Do you feel like you need a break from it all? Here are 8 ways to lessen the load and live a happier life!
by Kimberly Pangaro | Kimberly is a proud mom of four daughters, devoted wife, and the owner of Atomic Mommy – a media company dedicated to empowering parents. When she’s not running her company or momming all day, she’s writing about family life. She’s been featured in Parents magazine and Voyage Savannah magazine. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @atomic_mommy.
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Stay-at-home parents tend to have a lot on their plates, from never-ending house chores to long to-do lists that never get done. And because of all that we do, taking a mental break is not something we often even think we need. Let’s face it, if we did, the house and children would probably fall like Rome did.
All kidding aside, we do a lot and our brains feel this constant pressure to be the perfect parent and it rebels in the form of tension, aches, pains, rage, fear, stress, and premature aging. Sounds like a horrific job, nonetheless, we do it with all the love in our hearts.
But if we want to remain effective as parents while also providing love, warmth, and tenderness to our families, then we need to force ourselves to take mental breaks. For most of us, we don’t know how to do this. Don’t fret! I’ve got you covered with this simple guide on how to lessen your mental load and live a happier life!
Organize & Set Aside
This is a two-part tip. For the first part of this tip, let’s talk about organizing your life and the benefits of this. Leaving your house in disarray or cluttered leads to feeling unfulfilled, stressed, anxious, and even frantic. Sometimes, you may not realize that these feelings are associated with being unorganized in your home. But I want you to start thinking of your home as a safe space, your retreat zone, a getaway.
To start, declutter your home, remove odds and ends that you haven’t used in years, make space for plants, your favorite knick knacks, and then put everything in a space made for them. Once you do this, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, a warm feeling of peace, and like you can do anything. The best part is that you don’t have to do this every week. Once you’ve removed all of the clutter from your life, it’s as simple as running a duster and keeping things neat on a daily basis to maintain your new peaceful living space.
The second part of this tip is even better. There will be times when you can’t get to the laundry, the dishes, or organizing. Remember, this is perfectly normal and you are not obligated to clean every single day, as soon you get home from work. Instead, learn to set aside your big tasks for a day that you are completely off from everything or when you have the energy to focus on them, whether that’s in a couple of days or at week’s end. By giving yourself this mental freedom, you are literally ensuring that your emotional and mental well-being is headed for an upswing.
If you’re lucky enough to live with children aged 5 and older, or another adult, then you basically have a team of helpers. You can delegate your household chores and other tasks to your family members. Remember, they live in the house too, so they should be responsible for maintaining a clean home.
If you have young children, you can have them put their toys away, make their bed, keep their toys neatly tucked away in bins and out of the main living areas. You can even give them a small handheld duster and ask them to help with that chore. You’d be surprised how much little ones love to help their parents out.
Plan Laundry and Meals
Every Sunday is my teenage daughters’ laundry day, and every Saturday is mine and my husband’s along with our other two little ones’ laundry. When the kids’ laundry is ready, we ask the little ones to fold and put their laundry away- they’re 6 and 8 years old and have zero issues doing this. This helps me maintain the laundry from piling up and from having to do too much in any one given day.
As for meals, you don’t necessarily have to cook your week’s meals in one day just to save time. You can actually save time by making a grocery list according to the meals you’ll serve for the week. Doing this helps in two ways: helps to plan a full week’s meals, and to save from overspending at the grocery store on things I don’t need. And as a self-proclaimed master budgeter and procrastinator, this method has worked wonders for my family of 6.
Schedule Off Days
For some odd reason, every two weeks like clock work, I feel run down and like a mental maniac. My hormones are all over the place, I feel super-stressed, and my attitude goes off the rails for small things. That’s why I’ve made a point of scheduling one full day off as a break for myself. I do this often, at least twice a month, some months I do this once a week.
The reason I do this is because I realized that taking time off to focus on my own mental health and emotional well-being has helped me gain new perspectives on what I’m doing in my life. This time off can be had in a multitude of ways, from a day at the spa to reading an entire novel to just napping the day away. And I make sure I don’t let myself feel guilty for taking this time. When I’m in doubt of taking this time out, I remind myself of the monster that lives within and how it reacts to my kids and husband when I don’t give her a break. So do yourself a favor, when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, remember taking a day off not only serves you, but your family as well.
After giving birth four times, my body sort of gave up, and I was left with a subluxated hip and five disc herniations in my spine. Needless to say, my body hurt so much that exercise was not something I cared for. But I was wrong for not pushing through the pain.
The mind is a miraculous thing, and when you have a positive mindset, amazing things can happen. In my case, just taking short 15 minute walks was extremely painful the first few weeks, but my doctor assured me it would help in my physical therapy. By the fourth week, I not only felt better physically, but mentally too. My energy output soared, and the positivity grew. From then on, I began lengthening my walking sessions. Now, I get on my Peloton every single day, I walk at least 3x a week, and on the days I have immense energy, I lift light weights. But it took me several years to build up to this, so don’t stress out if you can’t do this in a short period of time. The point is that I used a positive mindset to get here, you can too. So don’t give up on yourself, and take that first walk.
Make Time for Self Care
When was the last time you took care of yourself? Was it a few months ago, last year, or years ago? If it was so long ago that you can’t even remember, that’s a problem because that means you don’t make yourself a priority.
Making time for self-care is a great way to prioritize your needs over anyone else’s. I always recommend starting with something small and not too time consuming. Self-care can be stressful to think about when you haven’t done anything for yourself in a long while. Start with doing something you enjoy like getting a hair cut or manicure. Dedicate a set amount of time for yourself to meditate. Make a wish list of things you’ve always wanted to try and begin checking one off each day. It can be something as simple as enjoying a hot cup of coffee- sure that’s hard to do with little kids, but it can be done if you plan it just right.
How often do you look at the clock and time everything so that you’re never late? I bet this is often, but it’s a problem often causing stress, depression, and the overwhelming feeling like you’re failing to meet these made up deadlines. The funny thing is all you need to do to alleviate what you’re going through is to simply slow down. Stop over filling your daily calendar. Don’t make so many promises that you end up not focusing on yourself. Eliminate extra tasks that you opted to take on because you thought you could do it. And stop rushing around everywhere. Give yourself the freedom and forgiveness to slow your life to a peaceful lifestyle.
Add Greenery to your Scenery
Adding green plants to your living space is known to improve moods, relieve stress and anxiety, prolong attention span, boost self esteem, encourage healthy choices, and provide an overall happy sensation. Consider a study done at four San Francisco Bay area hospitals, 79 percent of the people felt more relaxed and calm after spending time in a garden. So if you want to embark on loving your life, then be sure to add plenty of easy-to-care for plants to your home.
Bonus tip: snake plants are excellent air filtration plants, add a heap of greenish yellow hues to your home, and look good in every part of the house.
Life is always going to bog you down if you let it. That’s why you need life hacks to help lessen your mental load so you can live a much happier life. Try the essential tips we listed above and you may just experience the type of life you’ve been looking for!