Defusing The Fuse – Don’t Take Your Stress Out on Your Kids

Lighting A Bomb FuseWe’ve all been there.  Every single one of us has been on the verge of absolutely losing it. In our homes, solo parents are breadwinners, nurses, disciplinarians, teachers, housekeepers, cooks, plumbers, landscapers and Chief Cuddle Officers – just to mention a few. And that doesn’t even begin to touch the hats we wear in order to bring home the bacon. But we do it all because we love our children.

But there are those days…when you’ve got a deadline at work looming, the laundry piling up, the fridge is empty, you’ve run out of toilet paper, it’s pouring rain and your kid has decided that now is the time do their best impersonation of Calliou (hands down the most irritating children’s show on television in my opinion, solely because… the whining).

And the worst part? You know that no one is going to come walking through your front door– with milk and toilet paper in hand– to break up the crazy.

Here are 6 quick tips to help you lower your stress levels so you don’t take all of your (completely legitimate) stress out on your kids – which in the end will only make you feel worse. About everything.

  1. Count to 3. We count to 3 all of the time with our kids to force them to think about what they’re doing or not doing. So, before you fly off the handle, force yourself to do the same count. 1…(deep breath)…2…(deep breath)…3…(deep breath). Now in a lowered voice address whatever is behind the nonsensical whining.
  2. Walk away. This obviously only works if your kids are old enough to not hurt themselves, but if the counting isn’t enough and your need a bigger pause, turn the TV on for the kids and take a shower. The white noise combined with the heat of the water can work wonders in helping you reset.
  3. Say it out loud. When your kids go to bed and you’re spinning the crazy in your head  CALL ONE OF YOUR VILLAGE – do not sit there alone spinning. Because spun crazy expands. Believe me. I know. Even better – FaceTime. I promise, it will make you feel less isolated.
  4. F*** the laundry and the dishes and go to bed.  If you’re burned out, you must, must give yourself a break. Triage the situation and remove the least consequential tasks. Please do not spend the small amount of the rope that you have left on chores. Not getting enough rest shortens your rope. By a lot. Snuggle with the kids (if they have calmed down by this point) and then put yourself to bed.
  5. You have to exercise. I know. Adding something to the to-do list can feel like adding stress, but I promise you (and science totally backs me up on this one) that exercising most days a week will help reduce cortisol levels and prevent you from getting to the breaking point in the first place. Go for a 30-minute walk or jog on your lunch break, do jumping-jacks, squats and bicep curls after you put the kids to bed, or find a family friendly CrossFit gym like I did. Whatever it is, do it. There is an inverse relationship between the amount I work out and how many times I fill my wine glass in the evening.
  6. Give yourself something to look forward to – with or without the kids. If I stayed home all the times I didn’t have — or couldn’t afford — a sitter, I’d never ever leave the house. It’s a Friday night and you want to go out to dinner with a bestie. Bring the littles, and if needed, let them stay up later than usual, or allow them to snooze in the booth next to you. Or, if there is a sitter handy, book them and make the date.

The key is to not only defuse the situation when you are about to blow, but also to create small, executable ways to prevent you from going nuts in the first place.

About author

Cara Lemieux

Cara Lemieux

Cara Lemieux is a journalist, multi-media consultant, writer, and former producer for ABC News Working. She is the creator of Here We Are Today (http://hereweare.today/), a blog about navigating working and single motherhood in New York City (and now Connecticut). She has contributed to Lifetime Moms (http://www.lifetimemoms.com/author/cara-lemieux), Huffington Post, HuffPostLive and ShriverReport.org. She recently gave a TedX talk called “Rebranding The Single Mom.”

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