The Stress Free Mum
"Can I ever have it all - time for the children and time for me?" "Is there anyone out there that can help me enjoy my role as a mother?" "Can mothers enjoy a stress free life?" These are a few questions mothers ask while trying to function exceptionally well in their role. Many mothers feel burdened and constantly hope that the pressures can be alleviated. Fortunately, this book "The Stress Free Mum, a practical guide for the foundation years" looks at feasible ways to ease stress while we embrace the role of motherhood. It outlines ways to alleviate stress through: *Planning *Routines *Setting Limits *Role Modelling *Speaking Life *Living Life *Dropping the weights and *Prayer. These have been written and presented in a clear and concise manner. Each chapter has examples and action plans that would ensure the readers begin the journey of stress free motherhood.
Copyright � Olabisi Romeo 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permision of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed "Attention: Permissions Coordinator" at the email address below: Ministry In Art Publishing Ltd e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.miapublishing.com Unless otherwise stated, all scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT). Other versions cited are NIV, NKJV, AMP and KJV. Quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright � 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, a member of the Hodder Headline Plc Group. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of International Bible Society. UK trademark number 1448790. Quotations marked KJV are from the Holy Bible, King James Version. ISBN: 978-1-907402-07-4 Cover Design: Allan Sealy Dedication To my mother, Mrs Marian Olufunke Alaran, for teaching me the importance of being a great mum to my children. Thanks for your words of wisdom and encouragement but most of all thanks for being a praying mother. Contents Acknowledgments --------------------------- 7 Foreword---------------------------------------- 9 Introduction ----------------------------------11 Chapter One: Have A Plan -------------------------------15 Chapter Two: Have A Routine---------------------------25 Chapter Three: Set The Limits -----------------------------33 Chapter Four: Speak Life ----------------------------------41 7 The Stress Free Mum Chapter Five: Live Life ------------------------------------49 Chapter Six: Be A Role Model--------------------------55 Chapter Seven: Be A Mother -------------------------------63 Chapter Eight: Confident Childcare ---------------------71 Chapter Nine: Drop The Weights------------------------79 Chapter Ten: Pray------------------------------------------87 8 Acknowledgments T o God Almighty, for entrusting me with this task and inspiring me all the way through. To my darling husband `Yomi, for his faithfulness and love to God and me. Thanks for being the best man I could ever have asked for. To my father, Mr Francis O. Alaran for your love and continuous desire in ensuring that your children have the best. To Pastors Sola and Tumise Ewedemi, for believing in me and teaching me God's word in a way that has transformed my life. To all my family and friends, for your love and support throughout the different phases of my life. To Mrs `Lola Muzinga, for helping to edit my manuscript. I appreciate your kindness and effort. To my seeds of greatness, for teaching me how to love and for loving me just the way I am. I love you very much. 9 Foreword M otherhood which undeniably is one of the most gratifying and rewarding jobs in the world, is undoubtedly one of the most daunting endeavours one can embark upon especially without proper guidance, help and advice. This journey of motherhood is one in which some of us are already in as women or would embark upon at one time or the other in our lives; and which I daresay never really ends, from cradle to the grave. I embarked upon mine thirteen years ago and as I read this book, I constantly found myself wishing it had been written many years ago when I had my first child. It certainly would have made my experience less stressful and chaotic to say the least. In this book, Olabisi has been able to provide a well structured, well balanced, easy to read piece of research on the difficult yet most satisfying job in the worldMothering! She has been able to present this in a down-to-earth yet enlightening and insightful way, which if practised by the 11 The Stress Free Mum reader will generate amazing results. The kind of results I have personally seen the author live out in her own life. Please have your pen ready to take notes and do plenty of underlining as each chapter is infused with insights, wisdom and advice that will not only help you do a better job at mothering, but also aid in making you a more organised and disciplined person all round. The chapter on "Speak Life" is simply life giving and my favourite chapter in the book as I found myself instantly changing my vocabulary. The practical scenarios and the realistic action plans in each chapter can also help transform the "most stressed "mother into the "most tranquil" one and help revolutionize their experience of mothering into the most enjoyable and worthwhile experience that it's meant to be. I would like to encourage you that as you read this book, irrespective of what stage you are in your journey of mothering, it is certain to do one thing to you - not leave you the same! Olutumise Ewedemi Kings Court Chapel Milton Keynes, UK. 12 Introduction "I don't seem to have any time on my hands!" "I am so tired, can't seem to get any rest yet there is still so much left undone!" "I never knew motherhood could be so tasking!" "I am constantly stressed and my patience is wearing thin!" Though the list is endless, do they sound familiar? Ever felt you couldn't cope with the mounting pressures of the job, housework, keeping the family together and raising children. Do you incessantly feel stressed? Like a pressure cooker waiting to let off steam. Do you sometimes feel you haven't got anymore to give? Do you wish the days and nights could be longer? Longer days to get things done and longer nights to rest from all the hard work. Are you always thanking God its Friday, and with a heavy heart welcome Monday morning, wondering where the weekend went, that is supposing you do not work weekends? Do you constantly feel the tug of pressure from...? 13 The Stress Free Mum Work �too much work, too many targets, too little pay Friends �need more time to keep in touch Extended family �it is hard to please everyone Husband �never seem to meet his needs Home �a call for spring cleaning Social life �being a hermit isn't rewarding Spiritual life �time for a deeper walk with God Children �patience, and of course an instruction manual would be highly appreciated Yet you can hear the cries welling up within you... Your hair - I wonder when you'll go to the hairdressers Your fingers � It would be nice to have a manicure Your feet � I don't think I'm asking for too much when I say take me off the ground for a few minutes, I know you do at bedtime but an occasional pampering would not hurt Your body � I have tried to tell you over and over again, take a break. I even thought the constant headaches would have given you a clue but that hasn't worked so I might as well spell it out, I NEED REST! Interestingly enough, most of the issues that seemingly cause us stress end up getting our attention whether we like it or not. However, the ones that get our best are mostly those that cry out the loudest and not necessarily the ones at the top of our priority list. This is typically the case when we have young children from ages ranging between 0-5 years. At this stage the children endure and 14 Introduction hardly question whatever life throws at them. Thus the main focus of this book is the foundation stage or early years of the child when it is best to start the way we intend to go along, however the guidelines can be applicable to other age groups. It is possible to go to a job that we despise, but go through the motions. It is even likely to please everyone including your husband, for the sake of peace, love and unity; however when it comes to the children, we fail to search for workable solutions to resolve our stress related parenting. Many may wish that pressing a "play, pause, stop, rewind and fast forward button" would make motherhood less burdensome, unfortunately this can only be a wish. There is bound to be the feeling of stress given the unpredictable nature of parenting. Though fathers play a major role in parenting, mothers feel the extra heat because the children spend the most time with them; this is taking into account the ante-natal, post-natal and the foundation stages. This however exempts the cases of single fathers, divorced fathers and widowers solely caring for their children. Bearing in mind that there is no hard and fast rule in this journey, there are practical steps we could take to ease the burden of motherhood. These would help alleviate the pressure load off our shoulders and also equip us with the necessary skills to raise exceptional children. Embedded 15 The Stress Free Mum in these practical steps are biblical principles that have helped to guide me from the stressful to the tranquil path. 16 Chapter One Have A Plan Write the vision; make it plain upon tables, so he may run who reads it 1 purposeful trip leading to a desired destination or goal. Achieving goals stems from planning. It is quite easy to write down goals yet it becomes insignificant if there are no plans in place to reach the goals. We are certain to achieve and feel more fulfilled when we plan. According to the Webster's Online Dictionary, a plan was defined as "a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished". It could also refer to having a strategy that propels one to the desired end result. Planning is the most effective way of reaching targets, completing tasks and accomplishing goals. Planning begins by visualising your goal, which with regards to this book, pertains to de-stressing. It is so easy for us as mothers to get caught up in activities that are irrelevant and merely distractions; T his life journey of motherhood should be travelled with focus and determination. It ought to be a 17 The Stress Free Mum however planning highlights the important and the necessary. The goal to get rid of stress as mothers can be derived through effective planning. I am sure we have heard the saying "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" or "If you plan nothing, you'll achieve nothing". This is so true. Imagine waking up on a Monday morning, you have a bath and brush your teeth (as expected), have breakfast (for those who do), and slump right in front of the TV to catch up on the events of the day. Then at bedtime, you try to reflect on the goals you achieved for the day. Except your goal was to get up, eat and relax; you would have achieved nothing. Unfortunately, this trend affects all facets of life and it can progress on for weeks, months and years. It becomes a complex case of living life without purpose. Sad to say but the same applies to motherhood. We all hope and pray to be the best stress free mother any child could ever wish for, however no amount of dreaming would get us there, without taking action. It is quite clear that we can only give out what we have. A stress filled mum would bring forth stress related emotions such as sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, moodiness and anger. She might even take it out on those closest to her � the children. However, once we are able to dispel the stress clusters, there is room to develop healthier relations with our children. Our actions would 18 Chapter One be as a result of our motherly instincts rather than the desire to control a difficult situation. Knowing how and when to de-stress will surely get us through challenging circumstances. Failure to plan and act against stress would leave such mothers living a life of regret once the children are all grown up. Why should we become victims of the phrase "had I known", when we can act now? From experience, planning has helped me eliminate futile activities that clog up time and sap energy, leaving me with a better disposition to deal with issues that would naturally have caused stress. When both my two sons were under the age of two, I realised that motherhood at that point could make me grumpy, drained and stressed but I still wanted to be my happy, sane self. I wanted my children to have the best of me and not the rest of me (after a very hard day). After much thought, I recognised that making plans and setting goals was the way to go. I planned for everything from when to do a specific house chore, when to shop for groceries, nap time, activities with the children and of course bedtime. I planned to do things that were on my "to-do list" for the day. Life may have seemed too structured at the time but it was the best way I could cope with no extra hands but my husband's. I remember vividly how I listed out situations or conditions that could cause me stress and then looked for possible solutions to calm or neutralise them. For example, there was the tendency to become worked up if 19 The Stress Free Mum my newly born baby was disrupted by noise. My life and house chores would grind to a halt to suit this tranquil nature. But what better way could I handle the situation � get him used to noise. I planned to carry on as normal and not walk around on tippy-toes. While he slept, his older brother continued playing as usual. There was no need to get all stressed up by the racket during nap time because that origin of stress had been dealt with. I also used the time he was asleep to rest or go about my house chores without feeling constrained because of the noise I might cause. This was one of the best decisions I made with my babies. My daily plans were not restricted to the children or house chores. It also included time to pray, study the bible and time for my continuous personal development. Everything was planned for. With hindsight, there are certainly no regrets. I know for a fact that if I had no plans, I might have crumbled under the pressure of taking on too much, blaming myself for doing too little and wasting time by paying little attention to the important. There should be daily goals no matter how minute we may think they are. Remember it is all about managing ourselves better during early motherhood in order to exude peace and positively influence our children, knowing fully well that the foundation years are crucial. Our plans for the day could be as simple as dedicating 20 Chapter One some quality time to our children or even time for ourselves. Planning should not be restricted to long term goals but should also feature daily or short term goals. Short term goals should reflect our major goals and create the road map for our journey. As a mother what would you like to achieve this year or even this month? It is the short term goals that we achieve on a day to day basis that determines how and if we would accomplish our long term goals. Our desire to be the epitome of a great mother should begin today. Accomplished daily plans geared towards being stress free, over a 1 to 5 year period, could result in the following: * Better organisational skills * Well behaved children * A more organised and orderly home * More productive time with the children * More time for ourselves * A stress free home and definitely * A stress free "you" It is pertinent to note that our hard work in keeping to our plans is for both our benefit and our children. Once all grown up, you would hope they say "I had the best mum and she made my childhood memorable." Here are a few examples of how some mums planned: 21 The Stress Free Mum Scenarios * Joan is a single mother of two children, a three year old and a one year old. She has no extra help and she works full time from Monday to Friday, while her children attend a nursery school. In a bid to cope with stress, she endeavours to shop for groceries just before she picks them from school or during lunch breaks. This allows her to use time effectively without having to deal with the demands and distractions from the children. She endeavours to make quick and easy meals during weekdays. At bedtime, after prayers, she reads them a very short story. Once the children are in bed, she plans to read a chapter of her book daily as she plans to do a professional exam. She does her house chores and laundry on Fridays. While Saturdays are strictly for socialising, outings, finishing up left over jobs, and of course bonding with her children. On Sunday, after church she ensures she goes home in order to get ready for the week and rest. * Mary who has just had a baby is now a stay at home mum. She also has a three year old who Ifattends that her day is a though married,plans younursery. Even reflection of theshe wish to read her rest ensures of thisthe previous day. Marybook please from intriguing tries as much as possible our plans that work around the visit to make media-store at www.miapublishing.com 22