Why Stressed Out Moms Need a Break

by Donne Davis on April 28, 2010

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Recently, I read a blog post about stressed out moms needing a break. The post resonated so deeply that I decided to contact the author to learn more about how we grandparents can help. After talking with Gila Brown, I invited her to write a guest post to help us have more empathy and to understand the major causes of stress. As a former teacher and parent coach, Brown talks to lots of parents. She specializes in parenting school-age children with grace, using principles of attachment parenting, positive discipline and effective communication. You can sign up for her free newsletter by visiting her website

The word on the street is that moms are feeling overwhelmed, unsupported and alone…

There are so many stressors in a mom’s world today that a day’s purpose is simply to get through it. There is little time or energy to pursue a higher goal than that. The results of operating from this auto-pilot position are that moms do not take care of themselves, their kid’s behavior gets out of control and the spousal relationship bears enormous weight.

There are a number of main causes of mom-stress. While each is problematic in and of itself, as stressors pile up, moms can be left feeling weighed down.

Financial Stress

In today’s economy, there are an ever-increasing number of moms who need to work outside the home. Being out of the home makes the already-difficult job of raising children infinitely more challenging. Having to pay for and arrange daycare is an added stress that is compounded by the guilt that accompanies having to leave little ones in the care of someone else.

Tensions with Dad

Much of mom-stress is also caused by, I hate to say it, dads. Moms and dads often differ in parenting approaches. When parent’s responses to a child’s behavior conflict, it creates tension between them and often resentment and anger begins to brew. Moms feel criticized when Dad thinks she should be able to keep unruly kids under control.

Uncooperative Kids

When kid’s behavior is disruptive or unpleasant, the initial tendency is to try to stop the behavior as soon as possible. This usually results in a punishment, a threat or a time-out. These types of traditional parenting approaches perpetuate the all-too-common parenting power struggles. The ongoing power struggles between Mom and kids compound the other stressors. Moms need a proper understanding of child behavior in order to resolve behavior issues without creating additional stress for herself and her kids.

The problem with stress is that is wears us down. I often find myself reminding clients that they can’t give what they don’t have. Mom’s who don’t make time for themselves do a disservice to their children. Children learn from all that we do. When Mom neglects taking care of herself, it sends a clear message about priorities. And, her ability to nurture others compassionately and respectfully becomes compromised. Taking time to rejuvenate, to relax and reconnect with the inner self are crucial to maintaining a peaceful sense of self. Kids won’t learn to do that unless we model it for them.

Ultimately, moms need a break. They need the space to step back and evaluate. What are their goals for themselves? What are their goals for their kids and their family? What are they doing today to ensure that those goals are met?  Sometimes, moms need a little help doing that. Moms who have support of any kind are truly the lucky ones. I have often heard clients express how grateful they were that their parents would take the kids for the weekends. In today’s world, there is really very little in the way of a break for moms. Grandparents are an invaluable source of support for many families.

As a parent educator, I offer coaching services to families who are ready to alleviate the stress and power struggles at home. Additionally, I am launching a new Motherhood Makeover Retreat program this summer to give moms the tools to nurture themselves without compromising their families.

{ 4 comments }

Susan Adcox May 1, 2010 at 8:45 am

I really see my daughter in this description of stressed-out moms. A financial bind has caused her to have to take on extra work, while the kids and the husband don’t seem to be doing their share. It’s a very real situation for lots of moms.

Katie April 29, 2010 at 10:57 am

I think way too many mothers also put too much pressure on themselves, which adds to the giant ball of stress. I just finished a really great book, Break Free of Parenting Pressures, that gave me the perspective I needed to let go of the stress I was causing myself.

Audrey April 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

Getting your life in balance is so important, especially if both parents are working. Prioritizing and delegating are essential. Author Debbie Pokornik has written a book on this topic called, “Breaking Free From Parenting Pressures.” After reading her ideas and putting them to action I have found a lot of holes that were in my own parenting techniques. You should check it out!

Charleen April 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I tell everyone of my friends with children, husband and wife, especially the husband, that Mom needs to have free time every night to do just what she wants. The problem is many moms also work out then they come home and have a hundred things that need doing. I totally agree that the husband is a large part of the problem, unless they step to the plate and assist with “whatever” when they come home, the stress level and divorce rate will continue to escalate.
I remember my first job after having my children; coming home to take care of the laundry, the supper, the homework, never mind the house cleaning that needs to be done.Thank goodness, many men do step to the plate today and take some stress off mom.
It really isn’t until a woman says she is sick and tired of cooking that she does get a break (sometimes), and by then there are only gram and gramp living at home. I’m so happy to be at that point in my life!

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