TODAY   |  April 23, 2014

How overwhelmed moms can lessen stress

Psychologist Jennifer Hartstein and Jessica Lahey, a mother of two kids, give advice on how moms can add downtime to their schedules and establish guidelines for screen time. They also discuss how too much stress can lead to health problems later in life.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if you're a mom that goes without saying your life is probably very busy.

>> it's becoming the new normal to be juggling kids, after- school activities and your own to-do list to a point where we're all exhausted and overscheduled like this scene from "parental guidance."

>> they're flying us both next week, five days of lectures and networking and love.

>> oh, saturday's harper's audition.

>> yeah, up bits at night. we're flying back early. we'll make it.

>> also speed therapy after the audition. we're supposed to take the kids.

>> we haven't had a vacation since barker was born. that's five years.

>> mm-hmm. this conversation is the longest we've been alone in months.

>> you know what? it rings true, doesn't it, for a lot of people. guess what? moms are beginning to buck the trend. while teaching kids the value of down time, here to talk about that is child and adolescent psychologist -- i don't take her that seriously -- jen hartsley.

>> jessica is i awria writer, educator and mother of two.

>> we are overscheduled, overstressed, overwhelmed, are we not?

>> we are. and it's sbking a big problem. one of the things we notice psychologically is because we're so spread thin, we aren't paying attention to any of the things or enjoying the moment because we're so ready for the next moment that we're missing the joy of the little things and the now. and that's really problematic.

>> if you're overscheduling, that means your kids are overscheduled. that must put a lot of stress even on little ones .

>> the thing that people are starting to understand, we have two different kinds of thought process. we have working memory and we have this daydreamy state where the real creativity happens and we can't do both at the same time. so we need this down time in order to engage that daydreamy sort of stream of consciousness thinking.

>> but we live in a world where you have to have homemade cupcakes at the bake sale .

>> it's true.

>> it's ridiculous. and we create it all.

>> we do.

>> ridiculous.

>> absolutely. and one of the things we have to remember is busyness is a choice, right? we are choosing in some ways to be busy. i think as women, one of the challenges is saying no which is a conversation we have a lot. saying i just can't do that and feel okay in that decision. because you're then taking care of you. if you're not taking care of you, you can't take care of your kids or anybody else.

>> you see that kid's going to drama kid and that kid's doing this and you think they're ahead of that child.

>> it's even more important to model for our kids that we have to be able to take time for our kids and have to be able to say you know what? i don't want to be busy today. i want to have down time with my family.

>> a thing that dawned on me years ago, i shared it with hoda and it's become our mantra. my joy is not negotiable.

>> right.

>> if you are so busy accomplishing stuff and yet you realize if you're really honest, do i have joy in my life? well, then things have to go along the side.

>> absolutely. and i think the people that care about you will understand why you're saying no.

>> and the others don't matter.

>> well, that's the key. you have to parse out, if i am saying yes and then i stop and i say hmm, that doesn't feel good to me, i'm not feeling that, and then i turn around and say hey, you know, i said yes, i'm so sorry. i need to say no now. people will get it.

>> how do you unring the bell? families are overscheduled. they have three hours of homework, dinner on the table, basketball practice. certain things you can't change.

>> certain things are seasonal. you can decide, do i really want my kid to play lacrosse? i hear you want to play lacrosse, but here are all the things that you won't be able to do. you know that time you spend sitting on the floor reading " harry potter " for the 16th time, you won't have time to do that, so you need to make those decisions.

>> if they come back and say yes, you they'd to support them and find that balance. the other key thing, we talk about parenting is as parents we have to model what that looks like. and if we have to say no, we teach our children to say no appropriately.