7 Essential Tips for a Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Mom

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Inside: Studies show that stay-at-home moms are more likely to experience stress and depression. Read on to find out what causes SAHM burnout and practical tips for a stressed out stay-at-home mom.


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    You’re not the only one.

    I’ll admit that I used to think that stay-at-home moms had it easy. It didn’t take long for me to learn that raising a child is a 24-hour job that renders you dirty, exhausted and often stressed at the end of most days. 

    I know some moms hesitate to call staying at home a job. But if that were the case, then why would we pay daycares, sitters and nannies to help raise our children?

    Well, because it’s a job. 

    So I ask you – When have you ever had a business meeting start in the middle of taking a poop? 

    Hopefully, never. 

    I don’t know another job where for 24 hours a day you’re at the mercy of someone else’s beckon call without so much as a thank you. You can try to plan when raising children as much as possible, but kids are unpredictable and sometimes you find yourself stretched thin and coping with how to maintain your sanity. So, without further ado…

    7 Essential Tips for a Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Mom

    1. Establish a Healthy Morning Routine

    2. Stick to a Consistent Schedule

    3. Eliminate Decision Fatigue

    4. Treat Yourself Throughout the Day

    5. Turn on Music

    6. Find Time Saving Shortcuts

    7. Don’t Let Guilt Creep In

    1. Establish a Healthy Morning Routine

    An alarm clock sits next to you a pad of paper to help moms stick to a consistent routine.

    Creating healthy habits seems to be all the rage lately, especially in the mornings.

    I recently read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and it was life-changing. He does a great job at simplifying how to build a healthy habit and provides useful examples on how these can be applied to your daily life. After reading his book, I established my own healthy routine, which helps me when feeling like a stressed out stay-at-home mom.

    My Healthy Morning Routine

    • Wake Up at 6:30 AM
    • Turn off the sound machine (I use this as a trigger)
    • Make the bed
    • Do a 10-minute meditation
    • Pour a cup of coffee
    • Drink a smoothie

    By 7 AM, I’ve already accomplished five tasks before starting my day with Asher. 

    SAHM burnout happens when we feel like we’re running on the hamster wheel of life trying to find some imaginary finish line, but when we get off the wheel, we realize that we’re in the exact same spot where we started. We’re running ragged each day, but still feeling like nothing is getting accomplished. 

    Don’t let this happen to you. It’s possible to avoid becoming a stressed out stay-at-home mom, but you have to apply discipline to your life. Establishing a healthy morning routine starts me on the right track and sets the tone for the rest of the day.

    How to Start a Healthy Morning Routine

    I recommend finding five things that you want to accomplish in the morning. If you’re following my Ultimate Guide on Baby Sleep Schedules, then that means waking up sometime before 7:00 AM.

    The tasks can be as small as brushing your teeth or drinking a cup of coffee. Just make sure the tasks are simple enough that you can accomplish them every morning and they make you feel good about the start of your day. 

    After choosing your five tasks, establish triggers that will remind you that it’s time for the next task. For example, the first thing that I do every morning is turn off the sound machine. Turning off the sound machine is my trigger for the next task: making the bed. After the bed is made, that triggers me to meditate. Following the exact same sequence of events forms a habit in my brain that is triggered every morning from the small act of turning off the sound machine.  

    2. Stick to a Consistent Schedule

    Tips for a Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Mom

    There’s nothing you’ll hear me repeat more often than the importance of sticking to a consistent routine – and trust me – I know this may not come natural for everyone. I’ve definitely had my fair share of spontaneous moments (like couch-surfing my way through New Zealand), but this will be THE single most important thing that you can do as a stressed out stay-at-home mom. 

    For tips on getting your baby to sleep through the night, check out my post on The Ultimate Baby Awake Time Chart.

    Children crave routine. They need structure and predictability. With the internal changes going on inside their little bodies, they need to feel secure with their external surroundings. 

    Benefits of Sticking to a Routine

    • Adhering  to a consistent routine helps expose children to healthy habits. 
    • It helps establish independence in children.
    • A consistent routine creates a calmer household.
    • It helps alleviate the power struggles between the parents and the child.

    Furthermore, developing consistent routines is not only good for the child, but important for the family, as well. 

    Sticking to a routine means

    • You can predict when your child will be hungry.
    • You can predict when your child will be tired.
    • He/she is more likely to have regular bowel movements.
    • Your child is more likely to sleep better at night.
    • Your child will intuitively learn to wait based on his/her routine. 

    Sticking to a consistent routine eliminates the guessing game of why your child is crying or cranky. Since your child is accustomed to a certain schedule, you can plan ahead; thus, reducing anxiety for a stressed out stay-at-home mom.

    It’s important to note that sticking to a consistent routine does not mean implementing a strict regimen without room for flexibility. Creating a consistent routine means following a general guide for the way you will incorporate habits into your daily lives.

    3. Eliminate Decision Fatigue

    Stressed mom looks at home computer while kids play in the background

    By the time you go to sleep at night, the average person has made over 35,000 decisions in a single day. Over time, these decisions wear you down and deplete you of willpower in what’s known as decision fatigue. 

    One study found that the most influential factor in whether or not someone was granted parole wasn’t their crime, background, or sentences, but what time their case was heard. According to researchers, “Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70% of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10% of the time.”

    In order to combat decision fatigue as a stressed out stay-at-home mom, it’s necessary to minimize as many decisions throughout the day as you can.

    How to Eliminate Decision Fatigue

    • Buy multiples of the same piece of clothing and rotate these weekly
    • Enroll in auto pay
    • Eat a variation of the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner
    • Grocery shop online and use a list
    • Set deadlines for yourself

    Finding something to wear each morning used to cause me so much frustration. I would always pick something out and then feel uncomfortable in it for the rest of the day and end up in a bad mood.

    After doing this for a while, I ultimately decided to buy a bunch of Everlane T-shirts and rotate them out with my favorite bottoms. Eliminating this one decision every morning has had such a positive effect on my mood and overall mental health. 

    4. Treat Yourself Throughout the Day

    Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Mom

    I’m a huge believer in self care. Life is what you make of it, and I don’t understand the point of feeling guilty for treating yourself to something that makes you happy.

    Repeat after me: It’s not selfish to enjoy nice things.

    In order to supplement my responsibilities, I treat myself to doing something that I like while I’m doing something that I don’t like. 

    For instance, I do the dishes every night after dinner. I don’t like cleaning the kitchen, so to entertain myself while I do it, I bring the iPad into the kitchen and play an episode of The Real Housewives of New York while I clean (my guilty pleasure is reality TV).

    It makes doing the chore more fun, and I don’t feel the need to relax with TV in my downtime. I allow myself guilty pleasures when I’m doing something productive. 

    Ways To Treat Yourself if You’re a Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Mom 

    • Keep a bottle of your favorite drink (No, I don’t mean alcohol – we’re not drinking until at least after 5:00 PM) stashed somewhere and when you’re doing a productive task – say, like vacuuming – enjoy your reward.
    • Wear a face mask while helping the kids with homework. 
    • Throughout the day, prepare your bath with things like a candle and bath salts, so when the kids are asleep, you’ll have everything ready to relax for a 30 minute soak before bed. 
    • Enjoy an episode of your favorite TV show while doing the dishes. 
    • On nights that you order pizza for the kids, order the cheap kind for them and get yourself the nice, specialty kind from the local restaurant. They’ll never know the difference. 
    • On days that you get to shower, play your favorite podcast or music so it feels less like a chore and more like a fun escape. 

    Honestly, I could do a whole blog on self care. After living with a chronic illness for so long, I’m over the days of feeling guilty for treating myself.

    There is no reason that you should feel ashamed for enjoying something and doing what you need to do for your own mental health—and anyone who makes you feel otherwise has their own personal issues to grapple with. These are small rewards that you can give yourself through the day to totally change your mood in a positive direction.

    5. Turn on Music

    Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Mom

    Have you ever noticed how much better life is with music? If so, you’re not the only one. The Journal of Positive Psychology discovered that individuals who listened to happy and upbeat music were able to improve their mood and overall happiness in just a few weeks.

    There’s an Alexa in the nursery and in the kitchen, so we always have access to music throughout the house. Our family starts the day with classical music, because it helps us focus and puts us in the right mindset to conquer the day. Then, when I’m up playing with Asher, I’ll ask Alexa to turn on Disney tunes and when I start to cook dinner, I’ll change to jazz. 

    I play music in the house during the day to help with my mood, drown out white noise and reduce the likelihood of watching TV. If you find yourself stressed out, turn on music to see if you can change your mood. 

    6. Find Time Saving Shortcuts

    Stay-at-home moms should get organized.

    Much like practicing self-care to alleviate stress, I also try to find shortcuts wherever I can. Often, stay-at-home moms feel burnout when trying to squeeze the unlimited amount of activities that kids require into a short amount of time. It’s easy to become a stressed out stay-at-home mom when juggling so many things at once. 

    Here are Some Ways to Save Time

    • Pre-chop veggies and batch cook grains on Sunday nights and save them for the week. 
    • Place a sheet under a high chair or toddler’s seat to help capture spills and stray food and save time on cleaning.
    • Prep smoothie bags every Sunday night and leave them in the freezer for the rest of the week. Each morning, grab a bag and add some coconut water or milk for an easy, quick and nutritious breakfast. 
    • Make sure to meal plan and order all of the groceries online for pickup or delivery. 
    • Enroll in auto fill subscription services for items that have consistent ordering times like pet food or laundry detergent. 
    • Save time on your hair by using this all-in-one brush and hairdryer
    • Add an Alexa to the house to instantly check the weather, add to a grocery list, order items online and play music all from voice activation. 
    • Invest in the August Doorbell and give visitors access to your home from the touch of an app or simply telling Alexa to “unlock the door.” It also features an auto lock and unlock option where the door will automatically lock or unlock when you’re within 200 yards of the sensor. 

    I’m definitely a “work smarter, not harder” type of person, so finding ways to save time comes natural for me. Try these time-saving hacks to lessen stress and give you back more of your day.

    7. Don’t Let Guilt Creep In

    Another tip to help stay-at-home moms is asking for help.

    I’m extremely grateful for my husband. He does so much to help our family, but it’s infuriating when he says “take a break and go take a shower or something.” 

    I don’t know how many other stay-at-home moms feel this way, but there’s something about him suggesting that I take a break from being productive for the last 12 hours to then go and use my one hour break on something productive. 

    Maybe I decided to skip a shower that day, and I want to sit in my underwear and eat Cheetos during my break?

    Probably not, but if it were, I wouldn’t feel guilty about it.  

    As a stay-at-home mom living with a chronic illness, I know just how easy it is to slip into the mindset of anxiety and questioning every decision you make. 

    However, in all honesty, I don’t think in terms of me being a good mom or bad mom – I’m just a mom who loves her son and a mom who’s trying to delicately balance my obligation to build him into a responsible human being while remaining true to who I am as an individual. I am a mom, but that’s not the only thing I am. 

    Final thoughts on Tips for Stressed Out Stay-At-Home Moms

    Stay-at-home moms today are experiencing burnout more than ever. From juggling societal expectations to misperceptions, it’s easy to feel like you’re never doing enough. 

    Just know that this won’t last forever and try to keep a healthy perspective as much as possible. The tips above have helped me manage my time, and, ultimately, made my life easier. I hope these tips can help you achieve relaxation and success as a stay-at-home mom.

    Are you a stressed out stay-at-home mom? How are you managing? Comment below and share your tips on coping with stress.  

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    Allie Schmidt
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    Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

    In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.

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