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by Elisabeth Williams

Keeping On Top Of Mum Stress

Whether you’re a stay at home mum, full or part time working mum (or dad), we all feel the effects of stress from raising mini-mes!

My job can get pretty stressful, especially around exam periods, but the main stress I usually encounter stems from the two strong willed little girls that we are raising! Are they eating right? Hitting their milestones? The endless worry when they’re ill, or just trying to get through the day off a serious lack of sleep because 2am was apparently the most reasonable time to come and tell mummy that they have put their slippers under their bed, and not next to it. And of course, the will battle between me and the much younger and sassier versions of myself.

I am by no means completely stress free – I am a huge perfectionist, and the problem with being a perfectionist is that everything has to be perfect – the problem is that we are human so therefore nothing can be perfect. As much as possible I try to put things back into perspective to level my head again and ground myself. I try to do at least one thing a day that settles my mind. It has taken me time to find what works for me, but once I did, it changed my mindset completely.

Whether it is going for a run, watching a favourite TV show/movie, reading mindful or devotional books, or taking the time to visit loved ones/friends for a good cup of tea and some cake; take the time to find what works for you and I guarantee it’ll change your outlook on any stresses you encounter.

These are some of the methods I like to use to combat stresses in my life;
1. Exercise.

This is an obvious one, and often easier said than done. As a former athlete, I love sport and the effect it has one me. Exercise boosts your happy hormones, helps with body confidence and improves your overall physical and mental health. My daily schedule is always incredibly busy, and when I do have some spare time, exercise is usually the last thing on my mind. A good friend of mine (@camila_benouali) introduced me to Hotpod Yoga – I was instantly hooked. Each session provides me with a full body workout, as well as allowing me to completely detach from all stresses and responsibilities. After an hour in the pod, I always come out feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything that comes my way.

I usually attend one session a week at Leicester’s Hotpod Yoga studio, with Natasha (@thisgirlcanfight). It is low intensity, and suitable for all ages and abilities. If you’re self-conscious, and worried about others watching you – don’t be, they’re busy trying not to wobble too, so they won’t notice! You can pay as you go, which is perfect if you want to give it a try but not commit to anything long-term, or you want the freedom to attend as and when you can. This is always the highlight of my week – check out Hotpod’s website for locations around the UK.

2. Mindful/devotional books.

In the midst of stresses, time pressures and tantruming toddlers because mummy wore the wrong coloured socks that day; I find reading incredibly helpful in resetting my mind. I like to choose books that are designed to be read for short periods of time, as I usually grab one during moments of frustration, high emotion, or at the end of the day when I am worn out.

These are a few of my current favourite mind resetting books:

  • Happy – Fearne Cotton
  • Calm – Fearne Cotton
  • The Little Book of Mindfulness – Dr Patrizia Collard
  • The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living – The Dalai Lama, Howard Carter
  • A Little God Time for Mothers: 365 Daily Devotions – BroadStreet Publishing Group LLC

3. Eat a healthy balanced diet.

This is another one that is sometimes easier said than done, especially at the end of a long day. Eating healthily helps with your energy levels, sleep patterns and general health as well as reducing your risk of certain mental health conditions. I’ll be posting some my favourite healthy family recipes over the coming weeks, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

Some key tips to look after your mind and body:

  • Eat a good breakfast – Whole grain cereals, fruit, fresh juices, nuts and seeds are all good options.
  • A balanced lunch – Try to include foods from at least 3 food groups (grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and calcium rich foods).
  • A smaller dinner – Try to make your first two meals of the day, your main meals. Try to include as many of the different food groups in this meal.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Pre-plan your snacks.

4. Dedicated ‘you’ time.

It is easy to feel like you are living for everyone else and not yourself; you dedicate yourself to you family, your job, and any other responsibilities you have. When you finally get the chance to have some ‘you’ time, you’re too tired, or there is another job that could be done at that point, leaving your exhausted and burnt out. It leads to stress, and a short fuse, and it becomes easy to feel overwhelmed.

For you to be the best mother (father), wife (husband, partner), employee you can be, you have to take some time for yourself. This is something I am still learning to do; I still often trade some ‘me’ time for the pile of washing that desperately needs sorting, or the hoovering because we have guests coming over. No matter how tired you feel, or how much washing there is to sort, it is important that you set aside pre-planned ‘you’ time; this could be reading a book, going for an evening walk as the sun sets, or taking up an old hobby. I try to ensure that it is something I couldn’t just do normally (like sit and watch a TV show), that way I feel like I have truly taken some ‘me’ time.

5. Help others.

It is amazing how helping others can instantly lift your mood and reduce your own stress levels. Seeing the positive impact you can have on somebody’s day can really brighten up your own. Whether it be buying a homeless person some food or drink, holding the door open for somebody, donating to charity, letting someone jump the queue in front of you, or letting extra cars go in front of you as it really doesn’t add any extra time onto your journey. These acts might not mean much to you, but they may mean a lot to that person.

6. Have realistic expectations.

Sometimes our stresses come from unrealistic expectations of ourselves; we have a thousand and one things to do and they all seem to need doing at once. We set ourselves a deadline to get these things done; but then our children take longer at bedtime than usual, or they are clingy all day making it impossible to do the jobs you had planned to do. Before you know it, more things need doing and you become frustrated that you can’t get things done by your original deadline.

Take a step back and look at what you have managed to get done. Constantly reassess what needs doing and by when – it is OK to accept that it is going to take longer than planned. You’re doing the best you can, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that you need to rest too, and that you’re more likely to get these things done quicker if you’re well rested.

“You can do anything, but not everything” – Unknown

7. Get enough sleep.

I type this as I’m sat here very sleep deprived! A lack of sleep can really throw your system off balance; it starts a hormonal chain reaction, which prompts the pituitary gland, and then the adrenal gland which releases adrenaline and other stress hormones. A good night of sleep can help to prevent this chain reaction taking place.

For me, I always feel my most stressed out when I’ve had a lack of sleep. I’m unable to think clearly, with everything seeming like a much bigger problem than it really is, and ultimately I end up grumpy all day! This is easier said than done when you have small children who have yet to discover the joys of sleeping in, but whenever possibly, ensure sleep is a priority. Don’t ever be afraid to lean on family and friends; it is not a sign of weakness, or a sign that you can’t cope – you’re human and parenting is exhausting. They are usually keen to help, and enjoy the time with your little ones whilst you catch up on much needed rest.

I never want to wish the years away with my girls as time is moving too quickly, but I do look forward to the day when they enjoy sleeping in too!

8. Stop comparing yourself to others.

A lot of our stresses come from us thinking we are not doing enough, or what we are doing isn’t good enough. We see everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives, and wonder why our life is not more like theirs. Others seem to have it all figured out, whilst we are eating leftovers from 3 days before, and are still in our pyjamas past noon, with yesterday’s makeup still on.

The rise in social media has contributed to this further, as we have easier access than ever before to viewing these ‘perfect’ lives. We see a moment captured where everything is framed perfectly, everyone looks so happy, and so perfectly put together; but that is exactly what it is, a moment. We need to stop comparing ourselves to a snapshot, it is not a true representation of their lives. Whilst your spending time comparing your life to someone else’s, you’re missing out on the opportunity to live your life to the fullest. Whatever struggles you’re going through, they will absolutely be going through them too.

“Don’t compare yourself to other parents. They’re all losing it, just some people are better at hiding it than others.”

Parenting is without a doubt the hardest job out there; there is no clock off time, or rest from responsibility. It is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting, but it is the best job in the world. That isn’t to say that there won’t be days when we question why we decided to have children; especially when we are tired, stressed out and in much need of a well deserved break. Whenever the overwhelmed and stressed feelings kick in – take a step back, take a deep breath in and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, and that is more than enough.

You’re doing a great job,

Written by Elisabeth Williams at Little Cup of Mum!

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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