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).

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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?