My websites name “Altruistic Mom” wasn’t just selected on a whim. Altruistic means a selfless concern for the well being of others; to me motherhood is the ultimate path to selflessness. Being a mom is one of the most rewarding and humbling sacrifices I have ever made. From sleep deprivation to giving up the dream bod, motherhood can be demanding. Even though it’s worth it, especially when we get a big toothless grin or warm snuggles; we are still human and have our breaking points.

I know I’m not alone, being a mom is the best thing ever but also can be stressful. Unfortunately, that mantra “not my monkeys not my circus” doesn’t apply for parents. All to often I realize I’m living in a zoo; there’s always crazy messes to clean up, it’s never quiet and it’s always feeding time. While there will always be messes to clean up and chaos occurring around me; I have found a few helpful tips to be tremendously helpful in managing and reducing stress. I hope these few tricks of the trade help:

1. Stop Judging yourself:

This is at the top of the list because it’s the most important! All to often when our kids do something less than pleasant we take it personal. It’s essential to remember that kids are kids and do things that are crazy and that it’s only a phase! I used to be overly critical of myself a lot. I remember being at the library and my toddler threw the worlds worst temper tantrum ever! I was so focused on being embarrassed that I let it distract me from a teaching moment. So don’t worry about what other people think because you know your kid best and are doing your best. Nine times out of ten the people around you know your threenager is having a moment …and moments always pass! I know this is true because veteran moms such as the librarians who witnessed the tantrum stop to say; “its okay I’ve been there” or “your a good mom, I applaud you.”

2. Learn and practice techniques for stress management:

Different strategies work for different people. Try your hand at a few and see what works for you. Color a Mandula, practice deep breathing, try meditation or yoga or write in a journal. The coolest part about you practicing healthy stress management techniques is your children will learn healthy emotional intelligence from you. I honestly enjoy prayer and reciting scripture because it’s positive and uplifting to me. My son came to me the other day and said “Mommy my friend at school was sad can you pray for them!” (Fist pump- mom win!)

3. Get into a bedtime routine for yourself:

Getting the rest your body needs is so important. If you are anything like me, once the kids go to bed, it’s me time or time with the hubby. It’s the fastest time of the day! It always slips away quickly and before you know it, it’s like a scene from Cinderella and your turning into a pumpkin. Set a bedtime and make it happen. Your sleep matters! The nights I go to bed at a decent time I’m much more energized and cheerful the next day.

4. Take time each day to do what you love:

Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you can’t have hobbies or a passion. Teach your children about individuality and uniqueness by sharing your talents with them. I love to dance! I was in ballet and on the dance team in high school. I flip on some tunes and dance like nobody’s watching. My kids get a kick out of it. I also love scrapbooking and during nap times will craft away one page at a time.

5. Have a support network:

Having a support network is so important! After all, it takes a village to raise a child… Right! A support network can be: family, friends, a nanny or even a club/support group. I have family who live in town so I’m blessed with extra help. I also like having babysitters and mothers helpers on speed dial for when I have a doctors appointment or want a date night. Sometimes I even trade off watching kids with a friend so we can save money. However, it wasn’t until I found my tribe that I felt the most connected. I joined my local Moms Club International chapter and it was the best thing I ever did. These are the ladies I know I can truly connect with, share my heart with, voice my concerns and fears with and admit my doubts to without feeling judged. These ladies are the glue that keep me from falling apart when times get rough. When my youngest son was in the hospital, my moms group surprised me with a care package, busy bags for entertaining my oldest son and meals for my family. Something that was totally unexpected and brought me to tears with how supportive and caring my tribe of women are.

6. Ask for help:

Oh man, this is a big one! I used to always offer help but hardly ever ask for it even when I needed it the most. No one can guess your needs they have to be communicated. If you have that support network I talked about as tip number five be sure to reach out. When you have got someone’s back and they got yours it makes life a lot easier!

7. Exercise:

Keeping the body healthy and strong also provides you with free happy juice aka endorphins. I love group exercise it keeps me motivated; I turn to World Gym for fitness because they offer a variety of classes and have a workout room just for women. Another awesome thing about the gym is the kids can play in the childcare center and work on social skills while you get a work out. You don’t have to have a gym membership to stay healthy: take a walk, go for a bike ride, mow the lawn, do yoga or play a sport with the kids.

8. Get out of the house:

Last but not least, my final tip is to get out of the house. One of my biggest reasons for getting out and doing activities with my kids is because they are very busy and active little people. I try to take advantage of this window of opportunity while they are curious to learn and grow through exploration. However, my second reason is a bit selfish but smart. If we are out and bought then the house stays moderately clean and therefore less work for me!

These are my eight tricks of the trade for reducing stress; I hope they are helpful to you. Praying this week brings you joy and a little bit of relaxation.