Are you a working mum? Or perhaps a full-time mum trying to manage kids, a house and everything that comes with it? Or maybe the events of the world right now are forcing you to wear both these hats – all at once! Being a parent can be very stressful. Between waking up and going to bed each night, there is a list as long as your arm of daily chores and jobs to do. Many of us have been there and totally sympathise with just how hard it is to juggle all of these elements of life. Here at Philip Wood Physiotherapy, it is not uncommon for us to see mums in pain, stressed out and struggling to balance family, work and life. Of course, there are dads out there juggling all these elements as well, so if you’re a dad reading this, take note!
There isn’t an easy solution to this problem, but there are many things you can try to do to begin making this process more manageable. Have a read through these five tips to see if they might work for you:
Set a consistent routine: This is a very handy thing to have in place. Busy schedules can be hectic and difficult to stay on top of. There are certain daily events that we can keep to a strict schedule, which can help to limit stress by managing each task. Try and keep wake-up and bedtimes, bath times, mealtimes and story times to the same time every day. This gives you less to think about and frees up some brain space for concentrating on the day ahead, which may include an important work presentation that needs focus. Most children respond well to routine, so getting one established can mean more settled children and a more chilled mother.
Exercise regularly: We know that exercise is beneficial for staying fit, healthy and strong. There is also countless evidence for the effect of exercise on the mind and helping to reduce stress levels. Exercising regularly can help to reduce fatigue by improving sleep, concentration, mood levels and overall brain function. When we exercise, our bodies produce increased levels of the happy hormone (a.k.a endorphins) which help us to both tackle and stave off the effects of life’s stressors (queue screaming child). If you can’t get out for a walk or run, try some at-home exercises, a YouTube clip, or better yet, turn up the volume, and have a dance party with the kids. It lets them burn some steam, while you get some activity in. And it builds connection – win, win!
Consume a healthy diet: Stress hormone release is controlled by our adrenal glands. High stress situations over time can lead to increased levels of stress hormones coursing through our bodies. What we eat can help control the effects of stress. Controlling blood sugar levels is pivotal in maintaining good control of adrenal gland function. We recommend a balanced diet containing high amounts of natural, whole foods and keeping intake of sugary, nutrient-poor foods to a minimum. Foods rich in vitamins C and B are particularly important for supporting adrenal function. Try to include red bell peppers, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables to ensure you are getting a good supply of essential nutrients.
Stay hydrated: This is a simple and easy method to implement. It takes nothing to pour yourself a glass of water from the tap. Water is life-giving to humans. Without it we die quickly. All of our bodily processes and tissues rely on it to function efficiently. This includes proper function of the brain and all of the organs in our body. When we become dehydrated, the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) increase. Stay ahead of the game and keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day. Sip regularly and your body will stay well-hydrated and ready to deal with any of those stressful scenarios that might pop up during the day.
Take time for yourself: We think this is the most important one of all. With being a parent comes enormous responsibility, but if you do not look after yourself above all, there is no possibility of looking after one or a whole troop of other family members. Set aside time when you can to read a book, do some exercise, meditate or do whatever makes you happy. Take a trip to the zoo or a museum on your own every now and then. If you organise these things in advance to ensure the kids are looked after by a friend or family member, then these things are easily achievable and help to keep you sane and grounded.
We don’t think for one minute it is as easy as ABC to get all of this going alongside your daily madness. But try to implement things slowly and steadily to make sure it fits well into your daily routine. There is no handbook for stress-free parenting, but we hope we’ve given you some food for thought!