Dealing with Specific Mom-Stressors
by Amber Cass

Although everyone experiences stress in their lives, there are some specific stressors that most moms will experience at one time or another. We've put together a list of some of them here, in the hopes that you might recognize and be better prepared to deal with them when they happen to you or a mom that you care about.

Daily stress
Many moms are prepared for the stress associated with major life events, but allow the small, daily stress to build up until it becomes a major stressor. Little things such as driving in traffic, minor home repairs, busy schedule and kids arguing can add up to a lot of stress. Oftentimes this is actually the worst type of stress because it is caused by things that are always there, so there is no "automatic" relief in sight. Physical environment and social situations exponentially increase daily stress. Pollution, bad neighborhood, poverty, unemployment, discrimination, harassment and other factors can create uncomfortable living conditions that make it nearly impossible to deal with daily stress for anyone let alone the stressors associated with motherhood.

Fear of Failure
As if there were not enough worries for moms, many will worry that they aren't raising their kids right. Even if all children were created with exactly the same personality, needs and attitudes, each mother will do things differently and react to the same situation differently. The stress caused when moms are afraid they will fail might be made worse based on whose opinion they use to measure their success. They can get different opinions from husband, mom, sister, mother-in-law or friends. Even the supposed parenting experts can't agree most of the time.

Lack of Time
Just about any mother that has the time to talk to you will tell you that she often wishes for more than 24 hours in a day. Small children require a great deal of time simply for their care and nurturing, while older children often eat at time reserves with homework help and taxiing them from one activity to the next. In addition, most moms also have to find time for laundry, housework, meals and often pet care along with dozens of other responsibilities. With all of the time demands on moms, it becomes very difficult to find time for her to do everything that she needs or wants to do.

Major life changes
Major life events such as pregnancy, moving, divorce, medical diagnosis, career changes, menopause or a child moving out can cause great stress for moms, whether they are viewed as positive or negative changes. If the changes are doubled (such as moving into a smaller house because a child has moved out) then the stress and mental strain will usually be doubled as well.

Mama Bear Syndrome
A mother almost always feels an overwhelming responsibility to protect her children from real or perceived threats in the world. Threats can range from worrying about a toddler's tumbling off the jungle gym to a teen taking the family car out for the first time. Every possible danger that a mother can think of, as well as those she knows she hasn't thought of can be major stressors. Moms will also worry about how their kids are doing in school, their health, behavior and social development.

Me Time
It is so important to have time to oneself to reflect and rejuvenate mind and spirit, but most women allow this to be the first thing they give up when faced with all of the other demands of motherhood. The days of pedicures, journal writing, lunch dates and reading for fun are all too often just fond memories of what used to be. If a mom isn't careful, she can become resentful of the time she may feel she's been robbed of.

Money
Having children is not an inexpensive venture. While the non-monetary rewards can be unending, unfortunately the income source is generally not. Food, toys, clothes, medical, dental, school supplies and eventually the prospect of college will often create financial stress for both mom and dad.

Relationships
Because of the intense bond between a mother and her children, moms often find themselves neglecting other relationships in their lives, particularly during the early years, when the kids need more direct and immediate attention. Dads can be resentful and miss talking, playing with and making love with the mother of their children. In the case of single moms, they may have little or no male companionship. Longstanding friendships often suffer, especially those with friends who don't have children and may not understand the time and stress involved in raising them. When children become teens the actual relationship with the child can become strained and stressful, particularly if the teens are rebellious or moody.

Work stress
If a mother has to juggle a career, or even a part-time job on top of the mountain of other responsibilities, it can become an ever-present source of stress. Aside from the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that being a working mom can bring, there are a few other stress raising problems that can be difficult for moms to deal with such as:

  • Coming home to clingy or cranky kids
  • Office "politics" that seem insignificant in the grand scheme of life
  • Scheduling dilemmas
  • Weekends used to "catch up" rather than relax
  • Worry about the kids while you're at work

The first step in dealing with stress is to recognize it. If you recognize some possible stressors in this list or if it has caused you to realize some that are not listed, then you've already taken that first step. The best thing is to start dealing with stress early, preferably before you are in a stressful situation, which will give you more control over your emotions before they get out of hand.

The next part of this article is meant to be a "how to" guide to help mothers maintain serenity - and sanity - during those times of high stress or during major life events. It is our hope that it can help you remain confident and secure that you are truly the best mom that you can be.

Read more managing stress articles...

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