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Stressed to the max? 6 strategies for busy moms in times of overwhelm

3. Completely accomplish something—the laundry, work emails, or even cleaning the bathroom.

Stressed to the max? 6 strategies for busy moms in times of overwhelm

Meghan Birch is no stranger to a busy schedule. A full-time, freelance Costumer in the bustling Vancouver film and television scene, she also found time to turn her passion for the textile arts into a business—Woodland Wovens.


A mother of two, and one on the way, Meghan is a “Motherly” soul. Her care for children, and the planet, is evident in her work with Woodland Wovens. Through it she fosters a spirit and whimsy and fantasy, with her heirloom quality play tents made from natural fibers and eco-friendly materials.

Meghan seems like she’s got it all together, so we wanted to know: What happens when thing go a little ... awry? When your well-made plans and “perfect” balance are thrown out of alignment, how do you get through the day?

Plagued with morning (read: all day) sickness as she makes her way through her first trimester, a transfer to a brand new show, and family drama, Meghan had to find out just what kind of pluck she was made of, and discovered some excellent coping mechanisms along the way.

Here’s the 6 tips she shared with Motherly about how to handle times of max stress—

Tip 1: Put yourself in “time out”

If you need me I'll be in my happy place (and disconnected for the next 24 hours)

A photo posted by Woodland Wovens Teepees+Tents (@woodlandwovens) on

Sometimes you just need to get away. Get a partner/friend/family member/neighbor to watch the kid(s) for about 30 mins. My husband and I have a system; when one of us gets super overwhelmed we say, “I need a break!”. Go out for a drive/walk, blast some music, don't think about a thing and come back ready to tackle life! Sometimes an adult timeout is all you need, and if that includes ice cream all the better.

Tip 2: Treat yo’self

As a mom it's really easy to lose your identity. All of a sudden you’re someone's “mama” and your priorities change. You put your kids wants and needs before your own and you can get lost in the process.

Don't forget about yourself.

Get your nails done, get your hair did, go ahead and buy that expensive makeup that makes your skin look flawless! If that's not your thing then just get a cake and eat the whole thing while watching reruns of Friends. I won't judge. Whatever floats your boat and makes you feel special.

Tip 3: Accomplish something

I’m not talking about getting your Masters in astrophysics or running a marathon! This can be as simple as answering all your emails, organizing your finances or even cleaning your bathroom.

Set a small goal for yourself and see it through from start to finish. For me, I feel like a superstar if I can get the laundry put away.

Focus on what you can get done, not what you can't.

Tip 4: Just Say No

I have to admit, as a “yes” person I have the most trouble with this one. “Can you come to this event?”, “Can you get this done by next week?”, “Can you pick this up for me?”. I've learned that the world won't end if I just say no and mostly people are very understanding when you tell them you simply don't have the time. You know your limits better than anyone else.

Tip 5: Exercise

This is my number one best way to combat stress, anger, fatigue and all-around yuckiness. It doesn't have to be an hours long thing but it should make you sweat! Lift some weights, go for a run, take a spinning class. It releases endorphins, makes you healthier, and is a great thing to do for yourself and your body. Work it out.

Tip 6: Ask for Help

It takes a village. There's no shame in throwing your hands up and just asking for help.

If you find yourself without family or friends close by there are lots of mom groups and community outreach programs. If you feel like you're flailing need to talk to someone don't be afraid to contact a counselor or therapist. Most can be claimed with health benefits or have flexible rates and can work within your budget.

A non-judgmental ear can sometimes make all the difference and give you some clarity.

If you are anxious, depressed, or feel like things are just “too much,” please, ask for help. Ask a friend, a family member, or a health professional. You are not alone, and how you feel is important to us. Remember, you are part of a sisterhood of mothers now. You are never alone.

More Motherly insight from Meghan—

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

The mornings I work compared to the mornings I don’t look VERY different! Work mornings are anything but smooth. I have to be out the door by 7 so I try to have everything laid out and ready to go. These mornings usually consist of getting half asleep kids dressed, shoving a banana in their hands and leaving in a whirlwind. The days I have off aren't rushed but with two kids under four and another on the way they're anything but mellow. Other than a slow coffee drip, my "smooth morning tip" is to try and get out of the house asap, leave the mess and just go! I find I'm more productive and alive on the mornings I get out quickly compared to the ones where we just hang out all morning.

The lifehack or tip that has changed my life. . .

This is an easy one, two words: "grocery delivery.”

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

I'd love to say something like motherhood has given me superhuman strength and compassion for others, and while this is true I've been most amazed by this newly found superpower of getting less sleep but somehow doing more. Also, my multitasking abilities are next level now which comes in handy in my job.

This quote inspires me. . .

"You can't have a rainbow without a little rain" —Dolly Parton. Actually ANY quote by Dolly could be my favorite.

To me Motherly means…

To me, “Motherly” means community. Mothers, women and families coming together to support and give each other strength.

Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.

Join Motherly

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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