Writing, blogging, hoppy ale drinking, stay-at-home-yoga mama machine. Author of The Best Day of Your Life and The Art of Parenting.
Have a less-stressful holiday with the following hard-won advice:
One of my friends, with three kids under the age of five, recently commented that an article she had read about banishing stress stressed her out.
Because “eat every bite slowly” isn’t possible when you are spoon feeding a baby, picking food off the floor, catching a glob of yogurt mid-fall and, yeah, also trying to stab your own fork-full of spinach during this chaos.
Having kids is wonderful–I actually love eating lunch with my girls, too–but eating mindfully is just not the same as even my most hurried lunches while working outside of my home.
Other tips, like my friend pointed out, that don’t translate well, or at all, with the lifestyle of parents are suggestions like “take an hour each day to plan the next day”–ha!–and “let go of stressful situations.” C’mon, this advice is almost a load of crap for any adult, but for parents with young kids, this is absurd.
Instead, parents can do these things to feel less stressed out regularly–especially with the holidays ahead.
Laughing at the absurdity of the situation helps immensely.
For instance, when my husband and I were driving and smelled poop in the car, and we pulled over to find the baby sitting in a car seat literally filled with poop, we didn’t laugh. No, we hurried home, with me trying to yoga breathe in the passenger seat, but that only making it worse because each inhale reminded me clearly of why I was attempting to breathe deeply in the first place. I got a migraine, but couldn’t take anything for it as a breastfeeding mom, and it goes on. Later, however, we laughed. A lot. We still laugh about it.
Sometimes, this is all we can do to relieve stress in the middle of near-crisis level parenting situations.
2. Ask for help.
This one, though, is a serious helper. More, it’s good for children to witness adults asking for help. Everyone needs help–everyone.
I don’t have family nearby and I don’t have many helping hands around me at all, so when I ask for help, I mean it. And I usually get it. I’m feeling more stress-free just thinking of how my parents are coming tomorrow to help with an appointment I have scheduled.
This also is true if you, like I, will be the one hosting a holiday dinner. If you need someone to bring the pumpkin pies or an extra side, then ask! Narrowing down the menu and asking those attending to bring something–anything!–like the wine, or even extra chairs, is essential.
Sure, how I exercise as a stay-at-home mom is not the same as how I did before. Still, even the 20 to 30 minute Pilates breaks I give myself when one kid is watching a show and the other is playing on a mat next to mine, are stress-relieving beyond words.
Just yesterday, when I felt like I was going to tear my own hair out at the baby being fussy all day long, I ran down to the basement, grabbed a few free weights to bring back up, quickly pressed out a couple sets on my bench press and–boom!–half an hour later my husband is walking in the door and I felt ready to comfort him when an hour later it was he who wanted to tear his hair out.