The first thing is to accept that you can't be supermum. Despite what you might think, and be led to believe, everyone else's houses are a total mess too; they also miss appointments/forget birthdays/buy the wrong thing for dinner etc etc; and we all foul up the whole parenting thing on a regular basis!
What we need to do is take a huge step back from the everything - the menu-planning, the tidying and cleaning, the organising, even the parenting, and think about what's REALLY important. If during these current sunny days you are spending more time doing all the other banal stuff than you are playing outside with your children, then something is seriously wrong. Surely in deciding to have them you already made your choice on priorities? That's what counts.
In the years to come there is no way your child will look back and say "I wish my mum had tidied up more", they will look back and think how wonderful it was when you went out to play with them in the garden/went to the beach/walked in nature every day after school/work. Even those of us who are at home full-time, with children at home all day are guilty of neglecting the important for the not so, so the most basic stress management tool is to set that priority list - and forget the rest (or at least put it out of mind for now
There are lots of great ideas for stress relief activities in this article, but hopefully we can find some ways to reduce the burden first!
I have just read about mums who have to check the bedspread before they leave the house, and who wear full make-up even to clean the kitchen floor - life's too short, surely! So my second tip would be let it go! No-one is going to check your house over for inadequacies, in fact the likelihood is it's only you that notices them anyway. So take a step back, yes you don't want to live in squalor, but tidying/cleaning a room a day should be enough to keep things in check, with a thorough vacuum all the way through once a week.
Of course ideally you wipe your kitchen surfaces after every meal, and you wash up/load the dishwasher then too. And the bathroom needs a wipe over daily, but then a thorough clean twice a week should do. Aim to do one load of washing a day, and think about whether you really need to iron it all. Train everyone to put their dirty clothes in the right place and put their clean ones away, and all that should keep the depressing laundry piles at bay.
Look out too for what the Fly Lady calls 'Hot Spots', those funny little areas that breed paperwork and odd misplaced/lost belongings - maybe one end of your kitchen worktop, a hall table, a corner of your desk etc. At any one time there will be two unfiled and unpaid bills, a few pieces of Lego, a broken toy, a phone number with no name scribbled on a piece of paper, a pine cone, a half-eaten something, and a piece of clothing. Blitz them - daily. Otherwise they just fester and sprout more and more random junk. We have four of these and keeping on top of them constantly (10 mins a day) saves so much time in the long run.
Regular readers may know that I'm a huge believer in lists and schedules. I genuinely believe that if you get these in place, even though it takes time, and get everyone on board with them (i.e. your partner!) then they save hours of time and stress. So take some time to type up a cleaning schedule (yes I know, but it really works); buy a birthday book which you consult at the beginning of each month; set up a diary that works; menu plan each week; even write yourself a work schedule, especially if you're self-employed.
Once all the systems are in place the trick is to let go, hand all the responsibility over to your new paper network and as long as you look at the right things on the right days you're sorted!
With all your organisation done, turn your attention to your self.
- Are you eating properly? At least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day (preferably 8-10); good carbs; complex proteins; minimal junk.
- Do you spend time in nature? This could be with others, but may also be beneficial alone.
- Do you have time to your self? It needn't be much, but a long bath with a locked door can do wonders. A massage even better!
- Try Bach Rescue Remedy at key stress moments, and check the different symptoms on their site to see which flower remedy would best help you.
- Some ideas for homeopathic treatments for stress, again depending on your individual feelings and symptoms, can be found here.
Whatever you do to alleviate your stress, I guarantee by putting these organisation tips in place the stress will fall off anyway. A couple of hours time investment is definitely worth that! But most of all don't forget to prioritise the important stuff first, they are little for such a short time, and I'm pretty sure all the stuff you're stressing about doesn't really matter that much in the long run. Good luck!