Juggling with the Stress Monster

In my book “Raising Up Mommy,” I write about how the seven deadly sins of motherhood that catch us up in our unguarded moments, especially in times of stress or anxiety. (I have often said that I didn’t realize what a problem I had with anger until I became a mother!)

For most of us, certain times of the day are especially stressful. For us, it’s the “witching hour” right before dinner, when the kids can’t look cross-eyed at one another without erupting into shrieks and fits. So, as much for my own sanity as their growth in virtue, I’ve learned a few “tricks of the trade” that I thought I’d share with you today. Feel free to write in and share what works for you!

  • Find humor in the moment – no matter how un-funny your life seems at the time. When a child practices his penmanship all over your freshly painted family room wall: “I declar I am the President of the upstair, and SARHA must GET OUT and quit bugging me!”), you can go nuts … or chuckle at the creative way he attempted to solve his own problems with his pesky sister.
  • Use blocks of time wisely. Crashing on the couch with a Mike’s and your favorite sitcom is tempting … but you will feel a lot better AFTER you load the dishwasher and toss in a load of laundry. Instead of turning on the television, turn on some good music or listen to a book on tape.
  • Find creative ways to delegate certain chores you really don’t like to do. Do you hate having to figure out what’s for dinner every night? Find a “dinner buddy” (perhaps with the “working mom” next door, or from a play group), and once or twice a week double a recipe to trade and take home, so you don’t have to cook the next night! Do you just really need an hour of peace and quiet? Maybe your neighbor would be willing to host a “pizza and movie” night in exchange for weeding her garden.
  • Teach your kids to help themselves. Train your kids early in life to value self-sufficiency. A six-year-old is capable of pouring herself a bowl of cereal. An eight-year-old can make a peanut-butter sandwich (better yet, have her make a whole loaf of them and freeze, so you can pull them out each morning for lunch boxes).
  • Beware the “witching hour.” The hour before dinner can be the most stressful hour of the day, so be ready for it. Have a special “play corner” and a nutritious snack for younger children (perhaps a few veggies from dinner), and send older children to bathe and change into their jammies while you take a moment to turn on some good music and pour yourself a glass of wine while you fix dinner. 
  • Exercise is your friend! A ten-minute romp in the park or around the block after dinner with kids and dog helps everyone to reconnect and enjoy one another. That connectedness is a natural mood-elevator – especially when you turn off the cell phone and focus totally on the activity at hand.

What are some of your “secrets” for combatting your Mommy Monster?

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