mommy_zen_mother_daughter.jpgRaising children adds an entirely new dimension of drama to the already life-changing experience of motherhood. Suddenly, life is full of those difficult days spent balancing your time and attention between home, children, work, and personal wellbeing—all while keeping your sanity intact and your stress at bay. Even supermoms who wear multiple hats at a time (especially those who do it without any help from a yaya and other family members) can be vulnerable to stress and temper breakouts—they’re only human, after all!

Are you finding it hard to control your temper with your children? Do you think your household is unmanageable and your kids are unruly and out of control? All this stimulation results in increasing levels of stress—and while it’s definitely a mood killer, it’s also perfectly normal. Everyone feels it now and then; it doesn’t make you a bad mom, but sure it doesn’t make you feel great, either.

If you feel like you’re at your wit’s end dealing with the stressful challenges of managing a household, here are some tips and tricks that should help you refocus and recharge your energy and find a measure of inner calm to help you sail through the problems motherhood tosses your way.

Make time for yourself every morning.

Wake up way earlier than your kids do, though of course without depriving yourself of restful sleep. Walk around your garden (if you have one) and breathe in some fresh morning air. Try practicing meditation or yoga to calm your mind and body. Taking some time for yourself every morning can give you a better perspective when dealing with stress at home later in the day.

Teach your kids to be independent—delegate!

Feeling like you have to do everything yourself just to get things done right, is a sure path to Stressville. Ease up on those perfectionist reins and help your kids learn to help themselves. Assign them household duties so they’ll learn, little by little, to manage on their own. When they come to you for help with small things, such as homework or chores, don’t do the work for them—teach them how to do it themselves so they eventually learn to be independent. Think about it this way: if they’re not asking you to do things they can do themselves, you’ll have more time to do the tasks that they can’t or shouldn’t manage on their own.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have other family members around, enlist their assistance with looking after the kids or with other household tasks. If you try to do it all yourself, you may end up dropping from exhaustion. Learn from celebrity mom Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworksi, who encourages her kids to be independent—but takes an active role in their lives so they know they can depend on her.

Don’t meddle.

Frequently, when children argue, neither party is willing to listen or compromise. Don’t immediately jump in to play the middle-mom (pun intended). Let them learn how to settle things on their own; just be present to make sure things don’t get out of hand. While it’s good to be a hands-on disciplinarian, your kids will learn to compromise better if you let them muddle their way into finding a middle ground between themselves rather than having you lay down the law for them. Remember, you won’t be able to fix their problems when they grow up; it’s best to let them learn to do it themselves early on.

Save yourself the headache of dealing with minor squabbles and approach your kids only when things start to heat up a bit, then simply tell them that they should fix this fight in a peaceful manner by themselves. If they continue to be hot-headed, send them to their own rooms or to different sections of your home to give them some breathing space. This will give them some time to cool down and think clearly. Wading into the fray by yelling or scolding while your children are fighting is often ineffective and may not send the correct message to your kids. As celebrity mom Christine Jacob Sandejas shares of her own parenting techniques, learn to pick your battles and remain neutral.

Plan healthy activities in advance.

If you feel your kids become too hard to handle once they’ve got their energies revved up, think smart before things get out of hand. A fun mental activity, such as puzzle games, drawing, painting, or building blocks, can redirect their excessive energies before they’re expressed in unproductive ways.

We’re not saying that you should completely suppress physical exertion in kids—we know how healthy an active lifestyle can be. What you should try to regulate is an excess of it, which can get in the way of sound home management for any homemaker. In other cases, you can send them off to summer classes where they can acquire new skills while you make time for your own work. Kids are naturally active, both physically and in terms of imagination, and trying to make them stop being so jumpy or rowdy or generally malikot without channeling their energies elsewhere is an exercise in futility, frustration, and stress.

Create an effective system for work and home management, and be strict about enforcing it!

What is an effective system? The truth is that it varies for every mom. Some homemakers manage stress by keeping a schedule or a to-do list for everything and keep frustration at bay by being strict about adhering to their predetermined tasks and appointments. For others, maintaining a fixed schedule only adds to the stress. Is keeping your child busy with playmates at home an effective method for managing other responsibilities? Perhaps. Find out what works for you, then stick to it.

Take afternoon naps with your little ones.

Your kids may be resistant to the idea of taking a nap in the afternoon—they may want to continue playing, watching TV, or whatever it is they do around this time. Part of this difficulty is rooted in the fact that they may not want to go to sleep if they see that everyone else will be up and about without them. So schedule your own power nap to coincide with their afternoon naptimes! If you find it difficult to get them to sleep at first, you may want to try reading to them, which helps soothe and relax the mind—yours as well as theirs! FN’s article on summer reading lists for kids suggests books you can read to or with your kids, no matter what their ages.

Want to take advantage of your kids’ afternoon downtime? Just take a shorter nap than they do. If they’re taking naps for 30 minutes, power nap for 15, so you can still get other things done while they doze. An afternoon nap can also recharge your body and pacify your mind, which prevents stress buildup.

Believe in the power of music.

If you feel like you stress is all bottled up and ready to pop, turn on the radio or play your favorite CD when working, and sing along if you feel like it—it doesn’t matter if your kids think your music sucks! Don’t let them screw up your karaoke time. Go ahead and sing, or even dance along with the music. You can probably even get your kids to dance with you and redirect their energies to something fun but not chaotic. As they say, music lifts the soul, so try to use it as an alternative de-stressor for you. Who knows? If you start them young enough, your kids may learn to love the music you love—plus, you’ll be creating special memories they’ll associate with the old “standards.”

Call a friend and vent!

When was the last time you called a friend just to chat? Perhaps it’s time to catch up with your high school or college barkada or at least vent to someone when you find your kids come close to driving you bonkers. Your friend may help you find that positive vibe that’s been buried under the stress by helping you look at the bright or funny side of your situation or offering you advice for dealing with your kids’ unflagging energy or never-ending drama.

Grab a snack.

Though most moms watch their weight after giving birth, enjoying a piece of your favorite dark chocolate or a small serving of ice cream can make you feel better when you’re having a bad day at home. Scientific findings back the idea that chocolate actually improves your mood—why don’t you prove it for yourself?

Just breathe and smile!

When all else fails, get out of the house, close your eyes, and just breathe in and out for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised at how this can release the tension and stress that piles up during the day. Afterward, go back inside your home and settle the chaotic world around you, feeling a little more clear-headed than before.

It’s also a great idea to look at the lighter side of things. As Bill Cosby used to say, kids say the darnedest things! While you might not want to reinforce cheeky behavior in your child, you can find time alone after an incident to remember your kid’s irreverent actions and laugh about it. According to FN’s article on the health benefits of happiness, your body releases endorphins whenever you smile, and endorphins help decrease stress. Laughter also achieves the same effect by releasing serotonin.

Don’t worry, be happy!

Moms are often the hearts of the household. Thus, if you’re stressed and disorganized, it’s often just a step away from your home turn stress-inducing and disorganized as well. Don’t forget to look out for yourself and keep your energy and happiness levels up. A sluggish mom can create a sluggish household—and a happy mom can also create an equally happy household. So take time to breathe, smile, read a book, do yoga—in short, don’t stop taking care of yourself just because you’re too busy with your daily duties as a mom. Find and maintain your mommy Zen, practice it holistically, and very soon your kids, your home, and the rest of your life will begin to reflect some of that calm and order—and being a mom will become that much more fun!

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