Who is Really Stressing You Out?

Motherhood and stress – I find those words together a lot. Mothers all over the internet complain about how their children stress them out.

“My children are fighting and the noise is stressing me out.”

“Driving my children anywhere is so stressful.”

“I can’t shop with my children. Their antics stress me out.”

“Anytime I go anywhere with my child I end up stressed.”

We know that children are high-maintenance, and I’d be lying if I said I never feel stressed. But the question is, is it really the children who are stressing you out? Or are you allowing yourself to be stressed?

Yes, I said allowing. We have the power to decide whether or not to allow a situation to stress us out. We can either let the challenges of parenting get to us, or we can learn how to overcome them.

I know it is easier said than done, but for a mother to maintain her sanity, learning to avoid stress is so important.

Here are a few things I do to keep stress at bay.

1. Exercise

We all know that exercise is a stress-buster, but most of us don’t do it, for whatever reason. We allow our own health to sit on the back burner while we tend to those around us. It might seem noble to put yourself last, but it isn’t good for you.

Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers there is. If you can’t get away from your kids for it, do it with them. Dance in the living room, run at the park, go for a walk. Any exercise is better than none at all! So make time in your schedule for exercise.

2. Breathe

When your children’s antics are getting you riled, stop and breathe. Just take a minute to compose yourself by taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, and letting it out slowly. Go ahead. Try it now and see how good it makes you feel. Look out the window at nature, or step outside for a minute and breathe, and tell yourself you can handle whatever is bothering you. I promise you will feel the stress melt away.

3. Take time for yourself

Do something for yourself every day. Nap when your child does, read a book or your favorite blog, take a shower (and don’t feel bad if it takes an extra cartoon or two). Put on some makeup or brush your hair. Get dressed. Do something that will help you feel more like a woman and not just a “mom”.

I like to get up early for exercise, then take a shower and have my coffee before the kids get up. Thankfully my kids love to sleep late so early for me is up by 6. If your child is an early riser (or has to get up for school), see when else you can fit in time for you.

4. Keep a schedule

This will help you fit in numbers 1 and 3. Time for yourself is imperative so scheduling it will make it happen.

5. Be mature

Remember, they are just children. They are still selfish and self-absorbed. Everything is about them. Don’t take personally anything they say or do.

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you do to keep stress out of your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Mommy Equals Love

They call me mommy, but I am more than that.

This word – mommy – embodies many roles. It refers to one person, and the many she becomes.

To be a mommy, you have to be everything else as well.

 

I cook 3 times a day, plus prepare snacks. I am a chef.

I wash mountains of laundry – mountains that refuse to stay away. I am a washerwoman, and a mountaineer.

I wash never-ending piles of dishes, dishes that magically appear out of nowhere. I am a dish-wash machine come to life.

I pick up messes, messes, and more messes. Where they come from nobody knows.  I am a maid.

I take my children wherever they need to go. I am a chaperon. (I don’t drive or I would be a chauffeur too.)

I bathe my children, wipe their butts, change diapers, brush hair, brush teeth. I am a personal attendant.

I teach my children what they need to know in life. I am a teacher.

I tend to ouchies, cuts, bonks and boo boo’s. I make them take vitamins and medicine. I am both doctor and nurse.

I make sure they eat healthy food. I am a nutritionist.

I buy their clothes, shoes, and toys. I am a personal shopper.

I sort out fights and arguments, and cool hot tempers. I am a diplomat.

I run the house. It is my job to make sure everyone else is where they should be, doing what they should do. I am a boss.

 

But a mommy is so much more than all of those, for she is the one the children cherish, the one they run to when they are sad, in pain, or need comfort. They come to her for advice, for hugs and cuddles, for encouragement. Even though their antics may drive her insane, at the end of the day, it is their sweetness that keeps her going.

For children, mommy equals love.

A Mom’s Mini Emergency Kit

When my kids were small, I had a variety of diaper bags – ranging from small, to medium, to large; colorful to plain; fancy to formal –  with everything I needed for outings with them. I struggled to carry a purse and diaper bag and eventually gave up on the purse altogether. Then I switched to carrying a large purse of some sort that was secretly a diaper bag with a small corner for myself, so that I could look a little more put together.

Having to lug around all the stuff that a baby or toddler requires was no fun. I often had marks on my shoulders from carrying a heavy bag that never got lighter. Sometimes I would remove something I felt wasn’t needed, only to need that exact item later that day (and it was never needed when I had it).

I was so happy that as my kids got older I could carry less stuff. No longer do I need to carry diapers, extra clothes, toys, bottles, blankets, etc. I can take all three of them anywhere with the clothes they are wearing, and perhaps a bottle of water, or something to occupy them with, depending on our destination.

The only permanent item I carry is a small emergency kit.

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I bought a small, transparent toiletry bag that measures 6 1/2″ long x 5″ wide x 3 1/2″ deep, and in it I keep several small items I always need when out with the kids. I chose to put them all in a small bag so that I can transfer it to whichever purse or shoulder bag I’m carrying that day. These are basic items that often end up in your purse anyway, but tend to get lost in the mess and can be hard to grab at a moments notice.

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Here is what I carry (from left to right):

  1. Tissues – always handy.
  2. Disinfectant hand wash – for those times when there is no water but they are hungry and need a snack “right now”.
  3. Antiseptic cream – for minor cuts and scrapes.
  4. Wet wipes – useful for everything from wiping dirty faces and hands to cleaning scrapes, or getting food off of clothes.
  5. Mosquito repellant – needed most of the year, though I usually have the spray instead of the cream.
  6. Bandaids – I use these a lot.
  7. Crocin tablets – for me. If I am able to curb a headache when out, things go much smoother.

There are plenty of other items I could carry, but these 7 are the must-haves that I can’t go without. Outings have been easier since I put this together.

Do you carry something like this? What would you add to it?

Scarlett’s Accident

(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up June 3.)

There comes a time in every child’s life when they experience something that can make a mother’s heart stop.

With Logan, it was his premature birth and 10 day hospitalization. With Lila it was the time she drank turpentine at 2 years, 1 month old. Scarlett had yet to do something to freak me out severely (other than running off in a bookstore and hiding when she was 18 months old), but that changed last week.

I will have to begin with some background.

It was Monday, a rather stressful day for me because it is grocery shopping day. I used to shop alone with Scarlett while the other two were at school, but now with the arrival of summer holidays, I have no choice but to shop with all three kids.

Logan was already fussing when we got to the mall because we were only doing grocery shopping, and he wanted to go to the arcade and toy shop. He has no patience for shopping so he was running around, touching everything – every display, every shelf, every food item. He broke candy bars, crushed bags of chips and grabbed everything he could. Normally he is fairly obedient and can manage a trip to the store without too much wildness, but this day his hyperactive nature had taken over and it was all I could do to not yell at him right there. (He has ADHD.)

He continued to be wild during lunch and rest time, and on into the afternoon. He was mean to the girls and kept making them cry. Any sort of punishment didn’t faze him at all.

I finally decided to take the kids to the playground near our house, hoping that some outdoor play could burn some of his energy and tire him out. Yet he continued to be wild. Several times I had to pull him aside from his play as he was biting and pinching the other children. He even bit his own lip when he fell as he was racing up the slide.

The whole time I was keeping half an eye on the girls as they climbed the jungle gym. They are both quite good at it, so, while I stay near them, I don’t have to be right there. At one point I had to go to Logan again, and I didn’t see Scarlett follow me, nor did I see her climb the straight metal slide (not the ladder but the slide) until she was at the top.

She learned to climb the slide some time ago (barefoot), but I’m always next to her as there are no safety rails and she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn from her climb to sitting without putting her butt over the side. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

It was almost like seeing something in slow motion. I saw her at the top of the slide. I saw her begin to turn, and then I knew she was going to fall. I was too far away to get there in time to catch her. I left Logan and forgot his naughtiness as I ran to my baby.

The slide was about 6 feet at the highest point and she fell from the top, landing in the sand flat on her chest and tummy, hitting her lips hard on one side. Horror stories that I had heard of kids dying from falling off a slide filled my mind, and I struggled to push them away so I could focus on Scarlett. At first she cried while I carried her to a bench and tried to clean the sand off her face, but then she was quiet, scarily quiet. She just sat on my lap and looked at everything. I kept asking her questions but she wouldn’t answer. I managed to round up Logan and Lila, and we rushed home. All I could think of was getting her home, putting ice on her ever-swelling lips, and helping her recover from the shock she was in.

She wouldn’t let me put ice on her lip, nor did she want me to get the sand out of her mouth, both of which made her cry. I was afraid she had some internal injury since she was so quiet. I called Glad, who was working on the other side of town, and told him what had happened.

He asked some questions and then reassured me that she was probably fine but to keep an eye on her.  I held her close and told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been close enough to catch her. I couldn’t do anything but rock her. After about 30 minutes (from the time she fell) she began to move around. I put a video on for her and then went to my room to cry. The guilt I felt was massive. How had I not noticed her following me? Why wasn’t I paying more attention? Why hadn’t I been right there to catch her? It was awful.

Finally I realized I had some hungry kids on my hands so I forced myself to get up and cook dinner, even though I wasn’t very hungry and could hardly stand to look at food. Surprisingly, Scarlett ate a good dinner! I thought she might just have some yogurt because she could hardly open her mouth, but she figured a way to slip the food in on the side that wasn’t sore. (Fried chicken liver, French fries, and cucumber slices.)

Afterwards she was perky and climbing around, even jumping! She was fine as I showered everyone and got them ready for bed. I let her lie in my bed and she went to sleep quickly.

Glad kept checking in every hour, and he was sure she didn’t have any internal injury, since she was breathing well, had eaten and didn’t throw up, nor was she complaining of any pains other than her massively swollen lip and a sore chest. I, however, was still freaking out inside.

I kept her in bed with me all night. At one point she scared me by waking up and just sitting there and staring straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, she told me she wanted water and to get up, but it was only about 4 in the morning so I convinced her to go back to sleep.

In the morning her lip looked scary. The top one on the right side was big and puffy, the bottom about half the size. Above, below, and on her lips were all the tiny scratches that had scabbed overnight. Scarlett herself was perky as ever, ate a good breakfast, had a normal bowel movement, and showed every sign of being ok internally. But just to be safe, Glad took her to the hospital for a checkup.

I didn’t feel relief until they got home. The doctor had confirmed that she had no internal injury, and her lip was going to be just fine. The swelling went down rapidly over the next two days, so fast, in fact, that we could see a difference from one hour to the next. Now, exactly one week later, all the scabs are gone and there is no evidence that she had such a bad fall.

Since that day I’ve made sure to stay right next to her at the park whenever she is climbing. She is daring, like Lila, and will climb on most anything, so I can’t let her out of my sight. She may be a good climber, but she is still a toddler and doesn’t have as good balance as Lila does.

I shudder every time I think back on that moment when she fell. I’m thankful she fell from the 6’ slide and not the higher spiral one that she so loves. I’m thankful I wasn’t far when she fell, so I could pick her up right away. I’m thankful she wasn’t seriously injured. And I’m most thankful she is still here.

What has your child done to freak you out?

Memories Captured Linkup – December Edition

Scarlett is my youngest, and such a doll. She is almost always happy and cheerful; only when she is tired or not well does she fuss and cry. She loves helping daddy polish off his meals. She follows the other two around, trying to get into their games. She is happy when included and complains to me when they push her away.

Nov 013    Nov 059

She talks all the time now and has an amazing vocabulary for a 2 year old. The words I most love to hear her say right now are “tookie” (cookie), “nabit” (rabbit), “nap” (lap) and “tode” (cold). She tells Logan and Lila off if they bother her, wagging her little finger in their faces and shouting her reprimand. Twice recently she had a firm retort for some strangers who asked her for what she had in her hands. In one case it was a book she wanted and she said, “No, it mine!” In the other, she was holding a jute shopping bag for me, and when one of the shopkeepers tried to take it from her she shouted, “No, dat mommys!” Ha.

Nov 022     Nov 090

She loves having her picture taken. And drawing with my pen. And going for walks. And watching “Minnie Dactous” (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). She is the one who will snuggle and say “I love you” with such gentleness, and then lick my cheek because she thinks it’s funny that Logan does it. She climbs into my bed at least once a night, then tries to sprawl, kicking Glad and I in the stomach (or worse) until I wake up enough to move her back to her bed so we can be comfortable.

 Nov 010            Nov 042

Scarlett is a cuddlebug, always wanting to be carried or sit on my lap. “I sit you nap,” she says each evening at storytime. Then if Logan or Lila try to get in she says “No, I sit mommys nap.” She loves the color pink. She points it out everywhere and wants to wear it all the time. She loves to announce whenever she burps or farts (courtesy of Logan’s training), and is the only one who has stepped on daddy’s sensitive parts more times than he can count.

She recently celebrated her second birthday. I don’t want her to grow up because I don’t want this cuteness to go away.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nov 063

  

Today I am linking up with These Little Waves for the monthly Memories Captured meme.

Little Things That Drive Me Crazy (And How I Avoid Losing It To Them)

Ok, we all know that being a mother can have its trying times. You can only put up with your child’s antics for so long before you feel you are going to lose it. My 3 year old does most of those things. I don’t know where she comes up with the strange things she does.

For example, tonight after dinner, Logan hadn’t finished his noodles and I hadn’t yet cleared the table, so the plate was sitting there. I was deep into a blog I like to read that helps me relax and have a few laughs, so I wasn’t paying attention to the kids playing around me. Somehow Lila managed to grab a handful of noodles without my noticing and she began systematically spreading them around on the floor next to me. I only noticed it after she had smeared a whole lot of them. Grrr. I made her pick them up, and I scrubbed the area so it wouldn’t crust.

She has more ideas for trouble than most kids (as least it seems like it to me). She will take cups of water into her room, only to spill them around somewhere. She loves to spread water on anything. She has flooded the house by dumping buckets of water out the door while playing in the bathroom, dumped bottles of cleaning supplies, will dump a bottle of water if she is done drinking, even though I want it back with the water still in it. At the park she plays with sticks and rocks, balls and leaves. She climbs the slide with those items in hand so she can let them go down first. Daring is her middle name.

She loves smearing food anywhere and on anything – edges of the table, backs of the chairs, under the table, etc. She climbs anything, no matter how high it is. She can kangaroo hop for long distances without getting tired. And she was the one who recently walked up to an old lady and patted her large tummy, asking if there was a baby inside. I wanted to disappear.

So how do I control my frustration at her antics? I’ll admit, there are times when I scream or punish her for them. Many times she does know she shouldn’t be doing them (she hides so I can’t see what she is up to) but when it comes down to it, she is just experimenting with life. That doesn’t mean I should let her go ahead and do whatever she wants, but I need to control myself and see what she does through her eyes. I need to remember that the way children learn is by experimenting and doing things that will annoy me and keep me working all day long. They aren’t being naughty (most of the time) but they are learning in their unique way.

To keep from losing it, I make sure to take some time for myself every day. I get up early for exercise. I take a nap when the kids do. I squeeze in time for my blogs in the evenings and on weekends. Sometimes, once the kids are gone to school, I take the morning off instead of cleaning. I rest or watch t.v. or read or just sit and draw with my toddler.

I think that, no matter how busy we are, we mommies need to find ways to make time for us, if for no other reason than to maintain our sanity. Get up a little earlier, or put the kids down a little earlier, or use their nap time to do something for yourself. Whether it be exercise, blogging, reading, writing, or just drinking your coffee and staring out the window at nothing in particular; pick something that you find helps you relieve stress and do it. Your day will go better when you can fit in time for yourself.

Yes, this stinker has more ideas for trouble than a dog has fleas. 🙂

Mommies, tell us how you fit in time for yourself.

Gone and Back Again

You know how there are days when you want to sleep in, but you can’t? Your body clock wakes you despite your best effort to go back to sleep. You wake up even before your alarm goes off, so you decide to get up and get some blogging done, since it has been so long since your last post. “The kids went to bed late,” you think “so they will sleep in.” Right!

Just as you settle down with your coffee and banana cake, the toddler, who somehow snuck into your bed in the night without you waking, is up. She wants to sit on your lap, hold a piece of cake but not eat it, then cries when you put her down. Then she wants milk so you get her a cup of milk and see your oldest is up. Tell him he can go back to sleep because today is not a school day, but he doesn’t want to. Of course not!

Try to put the t.v. on but of course, today it is acting up and doesn’t want to work. Leave it on anyway so that you can see when it decideds to turn on. Meanwhile child #3 shows up and procedes to eat the piece of cake sitting on your plate. She polishes it off lickety split and wants more, then the others want to eat. Cut some cake for all of them, see that the t.v. has finally decided to work, then try to coax them to finish the cake they so desperately wanted a few minutes before.

You see where I’m going with this. Try as I might, time alone to blog doesn’t happen, especially on weekends. It is only 8 a.m., all 3 kids are up, partially fed, and I’ve typed, well, maybe half a post. Why is it kids wake up earlier when there is no school, even though you let them stay up late the night before in the hopes that they would sleep in?

So if you have been wondering where I’ve been and why there hasn’t been a new post in so long, well, aside from no time to blog, you can read this post from my other blog that explains why else I’ve not been blogging. I hope to get back into the swing of it now. I’m aiming for one post a week, if I can. Two or three would be nice but I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull it off. We’ll see what happens.

My little stinkers. 🙂

The Things We Do "Just Because"

Things we say:

Happy with her new pj’s.

“Sure, I’ll get a snack for you.”

“Water for the 20th time? Ok.”

“One more story? Why not?”

“Bottoms up.”

“Here, let me wash your hands.”

“I made you some food. Please eat it all.”

“Hold still, I’m trying to wash you.”

“Stop wiggling, I’m trying to dress you.”

“Lie still. It’s time to sleep.”

“Ok, I’ll carry you (even though you really are getting too heavy).”

Things we do:

Help a toddler up and down the slide 20 times in a row.

Wash “that plate” because he won’t eat on any other.

Let them watch “one more show” even though you said t.v. time was up three shows ago.

Pick up the trail kids inevitably leave behind them.

Hold their hands.

Wash their faces.

Middle-of-the-night toilet trips with a child who doesn’t quite wake up.

… and a million other things.

We mommies do all these things and more, just because we love our children.

What specific thing do you do for your child “just because”?

You Know You’re a Mother When…

My Mother’s Day Tribute to All Mommies

You know you’re a mother when…

… you wipe your child’s nose with your fingers and then wipe it on your shirt ’cause you can’t be bothered to go get a tissue (or you are somewhere where one isn’t available).

… you hear a crash but don’t go to investigate until (or unless) you hear a cry.

…you have wet wipes and an extra diaper in your purse even when the children aren’t with you.

… you hear the baby stirring but wait to hear a few cries before you get up.

… you can pick out you child’s cry in a room full of noisy children.

… you can block out fights and arguments that don’t require your intervention just to get a few moments to check your mail.

… you go to bed with one person (hubby) and wake up with four (or however many still get into your bed).

… you serve your children snack foods for lunch because you are too tired to fix a meal. What’s more, they want to eat it every day, calling it the best lunch ever.

… you know ice cream can solve any problem, for the children or you.

… hearing things like “hairbandaid”, “milks”, and “baby puppy” makes you smile. (Courtesy of Lila: “hairbandaid” is hairband, “milks” is breasts (as in “Mommy, those are your milks because that is where the baby gets milk from”), and baby puppy just makes a puppy sound cuter.)

… you can change a diaper in most any position, and in the dark.

… you know the secrets to “mommy magic” and use it on your kids.

… you actually do have eyes in the back of your head.

… you have fooled your children into believing that you are all-seeing and all-knowing, and you love every minute of it.

… you wish Mother’s Day was actually about you.

Am I the only one wishing Mother’s Day was a mandatory mommy holiday?

Not a Perfect Mom? Join the Club

Today’s post is linked up with Confessions from an Impulsive Addict‘s weekly meme, Talk to Us Tuesday and

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the Honest Voices linkup at Honest Mom.

 

Before my kids were born, I dreamed about how I would be the perfect mom. I had it all planned out. I would always comfort and hold them, talk calmly, never get upset. I would snuggle whenever they wanted and storytime at night would be fun. In my imagination, my kids would be good all the time, would always listen – actually, I think I never planned on them growing up.

Learning to be a mom has been tough, I’ll admit. There is always something new around the corner that I have to figure out how to handle. Sometimes I have an “ahh” moment and I am proud of how I handled a stiuation; at other times I wish I could go back and redo it cause I know I messed up miserably.

PMS time is the hardest time of the month for me to interact with my kids. I lose my temper easily, shout more than necessary, punish needlessly, and just make life miserable for all of us. Those damn hormones! It usually takes a few days before I figure out why I am feeling so irritable; once I do, I can more easily catch myself and control it, but until then, I am a walking timebomb.

Every little fight, mess, cry – it all gets on my nerves and I let loose. I wish I could always be calm and collected, but I guess that is wishful thinking on my part. What mother is always calm no matter what is happening around her?

Once “that time of the month” is over, I return to my normal self. But I continue to wonder if I will ever be able to make it through a day without getting upset once. Logan and Lila seem to be at war all the time. They keep fighting, biting, pinching, taking things from each other, and generally doing whatever they can to upset the other one. Do they know it gets on my nerves and is that why they do it all day long?

I think I just need a vacation – without them.

They only look innocent …

What do you do when being with your kids begins to take a toll on you? How do you de-stress?

 

P.S. I wrote this post almost a year ago when my youngest was still nursing, plus I had a troublesome toddler and always-on-the-go preschooler. Not much has changed, except they are all a year older. 🙂

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