Children bring joy, love, and countless gifts to our lives, and there is no deeper bond than that between mother and child. However, with the commitment to nurture another human being from infancy to adulthood (and beyond!) comes an additional load of stress, and the stress that comes with motherhood can be significant. While each mother may face unique stressors, many demands of motherhood and the stressors experienced are virtually universal. A high percentage of mothers feel stress in the following areas:
With all the care and nurturing that children require, as well as the additional demands of extra people in the household, most mothers feel a shortness of time. Whether it’s a lack of sufficient time to get the laundry done, time to spend just playing with the kids, time to one’s self, or time for dozens of other important activities, many mothers find that there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything that they need or would like to do.
Whether using daycare, a nanny, or surrendering a full income to stay at home, caring for children is expensive. As they grow into new clothes, new activities, and eventually off to college, each child can pose a strain on a family’s budget. While children are more than worth the expense, parents do tend to face greater financial stress.
As mothers invest the necessary time into their relationships with their children, sometimes other relationships take a back seat, especially when children are young and need more attention. Mothers of young children often feel torn between meeting the needs of their little one and still having the energy for stimulating conversation, playful times and even sex with the man who helped create the baby. They may also find it more difficult to make time for their friends as they juggle the responsibilities of motherhood. Also, as children grow and change, mothers can change and grow in new directions, which can also put pressure on longstanding relationships. Single mothers can face this to an even greater degree, especially when it comes to dating.
Charged with the responsibility to care for a vulnerable young soul and nurture this sweet life to adulthood, many mothers feel the world to be a more perilous place than it once seemed. From the days when toddlers are climbing the walls and putting everything in their mouths to the days when teens are driving (without us) and preparing for college, there is a multitude of dangers our children face, and therefore stresses that mothers face. Mothers also worry about their children’s behavior and social development, which makes every new stage of development a challenge.
There’s also the fear that many mothers have -- that they’re not doing a good enough job. Because each child has unique temperament traits, needs, and quirks, and because children grow and change all the time, it’s impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to mothering. That means that mothers are constantly reevaluating what they’re doing, looking for new insights (from parenting experts who often disagree with one another on major issues), and trying to stay one step ahead of their kids to be their best as mothers. Often, there are mysteries to be solved, crises to handle, and fires to put out along the way. It’s easy for mothers to question themselves, and become stressed by the consequences of making a mistake. It’s all part of being a conscientious mother.
Finally, among these issues (as well as others not mentioned), many mothers find it difficult to make time and save energy to care for themselves. Gone are most of the spa treatments, personal enrichment activities and even hobbies of the pre-child days once a woman’s responsibilities multiply with the advent of motherhood. Sadly, many of us need this time to be alone, reflect, explore in a journal, and take care of ourselves to be in a good position to care for others.
So, faced with all of the stressful demands of raising children, what’s a mother to so she can maintain some sanity and serenity? This article on mothers and self-care is a good starting point.