Ultimate Blog Party Day 2 Giveaway

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

If you’re here for the first time from the Ultimate Blog Party, welcome!  I blog regularly about faith, family, parenting, marriage, and more!  Stay around for a little while and find all the goodies on my blog.  Don’t miss the free downloads I have, too, as well as the Hearts at Home website where you’ll find even more encouragement!

Congratulations to Sarah (Naptimemomtog.com) and Crissyanna (createdforhome.net) who won yesterday’s drawing for a My Heart’s at Home book!  Thank you to all of you who entered the drawing…but even more importantly…thank you to everyone who shared how they are intentional in their mothering.  It was a great discussion yesterday and I was so inspired!

Today’s I’m giving away 3 copies of my latest book, Living With Less So Your Family Has More.  This Hearts at Home resource looks at living with stress, less activities, and less money than is culturally acceptable.  It challenges us to look more at what we gain when we downsize in some way, rather than seeing downsizing as a loss.

Alot of the living with less discussions we’ve had here on the blog have focused on living with less financially.  Today, however, I want us to share about decisions we have made to live with less stress.

Stress weighs us down, drains our energy, weakens our health, and invites us to be cranky. Stress is a distraction from the important things in life.  It robs us of the joy of mothering.

As moms, we have to be intentional about managing the stress in our lives.  We have to begin to say no, learn the art of self-care, and be intentional about proactively managing stress rather than reacting to it.

Let’s learn from each other today.  What is one change you have made to reduce stress in your life?  Or what is one strategy you use to manage stress on a regular basis?

I’ll start the discussion…One change I’ve made is learning how to say no to good opportunities so I can give those I love my best.  It’s taken some time for me to be comfortable with saying no more often than yes, but I’ve come to realize that every “yes” I say to activities outside the home is a “no” I say to my family.   Because I don’t actually utter the word “no” to my family, I didn’t realize I was initially doing this.  But in time, I’ve come to understand the reality of this.  Now I feel far less guilt when I say no because I know I’m saying yes to what’s most important!

So what about you? What is one change you have made to reduce stress in your life?  Or what is one strategy you use to manage stress on a regular basis?

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67 Responses to Ultimate Blog Party Day 2 Giveaway

  1. Ashley says:

    I am a dance teacher, therefore I work in the evenings. When my triplets started kindergarten this year I cut back my work week to one evening a week…otherwise I would never see them! Yes…less income, but so much more family time! :0)

  2. I am an overcommiter by nature. I find, “YES” flying out of my mouth before I think about the time commitment. So, now if someone asks me to do anything I always reply, “Let me check with my husband first.” Its not that he has to approve thing I do, but he helps me to think about it before I commit. And he loves to help ;).

  3. Jessica says:

    I work part-time from home, and I have a tendency to over-commit myself, thus leading to a lot of stress. Lately I’ve tried really hard to take a step back from work and focus more on my main job as mom. Finding a balance has been tough, but my sanity and children need it.

  4. Julie Ritter says:

    I’ve learned to reach out and ask for help when I need it whether its help from my husband, my friends, or my extended family. I don’t have to do it ALL on my own.

  5. kate says:

    I allow my kids to sign up for one activity per season so we have more time at home and less running around!

  6. Barb says:

    I too am learning to say “no” to things that interfere with my time with our kids. I am a stay-at-home Mom with 4 kids 5 and under, so that keeps me busy enough. However, I have learned that saying “yes” to serving others on occasion helps us as a family learn to show love to others. So, while I can’t teach Sunday school on a weekly basis, I can take a meal to someone in need. The other thing I have learned is that I feel stressed in trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” So, I am learning to think in terms of “need” versus “want”, but I would love to read this book and find out other ways to cut our costs and increase our contentment:)

  7. Kristin says:

    While I am not a mother yet, one thing I want to be intentional about when that time comes is being able to say no to all of the commitments that come our way. I want us to have more relaxation time together, and not always be on the go. That just wears you down and makes it harder to enjoy each other.

  8. A huge decision my husband and I have recently made is that when we are finally able to move things toward the adoption of our current foster son we will be closing our foster care license. It’s a very difficult decision. However, having three special needs childre, having our foster care license and dealing with the foster care system, is very stressful and we need to know our limits.

  9. nicole says:

    I have recently discovered that choosing to be content with whatever I currently have is extremely good for reducing stress. This leads to not feeling like you need to have things, which usually lead to more payments or spending of unnecessary money. It is a conscious choice to be thankful for what you have, daily, and that in turn brings contentment because you then realize how truly blessed you are with non-material things, and no material thing can bring that happiness!

  10. Sarah says:

    I stopped feeling bad about getting rid of things that people give us that don’t work for our family. It’s the thought that counts. With three kids in a two bedroom house, we have to be choosy about what we keep. Doesn’t mean we don’t love the friends/grandparents/aunts/uncles that gave them to us.

    • JillSavage says:

      Sarah, this is good. Thank you for sharing this. It’s amazing how much “stuff” weighs us down and stresses us out!

  11. Laura says:

    I reduce stress by not worrying about getting everything spotless, but just working on keeping things neat enough that I’m okay with it. With two under 4 and one on the way, that is enough. :)

  12. Dawn says:

    I make time for a workout a priority. Post-exercise endorphins are amazing at reducing stress!

  13. Shonda B. says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you. As a women, who is naturally wired to be busy. I was really involved with a certain organization and poured way too much energy into it. Of course, my family started to pay the price for my many absences. Now I just say no to anything that does not connect with my yearly goals that I set for myself. My stress level has lessened (a whole bunch) and I have way more time to invest in the things that are important to me—FAMILY! :-)

  14. Tristi says:

    The concept of “margin” was somewhat new to me when I listened to you speak at the “What Women Want Now” expo back in September. Since then, I have been doing my best to be intentional in keeping margin in my life. I all too quickly said yes to everything because they were good things. Our life has been so much better for it! For example, if we have a commitment on a Saturday, I do my best to keep Sunday free and vice versa. I seem to be hearing more about margin all the time and realize it is crucial for my family. Just one of many things I’ve learned from you. Thanks!

  15. Sarah says:

    I’ve made a few shifts to reduce stress
    *I’ve stopped trying to ‘balance’ it all out with my family, ministry, part time work, and church life… I really claim the proverbs- commit your way to the Lord and He will determine your path. So life is blurry work happens on my laptop at different times of the day/week, but personal things sometimes happen in my official ‘work time’ (I teach at a college so nobody counts)… Just expecting that it will all get done since I’m a born work ahead type– and not feeling pressured to count– makes me less crazy… I just don’t stress.
    * My biggest change is really abiding in Jesus and His Word- He runs my relationships, I claim scripture and really strive to take every thought captive to Christ and as I’m learning to do this moment by moment and choose joy, gratitude, and grace–over anger bitterness, etc… life is better expecting Jesus and joy to rule…. I still fail but I serve and honor a living God who picks me up and says don’t be guilty- you are human- press on to in your faith, keep letting me guide you to die to self…. and my life is so much more peaceful trusting Him!
    * A practical less stressor is I have a friend (from work/church) who has a child one size smaller than my youngest boy and girl… when clothes look too tight, too short, etc.. I fill a plastic bag or extra clothe bag and give them to them when I see them that week– no more waiting til seasons change, or I have ‘enough’ to get rid of it– they get clothes in smaller batches and I don’t store stuff our family will not need, plus then they can anticipate what clothes they like and have for the next size and alter their bargain, garage saling to fit… I’m blessed to have less stuff, and they are blessed by free clothes… I think some even consign some of my clothes, it’s fine with me– I don’t have the energy or need to try to do it all!

  16. Cody Ruggles says:

    2 years ago, I was laid off from work. I have always wanted to stay at home with my daughters, so I believed that this was His way of saying that this is what I am supposed to do… be a stay at home mom. The past 2 years have been very rewarding. I get to see them grow every day. I’m also very involved with Ava’s (my 6 year old) 1st grade classroom. I am able to attend all of the classroom parties and field trips. Since I have been laid off, we have really learned to cut corners and prioritize. Yeah, money is a good thing… but time with the family is priceless.
    During the past 2 years, I have volunteered for a lot of different activities such as… PTO, Girl Scout leader, softball coach, cheerleading coach, etc. I was also involved with a stamping club. After thinking about how much I was involved with, I realized that it was taking away time from my family. So, I decided last fall to opt out of several activities that I was involved with.
    Staying at home with my children is the best decision I have ever made.

  17. Miranda says:

    My husband and I have started using Thursday evening to do a quick talk about the weekend….the calendared events, the must do chores and errands, our meals (eating out or cooking), and the FUN we want to have. Previously we had left out the fun activities part and found ourselved drained after a weekend and not ready for our next week. Including the fun in the weekend makes it exciting as a family to work to get the “must dos” finished to move on to the fun. It also keeps my husband and I thinking about the realistic time we are spending during the weekend on things. Seems like simple way to keep the stress down and (also be intentional about our time).

  18. With the birth of my third child, I decided that a weekly menu plan definitely needed to be created. It has been such a lifesaver, since I always know what we are having for dinner, having the ingredients on hand, and saving money is an added bonus! And along the dinner subject, my kids help with the process. They are 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 and they help with table set up and feeding their baby brother. So, when my husband comes home from work we are all ready to sit down and eat!

  19. Nichole Webb says:

    After 8 years of being at home with my kids I’m finally able to see my husband & kids as my work, my mission field and my purpose for this season. I have a lot of talents and ambition and for years I kept trying to use those outside of my home and finding I was frustrated because I didn’t have the energy to do things I’d volunteer for because I was getting up with kids through the night and taking care of them during the day. I knew something was wrong when I finally realized that I was seeing my kids as being in the way of what I was trying to accomplish. God just helped me to shift my focus and to realize that sowing my gifts, talents and energy into my kids and husband is the highest calling I could receive. I feel at peace now saying no to most outside commitments (while I do make sure to stay involved with my mom’s group, book club and personal growth group so that I’m not isolated and I’m getting what I need as well) and I’m not missing out on what really matters, my family.

  20. Jessica says:

    I have done a lot more simplifying in the last two years, and the two major things I have done are probably the ones you hear about the most–cutting down on outside activities and getting rid of STUFF that just takes up space and time to maintain! It is still a work in progress, though.
    Thanks for your ministry!
    Jessica

  21. Jennifer W. says:

    I am a pastor’s wife who homeschools 3 of my 4 children. I’ve learned that when someone asks me to do something or get involved in something I don’t have to say yes right away. I can say “Let me pray about it and talk to my husband about it and I’ll get back to you.” That way, I have time to look at my calendar, count the cost and determine if it’s something I can really do. I’ve also learned that just because there is a need doesn’t mean it’s a calling from the Lord on my life. :)

    • JillSavage says:

      Jennifer, I’ve learned to use the phrase, “I’m capable, but am I called?” It really helps me sort out commitments.

  22. Julie N says:

    About 8 years ago I quit wearing a watch! I was so obsessed with time.
    I still use a clock to get to places on time. But I don’t obsess about the time all day long, and it only took about 6 weeks to stop looking at my wrist and stop asking others what time it was (lol). Now when I’m where I need to be, I don’t look at the time. Its amazing how our bodies easily run on an internal clock when we listen. It also has allowed me to start enjoying the moments instead of anticipating what was next.

  23. Mary Harvey says:

    I don’t take on any new commitments without letting go of something else. That way I can do a few things well, instead of trying to do everything and not being able to do anything well. Since Lent began, I have been more intentional about spending time with God every day. I find that if I give him a little time, I have been able to be more focused with every thing else on my plate. It has been wonderful!

  24. Gail J says:

    To reduce stress in my life, I have learned to “tone down” birthday parties for my daughters. Instead of parties, we now call them “birthday celebrations”. And instead of inviting a large number of people to attend the child’s party, I let my daughter choose around 3 guests and we have cake and ice cream at home and then do something fun in the community like go to the children’s museum or zoo, etc. This not only reduces stress, but expense as well and my daughters still enjoy their special day.

    • Julie N says:

      Yes I completely agree! And we have found this to be true with sleep-overs. 2-3 is plenty of fun!

  25. Colleen says:

    For the past 7 years we have been able to have less stress in our house by not having our television. We do, however, have a small TV, VCR/DVD combo that we use for family movie nights (once every quarter). We spend more time with reading and games as a family.

  26. Allison S says:

    Like some of the other ladies, I have found that planning out the week’s menu ahead makes such a huge difference during the week. I also plan out the chores and spread them out during the week. I used to feel I needed to get them all done at once… and then stressed out about getting it all done and then would end up not doing anything for a while because it stressed me out too much. Now that my baby is on a good sleeping schedule, I can get things done one step at a time.

  27. Maggie says:

    Like others, I cut down on stress by cutting down on work. Since my husband & I basically lived on one income even though we were making two incomes when we got married, I had the freedom to quit my job unexpectedly after my first daughter was born, even though that decision cut our household income by about 60%. I had planned on going back to work part-time, but I realized how stressed out I would be in a job with some serious deadlines and a taking care of a new baby (who did not sleep very well at night for a long time). I am also trying to cut down on clutter, as others have mentioned. If we have less stuff, we have less housework and cleaning to do, and that definitely reduces stress! This is helping keep my house in acceptable enough order that if someone comes to my house, I’m not stressed out (and tired out) by all the cleaning I need to do beforehand.

  28. Gina says:

    I have alot in common with Cody Ruggles……I was also laid off in 2009 and it was a blessing in disguise. I too have been able to volunteer in my daughter’s 1st grade class and spend time with my 5 year old before he goes to kindergarten…but sometimes there is stress. It’s hard to not have any adult conversation during the day and since I”m home during the day I feel “pressured” to do more around the house….because I’m home all day. but I still want to have fun with my son! So, sometimes I’ll schedule coffee with a friend or dinner in order to have some time away…and less stress.

  29. Molly says:

    I have never been good at practicing self-care. I have always been one to take care of everyone else and if there was any time or energy left,I would than take care of me. There never was time left over. I finally reached the end of my rope by feeling like I had lost my identity. Having two smalls children at home with twins on the way I have made it a priority to start practicing self care. Getting back into hobbies has helped me to feel reenergized. It has made me a better wife and mother.

  30. Jackie Brown says:

    I’ve been freezer cooking for a while, but in the past three years, since having my fourth baby, I’ve kicked it up to high gear and frozen just about everything to implement healthy 15 minute meals, that I share on my blog. The more I freeze and plan ahead, the less stress I have at 5:30. I’m passionate about freezer cooking and serving others through it. I always have a freezer meal to give away and this causes less stress too, because I can say YES, easily.

  31. Jenn says:

    I am a stay at home mom and have realized lately that I put “the home” before my children. Sure, it’s great to have a clean house and a room that isn’t cluttered, but what’s really important is spending quality time with my kiddos. I’ve found that if I sit down and am intentional about making time to play dolls or trucks with my little ones (and forgo the house cleaning / dishes / laundry for just a while) I’m definitely not as stressed out for the rest of the day! There’s just something relaxing about playing with my children! So, I’m making it a priority to spend time with them and to let the work wait until a more appropriate time :)

  32. Lisa Marz says:

    One thing I have done to reduce stress is I started to use an app on my iTouch called Home Routine. This really helps me to stay organized and focused on the things that need to get done everyday. It also gives me “stars” and lists my accomplishments for the day so that I feel so much more productive. Which, thus, has reduced my stress level of always feeling like I wasn’t getting the things done that needed to be done! I also try to eat healthy and exercise a few times a week. Thanks Jill for all of your words of encouragement!

  33. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis right after my second child was born. I realized the necessity of taking a short nap during the afternoon naps that my children were taking. I usually also had time to relax with a cup of coffee and read, watch tv or pray after my short nap. I have kept up this practice of just taking an afternoon break even though my children are all in HS and college now. It reduces the stress and reinvigorates me for the second half of my day!

  34. Haven says:

    I recently had to say “No” to helping out a friend because it would have been a stressful situation for me. While it was hard to do, I know it was the best decision for my family. I have your post “Five Strategies That Make It Easier to Say No” to thank for helping me come to the right decision!

  35. I took our cable down to “basic”, which meant that my kids no long had their channels. They became zombies in front of the television, and I no longer have to try to get their attention. Life is much easier on me.

  36. Rachel says:

    I’ve cut down stress by getting more sleep. I’m more disciplined about my bed time. I have a lot less stress because I’m more patient and flexible.

  37. Katy Bowers says:

    I plan lots of extra time when getting ready to go out so that we’re not late because being late stresses me out. I also have asked my husband to call me if he’s going to be late getting home from work because I have learned that I start getting really stressed when he’s not home on time. As long as I know what time to expect him, then it’s ok.

  38. Logan Goodin says:

    My husband has been out of a job since January. This has had the potential to bring a LOT of stress into our lives. We have 4 kids and just recently found out a surprise one is on the way! Both my husband and I have the personalities where it’s most natural to see the glass half empty instead of half full. God has been teaching us the power of our thoughts, how they effect our feelings, words, motivation and ultimately our actions. So with this unemployment situation we’ve started being very intentional about our thoughts and choosing to see our realities as half full. When we start to go down the path of half empty, which happens quite often, we help the other see the positive truth and speak it out loud. We’ve learned that it’s not denying the facts, but rather choosing to see things in a different way, finding the good in it. In every challenge there has ALWAYS been a half full perspective that can effect our attitudes to be like Christ. When fear or doubt or questioning starts to set in, we consciously choose to say “Today I have food and a roof over my head. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow.” We’ve found that a lot of stress really is all about perspective. When my husband and I force ourselves to think on the things that truly are beneficial and positive, our hearts and attitudes fall into line with faith and trusting God, which allows us to let go of stress and worry.

  39. Becky Bridell says:

    I alway look at the full week before saying yes, that includes my husbands schedual which is irregular and mine and the kids. Family time is important and also helps reduce stress when everyones schedual is up and down. Also in my consideration is how many down days we have both for me to get house stuff done and for my kids to have time to relax and just play (2 under 2). When we do to much and don’t see daddy to much stress deffinatly sets in for everyone

  40. Shannon C says:

    I am really a work in progress on this one, but one thing that I am working on is simplicity. I am trying to cut down on our “stuff”, activities outside of home, our homeschool curriculum, etc. I also make sure to make time to read a book that is just for me–not related to how to raise my kids, be a good wife, homeschool, etc. I read plenty of those too, but it sometimes adds stress! I look forward to getting a moment to read everyone’s responses!

  41. Tawnda Andrews says:

    With triplet 8 month olds I’ve limited outside activities to church, MOPS, once a week playdates (at my house) and a church play group. My husband wants us to get out as a family more but that is stressful to me and I’ve had to tell him that this is only for a season. In addition, while lots of people recommend that I have help with the babies the thought of having strangers parading through my house is stressful. Sometimes being the only caregiver of our brood is difficult I LOVE every minute and it would be more stressful for me to know that I wasn’t spending the time with them during feedings etc. In addition, I just use the excuse “I have triplets” whenever the need arises…like when our house is a tad disorganized or I am running late.

  42. Melissa says:

    I aim for two nights a week of having dinner just with my husband. Dinnertime is so stressful with two little people – one crying because he doesn’t want to eat anything we serve and the other one crying because we’re not feeding him fast enough. Then, my husband would want to actually carry on a “real conversation” with me and I thought I would just come undone! So now, I aim to feed the boys early two nights a week so that my husband and I can enjoy a meal, just the two of us, conversing as we would have “in the good old days”…

  43. Kristen Brookhiser says:

    To reduce stress I do my best to plan ahead, especially when making committments. For example I limit activities on Sat. evenings so the family is well rested for Sunday school/church as well as gives me time at home on Sat. night to iron clothes and get things ready for Sunday morning. It makes that morning so much less hectic! I also consider the amount of time it will take to do an assigned task and then look at the day before and the day after the event, do I have enough time? I also make sure to “schedule in” plenty of down time for us as a family and do not feel bad for making family time, even if it means saying no to an invitation.

  44. Tami Stege says:

    I am ALWAYS stressed out!!! I have started to just be really conscience of taking time to stop and take a deep breath and remember that everything is in God’s control.

  45. Jill says:

    Recently, we have begun implementing several ways to reduce stress in our house. I have found that too many things on my “to do” list is very stressful for me. So, I have tried to spread my list out over a week or two so I have plenty of time to accomplish each task. Thus, I start really early to get things done so I’m not cramming something in the last minute. This also goes along with getting the kids ready to go somewhere. We allow more time now than we used to, so we aren’t angry and stressed when we arrive at our destination. Also, although I am trying to get rid of the clutter in our house, with 5 kids age 8 and under, there isn’t much time for this. So, I have “given myself a break” and set very small goals for this task. I may only get to one box a week, or even a month, but God-willing, it will get there and I am less stressed in the process knowing that it is being taken care of a little at a time.

    • Carolyn says:

      I too have a to-do list that is spread over a week! I have a pad of paper on the counter that has all the days of the week on it, so I write down things I need to-do and spread it over the days intentionally. It is great on a day when I can cross things off from another day that I got to early. But is it equally as good when I can’t get to all I have for that day and know that I have more days that I can do it on. A good way not to have high expectations for myself on a day-to-day basis!

  46. Yvonne says:

    I do the majority of the scheduling in our family and the one thing that helps us the most is having at least one weekend a month with absolutely nothing planned. Some months are harder than others (December, for example) but it has become a necessity!

  47. Carolyn says:

    Living with less stress! Ahh…now there is a beautiful thing. My resolution this year was to do just that by doing two things:
    1) Fine a ladies bible study where I was NOT the leader or organizer in any way. Just attend, participate, laugh, learn and enjoy. I am pleased to say I have been able to do this and is has been fantastic (and it isn’t even in the church I attend either!);
    2) Be intentional in taking time out each day/week to just have some crazy fun time with my 3 kids. This has been coloring, making snow castles, playing ball, playing barbies, you name it. ANYTHING that does not involve house work or my ever present to-do list.

  48. Erin says:

    The best way I reduce stress is to get enough sleep at night – it sounds simple, but staying rested keeps me focused during the day and allows me to not dwell on little things that may otherwise turn into giant stress if I’m overtired and worn out!

  49. Stephanie L says:

    To reduce stress, I have recently started to prepare parts of our evening meal during my kids nap time. This way, when 5 PM rolls around and my 8 month old is crying and my 5 year old needs me to sit and read with her, I can do that without worrying that dinner won’t start until past their bedtime. I just do all the finish work of the meal, which usually just takes about 10 minutes or so, and then go spend time with them. It’s great for me, my kids and especially my husband, who isn’t coming home to crying kids quite so often anymore.

  50. Alicia says:

    One thing I’ve learned to do is not say yes to those things that are a weekly commitment. I have a medically special needs daughter who has the potential to get sick any moment, and my husband is in the Navy. I’ve realizeda weekly commitment stresses me out (getting a substitute, etc). So I look for ways to serve and give all the time when I can and then when I need to spend extra time with my family I don’t have any one expecting me to be somewhere on a given day!

  51. Julie says:

    I stopped giving my attention to recreational tech activities (text, computer) while the kids were awake. My attention is focused on the kids and family responsibilities.

  52. I am a total introvert and realized that I needed recharge time by myself (especially after being at home with a baby all day long). My husband’s great about giving me time to myself to read or do a project. That little time goes a long way. Thanks for the giveaway! debittergroot at gmail dot com

  53. I am a big Sam’s club shopper! So to help reduce stress of making dinner at 530, I do the following after my trip to Sam’s. I buy the big packs of chicken breasts and when I get home, I cut them in half (b/c they are so big any way) and then I butterfly them. By butterflying them, it cuts the time to cook on the grill. I stick them in quart size freezer bags so there is enough for the 3 of us and freeze them. then, I take out what ever I need to thaw (sometimes in the morning, sometimes not) and I can even marinade the chicken in the baggie if I choose. OR…. I will cut the chicken into cubes and put in baggies for stuff like chicken tacos, enchiladas, etc. Then with ground beef, I often make hamburger patties out of them (with about 1/2 of the beef) and place in the freezer in individual sandwich bags. The other half, I will go ahead and brown in the pan and then divide up into 3 small freezer containers or so that I can pull out and thaw easily. This has helped cut my dinner prep down during the week, especially when there are activities, homework, and meetings in the evening and we are time crunched.