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The Stress of Student Mothers

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Child rearing is incredibly stressful. Adding school to a mother’s busy life increases stress levels immensely. So, why add school to an already stressful life? Moms want what is best for their children, thus maybe they return to school to better themselves and the lives of their children. When making the decision to return to school, mothers assume it will be a walk in the park, but it is tremendously stressful, to say the least. Student mothers must learn how to balance raising children along with the stress that comes with the rigors of school work. There are effective ways to ease the stress of motherhood and manage the stresses of college.

Managing the stress of motherhood can be difficult at times. Some steps on how to ease stress include: establishing a schedule; acknowledging feelings; and having fun. First, it is perfectly fine to establish a schedule to minimize the stress that comes in various forms. Organizing is key, so it would be wise to make a list of all coursework and their due dates and identify the most important item on the schedule. Not all the items will be marked off the list and that’s okay. Take time to breathe and then look back at the schedule and continue what needs to be done. Second, acknowledging the feelings. A mother will know how they feel by accepting the feeling. Breathe through it. Take time to de-stress and relax, whether that be on a lunch date or a day at the spa. Last, have more fun. When experiencing stress in school, look to friends for guidance on how to make it fun. It’s okay not to be serious at times. Jump on the trampoline with the children–laugh and play with them. Life is too short to be stressed. Children of student mothers will sense something is wrong when there is stress in the family, so take time to decompress and have fun with them.

Another source of stress for mothers in college is balancing work schedules, finances, and coursework along with the roles they play at home. With all different forms of stress, a student mother might wonder how they can manage between work, school, and motherhood. Mothers who work worry about whether their employers will accommodate their school schedules, and those who may not work know that they will not be able to meet their financial responsibilities, which is another source of stress. When considering children and all the financial responsibilities that come with raising them, moms tend to worry. Adding the financial burdens that come with school, student mothers know that financially their lives will only get harder. Learning to cope with financial problems will help stress levels dwindle. Mothers need to try and focus on making the most of their income by spending it wisely. Small steps are key, stick to a budget. Financial matters coupled with coursework in school will be difficult, especially with being a mother. Trying to find the time to do homework is hard. It is a balancing act because making time between coursework and children is tough. Knowing how to balance the stress of coursework will help manage the time a mother is in school.

It is also important to consider the symptoms that can occur due to stress. Having stress in a student mothers’ life can cause physical and emotional damage. When a mother starts to stress physically, she will start to perspire more than usual, experience headaches, and become more fatigued. Healthwise, mothers must manage stress levels for the sake of their children. Moms who stress emotionally might become hostile toward their loved ones. It is likely that she may feel helpless in a setting that only certain people can understand. However, when seeking advice or support from other moms, she will be able to manage the stresses of motherhood and school.

Behavioral stress can also have a damaging effect. Behavioral stress can include binge eating or loss of appetite, drug or alcohol abuse, and erratic sleep habits. A bad day at school or home may cause mothers to self-medicate with food, drugs or alcohol. According to Harvard Mental Health “The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat.” This is damaging physically and emotionally and may cause a mother to feel worse than she did before. Another behavioral habit is erratic sleeping. Erratic sleep habits occur when someone has difficulty falling asleep. Once asleep, their sleep may be interrupted throughout the night. Stress can do quite a bit of harm to one’s body unless a mother learns how to manage it.

There are several ways to manage and reverse the damage caused by stress. Mothers can manage stress by taking breaks and being examples for their children. If mothers continue to stress over their school and family life, then their children will start to pick up on the struggles that their mothers are facing. Stress is unhealthy, especially for children. Student mothers want to do what is best for their children, so its okay to take the necessary breaks when needed. Take time to laugh. Laughing is a highly effective way to diffuse stressful situations. Jennifer Welsh author of ‘Why Laughter May Be the Best Pain Medicine’ states that “Laughter with friends releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals.” Once laughter is activated, the stress response starts to relieve. Another way to help manage stress is by finding a support group. Whether that be a family member, friend, or a full support group, a support group provides an opportunity for people to share personal experiences and feelings to help develop different coping strategies.

Mothering is incredibly stressful and over time student mothers have had to learn how to balance their time between school and family. By keeping an organized schedule, a mother will be able to manage their time as a student and mother. Even though motherhood and school can be stressful, make life fun and work around it.

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