How Stressed Moms Fight Back

Pulling weeds, working out, staying sane

As a parent of small children, I know firsthand that we all have rough days when reality can smack us in the face — days where every minute feels nearly unbearable.

Recently, I was at the breaking point after taking my son to the emergency room for yet another cold that turned into pneumonia. The stress of dealing with all the things that piled up because one domino fell was taking its toll.

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I’d like to say that on any given day, a cup of tea or meditation eases my stress. Sure, those things help. But when “stuff” really hits the fan, a long hard run while blasting rap music through my headphones is my best remedy. It releases me from the caregiver mode for a brief moment.

Here’s what other moms do when they reach the breaking point (and due to their brutally honest answers, you’ll see why I didn’t include their names):

“Go to the batting cage and whack the hell out of a ball.”

“I take walks listening to NPR.”


“I have coffee with my ‘speed dial people’ (AKA people who just get it).”

“Daily exercise and some wine.”

“If I can get to the gym, it’s a good workout. If not, then I do yard work.”

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“I watch meaningless television to escape the reality of my chaotic world.”

“Room revamping for me: painting, moving furniture, buying new furniture whenever I can afford it.”

“Organizing, sorting and getting rid of stuff — it’s so therapeutic.”

“A good cup of coffee coupled with quiet time.”

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“I do yard work: mowing, raking, planting, or full-on landscaping.”

“Exercise is key. I wake up at 5 o’clock every morning and read while riding the stationary bike. Without that release I wouldn’t be able to handle the stress.”


“I’m a singer. I practice singing for a bit before I go to work. It’s something just for me.”

“I go to the gym or put on my iPod and run, box, step, or dance to very loud high-intensity 80s or house music until I’m drenched and feel like the Dancing Queen.”

“A long rant … to my poor husband.”

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“A weekend away.”

“Knitting while listening to ‘The Moth’ podcast. That, or a gin and tonic with my husband.”

“I blast really loud, preferably angry pop music in the car whenever I drive alone.”

“Singing at the top of my lungs while driving in my car.”

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“Taking the children to the park. I enjoy being out in the fresh air, and they are generally much easier at the playground.”

“I go outside and feed all the stray neighborhood animals. Squirrels, cats, birds, raccoons, dogs, basically anything that looks hungry.”

“A glass of red wine if it’s after 4 p.m. Chocolate. Bourbon.”

“Cleaning my house, pulling weeds, baking, dancing to loud music in the kitchen while cleaning or baking.”

“Skeet shooting whenever possible.”

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“Going on a dream shopping spree at Target or TJ Maxx. Putting anything and everything in the cart that strikes my fancy. Then leaving the store without buying a thing. For some reason it makes me feel better every time.”

“Escaping to the ‘man cave’ and listening to 80s rock.”

“Losing myself in work. I work for the CIA and some days fighting the most vile and evil men on Earth is easier than parenting. I need to remember there is no negotiating with terrorists, regardless of their size.”