break without asking someone to cover something or watch the kids. 

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So rather than being more stressed out because everyone tells you to take a break when you are already drowning, here are a few ideas to help minimize your stress and make you feel comfortable calling in backup. 

  1. Look for stress warning signs. Get in tune with what makes you feel stressed. It sounds simple, but how often do you take a minute to realize what moments in the day cause you to feel stressed out? When you start feeling impatient or irritable, you start to raise your voice, or you feel frazzled, take a second to realize what is causing you to feel that way and take note. The practice of being mindful about how you feel and what makes you feel that way in and of itself can help you lessen your stress.
  2. Find ways to defuse the stress. Once you know the things triggering you to feel stressed out, you can come up with a few fixes to make things a little easier. If getting out the door is a stressor, lay things out the night before, put lunches together in the fridge, and put the things you need by the door so you do not forget them. 
  3. Deal with one thing at a time. How often are you doing one thing and thinking about the 15 other things you also need to accomplish? There is nothing more stress-inducing than worrying about everything all at once. Instead, focus on the present moment. It is hard and will take a lot of practice to stop your brain from thinking about the load of laundry you need to do, the dishes in the sink, and what time you need to leave the house to get the kids to soccer on time when you should be focusing on the math homework you are helping your middle schooler with at the moment. But it can be done. Once you commit to worrying about one thing at a time, you will likely also realize that you are not constantly stressed out anymore.  
  4. Talk it out with your BFF. There is not much that a call with your bestie cannot solve. Whether you just chit chat on the phone for 30 minutes while you fold the laundry or you call to vent about how stressed out you are, a call with one of the people who knows you best will help. Swapping a few stories that make you laugh raises cortisol levels and will leave you feeling happier. Complaining about how you can never seem to get everything done will also leave you feeling better because either she is going to tell you she feels the exact same way and you will hang up knowing you are not alone in this, or you will just feel better having gotten it off your chest. So do it. Call her. She will not judge your crazy ranting.
  5. Get some exercise. Exercise is not only good for your body, it is also good for your mind. Put your little one in the stroller, have your older kids hop on their bikes, and take a walk around the neighborhood. Go to the park for 30 minutes and walk laps around the playground while your kids run off some of that energy. This will let you clear your head while also getting the kids out of the house for even just a little bit. The laundry and the dishes will all still be there when you get home. There is no rush to get those done. 
  6. Ask for help already! Once you have tuned in to how you are feeling, practiced living in the present, and talked it out with your best friend, you will probably still feel stressed out from time to time. Everyone does. No one can do everything all the time. So ask for help. Ask your husband to bring the kids to soccer so you can clean up the house without kids tearing it right back up behind you. Ask your mom to watch the kids while you run a few errands. See if your BFF would mind letting your kids have a playdate at her house one day while you go to a doctor’s appointment. No one minds pitching in, but they cannot help if they do not know what you need.
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There is nothing wrong with wanting to be Super Mom. It just means you want to be a great mom to your kids. But in order to be that great mom, you have to know when you cannot go it alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or some sort of signal that says you cannot handle things. It takes a strong, smart person to rally the troops and call for help when you need it. After all, that’s what Superman does and no one ever accuses him of being weak.

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