10 Stress-Busting Tips from Moms Like You

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by: Erin Dower
A stressed mom is an unhappy mom. If you're feeling frazzled, frustrated, or drained from the daily grind of being a busy parent, learn some simple stress-relief tips submitted by our readers — other real mothers who have been in your shoes. Please share your own stress-busters and "me time" ideas in the comments section below.
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Start and Finish the Day in Peace
Do you often wonder where the day has gone? In the mad rush to take care of the kids, the hours all blur together. Try to set aside even just a few minutes of meditation or quiet time in your own little corner of your home at the beginning and end of each day. Light an energizing citrus-scented candle in the morning, and a calming lavender-scented candle at night. (Just remember to blow them out!)

One mom says: "Take a few minutes to take some deep breaths, enjoy looking out the window or at a peaceful photo, and focus on something positive at the beginning of the day. I am a mother of six children, and I can tell this works because when I forget to do it, I find myself stopping more often during the day to refocus and get back on a positive track."

Another mom, who swears by taking "five minutes of peace" a day, notes: "By the way, new moms, babies are safe in their cribs. If you need time to 'chill out,' putting your baby in her crib crying for five minutes is much safer than losing your temper with her."

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Go for a Lunchtime Walk or Workout
Exercise is a major stress-buster and mood-lifter, but moms are too busy to hit the gym when the kids are around. If you work outside the home, use your lunch break to fit in a workout or a brisk walk with a colleague. If you're a stay-at-home mom, take your little one out for fresh air in the stroller or baby jogger, or do an exercise video when your tot is napping (tip: check YouTube for some free yoga and workout videos).

One mom says: "You don't have to join a gym or feel like it's another chore. All you have to do is to take a walk. Look at the sky, feel the sun on your face, and smell the grass. It may be tough getting yourself started, but once you do, you won't want to give it up."

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Indulge in a Bit of Beauty
Who has the time and money for an entire spa day? Busy moms deserve at least a little treat, such as a monthly manicure or a 15-minute chair massage.

One working mother says: "Working moms have a tendency to feel guilty because they either have to or want to work outside of the home. They feel guilty spending time away from their children and therefore have a more difficult time taking time for themselves during nights and weekends. This is where the lunch-hour of beauty comes in: Get yourself down to your favorite salon during lunchtime for whatever treatments you can fit in and afford from time to time."

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Do Lunch with Friends
Evenings get eaten up by dinnertime, bath time, and bedtime. Make the most of your lunch hour at work by getting together with friends in the area. If you stay at home with the kids, make lunch dates with other moms so that you can chat and vent while the kids nap or play.

One mom says: "When was the last time you had lunch with your best friend? Or better yet, did some serious shopping together? Life is busy for moms, but it's important for you and your girlfriends (both with and without kids) to still make time for girl talk."

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Take a Day Off
Whether you stay at home or work outside the home, when is the last time you took a mental health day? Leave the kids with a relative or sitter for the day or take a personal day from work – you never get time to yourself. Scout out a shoe sale, see a chick flick alone, buy yourself fresh flowers, or even take a nap – make your day off really count!

One mom says: "Sometimes it's just plain OK to put the kids in daycare or have the sitter come so you can spend the day in the bookstore or shopping. It certainly won't harm the kids. It really helps you be a better parent when you get some alone time. You don't feel resentful. DON'T FEEL GUILTY!!!"

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Make a Date with Yourself
Along the same lines as taking a mental health day, make a date with yourself. Ask your partner or a friend or relative to take the kids out for an evening while you stay in and have a grown-up dinner or a glass of wine. Put your feet up and shut your cell phone off!

One single mom says: "I take a Friday night when my kids aren't home (they're having an overnight with a friend, they're at their dad's house, or they're just out for the evening) and make myself a really nice dinner (or get really good takeout). I set the table, use a cloth napkin, light candles, and enjoy a quiet dinner with a glass of wine by myself. Then I take my glass of wine and a rented movie, change into a fresh pair of my favorite pajamas, and settle myself comfortably in my bed. Ahhhhh..."

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Seek Out Parent Support
Other moms can relate to your madness! Look for opportunities to meet other parents, such as "Mommy and Me" classes at the YMCA, story time at the library, or support groups in your area if you're a single mom or have a child with special needs. Online message boards are also a good resource.

One single mother says: "Attention single moms! It's no good for you or your children to sit at home and feel sorry for yourself that you're stuck doing this parenting thing alone. Get out there and find yourself a good support group. Your insurance company may offer a variety of self-improvement programs at no cost to you. Your local library, church, or community message board may also help you find a group that would be the right fit. Getting out there is half the battle."

Another mom says: "In our small community, the recreation center offers a two-hour open gym time for babies, toddlers, and their parents twice a week. It's a good break from the house, and the kids can run, climb, jump and be 'wild' in a safe place. The kids have a chance to play with other children. I visit with other moms and we share our struggles, ideas, and joys. It's good for the kids and good for me!"

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Escape in a Book
A good read is a great escape. Try to read even just a few pages at bedtime. It's much more relaxing to end the day with an intriguing story than with a diaper change, dish washing, or drafting the next day's to-do list.

One single mom says: "Take at least one weekend a month to read a book of your choice. Rent movies for your kids and make plenty of popcorn so you can fit in your reading time. Reading, for me, allows the stress to flow away."

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Plan a Girls' Night Out
Time with your girlfriends is a major stress-busting treat. A night on the town without kids or spouses can be tough to arrange but is well worth the effort. Take out those calendars and make it work, ladies! You'll look forward to your girls' night for weeks.

One work-at-home parent says: "When you're a work-at-home mom, your home is your office, your castle, your playground. A night out with the girls offers relief from the daily routine. I think the key here is to make it a regularly scheduled night out."

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Treat Yourself to Bath Time
Put away the kids' squirty toys. Take a soothing bubble bath after everyone else has gone to bed. No time for bath time? Buy a pretty-smelling face wash to use at the end of every day. Water can help wash away a stressful day.

One mom says: "A bath is great when you can keep the kids at bay. Play some quiet music. Add a few drops of essential oil, such as jasmine or rose, which you can find for a few dollars at a health food store. It's very relaxing!"