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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No More Naps – And My Schedule

Not long ago, I got frustrated with the schedule my kids were on. They were up at a decent time, but then they would nap and not fall asleep until almost 11 p.m., meaning that, even if I had them in bed by 9, they were still awake and playing around, and I’d still be busy instead of having some time off.

Last year Logan pretty much quit napping. Some days I’d make him nap just so I could have a break in the afternoon, but he didn’t really need it any more. Then Lila began to nap less frequently, so I decided to take them off of naps altogether. They were so happy the day I told them they no longer needed to nap! Of course Scarlett still needs a nap, so I put her down in my room while Logan and Lila play in their own room.

Then the kids began taking the skating lessons. Where we used to go to the playground near our house almost daily and then come home early enough for me to cook dinner, we now have to go to the slightly farther (but still walk-able distance) sports park for the classes.

They skate from 5 to 6 p.m. and then do some exercises with the coach for 30 minutes afterwards. While we don’t always stay for the exercises (how long you stay is up to you), most days the kids want to and Scarlett joins them too, so we only get out of the park by 6:30 or so. While we can walk there in 10 minutes (at Scarlett’s pace), going home can take upwards of 15 minutes since it is peak traffic hour and the area is full of construction and bad sidewalks, and I am dragging three tired kids while carrying a heavy bag full of skating gear and water bottles.

By the time we get home it is almost 7 p.m. Everyone is tired and hungry and can’t wait for me to cook. So from the beginning I switched to cooking dinner in the afternoon so that we can eat just as soon as we get in. It takes more planning for me to make dinner before going, but having food ready to feed starving tummies makes it worthwhile.

While we were happy with the skating lessons, it did take a little longer for them to settle into their new schedule of no naps and making it through the day. The first 2 weeks were tough, since the kids were adjusting to a different sleep schedule and more exercise, but now things are settling down.

Changing the schedule has meant moving dinner and bedtime up but that was the plan – to have them actually fall asleep at bedtime so I could have some time to myself. (Tonight I had them in bed by 8 since Logan had gotten up at 6, and he and Lila were asleep within minutes.)

 

Here is a peek at what my schedule looks like right now.

5:50 a.m.  My alarm goes off and I get up for exercise.

6:05 a.m.  I am out the door to the park for either a run or I do some strength training exercises at home.

7:00 a.m.  I get in just as Glad is heading out to the gym. Kids are (hopefully, usually) still sleeping. I shower and dress, then have my coffee and read the newspaper.

7:45 a.m.  If the kids aren’t awake already, I get them up, feed and dress them, pack their snacks for school, put on a load of laundry, eat my own breakfast, clear the table, stop a fight or two, maybe tidy up a little, and make sure they are ready to go by the time daddy is.

9:15 a.m.  Kids are gone to school with daddy. I find things to keep Scarlett busy as I clean and tidy the house. Once a week we go grocery shopping; once or twice we pick up anything else we need, like fruits and veggies, at the local shops. Sometimes we call off all work and go to the park for an hour or two. I also plan what I will make for dinner and take out meat that needs thawing or soak chickpeas for pressure cooking later.

12:00 a.m.  Prepare lunch.

12:45 a.m.  Glad and the kids are usually home by this time, so we eat right away, since Glad has to run back to work shortly afterwards. This is our family meal since daddy isn’t home for most dinners and he is at the gym while we have breakfast.

1:20 p.m.  Clean up lunch mess. Find a way to keep Lila out of trouble since she no longer naps (Logan plays well on his own so I don’t have to worry about him.) Put Scarlett down for a nap and take a short one myself for 15 – 20 minutes.

2:00 p.m.  Sit with my coffee and try to clear some cobwebs from my brain. I always need more sleep, but if I sleep longer, I can wake assured that Lila is up to no good. Just this past week she played with my glasses and broke them, put a mobile phone in the washer (we had to wait 3 days for the repair man to come get it out, meaning I had to add hand wash to my list of chores), and dumped a whole packet of glitter on the balcony. I lock the kitchen door, but she climbs through the small window between the kitchen and dining room to get into food and such, and sometimes can’t get back out. The other day I woke to the sound of her and Logan heading out the front door. No more long naps for me.

Once the cobwebs are gone, I help them with their homework, if they have any that day.

3:00 p.m.  I wake Scarlett from her nap, and then work on dinner. Meanwhile the kids entertain themselves with play or coloring or teasing each other and making it hard for me to finish quickly. Somewhere in there I give them a snack and that keeps them quiet for a while.

4:20 p.m. Roughly by this time I am done with the cooking, depending on how many times I had to intervene with the kids. I have a snack myself and then we get ready to go for skating class.

4:45 p.m. We leave the house. The sports park is close so we get there quickly. On Wednesdays we skip skating and go instead to the playground.

6:30 p.m. (or so) Head home. Wash up. Heat dinner and serve.

7:15 p.m. Kids are done eating so they have some playtime while I clean up. I also use this time to boil the milk for the next day, make yogurt (as needed), etc.

7:45 p.m. Shower time for the kids. Sometimes this is a happy time and other times they are crying until the moment they are in bed. Get into pj’s, brush teeth, have a story, drink some water, milk every minute they can of being awake. 🙂

8:30 p.m. Kids in bed. Since Logan and Lila no longer nap, they go to sleep quickly. Scarlett takes a little longer, and I often hear her singing to herself, or I catch her looking at books or playing. She is usually asleep by 9.

As soon as the kids are in bed, I jump in the shower, and then head for the computer. That is my only time most days. Sometimes I’d like to go to bed early, but Glad only gets in at 11 p.m., and because of the type of lock on our door, I have to stay up to let him in. We aren’t going to change it now that we are moving. If Glad is home that evening, I will go to bed earlier. Sometimes we will both be in bed by 10, or we relax with a movie together. (If I’m desperately tired, like during PMS, I’ll get into bed early and send Glad an SMS to call me when he gets home. That way I get some extra sleep.)

This is my weekday schedule.

On Saturdays we go to the park for a few hours or maybe the mall, just to spend the morning out of the house. Then I use the afternoon to catch up on stuff I can’t normally fit in.

On Sundays I work for a few hours outside the house, so daddy is in charge. I take full advantage of this “day off” from being mommy. I leave the house at noon, finish work by 3:30, eat lunch, and then take some time for shopping, visiting a mall by myself, or just walking around and enjoying the peace. I am home somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Daddy takes the kids skating this day, so that they can fit in 5 days of lessons a week.

The classes last for 3 months, so after that I’m sure the schedule will change again, as summer will be here and school will be out. And there are more changes to come involving our move to Canada. But I’m not letting them stay up late ever again. 🙂 I love the quiet.

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