Momma Chel is a contributing writer to this community, as well as a mother raising several children in her expanded family. These are some of her thoughts regarding the subject.
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Sometimes That's all it Takes
I know that Chias created a poll on ďemotional obstaclesĒ and I voted that stress management definitely outweighed all other issues for our household. Just for some background, the hubby and I run a small manufacturing business and our third goes to college (finishing up her last 2 semesters!! Yeah!!), and she also holds down the fort at home on her off days! Now, the kids are in a myriad of events and functions, each having their unique interests stimulated. Keeping track of each childís agenda is stressful enough all by itself, but with two parental figures to be taxis, we lean on each other and get the household chores completed fairly easily. Notice I said two; the hubby travels so we split up responsibilities with the kids between the mommas and when the poppa can help out, he does. Oddly, this is not where the majority of our stress lies.
The children all settle into their routines, under the watchful eyes of the mommas, and are usually ready for their certain event on their particular day. Of course, there are always the last minute things that pop up, but we seem to cruise along consistently in this department. Where stress becomes a factor for our children is when the parental figures bring it to them. Let me explain myselfÖ.
I bring my work home with me and although the hubby is better at ďturning it offĒ, a part of him is always working. We canít seem to get around this being small business owners so, for me, I adapt to it. I consciously tell myself that when I get home Iím going to start supper, start laundry, run x kid to practice and when I get back home, my stress level over business will be at minimum instead of at maximum. Now during the time Iím deflating the stress level, I am aware that I am grouchy to the kids, dogs, my partners, etc. And I notice that Iím quiet ------ Believe me, Iím never quiet! I notice that the kids will keep their distance from me and may not ask something they normally wouldnít hesitate to ask. From these observations, I know that Iíve brought my stress to my kids and theyíre feeling it, observing it, trying to figure out how to get around that energy. Sometimes, they just ask --- Whatís wrong with you?, Why are you so grumpy?, or my least favorite, Whatís your problem? Other times, they just keep their distance and in turn are quiet. Patience is important, but what if they are patiently waiting for me to be me again, and I canít turn off the stress? Eventually, theyíll be so distant that I canít reconnect to them and that will cause all sorts of follies in our future relationship.
This is a real, live ongoing issue in our household. I have my good days and bad days with it and I can see the damage it causes when itís bad. I donít like it but it doesnít change the fact that having this business will keep our stress levels from medium to very high, never going under medium. To combat this, Iíve made a list of things to do with the kids when my stress level is at the highest. By doing some of the things on my list, I know that Iím keeping connected with them and Iím not isolating myself.
With the younger kids, weíll read, color (Iím amazed at how just getting down on the ground and coloring can ease my mind!), do a puzzle (not a hard one!), listen to music and sing and dance. Sometimes, weíll take a walk, but with the younger ones, that can turn out to be stressful!
With the older kids, Iíll go into their room and just lay on their bed while they be-bop around their room and diddle. Theyíll chat and Iíll listen, sometimes listening to music. Iíll let the girls fix my hair, or play dress up with some of my clothes. Iíll try to play a video game with the boys, but usually end up getting laughed at!
Sometimes, thatís all it takes, a little laughter, a little hug, a little hand in mine. Sometimes, it takes more than that, but at least I know and the kids know that weíre on the right track and weíre in it together instead of isolating ourselves and letting tensions grow! You see, Iíve programmed myself to do these simple things with my adult partners, but Iíve let the stress get to me enough that Iíve not looked at how itís affecting my kids. As I see it, my kids can make or break my stress level. I feel that if I can just stop and slow down for a moment, I can open my eyes and do some of the little things on my list and Iíll start to see the world differently again. Iím determined to incorporate my children in helping to de-stress because it is as important to them as it is to my adult partners and Iíve overlooked this. In the end, seeing my kids genuinely smile gets me every time; maybe seeing me genuinely smile helps them out too! Sometimes thatís all it takes.
Momma Chel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.
Momma Chel; November 17, 2005
folks have read this article.