7 Step Personal Stress Management Plan for Busy Parents

Let’s face it, most of us are busy.  But with a good personal stress management plan, you can make your life feel like it is on auto pilot and that you are sailing smoothly on easy street.

How do I know?  Because last fall I created a personal stress management plan after going through a crazy, hectic, not-at-all-enjoyable, I-don’t-want-to-do-that-again spring.

By May of last year,I could hardly keep my eyes open.  In 112 days I had only 16 days off.   I’m not sure if I really had those days off since my husband and I own 3 businesses so on the days that I didn’t have violin lessons to teach, a gig to go to or a client to take care of I was catching up on paperwork.  I felt like I was drowning in work.

What kept me going was remembering to be grateful that while people are searching for work, I had too much.  While people were worried about paying their bills, I didn’t have to worry about my bills at all.

Gratitude can do wonders, it can get you through anything!  But while gratitude is great, it won’t necessarily stop the stress.

This past fall and winter my life is totally different.  Well, perhaps not totally different.  I still own and run 3 business.  I have more violin students (over 51!!!) and coaching clients then last year, I’m still playing gigs as a violinist,  I cook our meals from scratch, I snuggle and read to my kids at bedtime and I am writing a new book.

But what is different is that I am not stressed out.  I feel calm.  My life feels easy.  I have more time to grab a cup of tea and read a good book all curled up on the couch.  I have more time with my kids.

When people ask me how I am, I respond with an enthusiastic “Great!”, not the old “busy”.

What is my secret?

A personal stress management plan that I implemented last fall.


Here is my 7 Step a Personal Stress Management Plan.


1.  Plan family down time at least once a month

Take a family “vacation” even if it means to the park for the day.  Make a picnic lunch and bring a ball to kick around and engage with your family.  If the whole family is playing an active game most likely by the end you will all be bursting in laughter, which is indeed the best medicine for stress!  Since my husband and I own our own businesses we can set the schedule, so we have set aside a minimum of 3 days a month for family down time.  Actually we just took off 3 weeks for Christmas, a pure luxury.  Since we often work 14 hour days, this vacation was well deserved!

2.  Stop doing the little stuff that takes your time and doesn’t matter!!!  

This is probably the biggest challenge for people.  You don’t need to run to the store (unless you are out of toilet paper…)  I hear so many people run for this and that.  They spend (waste!) their whole day doing to-do lists that don’t really matter.   They schedule play dates and all sorts of things that don’t really need to happen.  Before you run to the store or go pick up something off of craiglist that you bought because it was cheap, realize your time is more valuable than your savings.   Even when I thought I HAD to go to the grocery store, I have resisted the urge and stayed home.  I ended up making a great meal anyway and spent that extra time with my kids.

3.  Relish the calm feeling as being productive verses always wearing a busy badge.  

Are you guilty of flashing your busy badge?  You know the one that makes you feel important because you are busy doing something.  The truth is, being busy just means you have either too much on your plate or you fill your time with things that don’t matter.  Sounds silly when you break it down that way eh?  Once you realize that if you are effective and productive with your time, you will have more time, you begin to savor the calm moments.  When you realize that in this world of over-scheduling and chaos, it is actually a bigger accomplishment to have downtime, you have won the “race” and will start to crave that feeling of calm.  Once you crave something, it will show up more often in your life.

4.  Turn off the electronics.  

Sure facebook can be interesting and you can learn alot by reading news online, but ask yourself this one simple question.  What would I be doing if I was not on facebook or the internet right now?  Chances are you would be folding that laundry pile that is getting big because you don’t have time to get to it…ahem…  Much of our wasted time is online.  How many times were you just going to check one e-mail and then sat there for over an hour???

5.  Get a rhythm to your day.

Go to bed around the same time, exercise in the morning, start your meals at the same time, read to your kids before bedtime.  Our world functions off of rhythm.  Your heart, your breathing, your blinking, the seasons, everything!  When we go through our day haphazardly, then we accomplish less.  Since I have made it a priority to go to bed around the same time everynight I feel like a million dollars.  My body literally functions better.  I am less tired so I can think and focus better.  I can accomplish alot more in less time as I am more thoughtful about my day.  I don’t check e-mail in the morning, unless I have 2 household tasks, like laundry in the washer, done.  This daily rhythm makes everything seem easy.

6. Dim the lights.

Have dinner by candlelight.  Bright lights can feel like we are on a movie set and they reinforce that go, go, go mentality.  Dim the lights at dinner and light a candle.  I guarantee your family will sit together longer at the table as everyone naturally relaxes.  At our candlelight dinners we have known to sit there for nearly an hour and the conversations are invaluable.

7.  Hug more!  

One of the most overlooked areas of stress reduction is physical touch.  When you hug one of your kids or a spouse, your heart rate slows down and the body naturally releases stress.

There you have it!  Just by implementing those 7 secrets into my personal stress management plan, I have moved onto easy street and you can too.  Afterall, life is really all about choices and priorities.  Make your family time a priority and it will be.

Here’s to a stress less 2014!!!


Summer Joy

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ok 2 more bonus secrets that I just cannot resist…

Own less stuff!  The more stuff you have, the more time it takes to manage it.

Stop Answering the PHONE!!!!!  You don’t have to pick up the phone every time it rings if you are in the middle of something.  Ask my friends and family and they will tell you that I don’t always pick up my phone.  Yes, I screen my calls.  If I am in the middle of something I don’t break state, this way I finish a project verses starting a phone conversation and then having to go back later.  Don’t worry, I always call people back.

P.S.  I love hearing from you.  What struck you as an ah-ha moment for you and your stress?  How did this post help you/  Share in the comments below and by all means, please share this post with a friend – you never know how it could change their life!

About The Author

Summer Brackhan

Mom, sociologist, teacher, author, musician, world traveler, parenting and health coach who believes healthy living incorporates body, mind and soul and that life is not about living in little boxes, but experiencing everything at its fullest.


  • Christy Hoover

    Reply Reply January 24, 2014

    I love your tips.. Especially the more family time and more hugs.. I can never get enough of any of those..

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