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By: Mary Elizabeth Williams

If you’ve ever felt like Silly Putty that’s pulled in too many directions, imagine this: You can calm the madness with these tactics from moms who know your pain. It all starts with remembering to breathe.

By the time I start work in the morning, I’ve already been working for hours-fixing breakfasts and packing lunches, searching for lost library books and troubleshooting outbreaks of wardrobe drama. So is it any wonder that hours later, as I’m doing my nightly nag about homework, stressing about an overdue deadline and staggering around the kitchen making dinner, I find myself wondering if the witness protection program takes frustrated, borderline hysterical moms? As I tip into feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself to do something-something I already do unconsciously thousands of times every day. Just breathe.

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Try it right now, my fellow overworked, under-rested comrade: Drop what you’re doing. (Yes, step away from your BlackBerry.) Clear your mind and focus on just being in this moment. Now inhale deeply. Hold it for a beat and then let it out fully. Repeat. This probably took about a minute. But guess what? You’ve harnessed your energy, recharged your brain and maybe even stopped yourself from losing it when your daughter started practicing her karate kicks on the cat. That’s the power of claiming just a moment for you. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, because if you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of time. It isn’t about putting more stuff on your already groaning to-do list. It’s just about putting one thing on the list—you. And it pays massive dividends in terms of sheer productivity: Scrambling around for the keys you can’t find or apologizing to the kids (again) for losing your temper just isn’t nearly as efficient or morale-boosting as a chilled-out mom is. Don’t take my word for it–consider some hard-won wisdom from other working mothers, who’ve learned how to take the skills that make them rock stars at their jobs and apply them to being controlled, caring and confident on the home front.

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