12 February 2014


I have never been the type of person who handles a lot of stress well. Small amounts of pressure can encourage me to really put my nose to the grindstone and produce results (as was evidenced during my college years when I was a hardcore procrastinator), but anything above normal has a tendency to cause a complete meltdown.

As a mom of three with two under two now, stress seems to be just part of the daily routine. Between toddler behaviors that make me want to scream, a baby who fights sleep (and wakes up the moment he's unlatched from the boob), and an 8 year old who sometimes thinks she's a teenager, I often feel like stressed could be my middle name.

They look cute now...but wait until they decide to sync their crying times!

I'm still working on adequate coping strategies that also fit into my life as a mom. Before kids, when I faced a lot of work stress, I'd go get a pedicure or massage or hit the bar for happy hour. Aside from the fact that my lack of a paying job makes luxuries like pedicures and massages nearly impossible, I can't exactly leave my kids at home alone (or while The Husband is asleep after working all night) while I go have a beer or get my toes done. And let's face it, taking a young child with you to get a pedicure really defeats the purpose if you're attempting to de-stress.

I have to remind myself daily that I can't control anything but my own reactions and responses. If you'd met BabyA, you'd know that controlling my responses to her can require a herculean effort. I was definitely given a strong willed, opinionated, and very intelligent child. She's been blessed with all the qualities that will make her a fabulous adult, but have a way of making my life miserable while she's young. Sometimes, when I'm feeling considerably stressed, I close my eyes and remember that my child has all of the qualities that I had to learn as an adult so that people didn't ignore or take advantage of me.

Speaking of which, closing my eyes is something I do frequently. If I can't see the mountains of laundry in the living room, the overflowing sink and trash can in the kitchen, the dust on every surface, and the clutter that may or may not be taking over our tiny house, I can ignore it for a few seconds. I can picture myself on a beach somewhere, or in a field of wildflowers with a good book and a glass of wine, and I relax just a little bit.

Which leads me to my next coping mechanism. There is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine on occasion, and I occasionally do just that. I am a shameless lightweight after having children so close together and foregoing alcohol for so long, so I rarely have more than one glass of wine, and I usually try to time it so that I am not nursing Minion for an hour or so after I drink (thankfully, he's a good sleeper and will nap in the mamaRoo for a couple hours at a time).

My favorite escape, though, as it has been since I was a very young child, is a good book. I am a great fan of fantasy since it allows me to completely escape this world, but I also adore Regency fiction and Jane Austen/Jane Austen fanfiction. My Kindle has become a great friend (have you ever tried to read a traditional paperback while breastfeeding? It's definitely a skill set unto itself), and I'm finally checking books off my embarrassingly long TBR list. Granted, I'm reading at a much slower pace than I used to, but there's nothing better than lying in bed with my sleeping babies and reading until I fall asleep.

I also try to squeeze some yoga into my day, and when all else fails, we all take a nap together.

What do you do to cope with stress as a parent?