The phone is ringing, the baby is crying, dinner is burning, and you are late for soccer practice. Not really; did your blood pressure start to rise when you read that? I know mine did! How do you cope when things get crazy; how should you cope when things get crazy?
After attending a recent M.O.P.s presentation by Nona Luke (Lee's Summit Community Church) called "Slow to Anger- Hope for Frustrated Mothers Desiring a Gentle Spirit", we thought her wisdom was worth sharing. Here is just some of what we learned about dealing with stress:
When you feel stressed from outside forces:
Are you taking on too much responsibility? A mother must be able to say "NO" to the needs of others when the needs of her family will be endangered by saying "Yes".
Tip: Give yourself a timeout. Then stop, think, & plan (S.T.P.). If you have to, grab a pen and piece of paper and write it down. Often times, this process is therapeutic in itself; not to mention the fact that it will be one less thing that you have to keep re-running in your brain.
When you don't feel well:
Whether it's PMS, fatigue, illness, pregnancy, or just a plain old headache, they can all be crippling when things get hectic. It's important to identify what the problem is before it becomes overwhelming.
Tip: Recognize the signs of fatigue; crying easily, low energy, grumpiness, etc. Adjust & balance your schedule to include rest time & healthy eating habits. Also don't forget to include at least some time for things like personal interests & friendships which can significantly affect your emotional state.
When you have too many demands with too little time:
There are 24 hours / 144 minutes / 8640 seconds in one day. That means you can only squeeze so much into a limited space. Let's face it, we forget that sometimes, which can leave us feeling like real underachievers. However, that isn't the case at all; it's probably just the opposite.
Tip: Don't cram too much into one day; prioritize, organize, & plan ahead. Be the master of your day, rather than the victim. By having a strategy for the day that includes anticipating potential problems, you can avoid stressful situations that can derail your sanity. Buy a calendar and planner and force yourself to use it!
Warning: Be flexible. Life is full of interruptions, emergencies, & crisis. A mother must train herself to go with the flow, even if it means temporarily abandoning your plan.
When you feel overwhelmed, inadequate or helpless in your role:
You are not superwoman! Don't even try to put that pressure on yourself. Ketterman & Holt suggest that a mother is like velvet over steel; loving & gentle, yet strong and in control.
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
State the desired behavior and results ahead of time.
Make a choice to enjoy your children.
Try to find the funny side of helpless situation; lighten up.
When your children aren't meeting your expectations or you fear they are going in the wrong direction:
Mothers often use loud voices or long lectures to scare children into acting the right way. While this may work in the short-term, it often results in long-term habits that are not productive.
Children need unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness. According to Terri Maxwell: Be patient with your children as they learn over time, not angry when they aren't progressing as quickly as we'd like.
Tip: Break the cycle by leaving the situation. If you are in public, go outside, in a bathroom or your car if you have to. Get your child to calm down so that you can walk them through what went wrong.
One thing is common to all of these tips; keeping a level head. Taking a step back before you react is crucial to you handling things successfully. So the next time you start to feel that sense of self doubt, worry, anger, or stress, take a deep breath and think about how you are about to react. Is your reaction equal to the situation or is it just a chance to blow off steam?
Your family, friends, and blood pressure will thank you!
For more details check out these resources:
"When You Feel Like Screaming - Help for Frustrated Mothers"
Pat Holt & Grace Ketterman, M.D.
"Home schooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit"
"Child Training Tips"
Holy Bible (NIV)