Every parent knows what stress is. A lot, don’t know how to reduce stress as a parent!
It’s going to work after a horrible night dealing with teething.
It’s staying at home trying to get the house in order while simultaneously holding twenty-five pounds of Play-Dough that screams every time you put it down.
It’s watching your child cry because they bumped into the table hard enough to leave a mark on their forehead.
It’s rocking a child with a fever for hours on end, hoping that it’s nothing serious.
It’s all of these and more. And its every. Single. Day. It doesn’t stop, and there are no vacations (Vacations? Traveling with a 9 month old? On a plane? With 2 layovers? STRESS.)
We all know it, and we all deal with it in our own ways. But there are some things we can all do regardless of geography, age, scheduling, or fatigue to help us be healthier and happier. And healthy and happy parents help to raise healthy and happy kids!
I know, I know. Sleep is something that we all gave up the second the test came back positive. What with worry and kids crying and sleeping 18 seconds at a shot, sleep is a rare commodity. But I’m not talking just about sleep. You can rest while you drive home from work. Rest your mind. Just jam out to the radio, roll down the window and just let the wind blow through the car. Take a moment at home while the kids are playing to just stare out the window for thirty seconds. Reboot the brain computer every now and again, and you will see an marked difference in your ability to deal with the surprises headed your way.
I hear it now. “Exercise? Like I have time to get to the gym!” Look, you don’t need a gym to exercise. You have children. They are a walking, babbling, food-throwing workout program all on their own. Lift them up and down, chest height to over your head. That will work out your back, shoulders, arms, and even a bit of the abs. Getting the “Dad Stomach”? Sit in the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you facing your kid. Hold their hands, and just rock back and forth bending at the waist. They will love the “game” and you will work your stomach. Be creative, and use your kids to help you get some exercise and spend some quality time with them as well. Exercise will help lower your stress levels and blood pressure, and give you longer with your kids.
Eat Healthy –
This is a no-brainer, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. But it matters. Eat celery sticks with peanut butter with your kid. Share their baby carrots. Show them veggies are good by eating all of yours. And vary your diet. Not only is a varied diet healthier than the same things again and again, but it will help broaden your child’s palate and make it easier to get them to try new foods when they are older. And if you are a working parent, cut out the fast food at lunch time. Seriously. It’s bad. A healthy diet will help your body deal with stress more efficiently.
Enjoy The Moment –
You know that time you were sitting at the table and the toddler grabbed the gravy bowl that had been left just a bit to close and flung it across the room getting gravy all over you, your wife, the dog, and the wall? No? I guess you had to be there. I can honestly say the first thought through my head was how much my wife was going to miss the little one when the Gypsies came to take them away. I looked at this disaster and began calculating the amount of work I had and I felt my stress skyrocket. And then I saw the face of my gravy-covered wife. And dog. And daughter. And I laughed. I laughed so hard I thought I cracked a rib. I realized right then, I had a story the rest of her life. I enjoyed that moment. Those moments do not happen often, and before you know it they will gone entirely. Enjoy while you can.
Let It Go –
No, not the Disney movie song. I’m talking about the stress you carry. The hardest thing to realize about stress is it is often (not always, but often) a choice. You get so wound up about something you stop seeing anything else. Choose to let it go, even if just for a while. Set it aside for 15 minutes. Play with your kids. Hug them. Let go of everything but those precious little humans running around your house. Stress you can pick up later. Your kids? They grow up, so not so much.