When I am stressed, I like to chew. Something about the repetitive motion of chomping up and down is calming to me. As a result, I have arthritis in my jaws from consuming many many packs of gum, and slightly bumpy teeth from crunching ice, a habit which has been nearly impossible to break, much to my family’s chagrin.
Last night, I was desperate to chew away some of my stress. I was overwhelmed from back to back bad days with my 14 month olds. My two toddlers turned on me this week, hitting, pushing, falling, crying, head-butting, smacking, pulling hair and screaming. In a restaurant, in the car, in IKEA, with all eyes being magnetically drawn to my twosome. I wasn’t handling the situation well…I could feel myself getting increasingly annoyed, agitated and plain angry with my tiresome duo. I briefly considered trying to sell them at IKEA, but the way they were acting, no one would have bought them!
When my husband got home from work, he found me in a near coma on the couch. I was DONE with those kids….absolutely positively DONE. I had very little left to offer anyone, and when my son hit me hard in the face with a wooden spoon, and my anger boiled over, I knew I was near the edge.
My kind husband put the kids to bed and helped me clean up the house. I contemplated what options I had for making myself feel a little better, and my mind toyed with the idea of consuming large quantities of dark chocolate. Mmmm, chocolate. I stopped eating chocolate 8 months ago when the kids were 6 months old, in an effort to help my weight loss goals. Nary a morsel has crossed my lips, and no, my weight isn’t down thank-you-very-much. But oh, the temptation! I was so incredibly desperate to stop feeling so miserable that I came darn close to stuffing myself with chocolate. But I kept thinking “I have never woken up and though ‘That was such a good idea to eat all that food before bed.'” Instead, I turned to my stash of frozen grapes for my noshing needs.
Today was a much better day. I was able to get a decent nights sleep, and prayed for my day before exiting my covers this morning. I planned lots of physical activity for my energetic twosome, and mentally prepared myself for the day. I purposefully planned on being around other people most of the day, which is a great coping mechanism for me.
Parenting is stressful. Parenting two strong-willed toddlers is extra-stressful. My husband and I have developed a system to give each other a “night off” at least once every other week. Every other Friday, my husband plays poker after work. And every other Thursday, I leave the house as soon as he is home from work. Sometimes I take a good book to dinner, sometimes I window shop or go to a book store and drink coffee. Other days I meet up with a friend for nourishing conversation. And this past weekend, I slipped out of the house early, before my family was up, for some much needed “me” time. On Saturday, I went to the track, walking, jogging and sweating. On Sunday I went to a local farm and came home with fresh fruit, vegetables and just-baked bread. It was delightful!
Yet some how, I still managed to become a stressball by Tuesday evening! So I am curious, how do you handle the stress of parenting? What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting to date? How do you and your spouse/family give each other a break?