I always knew that being a mom would be stressful. I just didn’t know how stressful parenthood would be, especially after my son was diagnosed with autism. As a mom who works outside the home (and writes a few nights a week) while raising a seven-year-old son with autism, my day to day is pretty stressful. I am always on the go, leaving little time to relax, close my eyes and just breathe.
And summer is one of the most stressful times of year for me. These last few weeks I’ve been incredibly anxious. There have been changes in Norrin’s school bus schedule. The other day our babysitter cancelled at the last minute and I had no other choice but to leave work early (which messed up my schedule for the rest of the week). I still need to figure out child care for the last few weeks of summer since camp is not an option. And a few other things that have been weighing on my mind. (I’ll write it about all of that in the next few weeks.)
My anxiety prevents me from sleeping. On nights when I can’t sleep, I wake up exhausted. Working when I’m sleep deprived makes me less productive. Most days, I drink between three to five cups of coffee a day to stay awake. By my fifth cup, I’m a jittery mess. And by the time I get home from work, I’m exhausted from my long day but I’m so wired on caffeine that I have trouble falling asleep. When I’m tired and anxious, I become impatient and easily irritated.
I need to learn to manage my stress better.
6 Things I’m Doing to Manage Stress 1 of 7
Click through to see what I'm doing and using to cope with the stress of parenting...
Peace in a Bottle 2 of 7
I like to keep this at my desk at work. Whenever I feel anxious, I dab a little on the back of my neck and rub on my temples. The aroma is soothing and it's cooling to the skin.
Available at Origins for $12
A Good Night’s Sleep 3 of 7
I am addicted to this! I love spraying this sleep mist on my pillow right before I get into bed. The lavender vanilla scent lulls me into a relaxing sleep. Norrin likes it too, he asks me to spray it on his pillow.
Available at Bath and Body Works for $10
Tea Time 4 of 7
Anyone who knows me, knows I love coffee. But drinking three, four, five cups has me so wired by the end of my day, I have trouble falling asleep. And I'm so jittery, I have trouble focusing on one thing. But when I'm sick, I prefer Yogi tea to coffee. I recently discovered Yogi's Stress Relief tea and I'm starting to make the switch to tea. I still have my first cup of coffee in the morning but throughout the day, I'll drink tea.
Available at Yogi Products for $4.99
Roll Your Stress Away 5 of 7
Another little aroma therapy must have for me. This is small enough to take with you wherever you go. I just roll a little on my wrist, close my eyes and inhale.
Available at Aveda for $22
Give Yourself a Time Out 6 of 7
A few weeks ago, I went to visit a friend at hospice. She had spent the last five years battling breast cancer. She was a beautiful woman, mother, daughter and friend. And in our short time together that afternoon, she taught me a great lesson. She taught me to take time out to close my eyes and just breathe. I realized that if she could take the time to close her eyes, to breathe, to relax—then so could I.
Image via iStock photo
Lead By Example 7 of 7
Norrin has autism and any change in our routine can make him anxious and upset. I want him to learn to how to manage his stress. During moments when I'm stressed, Norrin picks up on my anxiety and becomes upsets. I don't want to project my energy on him. And I want him to see me coping with stress in a positive way. I have to lead by example. Norrin has been getting better at imitating our movements. He already knows how to do two yoga poses—tree and downward facing dog. If Norrin sees me taking the time to relax and breathe, maybe he'll do the same.
Image via iStock photo
I am hoping these small changes will have a long lasting impact. More importantly, I hope it makes me a better mother. And I hope that I am teaching Norrin how to deal with stress.
How do you cope with the stress of parenthood?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.