Stress

So we're stressed; what can we do about it? Real moms offer solutions

May 10, 2013 at 8:06 AM ET

Moms are stressed. Really stressed. We get it, we know it, we live it. And our exclusive TODAY Moms survey of 7,000 U.S. mothers confirms it: Moms rate their stress level as an 8.5 on a scale of one to 10.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Yes, we’d all love for the magic house-cleaning fairy to arrive this Mother’s Day weekend, toting an instant cure for temper tantrums and sibling fights, vegetables that taste like candy and a spell to make children willingly and cheerfully do homework.

Say ohm: Working mom Michelle Noehren says meditation classes have helped her control stress.
Michelle Noehren
Say ohm: Working mom Michelle Noehren says meditation classes have helped her control stress.

Barring that, TODAY Moms have some creative and practical ideas for cutting stress. We asked moms who participated in our survey, “What’s the one thing you’ve STOPPED stressing about?” Their answers might inspire you. Let’s just say clean houses are way overrated. Some anonymous replies:

“Housework. I figure if we are all happy, well rested, well fed and in clean clothes, we've won the battle, if not the war.”

“Being perfect. Why? Because there is no perfect mom!”

“I'm not stressing about updating his baby book anymore. I will get to it when I can.”

“I have stopped stressing about working out. When I get to it, I will get to it but right now, I will focus on my daughter's happiness.”

“What other moms think. No other person knows your family better than you do.”

Michelle Noehren, 31, mom of a 2-year-old, says she's found one way to control her mom stress. The Glastonbury, Conn. mom works full-time and runs the popular CT Working Moms blog. Weekly meditation class has taught her how to slow down her racing thoughts.

“When I start thinking, ‘Did I turn the stove off? Did I return that email? What are we doing for dinner?’ I’m able to calmly slow my thoughts down and that has resulted in a much more peaceful parenting style on my part,” Noehren told TODAY Moms in an email. “I find that I don’t yell very much anymore, although it’s still a work in progress.”

While many stressed-out moms find it challenging to make time for things like meditation that could actually help with stress, Noehren said that her husband has been really supportive – especially once he saw how much calmer and happier it made her.

“He pretty much will push me out the door to go if I’m not feeling it because I’m tired, because I’m much nicer to him now (his words, not mine!),” Noehren said.

For Momastery blogger and author Glennon Doyle Melton, simply speaking the truth out loud (or writing it publicly) is a huge stress relief. Once you start sharing your problems instead of hiding them, she says, you realize that everyone’s in the same, imperfect boat.

“The problem is not that we have problems, because every person has their specific challenges,” Melton told TODAY Moms. “It’s this idea that we’re not supposed to have problems. We have this ideal family in our heads, and we spend all this time trying to get to something that’s not real.”

More comments from the TODAY Moms survey: What have you stopped stressing about?

“Whether my children are perfectly dressed and neat. They are children and need to be allowed to get dirty.”

“Being a good mom. I'm doing the best I can and I believe that's good enough.”

“The way my husband does things around the house. Any help is good, even if it doesn't meet up to my expectations.”

“Matching outfits and looking clean/cute. Ever since I had my third kid I'm lucky if they're just wearing something clean and not inside out!”

“My weight. Not only is it unhealthy for me to worry about looking like a waif, it's not a good example for my daughters either.”

“I don't say yes to everything I am asked to do as far as volunteering and try not to feel guilty about it.”

“Sleeping. I never sleep but I can't worry about that or I sleep even less!!!”

“Getting to preschool on time :) It is not 'real school' yet, and a few minutes isn't the end of the world.”

“Being a single mom. I have learned to focus more on my children, rather than on myself. If someone special comes along, then great... but for now it's all about my kids.”

“Folding laundry. I just don't do it anymore. I no longer waste my time folding only to have the clothes thrown on the floor 15 minutes later.”

“I've stopped stressing if one of my kids doesn't reach a milestone ‘on time.’ They have all done so in their own time, some maybe later than others, and are doing just fine.”

“My social life. I have realized as long as I have my kids and family my social life will come into place.”

“I've let my working mom guilt go. My daughter loves preschool and is afforded more opportunities because I have continued to work.”

“Trying to compete in the Mommy Olympics. I don't care what other moms think about how I do things anymore.”

“I've stopped stressing about cleaning my house so much. I figure if people really are worried about the state of my house, they can come clean it for me. I have more important things to deal with.”

“What people think of me. I'm a damn good Mom. I used to think I needed to be the perfect organic soccer mom. But... I'm not. I'm just me and I'm doing a great job.”


Video: TODAY’s Natalie Morales and Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood Live” chat about the hot topics of the day, including a new survey about moms and stress that reports that moms of girls are more stressed than boys, and that three children is the most stressful number.


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