This is a guest post by Adrienne May, military spouse and regular contributor to Military Spouse Central and Military Family Central.

We’ve all heard of those incredible moms who do it all. They glide through each workday with perfect grace and return home to their beautiful families, whom they love and nurture flawlessly. They never get overwhelmed, and they certainly never lose their tempers. This illusory modern woman is the new standard that society, social media, and blogs have given us.

The problem with this perfect image is that, like many ideals, it’s unreachable. Working moms have a lot on their plates, and while some handle the fully-loaded lifestyle better than others, no one is perfect, and anyone can get overworked. There are, however, ways to help you become a woman who manages work stress well and doesn’t let it interfere with home life.

Watch Out for Warning Signs

One important factor to better manage your stress is being sensitive to your warning signs. When I start to feel myself getting frustrated, distracted, or impatient, I know stress is creeping in. Warning signs like these are common, but yours may be different. With a little extra awareness, you can learn to be the first to notice them, rather than the last.

The most obvious sign of stress for me is when I start to snap at my kids more easily. If I don’t correct my behavior quickly, my youngest will say something. He doesn’t always know that stress is the cause, but he will ask why I am sad or angry. I’m sure the other kids notice, too, but they probably stay quiet for fear of being snapped at! The last thing I want to be for my family is a cranky, negative mom, so it’s vital that I address my stress promptly.

This doesn’t just apply to stress from work. Time at home with kids brings its own set of stressors to take into account. Some days, it may feel like all you do when you leave work is go from one stressful situation to another. The picture changes, but the feeling stays the same. Both kinds of stress need to be addressed.

Stress-Beating Strategies

If you don’t nip your stress in the bud, it won’t take long for you to burn out at work, home, or both. Many working moms overextend themselves and end up with mediocre work and a disconnected family. While you may need a week at the beach to undo all the tension that’s built up, oftentimes a short “breather” is enough to return you to your real self.

When I come home from work, the first thing I do is take 10 to 15 minutes of alone time. I go to my room, change my clothes, sit quietly, and relax for a few minutes. This gives me a mental refresher and a chance to let go of the stress from work. I take the break immediately after walking in the door, which protects me from rushing in and trying to do a million things at once. After I have a moment to myself, I feel prepared to be a mom again. This conscious act of changing gears and relaxing takes very little time, but is extremely effective. It allows me to switch gears, and instead of recovering from a blowup, I am able to practice a little prevention. So often, we get stuck perpetually sacrificing self-care so we can devote more time to loved ones.

Just recently, I spoke with Ann Marie (Bond) Detavernier, from Household 6 Diva, on this subject and she explained it like this: “What you give is a glass. You have to keep putting positive things in the glass, or you cannot give to others. You will want to; you will be shaking the glass trying to get out one more drop.”

You have to keep filling your glass.

Prioritizing Family

While pursuing your career, it’s imperative that your family doesn’t feel neglected. In the evenings or weekends, don’t let work sneak its way in. Designate work time and family time, and keep your focus where it belongs. Don’t try to multitask or work on your computer while the kids are around. I choose to sit with my kids while they do schoolwork, even if they don’t need my help, so they know I am available and accessible. Kids know when you are distracted and they know when you’re fully present, even if you’re not actively engaged in conversation.

That being said, you should still find times when you are purposefully interacting. For me, that means tucking my kids into bed whenever possible, including giving baths and reading books before bed. We also eat dinner together every night, so we have plenty of time to connect. For you, it might mean something else. Maybe you can’t do dinner every night, but you can find other meals to share throughout the week. Perhaps weekends or days off can be spent doing activities like hiking, playing board games, having dance parties, or taking day trips together. It will always be a challenge to spend meaningful time together, but you should never lose sight of the most important things in life, even while pursuing other goals.

So go ahead, take a few minutes to yourself. Relish the time you have with your spouse and kids. Don’t feel guilty for being a working mom or having your own needs. There may still be times when you succumb to stress and become a less pleasant version of yourself, but remember that those perfect women you hear about are not real. With a few small adjustments, you can manage the bulk of your stress well and enjoy every aspect of your life more fully – and that’s as close to perfect as any of us needs to be.


Adrienne May is a military spouse. Her husband is an Army soldier and is now serving in the Army National Guard. Together, they have three children, from preschool to pre-teen. Adrienne regularly blogs for Military Spouse Central and Military Family Central. Follow Adrienne on Google +.