6 Ways To Deal With Stress

Life can be stressful. Add marriage, raising small, needy humans, and work/business into the mix and ka-boom, life can be *very* stressful.

I’ve spent a significant portion of my motherhood journey stressed. Prior to that I was possibly the least stressed person in the world - frolicking around my easy, single life - washing clothes fortnightly and filling up my time with dinners with friends, or road trips, or really, whatever I wanted to.

But the times have (drastically) changed, and starting and running two businesses while working part-time, with a little toddler, and another baby born in the middle of it, isn’t exactly a recipe for calm and tranquil times ahead.

Through all the challenges, I’ve grown and adjusted, and learnt how to better manage my stress and keep moving forward... because unfortunately, when life gets very hard, it still keeps going. I also found that while bubble baths and massages are nice, really, effectively dealing with inner turmoil usually takes some intentional inner work and effort.

Here are 6 tips to help deal with stress, that helped me:

  1. Offload something. Can you identify the source of your stress? Oftentimes stress comes from a culmination of many things, but there can also be one specific thing, relationship or project that weighs everything else down. For me, I had one too many commitments, and the one extra thing (albeit a large thing - running one business) which I didn't have capacity for, weighed down and affected everything else. IF you can offload it, offload it. IF you can't - offload as much as you can - delegate what you can, and trust others to take care of things.
  2. Reach out for help. Help with cleaning, help with cooking, help with looking after the kids. It can be hard to ask for help, but it’s harder to do it all yourself. If people offer to help, swallow your pride and accept it. We need each other!
  3. Get around people. Humans are made for relationships and community. There’s something about being around people - even if you’re not talking about what’s that is going on, that lifts your spirit and makes the load a little lighter. Sometimes when we feel extremely stressed and overwhelmed, the last thing we want to do is be with people. Play dates with friends, where your kids can have fun and you can relax and talk, are great!
  4. Make a plan of action, and take one step forward. Every time I get stuck in a rut, I would love nothing more than to curl up in a ball and binge on Netflix, numbing myself to everything else going on around me. But inaction begets inaction - which does nothing but hit pause on the feeling of stress. Write out a list of what’s stressing you - the clarity from doing this in and of itself is helpful. Then, make a plan of what steps you can take to resolve the problems. Having a sense of clarity and a clear way forward.
  5. Work on your mindset. You can’t always control everything happening around you, but you can control your thoughts and how you react to them. In stressful times, it’s easy to start dwelling on worst case scenarios and feeling sorry for yourself – but this often only deepens the hole you already feel you’re in. Instead, choose to focus your mind on the best case scenarios, and speak positive and uplifting words about the situation instead. Training myself to focus on the good when I would have otherwise felt incredibly stressed or down, has been so significant in changing how I feel and go about my every day. It also gives me energy to take action and move towards changing the situation.
  6. Don't feel guilty when you're not a perfect parent. Although I would love to protect my kids from all the difficulties of life, the reality is that they’ll encounter their own challenges ahead. When I am stressed and overreact, and feel guilty about it later - I apologise to my son and explain what I was feeling. We can't expect ourselves to handle our emotions perfectly 100% of the time, but we can use the times we do make mistakes as an opportunity to talk to our kids, and show them that it's healthy to talk about our emotions. Rather than feeling worse about already feeling pretty bad, see it as a way to help your kids understand empathy, mistakes and managing emotions.

5 Ways To Overcome Working Mum Guilt

Do you suffer from working mum guilt?

Mum guilt used to hold me back in so many ways.

I couldn’t do anything without my kids, because I felt that they deserved every little of bit of me. My son would cry when I dropped him off at daycare, and I’d feel terrible every morning until I picked him up.

When my husband tried to plan a date night, I’d feel bad if I hadn’t spent quality time with my kids that day, and I’d bring them along (and have interrupted conversation whilst stressing about them fussing in the restaurant).  When I had organised a babysitter so I could work on the business, I’d cancel last minute, feeling bad that they’d be away from me.

As I was trying to run a business and raise my children, I realised I wasn’t doing EITHER job very well when I was trying to do it all at once. I watched from afar as other successful business women seemed to raise their kids well and have a great relationships with them. So I realised, there had to be a better way!

Here are 5 ways to overcome mum guilt:

  1. Recognise that a healthy you means you’ll be a better mum. Choosing to have time to rest, to exercise, to read, to spend time with your spouse, or your friends - or whatever nourishes you, away from your children, can have a positive roll on effect on your children! A healthy, happy you will make a more patient, more present and happier mum for your children.
  2. Recognise that to do anything well - you need to focus on it. If you want to be a great mum, focus on your kids when you’re with them. If you want to build a great business or career, focus on it when you’re working on it. Trying to do deep, effective work on your laptop while playing with your kids doesn’t work - you have to focus on one thing at a time.
  3. Check - is your mum guilt valid? Are you spending too much time away from your children and you know it? If so, work on changing it. Are you spending too much time with people who make you feel guilty? If so, work on changing that.  
  4. Soak up the little moments with your little people. The meals you share, the cuddles when they wake up, bathtime. Often times we feel we need to overcompensate with a full day out or presents when we’ve been busy or away. Try to use the daily rhythm of life to regularly fill your little one’s love tank.  
  5. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. Time away from you might mean time bonding with dad, or the grandparents. It might mean time learning and playing with other kids and other carers. You can’t do it all alone, and it’s healthy for your child to grow bonds with other people in their lives.

8 Tips for Flying with Toddlers and Babies

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Travelling with small people is no joke.

Since birthing my energetic child almost three years ago, he’s been with me on three trips overseas. Travelling by yourself is tiring, but add a small person (who needs to be fed, watered, entertained, rested and kept in confined areas for long periods of time) to the equation, and you might question whether or not you really ever want to go overseas again.

The first trip, I travelled with my six-month-old from Australia to Indonesia (approx. 12 hours with layovers), with no accompanying adults. I cried a few times.

On the second trip, my son was 1 and a half, and he, my husband and I travelled from Australia to Haiti (approx. 30 hours with layovers).

On his third trip, he was 2 and a half, I was six months pregnant and travelling with my sister and her 6 month old baby.

This combination was probably the best recipe for extreme exhaustion and emotional breakdowns, but from my previous two trips, I’d learnt some things which made this trip far more bearable.

So here I am to share some tips with you, which will hopefully help you have a great travel experience - even with little ones in tow!

8 Tips for Flying with Toddlers and Babies

1. Where possible, travel with another adult. The greater adult to child ratio, the better. This will mean toilet breaks are 100 times easier, and you can emotionally support each other when you feel like having a break down.

2. Get a toddler harness. I was concerned I might be judged for having my kid on a leash, but if I was, the judgment was well worth it. This was a life-saver. It meant Josiah could run around and burn energy, but also be restricted in where he could go.

3. Minimise carry-on luggage. Be brutal about what you’re packing. The lighter all your baggage is, the easier your travel will be. If you’re bringing a change of clothes, pack lighter/thinner clothes. If you think you might not need it, you probably won’t.

4. Book a night flight. If you can, book a flight over a period that your child is used to sleeping for a long period of time. It’ll mean you can get some rest, and don’t need to entertain them for so long. 

5. Bring some small, light-weight activities to introduce to your child at different points along the trip.

Here are some ideas for toddlers: pencils and paper for drawing, play dough (introduce one colour at a time), 10 pieces of Lego, magnets, a few books, small cars. Wait until your child is completely bored with something and getting restless before bringing out something else.

6. If you’re having a layover, check before flying if there’s a kids play area at the airport. If there is, as soon as you arrive and are washed and fed, go to the play area! You’ll get much needed sitting/resting time and your kid can run around and burn some energy.

7. Bring a stroller! And a carrier! Multiple ways of carrying a child are ideal. If you have a heavy/large pram like I do, leave that at home and bring a lightweight stroller. Bring it all the way to the plane door and ask the staff to have it there for you when you exit the plane. Depending on your kid’s age, a Trunki bag could be helpful (they can pull it, or sit on it and be pulled along).

Get the Loyalty Snapback (pictured above) $34.99 here

8. Bring a travel pillow! I’ve never been a travel pillow bringer - but it can make a world of difference for your child for when they want to sleep - whether on the plane or at the airport, and you might just be too exhausted to hold up their little heads.

What has your experience with flying with children been? Do you have any other tips you wish someone told you before you flew?

Kellie Adler - #SmallRoadStories

#SmallRoadStories are the celebration of you - the mum, the dad, the aunty, the uncle, the carer, the grandma, the friend. The person leading the little one down the small road. We all have different ways of doing it - but when it’s done with love and intention, it’s always worth celebrating. In #SmallRoadStories we'll capture a picture in the life of someone somewhere along their journey of raising children. 

The first of our #SmallRoadStories is about Kellie - the mum of a toddler named Daisy, and the owner of Euphoria, a hair salon in the Blue Mountains. We met with her at the salon and she shared a bit about her creative and full life as a wife, mother and business owner. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Kel, I'm 25, Virgo, extremely optimistic.

I'm married to a beautiful man named Nick and we have a baby girl named Daisy Grace. I love all things creative, making and baking, and hair especially. I love helping others and making a difference to people's days and how they feel. I’m constantly busy dream chasing.

You're only 25 and own a salon, at one point employing 7 hairdressers. Can you tell me about how you arrived here?

Oh gosh, I was around 6 when I would tell anyone that would listen that I was going to have a salon called 'Kel's Cut's & Curls'... embarrassing, right?

Still has a little space in my heart though.

I finished school in year 10, starting full time at a salon called Euphoria, where I’d been helping out for the last two years.

I’ve always been hungry to learn new things and push myself creatively along the way, with education being something I had to have on the go. I’m always thinking, what's next? The opportunity came up to take over Euphoria, and I can still remember most of the thoughts that went through my head, the main one being the opportunity. So, off I went to sign on the line.

I was 19, naive with a whole lot of crazy dreams. I have been surrounded by small business my whole life, with only hopes of being able to run something as successful and humble as my parents (totally different industry, but with the same principles).

Almost 7 years later, with many relationships made, twists and turns, highest of highs and fair share of lows, rewards and challenges and the best memories I could ask for - here we are, still in total disbelief and happiness of that decision 7 years ago.

What's your favourite thing about motherhood?

They say it's our role as a mother to guide our babies and shape them into the little people they will be. I love that we help shape each other and grow together. I love that she gives me perspective and reminds me to love, laugh, use my imagination and feel a happiness like no other. 

What is the most challenging thing about motherhood?

Mother guilt. I think we all feel it in some form.

I get these intense feelings, like, what I am doing isn't enough, am I there for her enough?

Is it bad that I can't give her routine?

Is it bad that I couldn't breastfeed for as long as we would have liked with returning back to work so soon?

Did I bond with her enough as a newborn?

Is it all enough? She's so loved, healthy and happy so maybe it is, but it is definitely something I face daily as I'm sure others do too.

How have you found balancing business and baby?

In all honesty this is where I am at now - really trying to create a balance. It is a constant juggling act trying to give my very best to my baby, my husband, my employees, my clients and my family. I am attempting to give 100%, but I don't know if I am succeeding spreading and instead myself too thin… Although, your very best will not always be enough for some will it.

I wish I had the magic answer of how others could find a balance in their crazy lives, but I am still seeking it too. I definitely know that concentrating on being present and taking in each happy moment feels like you've grabbed a sparkly bit of balance.

Many mums have a baby and decide to start a business, to enable them to stay at home or have more flexible hours. What would you say to mums choosing to go this path?

Make sure it is something you are truly passionate about and believe in- not your friend, your mum, you!

You actually believing in your idea and having a passion for it, is absolute key to your venture working.

Belief is contagious - heck I want to be in on it already and I don't even know what the idea is.

Start with a vision board, write every thought and idea down as it goes in the direction of a mini business plan. You need all of your clear expectations in place for them to go even slightly how you would like to. Set your goals and targets and review the outcomes.

Finding a network of supportive like minded women is so important, you don't want your idea of working from home to make you feel isolated - you need to feel supported and inspired.

Lastly, keep it solo where possible unless you find someone extremely like minded. Your business is your baby, you are still going to be finding out a lot of new things about yourself and finding what works, rather than worrying about the impact on others, you can find your feet. You need all the energy you have to nurture the new journey.

What's a typical day in the life of you like?

A beautiful chaotic blessing.

My day always starts with my husband and Daisy laughing and being silly before we get ready for our days, then I have to try and be really organised or I can feel quite anxious. I always have a list which I do the night before because that way I'm much more practical thinking ahead than on the day.

Daisy spends a lot of time with our parents while we are working. I love my days with my clients chatting and creating - it fuels my soul. The days I am not in the salon I am still there in some capacity - emails, enquiries, bills, paperwork, stock control, even if just my wandering mind, it really doesn't stop. On these days though Daisy is my little sidekick, and we do all the normal house chores and always try and squeeze some yummy treat making into the mix.

Our days have early, early starts and late endings, always finishing with tired eyes but full hearts.

What’s one thing you wish people told you before you had a baby?  

Hold onto every single second that little bit tighter.

And lastly, what's your favourite Small Road snapback? 

Our fave Small Road SnapBack is the pink of course, along with all its ethics with the wording of 'charity' inside, to remind her to help others.