3 things I wish I learned a lot earlier that help me stress less

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Your life


My kiddo is eight years old (OMG, my kiddo is EIGHT YEARS OLD!!!) and you’d think by this point I’d have this working mom routine down cold, right? No such thing, as it turns out — with every stage there are new challenges, new discoveries, new awesome moments, and yes, new things I learn that I wish someone got through my stubborn head earlier.

Here are three recent discoveries which are helping make my crazy busy life a little less so:

  • Ask your kids for help. OK, so this advice is hard to take if your kiddo is still a baby, but I think it definitely applies to toddlers and older. Here is one example of what I mean: Cooking. I cook a lot and it’s one of the household chores that takes a bunch of my time. I used to do all the cooking at night, after my daughter went to sleep (a few times a week, so that there would be fresh dinner for next day or two). I tried to optimize the time with her for stuff like reading or playing or doing some art together. Recently I’ve started to get her involved in the cooking and it’s a life changer on so many levels. She actually has fun and is learning about food and cooking, which I think is really important longer term. I get a helper and a companion (she is getting pretty good at peeling carrots!) We do something together and create something together, which is awesome. And I don’t need to stay up til all hours at night cooking. Serious win-win and I highly recommend that you find something in your busy life your kids could help you with.
  • If you think it, write it down. You know all those to-dos swirling in your head at 2am? Yep, those. I adopted a new habit recently which is helping a lot: If I think of something I need to do or remember, I write it down, immediately. By immediately I mean immediately, literally. I either type a note on my iPhone, send myself an email or put it on my to-do list. Sure, this is not a perfect system and things fall through the cracks, but what this accomplishes is it literally removes these to-dos from my head. Less swirling, less 2am wake up sessions in a frenzy.
  • Develop one or two calm down routines. When I am really stressed or overwhelmed, I go for a walk. I actually go for a walk every morning before my family wakes up but in addition, if I am stressed out, out I go. But this isn’t always practical — maybe I’m at work and can’t leave at that moment or it’s Boston winter outside and I am just not up for braving another snowstorm. So I’ve found a few other tiny rituals that send the de-stress vibes to my brain. One is making a cup of tea and drinking it, hopefully while reading a magazine. It takes five minutes but it makes a huge difference. Another is emailing or texting or calling a friend (OK, not really calling — I’m not a phone person). If you read research on happiness, you will quickly learn that doing something nice for someone else makes you happier. If I am freaking out, I try to find something nice, even if really really small, to do for someone else. Sometimes it’s just a “Hey, I am thinking of you, hope you’re having a good day,” email to a friend.

What are some of your favorite de-stress methods or tricks to make your crazy busy life a little less so?

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6 comments so far...

  • These are fantastic suggestions. My husband kept telling about your second point, when you think of doing something write it down. When I started doing it, it made a big difference in my day to day schedule.

    I will definitely try come up with a de-stressing activity as I tend to stress about small things.

    Lovely article

    [email protected]  |  August 14th, 2012 at 8:19 am

  • Write it down - oh, is so something I must keep reminding myself. Becuase otherwise, despite my assurances this is so important I’ll remember it later, yeah, not so much.

    And up that time with the cup of tea to 10-even 15 minutes. yeah, it feels like it is too long the first time but seriously, when I do I feel much more refreshed to retackle the work/chores/whatever.

    Mich  |  August 16th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

  • Great advice! I de-stress with bubble baths and good books.

    BooBooKids  |  August 24th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

  • A great way to relieve stress would be to get your children to entertain themselves. I prefer to have kids play video games, like Spongebob or the Fashion Fantasy Game. Educational games are really good.

    Dragooneth  |  September 5th, 2012 at 6:25 am

  • I miss your weekly musings. Where have you been?

    Tina  |  September 11th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

  • Love these tips! Also if it is written, check it off or slash through it and it leads to a sense of accomplishment - I also find that the things I write down get done and quicker when they are written down!
    Thank you for helping me reorganize my day with these simple tips! :D
    Love, JOY & Peace,

    Kristy Casey  |  October 3rd, 2012 at 12:22 am