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If I could go back to college (when all I had to do was worried about yourself) and slap yourself in the face for feeling stressed or worried about literally anything, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Every college student, and most high schoolers, are convinced that they have it so rough. Things are so stressful, everything is the end of the world, and life is so hard.
And then real life happens.
Marriage happens, owning (and having to maintain) your own house happens, motherhood happens, and you get to this point where you remember vividly that you were stressed as a young adult, but you can't quite figure out how you could possibly have been.
I have you up to meet an adult who can thoroughly explain this phenomenon with a sentence other than “youth is wasted on the young” or with just a string of muttered swear words under their breath, but it seems to be a fairly common phenomenon.
Adulthood bring so many complications that we never expected, welcomed, or quite signed up for. (I’m still looking for my informed consent form for adulthood. This s*** is inhumane. The IRB must be informed.)
However, in our struggle to get all of the busy work, tasks, and jobs done, no matter how much we like them, we can lose sight of the bigger picture of life. This is what I would go back and tell my college self, so I'm imagining my sixty-year-old self coming back in time to slap my current stressed out being. (Yes, that sentence had a lot of time travel. Sorry.)
In the spirit of preemptive retrospection, here's my list of the things that we should be focusing on instead of stressing about all the minutiae and tiny details of our day-to-day lives.
This isn't just my bloggery ramblings. In my experience, the more we focus on the big picture items, the less the little stuff will stress us out. This makes us happier, better parents, better spouses, and just more pleasant human beings in general.
You can buy things throughout your entire life, but you can only enjoy a select amount of experiences.
If you look at back at your favorite memories as a child, chances are they won't be that day you bought X or that day you purchased Y, they will leave things you did with other people.
Maybe it was a family vacation you took with your parents, maybe it was just hanging out with your friends in the back of someone's yard, maybe it was a sports team you are on that accomplish something great, or simply just laughing with your friends from down the street.
Humans are communal animals. We live in packs and social groups for a reason. As an adult, your main social group is going to be your family. Fortunately, you get to pick your spouse and you get to shape the personalities of your children. This should make your social group tolerable, and usually pretty darn enjoyable.
So, instead of forking out endless money on new toys or swag for your kids, try focusing more on creating things you can enjoy doing together. Some of our family favorites are adventure races (like Tough Mudder or Spartan Race) if you want to go big or even just a game of darts or a board game if you feel like staying in.
Whatever it is, try to incorporate opportunities to spend actual, phone-free bonding time with your family into your daily schedule. It’ll reduce everyone’s stress levels, no matter how many teenage eye rolls you get.
It’s so tempting to get distracted by trying to meet your short-term budget that it can be hard to keep your long-term financial wellbeing in mind.
Even if it’s only a few hundred dollars each month, try to continue contributing to something long-term. The easiest option is obviously a savings account, but there are a bunch of options you can consider.
For instance, you don’t have to buy some kind of crazy investment property to invest in real estate. (Although the Monterey Ridge luxury homes website is notoriously fun to drool over.) Even just paying down your mortgage a little bit faster is actually an act of savings and financial planning. Every dollar you pay ahead of schedule saves you interest and gets you closer to the day you don’t have to make any more mortgage payments.
Whatever method you choose, you should be making regular (at least monthly) steps towards a higher level of financial success later in life. Whether it’s 529s for your college-bound kids, paying down your mortgage a little quicker, or considering an investment property to rent out, it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture for the sake of your day to day financial stresses.
It’s these measures that can help you have something worthwhile to aim at - and this can truly make all of the difference.
While investing in your health is not as easy as clicking your fingers and immediately boosting how you feel, it’s still important to keep in mind.
Things like better nutrition, using the best supplements, using an active gym subscription to hit your cardio quota are important steps, but it can also be really challenging to do any one of these things as a mom, not to mention all of them at once.
This said, it’s still a bad idea to surrender to the quart of ice cream in the fridge and permanently retire your “yoga” pants from anything resembling actual yoga. Even if it’s just taking the stairs instead of the escalator at the mall, try to do something every day that contributes to your long-term health.
I’m not saying that you need to go hard-core vegan, start training for a marathon, or even resist the urge to steal the cut-off crusts of your kids’ grilled cheese, but the act of trying to integrate one healthy thing into each day keeps your health in the forefront of your mind and makes sure you don’t ever go full couch potato.
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
Stay Sane Mom gives support to the over-worked, under-slept, marker-stained, soul-hungry moms of the world, so they can be more than just "mom".
You just want to keep the house clean, have a happy marriage, raise functional kids, and still have a little left in the tank to be a real person as well.
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